Light in front!! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 05-18-2012, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2012
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Light in front!!

I acquired a very nice 6 year old horse (gelding). He has been through 2 owners. He had a few issues in the arena like moving while mounting and getting light in front and swishing his tail when I put my legs on. My guess is that he was heavily spurred at another 'trainers'. I rode him quite a while without them to cure this sensitivity and it worked. During that difficult time it seemed he was being aggressive and that an explosive thing might ensue if I did not take control of the situation. I was able to successfully resolve these problems. He has become a responsive, obedient and talented mount INSIDE.
Since he had these issues, I really took my time and treated him as an unbroken horse. I restarted him. He is fantastic!

The problem began to really show up again when I introduced him to riding outside. I was told he had been camping. LOL funny. Honestly I thought he was more than ready and I never expected a huge issue.

However, his response to stress is still to do a pop up. Not a full rear but plenty serious enough if it were to escalate. What is upsetting about it is that even though I am experienced, very light handed and ride him forward he still manages to convey the threat and ignore my aids even on a relaxed rein! I have been working him on a direct rein in small circles, gradually expanding my territory. It is working but admittedly it is not a good feeling. I do not trust him. He swishes his tail too which makes me think it may have some aggression thrown into the fear.

Opinions and recommendations from seriously experienced riders/trainers would be appreciated. I am probably on the right track and I am pretty sure he has done this to someone else. I am confident but he is far superior strength wise. He popped in front and when that did not work he went right to crow hop. All I could do is just keep his feet moving. I was thinking to ground drive him outdoors before I try again. Sigh. He is so nice and smooth, generally quiet until he gets stressed. I would love to keep and show this horse but I don't want to get hurt. I wish I had been told about this.
W2U is offline  
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post #2 of 3 Old 05-18-2012, 10:46 PM
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Location: Oklahoma
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Hi W2U, Welcome to the Horse Forum.

Since no one has attempted to offer any opinions, I will offer mine. You may not like what I am going to say, but everyone that has been here for any length of time knows I tell it like I see it.

It is my opinion that there are two very distinct types of training that a person needs to be able to do if they are going to be a trainer and the hard part is knowing if 'Trainer A' is needed or if it is a job for 'Trainer B'.

'Trainer A' is a patient 'teacher'. Trainer A knows when a horse is ready and able to do the next task a green horse is ready for. Trainer A knows how to 'open' that door for the horse while closing all others. He knows how to make the right thing easy and interrupts the unwanted response or makes the wrong thing difficult for the horse to do.

Punishment is seldom needed. If trainer A is good at 'reading' a horse, he knows when that horse is ready to 'push' and ask for more. He also knows when it is time to 'back off'' a little and let the horse 'work' on it and lets him 'try'.

'Trainer B' is a different guy. He has to know how to 'break' bad habits, how to teach a horse that a certain behavior is not acceptable and MUST NOT BE REPEATED.

Since I spent 3 decades training for the public, I was brought many horses with many bad habits. They ranged from simple 'tiny' (by comparison) bad habits like 'nipping' or not letting someone handle their feet or other trivial things when looking at the bigger picture. Then, there were horses that had attacked people and severely maimed them, horses that were confirmed broncs bucking serious cowboys off at will and horses that reared or threw themselves over backwards. These are really serious bad habits and the owners expected them to come home and never do their bad behavior again. A good trainer can accomplish that, but it is a job for Trainer B.

Trainer B has to figure out a way to make the horse NEVER want to repeat the bad behavior again. I have done this with many horses that reared or flipped. I never got it done by just urging the horse forward and 'riding it through' the problem. The problem just kept repeating itself over and over. If a trainer gets the horse to the point where it figures out that the trainer would not let it rear and always pushed it out of rearing, it might quit for that rider, or quit until a really difficult obstacle looms ahead. BUT, if the horse is sent home to its owner, within a week or two (sometimes the very first day), the horse will just go back to rearing with its owner or any new rider.

In order for a trainer to be 'effective' in training spoiled horses and breaking serious bad habits (we're not talking 'nipping' here), he has to figure out a method of systematic 'negative reinforcement' that makes the horse NOT want to ever do the behavior again. [I could just call it 'punishment', but I know all of people who think this is never needed will come out and crucify me.] I say 'systematic' because Trainer B needs to have a plan and never act out of anger or cross the line of abuse. This not because some horses do not deserve that severe a punishment but because it does not work. When a trainer gets too rough on a horse, the horse just goes into 'reactive' mode and from there can go into a mode of 'shutting down' or 'sulling up'. When a horse does this, it literally feels no pain and can 'tune out' any amount of pressure and punishment. This is what happens when people try to beat a horse to get it into a trailer.

I found the best way to SAFELY handle rearing and flippinf horse is to ground drive them. I have not seen the rearing horse that will not rear in driving lines. You can 'give up' all of the 'being careful' so that you won't cause the horse to rear. Of course, the horse know instantly when the rider 'backs off' because the horse threatened to rear or threatened to just stall out. When you lean forward and 'push the horse' forward and try to keep the horse from rearing is taking pressure off of the horse at the wrong time. The horse wins because the rider is fearful (with good cause) that the horse will rear over on him.

When I put the rearing horse in driving lines, I planned on making that horse learn to accept a hard pull on the reins and yield to that pressure. If he rears, I will spank his butt as hard as I can. I will spank him until he goes forward and then pull him back as far as I want.

When I get through with him, he will have figured out that rearing hurt him a lot and he HAD to give to rein pressure no matter how hard I pulled. Tolerating a hard pull on the mouth and giving to that pressure is just as important for a horse to accept as is going forward where he does not want to go. If he should rear and fall over or throw himself over, I would work his belly over until he does not want to lay on his back and get his belly spanked again. I have never had a horse retrained this way that went back to rearing. I have run into owners years down the road and their horse was still as honest as the day it left my care.

The hard part of training is to be know instantly if Trainer A or Trainer B is needed. This particular horse has learned to threaten to rear (get 'light in the front end') to get his rider to 'back off' and quit pushing him. He has refused to accept enough 'pull' on his mouth to get much done. In other words, the way he is now, he is in the driver's seat and you are the passenger.

Hope this makes sense to you.

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post #3 of 3 Old 05-18-2012, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2012
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Firstly thank you so much for taking time to answer my post. I have no problem with it either. What you are saying is right! I know you are absolutely correct as I put him in long lines earlier today and he did indeed rear, and not just a little either. It is actually proven to be worse than what I initially thought. At least you have given me confidence that I am on the right track with the ground driving. Like I said, judging from his behavior, I am pretty sure he has done this before to someone else. I have ridden for years and I have only encountered this briefly. I assumed (and wrongly so) because he was so well behaved that moving outside was a non-issue. So light and responsive. It caught me off guard. I was able to finish the task of getting him from point A to Point B under saddle, but never in that time did I trust him. I got my way but not his mind. What I did worked but it was not a cure which is what I am looking for. You have given me some real practical steps. I got a pretty strong reaction to the discipline and so I am glad I was not on his back. it is serious enough to be very concerned. I am not one to lose my temper with a horse. I am not above judicious use of the whip to fit the crime. This is one of the worst. What really grinds me is I was not warned. I could have been seriously hurt. Sellers must be responsible enough to disclose this kind of information about a horse. It is spoiled disrespectful horses that do this. Thats what happens when you don't know a horses history. I have to be person B because I don't have a lot of choices right now. he continually swings away and goes backward and up so it was no easy task. I did see some change at the end but it was not a pretty process. Thanks very much. Wish you were in my neighborhood.
W2U is offline  

light in front , rearing

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