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post #1 of 31 Old 04-16-2009, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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Location: florida
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need advice

Ok, this may be long. I'm new to the forum here, so i gotta do a little back story. I saw this ad on craigslist for this woman who had a haflinger mare - about 5 years old - green broke but needed riding time on her. She didn't have time, too green for someone to pay to lease, so she was looking for someone who just wanted to RIDE for free and spend time on her horses back. I agreed to do it and went out and worked with her. We did a little lunge line work in her small arena and then I rode her around a bit. She was a bit stubborn, but not mean and pretty smart, picked stuff up quickly. By day 3 I was taking on her the trails with another horse. So, fast forward...she is having to move so she put her horses back on her parents property. She tells me her mom has this horse, similar in personality to the one I've been working with for her, but this horse is a paint x belgian. Said I could work with her 'for fun' if I was interested. So, we go out there this week. Her mom has a big riding arena for shows (no round pen or anything). I work with my normal horse first and she does good. Then I get her moms horse out. I just led her out with a halter and lead rope. got out to the arena just fine. I put the lunge line on her and bent down to pick up the lunge whip and she tried to dart off in one direction. I let the line out a bit and she stopped. So then I left the whip on the ground as she seemed eager to move without it. She trotted around me, picking her own speed and then would practically charge me and try to run out to the fence. She'd hit the end of the lunge line and stop, trot around for a bit, let out a little buck and try to run off again. The last time, she hit the end of the line hard and I just let go, rather than be dragged across the arena. the horse charged down the fence line to the end, turned around and charged back. It was like a horse out of the wild! She charged me a couple times but turned at the last minute. I finally just got out of the arena, we got her to come over to the fence after she ran about for a bit and got the lunge line off her. Then I basically, ran back and forth a bit after her in the arena just to wear her down a bit so she'd be manageable. Then I got the lead line back on her and just lead her around in a small circle for a bit. She was ok, so I thought I'd end on a good note and lead her back to the barn after that. NOW the womans daughter tells me the horse is basically wild and has never been worked with and it's up to me if I want to mess with it. If she only had a round pen, it would be so much easier...but she doesn't. I'm looking for suggestions as to how to start with this horse!
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post #2 of 31 Old 04-16-2009, 08:17 PM
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Have you ever started a horse? I'm guessing if you are asking as to how to start this one, that you haven't?

If you haven't, then I wouldn't recommend starting this horse by yourself. If you're still willing to do it, then get some material because it's going to take you watching trainers techniques (if not in person at least through videos) as to how to start.

I'd recommend getting Clinton Anderson's ground series. He goes step by exact step. Awesome stuff.

What I do when starting a horse is using his ground work:
halter and lead line (with a horse like this, I'd use a 22 ft lead)
desensitize the horse to be able to be approached and touched and rubbed all over with your hand and the halter and near the feet with a whip. get to where you can touch the horse anywhere. this will take a lot of approach and retreat (depending on how spooky the horse is)

next I'd start with hips over. disengaging the hips. both sides. These hip exercises are what will stop the bolting 100%.....then work up to sending the horse in a half circle and stopping the horse via hip disengaging.

there's loads of steps to it, so really if you've never started a horse, you will need to get some material at least...better yet, work with a pro in person. it's not enough to just say do this and that through posts here,....because you've got to think about will be putting the basic foundation work into this horse.

that means, that if you are not confident in your skills and get scared easily if the horse reacts big, then you will be training the horse to have a lot of bad habits that then you or someone else will have to change and on top of putting in good training. So, double duty for mess ups.

I'm just saying that to show that it's not something you can just do in your spare time, it's a real commitment to start a horse. getting the timing and feel right so as not to cause bad habits. as is, she's learning that she can lock her body and pull away from you (which is normal prey instinct fight or flee when scared) if she does this enough times, you've taught her to bolt on a lead. so, then you'll have double duty to fix that and put in good leading manners. double duty.

Frankly, I think these people are taking advantage of you. They don't pay for training and you do all the work. AND they have already proved that they are not honest with you. They just sound like mooches to me.

I'm not saying you can't do it. You can. Hell, if I can do this stuff, anybody can. But I'm saying it's a big commitment. Because the horse's first experiences are extremely important and will shape the horse for the rest of her life. Bad habits are retrainable, but they are hard to break.

Then I basically, ran back and forth a bit after her in the arena just to wear her down a bit so she'd be manageable.
This isn't something you want to do. You're chasing her and acting like a predator which triggers her prey response, and can make things more difficult for you later on. You aren't going to wear her down, you're just going to teach her to be scared/wary of you.

Also...I didn't see anywhere in your post as to the age of this horse. If the horse is less than 3 you definitely don't want to do anything like running her around hard. that's hard on her body (and doesn't do anything for training). I wouldn't recommend running any age horse like this, actually. Doesn't train em for anything other than to run away. I've fixed many horses who were chased who then turn out to be hard to catch.

Honestly, I would recommend against starting this horse by yourself. Don't mean to sound like a downer,....but I just don't get a good feeling about any of this.

Last edited by Calamity Jane; 04-16-2009 at 08:24 PM.
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post #3 of 31 Old 04-16-2009, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: florida
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I have to say I agree with everything you have said. The only reason i work with the other horse is because I can actually RIDE her and she is easy to work with. I have fun when I'm on her. This new horse is about 5 years old. Apparently her mother has had it since it was born and its basically been a 'pet'. She said her mother is afraid of it, and they all have trouble getting it into the stall if it's not done in a particular order (other horses first, etc). I told her I didn't think that I would do this new horse any good because I can only work with it once a week - like I do the other horse. My friend has been going out with me to work with the other horse, Disney the haflinger. The woman has no problem with my friend riding one of her other horses so we could go on the trails together - normally she charges for the horse rental. Personally, I am afraid of the paint x belgian mix. i am NOT a horse trainer by any means, I have only worked with some horses when I was taking jumping lessons and my instructor would be training a new horse she'd put me on it to work with during my lessons. so I know leg cues, RIDING stuff like that. I have never STARTED a horse, never mind a HUGE one like this that is CRAZY! But, my friend likes this new horse and wants to work with her while I work with Disney. I have read several training books, watched several training videos... and they are ALWAYS in a round pen. The only thing I have available is this huge riding arena.
So...this horse is approachable, is easy to put a halter and lead rope on, and leads around well. Would it be reasonable to say the next time my friend works with this horse, she should work with basic grooming? Maybe get a soft brush or curry comb and work with touching the horse all over?
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post #4 of 31 Old 04-17-2009, 01:16 AM
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Well it sounds like you know where to start going. You don't want to scare the horse by making it run wildly away from you, and it think that you're chasing it constantly. It probably scared her alot so maybe work with grooming her alot! Practice picking up her feet and playing with her ears and head (that will help with its time to bridle). Make sure you teach her how to lower her head and open her mouth when you put ur thum into the side of it.
I think you might have to do some more halter training with her too. Teach her how to walk with you and how to stand quietly while you groom her.
Maybe you can try to work her in a small pen, then use a pole to lay in the corners to make it kind of circular. Maybe ask the owner if she has any idea's of what would work.
If you need more detail about certain parts of the training don't be afraid to ask.

Just like the other person said it might be good to get someone else that is trained to at least put a start on her for you. U'll also need to learn it so you can continue with it.. its gunna be a very long process.
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post #5 of 31 Old 04-17-2009, 01:28 AM
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And like Calamity Jane said, are you sure you want to be doing this all for free? People generally pay a lot of money for even just having their horses exercised, much less training them.

I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.
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post #6 of 31 Old 04-17-2009, 01:36 AM
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That's the truth - people pay money for services. Don't get taken to town. :]
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post #7 of 31 Old 04-17-2009, 01:46 AM
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I have dealt with many horses like this. I am assuming that this horse stays in a stall most of the time? If that is the case, then it needs to be let out for at least an hour. Walk it over to the arena and just turn it loose (keep the halter on if its hard to catch) and let it run around. It just has some pinned up energy it needs to let loose. Bring treats with you, maybe apples or carrots and stand by the fence. Occasionally offer one to the horse so you can earn its trust. Once you have done that try to get in the arena with it and lunge it around the arena without a lunge rope. let it run free. when it tires or wants attention it will come up to you. This horse just seems to have to much energy, and needs someone to give a little trust so it can give some. I hope this helps.
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post #8 of 31 Old 04-17-2009, 06:37 AM Thread Starter
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thanks for all your advice. I have had other horse people tell me I am being taken advantage of, working with her horses for free. Part of me thinks I am taking advantage of her because the one horse, Disney...really doesn't need anymore training, just ride time. She does lessons and I told her she could go ahead and use her for lessons. Now I basically just go ride for fun once a week. So I don't feel like I'm being taken advantage of there. In this new scenario with this other horse though, part of me thinks 'no way, you need to pay me to work with this horse'. but on the other hand, I'm not a trainer and I don't really know what I'm doing (hence my posting on here) so I don't really feel I can say that she needs to pay me, when I'm learning myself. Personally, I'M not going to put any money in this horse. I'M not going to pay a trainer to come out to work with both of us. But maybe I'll suggest that to the owner, that I would be willing to work with the horse if she'll pay for a trainer to come out a few times to help.
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post #9 of 31 Old 04-17-2009, 03:08 PM
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Probably a good call on that last bit. Just make sure you talk to her about what happens if something -does- go wrong, even with a trainer, and you or the horse gets hurt. Who's at fault?

And the same goes for the horse you're riding for fun. If you or the horse gets hurt in a freak accident, who pays for damages?

Just something to think about.

As for the owner paying for a trainer to work with both of you, I'd suggest that to the owner. She may be willing to go for that - but chances are if the horse is five and unworked with, and they're trying to pawn her off on you for free, they won't be too willing.

I'd keep riding Disney, and just tell her no thanks on the other mare.

Good luck!
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post #10 of 31 Old 04-17-2009, 03:25 PM
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I've lunged horses for the first time, and its no fun. I had a mare who reared up and stood rearing for a little while, kicking in the air before taking off. DON'Tjust let them take off, correct problem ASAP.

Good Luck
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