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post #1 of 11 Old 01-14-2010, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: My Phunny Pharm, CA
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Question newbie looking for answers

First off, let me tell you I am new to this forum, but so far I like what I have seen and read. Here is my situation. Last October i purchased my first horse (after waiting 46 yrs), a 19 yo OTT thoroughbred mare we call Dolly. I hadn't planned on buying her, but her owners were struggling financially and desperately needed cash to buy feed for their other animals. They had taken her in last August from someone who moved out of state. They didn't have any health history on her, weren't sure about her age or breed but thought she had been used for gymkhana. After tracing the tattoo on her upper lip I found out her age, breed, and some of her early history.Then I had her feet taken care of(hadn't been done in some time), and a vet check, shots, and her teeth checked, and got the OK to ride her. I started with basic ground work to see what she knew, or didn't. At first she was very nervous and a little pushy(obviously didn't trust me) but over time started to relax and was actually very sweet.Her ground manners have improved a great deal and she even lets me mess with her when she's sunbathing in her pen.The problem is i can do pretty much anything with her on the ground,lunge,back,lead,load,groom,bath,halter,sadd le,with no issues, but she will not let me mount or ride. If she even thinks your going to mount she quickly moves her rear end away, and if you do manage to get on,you better hang on! At first she doesn't move, so you think cool, but as soon as you pick up the reigns she swings her head to the left and away you go. After she tries a quick little buck, she takes off in a trot and heads for the nearest tree to try to knock you off(thank goodness for helmets!).She has no lameness issues and the vet said she looked great for her age and to keep doing whatever I was doing feed wise. Any advise would be greatly appreciated! Thanks
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post #2 of 11 Old 01-14-2010, 08:39 PM
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Location: Alberta
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Maybe go back a few steps (training wise) and treat her like she was a newbie to the whole getting on her back thing. Pat the saddle and wiggle and slap on the sides of the saddle. If she's good with that maybe try putting your foot in the stirrup and quickly laying over the saddle (not actually throwing your leg over) then get down, give her prais. Repeating over and over and extending the length of time your laying up there. The idea being to desensitize (sp) her to you getting on.
With her moving her rear you could try having her against a fence so she has no where to go. (this might freak her out though, so I don't know). Also maybe have her on a lunge line (with someone on the other end). That way when you do get up there that someone on the other end of the lung line can lunge her with you up there. Just some ideas - hope they help or inspire some new ideas.
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post #3 of 11 Old 01-14-2010, 08:43 PM
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You shouldn't be "picking up" the reins after you're already on the horse. You should have a hold on them while you're on the ground or on the mounting block, so that they can't take off the second you get on (or in some cases while you're still in the process of getting on).

I'd say circle her if she tries to trot off toward a tree. It'll refocus her on you and your cues, and as soon as she's listening you can reward her behavior by letting her walk on.
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post #4 of 11 Old 01-14-2010, 08:48 PM
Join Date: May 2009
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I agree with Alicia...sounds like she needs ALOT of desensatizing to mounting before trying to "ride" again. It's alot of leg work, quite the workout for you, but she'll be better for it in the end. Start by slapping the saddle lightly, jiggling the stirups, stepping back a bit as if you're going to put a foot in the stirup, get her ok with a mounting your way up.

I think in this case, patience is going to be your biggest training tool.

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post #5 of 11 Old 01-15-2010, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
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more info

I always let her inspect the saddle and pad before I put them on, and once on, do the flapping the stirrups and tugging the saddle, and she doesn't react at all, just stands there like it's no big deal. I've tried putting her next to the fence, but that just makes her panic, and she tries to bulldoze me over the other direction. I always have the reigns in my hand when I mount, I just keep them level with her withers. I'm thinking I may go back to the basics because I don't think she really respects me. She's very smart, it like she's letting me do everything else because it's easy for her, but when it comes time to really work, she gets snobby, you know the "diva" type. HA HA!
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post #6 of 11 Old 01-15-2010, 07:08 AM
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It might be helpful to know that racehorses are not usually mounted from a standstill; usually a groom throws the rider up while the horse is walking or jogging and the rider picks up stirrups and reins as the horse is moving. The rider also usually doesn't sit on the horse's back right away, but catches their irons and moves off standing up in the irons.

So what you're asking her to do is quite different, and will require retraining. All the advice given previously is good; I'd also recommend mounting her in the stall. Even if she moves and runs around you're in confined area. When you have your reins, stirrups, and girth set, have someone open the stall door and lead you into the area you'll be working in.

Another consideration - make sure you mount as lightly and as balanced as possible, preferably catching your outside stirrup before easing your weight into the tack. Racehorses don't understand how to *stand* square and accept weight on their backs the way riding horses do; it will be a progression until you can get her to stand at the mounting black and stay immobile until you ask her to move off.
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post #7 of 11 Old 01-18-2010, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: My Phunny Pharm, CA
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Thanks for all the advise from everyone. I started working with the basics again and she's doing great. I have been getting her use to being touched and rubbed on her back. At first she would move away, so I would just keep my hand where it was and follow her until she stopped moving, then I would remove my hand and praise her. After about five minutes of this she no longer had a problem with me touching her on her back. She's obviously a quick learner :) I also set up a kind of obstacle course for us to play together. Some poles, large branches, and sheet metal to go over, along with some small hills, and some scary things like plastic bags hanging from trees and a tarp on the ground that both move when the wind blows (and it always blows here). She loves it! She's not afraid of anything (barking dogs, loud rustling pool cover, even cars) and she loves exploring new things, and to my surprise, she really seems to enjoy jumping! Over the last few days she seems to have really bonded with me! She likes to snuggle her head in my jacket, and get her forelock scratched. Unfortunately, last night the rain started, it's been raining all day today, and we're suppose to get rain every day for the next seven days, AAHHHH! I live in the Mojave desert and we don't usually get this much rain, so it will probably be a while before I can really play with Dolly again. I just hope she remembers everything we have been working on. Wish me luck!
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post #8 of 11 Old 01-18-2010, 09:48 PM
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Wow, congrats on taking the OTTB plunge at 46! I did it at 40, and it's the best thing I've ever done. I see you've already discovered that she's a quick learner and it's very encouraging that she likes to play obstacle course. Use her curiosity to your advantage and expose her to anything you can. I'm sure with a little retraining, she'll be a fantastic horse.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #9 of 11 Old 01-18-2010, 09:58 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
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Whew, sounds like quite a project you've got on your hands. Those usually end up being the most fun. :)

I'd suggest having a trainer out. If you are a newbie (not sure if that meant to riding or just to the board), you could very well be doing something that makes her take off that you just don't know you are doing. Even just one session could drastically shed some light on your situation and what is happening.

Another set of eyes is invaluable! Especially one with the courage to hop up on your horse for you to try and figure things out. :)

Best of luck!

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post #10 of 11 Old 01-19-2010, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: My Phunny Pharm, CA
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Actually, I'm new to both the board and owning a horse, although I have loved and been interested in horses all my life. I have many "horsey" friends and all my kids have taken lessons at some point, but my friends finally convinced me that I should "just do it" before I get too old to enjoy it. I'm so glad I did. I am looking into having a trainer evaluate her, and me soon, so we'll see how it goes. Meanwhile I'll keep working with her as much as I can.
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