Numerous Problems discovered with my 4yo Gelding

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Numerous Problems discovered with my 4yo Gelding

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    03-04-2011, 01:24 PM
Angry Numerous Problems discovered with my 4yo Gelding

A quick history lesson first off, so you know the back ground...

I have been around with Bracken for about 4 months now. Only been in contact with him for 4 weeks.. I bought him to save him from a gypsy dealer after loaning for 3 weeks.
Ridden in a snaffle, looking at a roller bit soon if he's still naughty ! No gadgets I.e martingale.

Today, I took him out on his usual ride (the outskirts of the farm), and decided to take him a little further.. He got say? 100 yards further then normal, reared turned on his hind and bolted back the way we came. I managed to slow him down and calm him down and took him onto our usual schooling field. Right away I had a problem. The moment we got onto the field, he was pulling to go back the way we came and pulling for the yard gate. He even stops dead at the yard gate and if I try moving him forward.. *BUCK* if I ask again *JUMPING UP AND DOWN ON FRONT LEGS*.. Managed to walk him away, but right away was pulling for the gate on the other side of the field. We had only been out 15 mins !!! Once he was good, I took him back to the farm and attempted to lunge (i didnt feel safe on his back as he had never acted this way with me before, he is usually lazy and dopey).. I then learned he doesnt lunge and he is terrified of the lunge whip.. I left the lunge whip on the ground out of the way and tried to each him to walk around me now towards me, and it was working untill he decided to aim his back leg at my tummy... I always try leaving it on a good note, so I made him walk around me for a few more moments and took him up to his stable before I lost my temper. I know he is young, and has issues, but im not sure how to handle them. If I feel he is scared or getting overwhelmed with too many things at once I give him and me a time out for a few moments to collect our thoughts. Am I doing wrong??

If I ride him in the school, he will do the same in regards to pulling for the gate, but he doesnt bolt. He will walk sideways if he has to as long as it gets him to the gets, and usually its that close, your bouncing your knee caps off the post and rail fencing we have!

On the ground he is brilliant ! Can do annnyythinngg with him!! Which I am proud of because when I was asked to loan him I was told never to go into the stable with him, be careful lifting his feet, he's tried biting peoples faces, he drags you everywhere.. So I am proud to say he's done a 180 on the ground. Even my 6 year old cousin can groom him and sit on him bareback with mummy holding her! He doesnt bat an eye lid! So what barriers are between me and him for him to be so naughty/confused when being worked?? Any advice is VERY welcome, as how im feeling with him right now, I don't even want to feed him!!
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    03-04-2011, 02:22 PM
Green Broke
Years ago I bought an abused filly (AQHA racing lines). She was 3 years old and had been ridden. She was thin and weedy but I figured with groceries and training she would become a nice horse for resale to a good home. This was, BTW, part of how I paid for college.

I got her in hand, and did a good bit of ground work.. got the farrier there for her feet and decided it was time to ride. I took her out and she was just great.. I mean a really nice horse to ride until we got about 2 miles.. maybe a little less.. and she reared and turned and ran for home. Her turn was so quick I don't even remember it.. we were walking along fine and dandy and the next second we were in a flat out run for home.

I turned got her stopped and the battle began. Buck. Rear. Leap. Fight... and she lathered herself to a frenzy and finally (probably out of exhaustion) she stopped, lowered her head and took a single walking stride AWAY from home. I got off her and petted her, loosened the girth and lead her home (was going to have to walk her cool anyway).

For the next 3 weeks.. maybe a bit more.. that was our routine. We would get just so far and she would wheel and try for running home.. but now I was ready. I put the stoppers on the running and got (instead) a pitched battle. Every time I just stuck it out until she stopped and took that all important walk AWAY from home. Every time she did it I got off, loosened the girth and walked her home.

I walked miles. She walked miles. I just kept it all quiet.

At the end of this three week time one day she went into the spin and fight routine and it was like a lightbulb went on. She stopped. She just simply STOPPED and dropped her head and turned on her own and started walking away from home. I got off and unsaddled her and let her GRAZE for awhile, then put the saddle back on and led her on home. That day she never broke a sweat and that was the last time she gave me that pitched battle.

I had her for about 6 months. At the end of 6 months she was one of the best horses I ever re-habbed. I had her doing nice transitions and was doing a simple change of lead on a figure 8. She was just a great horse. I sold her to a girl who was recovering from rheumatic fever as a 4H project. She did everything that girl asked in a quiet manner. A truly GREAT little horse (15hh).

Ultimately it turned out that her previous owner had beaten her with an 18 inch 2X4. He used that like a crop. He did not know how to ride or how to train a horse and so he made up for HIS shortcomings by beating her. He was over weight and out of shape. She OTOH learned to dump him.. just far enough out that when he got back to the barn that she had already run home to, he was too tired to do anything but take her saddle off and let her loose (if his family had not already done it).

When I got her and she could NOT dump me, she fought like a maniac.. probably figured she was in for the routine beating which never came.

I do not know if this story will help you with your horse or not. I am thinking he is what we used to refer to as "barn sour" and that is that he is attached to being home at the barn. The going to the gate is very typical of a horse that wants the work to end and the feed to begin.

I would take him back to ground zero.. and retrain him from the ground up. When you are done with him (done riding) can you take him somewhere else and leave him tied or in a small paddock with no food? IOW's you need to make being in the ring or out under saddle a lot more rewarding than being in the stable.
    03-04-2011, 02:44 PM
Well, that sure made me chuckle as it all seems very familiar!! He did turn in the blink of an eye! Worse thing was it was around the school pick up time so I can only imagine if that father and daughter was a bit closer than they was! It will sure help though ! At least I have had a success story with this situation! Thank you!

He is a little 'barn sour' I suppose.. could it be because he has bonded with another horse on the yard? And because this other horse cannot work, and im taking him out on his own could he be feeling insecure..? Bracken has to be turned out with Jay (the other horse) otherwise bracken is near jumping fences to get to be with Jay.. Any solutions for this 1 too?? X
    03-04-2011, 10:44 PM
Green Broke
Barn sour horses are usually made that way because working is not enjoyable and being in the barn not working is.

Our job is to make the working part enjoyable for both the horse and the rider. When Copper did what I asked.. all those miles away from the barn.. I IMMEDIATELY rewarded her with what she wanted (me off her back). And I stayed off.

So.. here are some ideas. Take your horse out to the ring to feed his grain. Feed it in the middle of the ring and hold the bucket. Take the horse out to the middle of the ring and do other things he likes such as grooming, massage etc. Do not ride him there all the time. Do things there he likes.. and when you put him back don't immdiately feed etc.

When you do ride, use part of the arena. Cut across the center of the arena before you GET to the gate. Work in only half the arena. Work on circles and getting the horse to bend and do serpentines and always turn before you get to the gate. Change directions by cutting across the arena before you get to the gate. Keep him thinking about paying attention to you because he needs to because he has NO idea what you are going to do next.. and don't ride him to death.

When it is time to leave, dismount in the center of the field or arena. Away from the gate. Lead him around after you get off and when you go out the gate do not go directly back to the stable.. lead him elsewhere first.
    03-04-2011, 11:24 PM
Green Broke
When working him in an arena or roundpen, work him next to the gate and let him rest on the other side or in the middle.

My guess for his attitude is that he doesn't respect or trust you. It's hard to get that in 4 weeks, especially when it doesn't sound like he had much before you got him towards any human. Working him on the ground will gain his respect. The more you can move and control his feet, left, right, forward, and back, the more you'll gain his respect.

With his "tantrum" when you are out riding, you are pushing his comfort zone and he doesn't feel safe with you yet. He wants to be where he knows he is safe, at the barn. When you get his respect and trust, he will go where ever you want. Also, since he is only 4, he is relying a lot on his instincts and thinks he needs to look out for himself.

Something for when you are out riding: DON'T let him eat! At least until you are ready to turn around and go back. When you are ready to go back, stop and let him graze. This gives him a reward for riding out and be less likely to bolt back before you turn around. Also, NEVER run back to the barn. As long as you can slow him down, you can do some trotting. The closer you get to the barn, do more transitions but always walk the last part. This will let him cool down and know he can't bolt back.
    03-05-2011, 06:43 PM
Im unsure where I stand with him at the moment because he runs to me with the 'save me' look in his eyes when he is turned out and being bullied with OTHER horses other than jay. He will come to me in the field no matter what time of the day or how many time I have caught him previously that day.

From all the brilliant advice and stories given, I have decided to go back to basics with him. Approaching him as if nothing happened previously, expect nothing but good from him (raising his good energy levels), sending clear signals about personal space (he stood on me by accident earlier leading him into the paddock) and when out riding, push his comfort level a little a at a time (as he is still in homeland area when he's acting up) then bring him home at a slower pace then he's took out with, with alot of halting and patting when he's good. NOT grazing. When he's back, walk him around the yard for a few moments (the yard gate brings us right to his stable, so I will walk him all the way down past the school and back up again), then dismount before we reach the stables, waling him back to his tie up area, leave him tacked up a little, then when im finished pottering around (all jobs are done before I take pleasure in riding), then untack and put him out.. unless it is time tom come in. Then he will not be fed in his stable as per usual, but tied up at another post. His manners waiting for food and on the ground are very good from when I first came into contact with him. He used to beg continually until he was fed. Now he begs 1ce or twice then realises he's not getting it any quicker and stands quiet. He doesnt put his head in the bucket until its on the ground. Although... if im doing inhand work with him or turning him out, if he spots a bucket he literally drags me to the bucket, or barges past me. Its almost as if he's never been fed, unless he knows its feeding time!... hmm.. he really is naughty come to think of it. He just knows when to be good, almost as if he's trained me !!!.. okay, any clues how I can reverse this?!
    03-06-2011, 03:03 AM
I've had quite a chuckle at what you wrote on here Elana, as I have a four year old standardbred with exactly the characteristics you describe!! I will be trying your suggestions out to see whether I can get her to "get over herself".

My horse lives with another mare and I sometimes wonder whether I need to send this one away for awhile to see whether it might help mine get over her not wanting to leave home as I'm quite sure its not so much the 'home' thing as more the leaving her friend. Any thoughts on this?
    03-06-2011, 08:06 AM
Green Broke
Reading all this I think a thread on Barn Sour horses and retraining them is in the offing.

Horses that are attached to other horses is pretty normal. I had only two horses and whoever got left behind when I road would scream the entire time I was gone. I just went on anyway.

Rushing back to the barn was NEVER an option. The minute any horse picked up the pace going home we would start to circle. Some of the horses I had to "rehab" were the sort where we would ride out for an hour and it would take three hours to get home. The instant the horse picked up the pace toward home, I was there turning them away from home.. when their pace settled we would start a nice circle and come out of it headed home. When they picked up the pace or hollwed their back, it was rinse and repeat.

The circles were working circles. Spirals sometimes. Figure 8's. Working the horse and training the bend around my inside leg. There was NO time I let the horse just blop along when being ridden. I would give the horse breaks... but heck.. every minute on a horse's back is a chance to work on things. I would do shoulder in's on the trail, transitions in a gait and between gaits. Work at getting the horse off his forehand and driving from behind. There was no real opportunity to worry about the horse left at the barn.. because I was always asking my horse a question and my horse was always trying to think of an answer.

What was sad about Copper is the terrible way she was treated before I got her that MADE her like that. What was wonderful about Copper is how she turned out in the end. One of my best I would say.
    03-06-2011, 08:21 AM
He is fine coming home, and he listens to me. Its almost he's trained me to forget him being naughty because he's been good all the way home.
I don't want to ride im into the ground, hence why we both had a break yesterday from the saddle, but he still worked his mind yesterday with groundwork and manners...

So, going back to basics is definitely the way to go ?! Approaching him as if nothing has happened?!

Thank you for sharing with me, I have been totally stressed out over what to do with him I have even missed my mouth and poured water down my front in a public place because my mind has been elsewhere..
    03-06-2011, 01:58 PM
Green Broke
If you are stressed your horse will sense it. ALWAYS.

That is rule one when handling horses (or any animals).

Don't FORGET it. Be prepared for it with training and evasive actions. Don't worry and stress over it.

BTW no one suggests you ride a horse into the ground. Just don't ride a horse out that has problems with a time limit on the ride. You may need to take time to train something right then and there and it may take time.

A horse in "light work" is one ridden only 1-2 hours a day.. 6 days a week. When I had the farm most of my horses were in light to moderate work at 1-4 hours a day and it was not hard work like ploughing... it was riding.

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