Miserable or spoiled? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 12-22-2012, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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Miserable or spoiled?

I have a 9-year-old Percheron/TB gelding that was given to me by a friend. She said that he was broke, and she (a very inexperienced rider) would ride him bareback all over the place no problem. The only reason she was giving him to me was because she wanted something with a little more pep, and she thought we would be a good match.
He is a wonderful, big, gentle baby who loves to be loved... but he isn't broke. He'll accept a saddle and let someone sit on him, until he gets scared, then he bolts, and there's nothing you can do to stop him except pray that he won't jump the fence. He's terrified of EVERYTHING. Even things he use to not be afraid of. For instance, the week I got him, I threw a tarp up on him just to see how he'd do, and he just stood there like he wore tarps all the time. Then about a month ago, I brought the tarp out again, and he's terrified of it.
I decided the blame for this was on me, as he's boarded at the rescue I work for, and I tend to spend a lot of time with other chores, and haven't done much with him. So, the past two weeks, we've been finding time to work, even just a little, every day. Slowly but surely we're getting somewhere, but I've started to notice that he's pulling away from me. My happy little gelding who would run to the gate as fast as he could when I called, now turns and runs away when he sees me coming for him. He resists his halter, and if he thinks I'm leading him to the arena, he plants his feet and refuses to move.
We haven't done anything hard. Honestly we haven't. And our sessions are never more than 20-30 minutes at a time. Mostly we've been working with that stupid tarp and getting him to not be afraid of it, but we do different things as well so he won't get bored. And I go out and bring him in for other things too, so he doesn't think every time I come to get him we have to work. Sometimes I'll go out, give him a treat and a hug, and leave him out... just to try to mix things up a bit.
My question is... this recent behavior... is it because I've spoiled him and now he's mad that I'm making him do something? Do I continue to push him to do this work every day? Or does it sound like he's just miserable with what we're doing, and pushing is just going to make it worse?
I'm very bad about babying him, and I'm trying to get better about it, which is why I've let it go on for these few weeks.. but I don't want him to hate being with me. Once I get him broke, I want our rides together to be something he can enjoy as well. Has anyone else had this problem? What kinds of things have you done to make your horses enjoy their work more? Or do you think he's just spoiled, and this is something we need to work through?
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post #2 of 25 Old 12-22-2012, 11:41 PM
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He's testing you as his leader......horses no matter what age will test just to see what they have to do or not have to do. the worst thing you can do is baby him, horses want a confident leader so with you babying him he's testing you. Continue working with him, do desentsitizing and ground work with him......it's hard not to baby them but that is not what they need to be a confident horse.
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post #3 of 25 Old 12-22-2012, 11:51 PM
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Don't worry so much about whether he "likes" you are not, or whether he is happy. He sounds like a teenager. If he doesn't have enough work to make him think otherwise, he will naturally assume an "unhappy" demeanor. So. Yes, I would work more.

But, maybe something that isn't just slow work , like moving tarps on him and having him do other desensitizing stuff. Make him MOVE! and work up a sweat and get the kinks out of his system.

Can you free lunge?

Can you look into longlining? then you could take him around and out for "walks" but you would be drivng him. Can you ride with another person?

I'd also work on getting him to give to the bit/lead and work on instilling the one rein stop, so that you have some brakes when you do finally ride out.
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post #4 of 25 Old 12-23-2012, 12:27 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you both! That's what I was leaning towards, but the girl who gave him to me is kind of breathing down my neck, telling me he's just sensitive, and works at a slower pace than most horses. I think I just needed reassurance that I was doing the right thing. Thank you!
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post #5 of 25 Old 12-23-2012, 12:42 AM
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You own the horse now, she gave him up and shouldn't have any say in what you do. Honestly, I find her breathing doiwn your neck to be hindering your progress. Not cool, yo.

I heard stories of a horse who would be totally okay with a tarp when you showed it to him. But the second you were walking or riding him and he saw one, he would spook. He's spooking to get out of things, I think.

The first mare I did any kind of extensive work with on the ground was a spoiled brat. She likes to "spook" and rear, and act like things eat her but its simply her making a fuss to fit the reputation of a crazy mare.

All it takes is a firm bop on the nose and a firm knock it off, and she's fine.
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post #6 of 25 Old 12-23-2012, 12:48 AM
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Originally Posted by theomommy View Post
Thank you both! That's what I was leaning towards, but the girl who gave him to me is kind of breathing down my neck, telling me he's just sensitive, and works at a slower pace than most horses. I think I just needed reassurance that I was doing the right thing. Thank you!
There is some truth into the way that some horses need a slower or faster pace than others. Some horses, (now this is ground work I am talking about) get really bored and frustrated, so you have to have things move along at a good clip and push them a bit to keep their interest.
others, need time to "soak" on what you present to them, and if you breeze right past this and on to the next thing, they never get a break and never get a chance to absorb what you are showing them. only you know which applies here. Either one could be the case, and if the horse finds ground work to be no fun for either reason, he would start balking at going into the arena.

In either case, dont repeat and repeat groundwork if it's going well. Bores the horse and sours them.
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post #7 of 25 Old 12-23-2012, 01:12 AM
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This may sound a little out of whack but, I feel out of whack when I am doing it so, here goes. LoL My 4 1/2yo used to be great out on the trail....But now Shes like a big bomb waiting to explode over any and every little thing. Here lately what I have been doing when I feel like she may be testing me or pushing me to let her get by with something she should I start doing zig zags with, back, turn, stop, go this way, no go that way, wait a minutes lets go back three steps, now forward five, now leg yield left, pivot around, Stand still, zig zag, whoa flex, side pass, MOVE OUT.....Point blank I look really ******ed ridding like this. I can only imagine what people on my road think of me but whatever. the point is I kept her feet moving where I wanted when I wanted. I do all this very fast. I want immediate response. As soon as she responds I release pressure but then I immediately ask for another action. I dont give her time to think about what "She" wants to think about I make her think about what I want and what she has to do to get there to get a good release. She aint afraid of a dog, or a car, or no stinking tarp anywhere. Or a stupid tree. She does it to go back home. So, if she wants to dance around the road rear, buck, side step, Okay then.....lets do something stupid but on MY terms.

Shorty * N * Opie
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post #8 of 25 Old 12-23-2012, 01:21 AM
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I often give a horse the "benefit of the doubt" when I am asking for something new. Thats fair. I do not give them the benefit of the doubt when there can be no doubt they understand what I have communicated and have chosen to ignore it. For example, planting his feet whilst leading? Assuming you aren't pulling on him and that he knows how to go in hand correctly - I would not hestitate for one microsecond to tap him into my hand. In fact, by hesitating you are inviting a repeat occurance. And, that would be your fault.

I would so skip the tarp all together...there is little value (IMO, little to no value) in it relative to the many other ground excercises you can engage in and build on.
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post #9 of 25 Old 12-23-2012, 01:24 AM
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What the heck is the American obsession with getting horses sacked out with tarps?

I have been around horses for many years and have, in all that time, only ever once had a plastic car cover come blowing down the road towards me when I was riding one and leading another. Both horses stood like rocks and, when the tarp got caught on a hedge they walked over it without any problem. Neither had ever been sacked out with a tarp.

This horse needs work. 15 = 20 minutes is nothing, barely time for the animal to warm up when being ridden.
Ground work is important but there is no need to spend hours each day teaching it, general day to day handling should be enough for the horse to know that you are leader.

I do not fool around when a horse is jumpy, it gets worked at the trot and worked hard. if it has the energy to mess around and tank off then it has the energy to work harder.
If it tanks off in the arena then it gets turned onto a circle and kept at the canter until it is wanting to trot and then made to canter some more. When it is tired then it gets made to do what I wanted it to in the first place.
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post #10 of 25 Old 12-23-2012, 07:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all. I really appreciate the advice. We're focusing on the tarp so much because he spooks at absolutely everything. I lunged him pretty hard the other day (yes, we do more than just desensitization... he does have to work sometimes. :) ) and when I went to put his stable sheet on so he wouldn't go into shock with the cold temperatures, he flipped out at it. If I hang my jacket over his stall door, he about goes through the wall trying to get away from it, and he wasn't like this when I first got him (or at least he never had the opportunity to show that he was. It was summer, not a lot of blankets and jackets around.) And it isn't just that, one time when a friend of mine was riding him, he was doing well until he pooped, and the sound of it hitting the ground scared him and he bolted. He's just so scared of everything, so that's why we're doing all of this groundwork. I've just been focusing on the tarp here because it's been our biggest challenge so far.
I also can't ride him yet. I'm still a beginner rider, and the people who have been on him for me say they wonder how much truth my friend was telling me when she said he was brokebroke, because he doesn't seem to know what he's doing.
Either way, I'm working with a trainer starting this week, and I've been taking lessons to improve myself as a rider. I think this is something we can work through, and I will definitely try some of the things suggested. Thank you all again so much!
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