New horse, terrified of everything.

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New horse, terrified of everything.

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  • Training a spooky haflinger mare
  • Horse terrified from training

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    07-30-2013, 10:24 PM
New horse, terrified of everything.

Okay... Not sure where to start.

My Haflinger mare, 8 years old, is just terrified of e-ve-ry-thing. She seemed okay when we bought her, but she doesn't act like the horse I thought I bought. If that even makes sense.
She is fine when just in the pasture with the other horses around. Except for when you want to handle her.
She is hard to catch. You have to bribe her with food. Se is scared being touched, its like she freezes up. She tried to kick the farrier. My farrier at I both are Not able to 'read' her. She can spook for 'no reason'. I was brushing her tail, she was fine for two minutes, then suddenly went to sit on her behind.

I knew she needed some work and desensitizing when I got her, but not this much, she is like completely unpredictable, and on top of that, super super fast.
Part of me thinks she is partially blind in her right eye, and she is spooky and nervous because of that. My farrier thinks its just a trust issue. But I have no idea how to make this work.

I am currently 18 weeks pregnant, so I have no intention to ride any time soon. But I would like to spend some quality time with her, but its impossible.

Because she is so unpredictable, I don't know where and what her boundaries are. Currently I don't do much more than just feed her out of a bucket that I hold, and pat her softly on her forehead...thats about it.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
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    07-31-2013, 12:50 AM
Sounds like trust issues to me. I know plenty of horses with blindness that aren't that spooky (except maybe get startled on one side if you don't let him or her know you are coming).

Do you know her background? Is she even broke to ride? Who worked with her in the past? Did she get any training? What is the history of the seller/breeder/past owner?

One thing I would look into is your body language and what she is reacting to. Most people do not realize what they are saying to their horses through body language, even professionals with decades of experience sometimes just can't read the language. It is something that takes constant practice to understand.

What I would do is see if it is me, look at what your doing, look at what she is responding too. Also, it may be something about you or around you. Maybe she doesn't like the color of you hat. Maybe she was beaten by someone with the same sound of voice or a certain word that you use. These things are all little things that can affect it.

It is like the story of Alexander the Great's horse. (Summary) Everyone thought the horses was unrideable as it bucked and kicked, but little Alexander noticed he was looking at his shadow. So Alexander turned the horse towards the sun so he couldn't see it then jumped on and rode away into the wind. The horse was perfect once out of the way.

Now, this is not every horse's case. I'd love to know more about the background before I give any other advice.
    07-31-2013, 08:50 AM
What a nice story bout Alexanders horse

I don't know anything about her background. The previous owner said he only had her for a month. He was told she drives and rides, but when he tried to saddle her she was very scared, apparently. But he also told me someone rode her for a few minutes and that went 'ok'.

I forgot to say why I think she might be blind in one eye, or partially blind. I was standing 50 ft away from her, she was out in the pasture with her right side turned to me. I called her name and she looked into the left direction and she couldnt find me. Not until I was way closer and more in front of her. Also the farrier had more issues with her right front and back legs.

She might be reacting to body language, but I have been around horses for all my life and never had this issue, but of course, I am no expert
    07-31-2013, 09:06 AM
Sounds a little bit like a mare I had a few years ago, I too thought she was going blind because of her behavior (had the vet check her eyes, no problems) . She was being sold as a childs horse, was perfect when we tried her out and brought her home. 3 days later I had a different horse. She almost knocked me out the first time I had her out grooming her, she spooked at her lead rope blowing in the wind, reared several times until she ripped the hitching rail off and knocked me right in the back... knocked me flat on my face in the driveway. She would spook at everything. She'd even spook at her hay on the ground when it moved from herself pulling at it while eating. She ended up injuring her leg in the pasture (probably spooking herself) $2000+ in vet bills and her ripping her face apart spooking and rearing in the stall while on stall rest.... we finally just gave her away as a pasture pet once she was sound enough to go outside. I am positive she had to have been drugged when I went to see her. Cost me a ton of money, but I am just glad a family didn't buy her for their child, she would have killed them. I have no idea what would have caused her to be like this and so self destructive. She did not act fearful of humans whatsoever... she just had a screw loose I guess. Sure hope you figure out what happened with your mare, but please be careful!
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    07-31-2013, 09:23 AM
If you can move around her safely then you need to start ground work and desensitizing training. If there is a roundpen or other smaller enclosed area you can put things down like tarps, bags, cones, buckets..(cones and buckets along the rail not on the ground) and just work her there from the ground.

Some of the trainers out there, Reis, Anderson, have vids on desensitizing and groundwork. She may have trust issues which can lead to the spook issues so working with her will hopefully solve is going to take time and some effort.

This will give you an idea of Anderson's method but is NOT the video itself...Clinton Anderson: De-Spook, De-Stress, Desensitize Your Horse
    07-31-2013, 10:36 AM
Thank you! Wild it hurt to start working with her when the bay is born, so after new years? Because I would like to be consistent, instead of having ti give her vacation time again end of the year, plus that it will be somewhat risky being pregnant and all.

I do have a smaller fenced afea where I could work with her. She is pretty good when leading her. Even if she spooks she doesnt run me over. Then again, we havent run into anything she really is scared off.

My farrier went with me when I was going to look at her to possibly buy, and he also think she was drugged then. That being sad, I am hesitant to sell her or give her away because I am scared that she will end up with an 'old style cow boy' that will try to break her in the rough way, no offense to anyone! But just so you know what I mean.
So basically I am stuck with her trying to make the best of it!

My farrier said she is just dangerous because she doesnt give any warning and we can't read her, and she is super super fast to act.

I am tempted to apply for Clinton Anderson's last resort program. I would really love to work with her with his method, but I am completely new to it, and I am sure this horse is not the right horse to learn on!

Thanks for all the input, I appreciate it. I was wrong to buy her but now I have her and I don't just want to 'flip' her without trying.
    07-31-2013, 11:17 AM
You've gone past reality check time. Horses like this are dangerous. It's different when there's a reason for the bad behavior. Either put her down, or get rid of her with full disclosure. Too many good horses to take a chance getting hurt. This is the type that will lull you into thinking you have them fixed and then explode and hurt you.

Your probably right about her being drugged. Happens all of the time. In the future it'd be a good idea to spend more time with the prospect. Enough time that any drugs would wear off.
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    07-31-2013, 01:10 PM
Some of it could also be part of the Haffie breed. Check out this thread that was started awhile ago in which some of us Haffie owners discussed our experiences with them: Calling all Haflinger lovers..what has your experience been?

I know that with my Haflinger (granted, she is a cross), she is extremely smart and intelligent. She can "play dumb" and can also be a challenge to catch. I also had trouble getting her to pick up her feet and experienced some bucking and attitude in the very beginning.

There's a chance your mare could of been drugged but there's also a chance that it could just be her behavior (she never had anyone 'put her in her place' properly and without over-doing it in a negative way). I would strongly suggest doing some ground-work and taking the time necessary to establish an understanding of this mare before first attempting to ride.
    07-31-2013, 02:11 PM
Originally Posted by bbsmfg3    
You've gone past reality check time. Horses like this are dangerous. It's different when there's a reason for the bad behavior. Either put her down, or get rid of her with full disclosure. Too many good horses to take a chance getting hurt. This is the type that will lull you into thinking you have them fixed and then explode and hurt you.

Your probably right about her being drugged. Happens all of the time. In the future it'd be a good idea to spend more time with the prospect. Enough time that any drugs would wear off.
I don't totally agree with all that bbsmfg3 said I don't know that this horse need to be put down, but it is a good question to think about. However, like they said horses like this can be dangerous. Without really knowing you and the horse I would be slow to say anything about the horse.
But, the fact that this horse needs help is for sure and it sounds like you are not the person to train/re-train this horse. I can not agree with bbsmfg3 more on the statement, "Too many good horses to take a chance getting hurt." This is so true, its sad to add to this horses moving from home to home (I don't think its really good for horses) but in this case it would be worth thinking about.

I also agree that it could just be a poorly trained Haflinger. A few years ago I would not have understood the post about the haflinger breed. I have trained lots of horses but never worked with a haffie, until a few years ago we bought on at an auction. Now haffie's are just horses, but after working with one they are a little more challenging. Good luck you have a lot of choose to make.
Skittle likes this.
    07-31-2013, 11:35 PM
I don't think you have to put her down. You could look at this as a good learning experience, but it isn't worth your health if you do not feel you can handle it.

I'd start her from the ground up. Treat her like she is an untouched 4 year old horse. Start reading and watching dvds. The DVDs will probably be a quicker way to learn. Have you ever heard of GiddyUpFlix? It is a website like Netflix where you pay a small amount and then get access to thousands of these wonderful dvds. Makes it affordable. Watch as many as possible, come up with a plan, and then go for it. While learning, I would just work on being around her or any behavior issues you think you can handle, no matter how small, whether it just be hanging out in the stall with her or grooming.

I agree that she sounds like a badly trained Halflinger.

Here is the link for the Horse DVD Rental Site: Horse DVD Rentals | Horse Training Dvd | Horse Dvds | Rent Horse Videos
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