Love my horse, hate the attitude and disrespect
 
 

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Love my horse, hate the attitude and disrespect

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    01-09-2012, 05:26 PM
  #1
Weanling
Love my horse, hate the attitude and disrespect

Here is a little background information on Raven. I bought her from a friend in June 2010. Her background is hunt seat and cross country jumping up to 3 feet. I have done a ton of ground work with the help of my trainer. She has got to be the most stubborn mare in the world. We lunge her for 20 minutes before we even get on her because she has so much energy. The moment someone gets on her back and massages the bit to get her to lower her head, she starts tossing her head up in the air and getting light on her front end. We go back to lunging her another 10 minutes and get back up. All we ask of her is a nice trot but she spends so much energy ignoring and fighting us that she just exhausts herself. She is desensitized to spurs and to leg aids so we know someone much have beat the crud out of her with both and let her get away with her behavioral problems.

How do we get back to square one with her? I wish I could crawl into her head and find out what her past was like and make her understand that if she just does what we ask her to do, she can be done for the day but she fights and fights until she's in a lather. She is only 8 years old and way too young to have these issues.

Is she fixable? I could use all the advice or examples I could get right now.
     
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    01-09-2012, 05:35 PM
  #2
Banned
I know some people lunge to get rid of excess energy, but in the end, it just increases 'naughty' stamina. If she is dancing around like she has ants in the pants, make her work. Hard. Make sure she is nice and warm and then get to started on the endless circles. If she wants to booger hunt and act like a fool, give her something else to think about.

Don't worry so much about asking her to lower her head, or even set her head until she has gotten the point that this is work, not play. Headset should be the least of your worries until she is working calmly.

Know when to step off and lunge and when to just ride it out. If she is hipity hopping around and fussing, get her moving. Your speed. Your direction. If she is rearing or bucking, stick it out until you feel like she needs some ground schooling. Never let her get out of work as a reward for her bad behavior.

Good luck!
     
    01-09-2012, 05:44 PM
  #3
Guest
Try hormone regulator - it can work wonders on a moody mare.
     
    01-09-2012, 06:10 PM
  #4
Yearling
I think "moody mare-ness" is used far too often as an excuse for misbehaving female horses, when what they really need are consistent boundaries and training. I'm sure some mares have a hormone imbalance and these supplements can help regulate that, but I'd look elsewhere and rule out other training or health issues first. And sounds as if the OP's mare has boatloads of the former, if not the latter.

OP, have your mare's teeth and back, hocks and stifles, everything, been checked by a vet? This sounds as if it could be a reaction to pain.

And what do you mean by "massaging the bit?" A pal of mine was riding my schoolmaster (a mare) today and started "massaging" the bit and my horse was like, "Eh?" and started bracing against and resisting the contact until my friend gave her a light, soft feel instead. I have managed to teach the horse to brace when people (me, mainly) start hanging on her mouth. Nothing like a "stubborn" and very clever horse to teach you to ride properly with a soft contact and break all pulling habits.

I also don't believe lunging is a cure-all, or cure in any sense for anything. I dislike giving training advice on the 'net when I can't see horse nor rider, but getting on the horse, encountering resistance, and then dismounting and lunging does not communicate to the horse what she should, or should not, be doing and in fact could be rewarding the behaviour you DON'T want, by dismounting and giving her a wee rest when she tosses her head. Even if the horse perceives lunging as punishment for something, she certainly cannot connect the dots between that and tossing her head while being ridden.

If you rule out health issues -- your first step, really -- do you know anyone with a good seat and soft quiet hands who could calmly work the horse through her resistance? You need a trainer who can re-school her to be responsive to seat and leg, as the headset comes from the horse moving forward into the bridle from seat and leg aids.
     
    01-09-2012, 06:13 PM
  #5
Super Moderator
Maybe there is no connection between your lunging and her throwing her head up. If she is doing this due to pain in the mouth, aggravated by the bit, then lunging would not alleviate this.
When was her mouth last checked? Have you tried various bits.? ARe you lunging on a line and with a bit in her mouth?
     
    01-09-2012, 06:14 PM
  #6
Weanling
Take lessons on the lunge line with your trainer. Walk only first lesson(s). Do lots of transitions; walk, halt; change direction; halt; back; walk..etc. She needs to listen to you, and doing transitions really helps with that. I took lots of lessons on the lunge line with my horse when I first got him. I only lunge my horse for about 5-10 minutes before I get on him. I don't lunge him to get ride of energy (even though he has a ton lol) I lunge him to get him focused on me and prepare him to work. Does she stay in a stall or is she turned out? Increasing her turnout time to 24/7 or at least all day will really help with her being ready to work too. I agree with kimmylikestojump about not lunging for 20 minutes to get rid of extra energy. You may need to cut down/switch her grain. And if she gets alfalfa you may need to cut down on that too. What bit are you using on her? As always, when going back to basic work I recommend using a snaffle bit. Experiment with different kinds of basic snaffles until you find one she likes best. Do NOT put a strong bit on her, that will only mask the problem, if not make it worse. If you have control of her with a huge bit in her mouth, the minute you take it off she'll be a wreck. Work your way up from a snaffle. And make sure that she is not being a brat because of pain. Get her teeth, back, and legs checked.
     
    01-09-2012, 07:33 PM
  #7
Weanling
Thanks for all the advice. Teeth were last done December 20th. Prior to that, they were first done in June and the dentist said she would bet that she had never had them done. She had a full vet check in June as well and he could find no issues with her. I might have a massage therapist come out and make sure she doesn't have a back or neck issue that could cause her to do the head tossing.

We are currently using an "O" ring bit in her mouth and when I say massaging, I mean very quietly pulling the reins back one at a time to get her to drop her head. She moves from the front when she trots and lopes that she is not working her hind end so shows a very weak back because of this. When we bring her head down, she starts moving from the back working on those muscles. We were thinking about using a bit with a rubber bumper in the middle so it soothes her mouth when using the reins. At this time, we have decided that we'll work on the headset later, we just want to get her to start listening to subtle cues.

She is currently getting 2 flakes of regular hay in the morning with just ordinary grain, a flake at lunch, and a flake and grain at dinner. We are working on putting some more weight on her in the back as her rump needs rounded out and her hips stick out.

I like the idea of riding on the lunge line with my trainer holding the rope. I think that will be something I work on this weekend with her.

Thanks again for all the advice.
     
    01-09-2012, 08:00 PM
  #8
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by myQHpaul    
Here is a little background information on Raven. I bought her from a friend in June 2010. Her background is hunt seat and cross country jumping up to 3 feet. I have done a ton of ground work with the help of my trainer. She has got to be the most stubborn mare in the world. We lunge her for 20 minutes before we even get on her because she has so much energy. The moment someone gets on her back and massages the bit to get her to lower her head, she starts tossing her head up in the air and getting light on her front end. We go back to lunging her another 10 minutes and get back up. All we ask of her is a nice trot but she spends so much energy ignoring and fighting us that she just exhausts herself. She is desensitized to spurs and to leg aids so we know someone much have beat the crud out of her with both and let her get away with her behavioral problems.

How do we get back to square one with her? I wish I could crawl into her head and find out what her past was like and make her understand that if she just does what we ask her to do, she can be done for the day but she fights and fights until she's in a lather. She is only 8 years old and way too young to have these issues.

Is she fixable? I could use all the advice or examples I could get right now.
I not sure if this may work you could try a hackamore bridle
     
    01-09-2012, 08:00 PM
  #9
Trained
Aside from checking for a physical reason for the behaviour -

My first piece of advice is to either get brave, or find someone brave that has good feel on a horse, to ride through the 'hopping'. Getting off and putting her on the lunge is doing absolutely nothing to help as this is not where the problem lies. You must address the issue, not try to tire her out so she is too exhausted to 'act up'.
The more you lunge, and let her run circles around you, the fitter she'll get, and the fizzier she'll become under saddle. If you lunging her, involves having her simply running around in a circle on the end of a rope with no concept of engagement, or at least working calmly, softly and swinging through the back... then ditch the lunging and just get on her. Otherwise you are just wiring her up even more.

It sounds like this mare needs a few lessons in going forward. I don't believe she's been abused with spurs, more so she's just had riders with no feel or control of the lower leg, that have overused the spur and as a result, she has become dead to the aid.
Don't touch her head, fiddling with her mouth is going to bug her like you wouldn't believe, of course she will throw her head as a result.
Give your reins, grab a bit of mane so you don't yank her in the mouth, and just get her going forward. Use a dressage whip to back up your leg - not spurs, unless you have exceptional balance, feel and control of your leg. Ask quietly with your calf, open your hip angle, open your thigh and knee off the saddle, and if she doesn't respond, give her a crack on the backside with that dressage whip. As soon as she goes forward, let her, take your leg off, allow her to leap forward for a few strides, then quietly bring her back, and repeat.
The most important thing is to not touch her mouth. If she leaps forward, you have to be balanced and brave enough to not gob her.


The other option, again requiring a brave rider. Get on her, put her on the lunge, and have your trainer, or someone with an excellent eye, lunge you on her.
You ask her to go forward first, put your leg on, and if she doesn't respond, whoever is lunging backs up your leg by flicking the lunge whip at her, or chasing her quarters until she goes. As the rider, you should be off her back, not gripping, and giving her a loose rein.


Once you can get her to go forward from the leg, you can begin refing the work and eventually look at getting her a little rounder. But until a horse can go forward, you can't get them round. Unless of course you are happy to pull their head in to have a 'pretty arched neck' that looks nice in photos ;)
     
    01-09-2012, 08:06 PM
  #10
Green Broke
Is she safe to just ride out somewhere? Like a nice trail ride? Maybe take her out in the real world, ride some hills, negotiate some terrain?

I've got a barn-sour, hyper-active mare but I never actually lunge her. I tried last winter but it didn't seem to do much good. She just got more mentally stimulated. Now I just ride her out and go to-and-away from home until she finally settles. In the summer when I ride her consistently she settles and walks politely whenever I want.

In the winter when she sometimes sits for 2 weeks due to the weather, we have to start all over again, but hey, it works for us.

Sometimes also people and horses are just not a match. I sympathize with your plight. I have a long yearling that is driving me bonkers. I don't know if he is going to work out for me or not. So I understand. But if you love her and hyperness is her main fault, I think you can ride that out of her.

You might try leaving off the grain. I know you said she needs to gain weight/muscle? I would try a higher protein feed (maybe some alfalfa) and/or a fat supplement. But carbs she probably doesn't need. Although honestly my mare is still a basket case even without grain, so I still give her a little bit anyway.

How much grain does she actually get? I feed my mare 1-2 pounds a day. If you feed quality hay with quality protein then she may not need grain to maintain her weight. I don't think the grain is causing the problem, but it could be making it worse, you never know.

As for the head-up-thing. Have you tried a different bit? Tried less bit contact? It sounds like she really dislikes the feel of the bit, either due to the bit itself or tooth problems. I don't know about your horse personally of course, but my horses tend to throw their heads up in a normal snaffle. You could try one with a 3-piece center or a bit with a solid mouthpiece or a mild hackamore to see if you get a different reaction.

I ride western and I mostly ride in leverage bits with little contact, so we are comparing apples and oranges here, but don't be afraid to try different bits to see if you find one that aggravates her less. I change bits all the time depending on my mood and how I plan to ride that day. It wouldn't hurt to dry some different bits. The one you are using just might not work for the shape of her mouth. Or maybe she is just so sensitive that she can't handle all the contact. Who knows. Maybe try something bitless to see if it's her teeth/mouth pain.

Best of luck, I feel for you and hope you make some good progress soon.
     

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