Nervous Horse Troubles - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 Old 01-31-2009, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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Nervous Horse Troubles

My friend has a 9 yr old Saddle Seat ASB that gets extremely tense especially when they try and bridle him. How should this be handled?

They also are having problems while working him. When they work him and ask for a change of gait or direction he gets so tense that he jigs, swings his rear to the side, or tucks his head between his chest and stops.

How can they calm him down so that he gives his undivided attention?
My friend and her mother are experienced AOTs but are stuck and need some help.
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post #2 of 7 Old 01-31-2009, 08:55 PM
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What kind of bit are they using? It could be the horse doesn't like the bit or the people ride with hard hands so he's afraid of the contact.

It sounds like they are pushing him too hard when they are riding him, or he's not confident with what is going on and they just keep pushing him so he gets more and more worked up. Jigging is a result of the person holding the horse back...this is not good. Reins are not meant to stop a horse.
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post #3 of 7 Old 01-31-2009, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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So they should probably go to a softer bit, and just work more on relaxation?
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-31-2009, 10:30 PM
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Without more info it's hard to know what's actually going on. What's an AOT?

Has his back & saddle been well checked to ensure he's comfortable? Has the horse(and the people) been well trained? Does he understand how to respond to their cues?

Has the horse had his mouth examined, teeth floated, to make sure there's no pain? How was the horse approached & asked to accept the bit? What did the people do when he evaded them? Some horses, innately or because of previous experience, just can't stand a bit. Has he been tried bitless?

I would start on the ground with this horse, teach & strengthen the behaviours you want, like yielding to pressure. Use lots of 'approach & retreat' and positive reinforcement(reward) to get him comfortable with everything. When I first got on his back, I would check that he was responsive at a stand still before asking him to walk. I would ensure he was responsive in a walk before trotting, etc. I would also ride in a safe, enclosed area to begin with, so I could *ask* politely for something, then persist gently until he responded, rather than having to try to force him to do things because of safety concerns.
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post #5 of 7 Old 02-01-2009, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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AOT is amatuer/owner/trainer. His teeth are good (checked recently), chiro was out last week and said everything was impressively pretty good. He has to be shown with a bit (Saddle Seat) so bitless would be hard to do.
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post #6 of 7 Old 02-01-2009, 01:15 AM
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Quote:
AOT is amatuer/owner/trainer
So experienced amateurs?? Is that a contradiction of terms?

I would guess he hasn't been treated &/or trained very well. Without more info about the way these people handle him, how long they've had him, can't even guess as to how responsible or otherwise they may be for his behaviour.

I would 'start' this horse again, from scratch. To confirm what foundations he has, or to teach them, before moving onto the 'upper levels' such as riding & eventually showing. I think the horse is very likely lacking in a lot of foundation training, including trust in his handlers. The people are obviously not up to this without help, so if they were my friends I'd offer help or recommend a good trainer/instructor.

Showing & the likes should be more of a final goal, the end result, rather than something that happens regardless of the horse/rider behaviour. Therefore it is not a reason not to go bitless to begin with(tho of course there may be other reasons... See Dr Cook's site for more reasons why you might want to). If you want him to get over his troubles with it, it is far more effective not to force the issue until you've got him over his fear of it and can teach him *considerately* to accept it.
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post #7 of 7 Old 02-01-2009, 10:53 AM
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The fact that "going bitless would he hard to do" is proof that this horse has not had the proper foundation put on him. You should be able to ride your horse bridleless, IMO. If the bit is harsh, no wonder he won't take it.

This isn't something that can be fixed over night. I've seen saddle seat horses...so if this horse is anything like what I've seen, there are a lot of issues to work out. I'm not saying all saddle seat horses are like that, but the tons that I've seen were.
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