"Playing the Hero" -- when to 'stick with it' & when to realize it's time to move on. - Page 7 - The Horse Forum
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post #61 of 225 Old 02-24-2011, 05:50 PM
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JDI, that was a great post and I'm glad the moderators put it at the top.
You addressed a lot of very important points that I'm sure many people would be afraid to admit. That is to be commended.

As an 'older' person with many decades of horse experience, I can look back on my life with horses and see how many of the things you mentioned were remedied, from my own perspective. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts for lessons learned. No one can 'buy' experience.

In reading many horse forums, I see a common thread, which include nearly everything you've already mentioned. I see many people taking lessons without the benefit of just going out and 'doing' (riding). I agree with many here that hanging onto a horse that is above a person's ability is not a good idea. I think finding a horse that a person can just go ride and gain knowledge and experience with is the best way. After a few years of just riding, formal lessons can later be added if one wanted to go in a specific direction with their riding. Whoever said that a newbie will 'ruin' a few horses before they are where they need to be is absolutely correct. I can look back and see the mistakes I made. But I think in this day and age, with all the communication and information available, a lot of those mistakes can be prevented.

The best thing I can offer from my own experiences is to ride. Ride as often as you can, on as many different horses as you can, with as many different people as you can, from all walks of life. You will learn what to do, and most importantly, what not to do. Being exposed to a variety of riders, horsemen, horses, tack, disciplines, all of that, will add to your knowledge base and experience like nothing else can. You will come out of it an excellent rider with a good seat, good balance, and ready to go in any direction that you'd like to go in. You will be ready for that horse of your dreams, and you will likely be more than capable of handling almost any situation that came up.
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post #62 of 225 Old 03-02-2011, 11:26 AM
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KUDOS JDI! New to this forum and this is by far the best thread I have seen on here. There are entirely too many of those situations out there!

Another huge factor I see with these situations is the economy and the horse market in general. I've seen so much of this the last few years. I judge 4-H, Foundation quarter horse and ranch shows. In the 4-H shows in particular I have seen so many in over their heads and more than enough kids hauled off in ambulances that I could just scream. Every little girl dreams of owning a horse and parents see a chance to give their child a dream come true and think spending a few hundred bucks or saving a rescue is going to do that. There is a fine line between dream & nightmare.

Beginners need beginner horses, not unbroke 2 yr olds or "projects". Leave the training to trainers or be sure you have proper help and guidance and be prepared to pay for it. My family has always had a rule of thumb for us growing up as kids, "Until you are 12, you aren't allowed to own a horse younger than you are"

That rule paid off in spades for me. I started riding on my own at 3 with a lovely antique of a mare and she gave me the best 9 yrs of riding time I've ever had. Don't get me wrong, I've owned and still own lots of wonderful horses but "Bunny" gave me the basics of horsemanship and confidence and taught me so much with an enormous amount of patience. She taught me to read a horse and I owe her a huge debt of gratitude for teaching me to ride with soft quiet hands. When I turned 12, my grandpa let me have my pick of that year's weanling crop - I chose a jet black filly with not a speck of white on her. My mom (a grad of Findlay college and now a retired trainer) helped me step by step with her from imprinting at birth to finished show horse.

Her name is Buttons. She is now 21 and is the antique that my 5 yr old daughter now loves to bits.
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post #63 of 225 Old 03-02-2011, 09:21 PM
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I still remember the horse I learned how to ride on; the horse was an absolute 'giant' but he was one amazing horse. A 16.2 hh QH cross gelding...you could do anything to that horse, and he didn't care. I 'graduated' from him to another older shetland mare when mom and I got into showing. She could be stubborn but she wasn't a nasty pony by any means, and also served to help me continue learning how to ride and care for horses. I also got on any horse I possibly could, as well, and liked the 'tough to ride' horses, even at a young age. When I out grew my pony, because of my skill level, my trainer told my parents that she would help us train a green horse, if that was what we wanted next. So I wound up with a green broke Shetland/Morgan cross...he was a royal pain in the rear, but he taught me alot about training, and my trainer helped us every step of the way with that horse. I think if more people actually made sure to have professional help with their young, or otherwise, green horses, there wouldn't be so many "Help, Problem horse..." threads/dilemmas. I'm not against the average person training their own horse, it's the delusion that one can do it on their own, after just having studied books, or watching a video that bugs me. Get hands on help, and things will go much smoother!
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"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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post #64 of 225 Old 03-03-2011, 07:09 AM
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I think this article is great. I learnt on a mare that wasn't push button but she taught me a lot and I trust her with anything. She was only to be loaned to us so we were looking for a horse and found a quiet thoroughbred gelding. Being inexperienced first time owners we got tricked about him being perfect for a beginner. We were told he was lazy but he would go well, I soon found out he would plant his feet and not move, turn back to the gate, rear up he also bucked a few times. His worst habit was the rearing though. My instructor said when he first started maybe he's just testing you cause your new ( they were only tiny rears) just push him through it and that seemed to work at first. Then he just got worse and simply didn't want to go so my instructor said I was probably going to get hurt so she would take him for awhile because everyone believed he was just to much for me personally. She had him for a couple of months and she decided he was ring sour and was possibly good for trails, she hadn't actually taken him out but had taken him from the arena to their back paddock and she said he behaved a lot better. She was undable to work with him anymore because she moved so he came back to me. We had already decided to sell him because he was just to much for me to ride. I have since been working with him on the ground a lot and lunging. He is now almost perfectly behaved on the ground, he can still have his days of being a bit silly but no where near as bad as before. We have been unable to sell him though and so I just work with him on the ground whenever I'm not to busy with my other two horses (who mum makes me put before him because they are rideable). I don't know how he would go for me now under saddle because he respects me a lot more on the ground now. I don't want to wreck him from me doing something wrong with him and we are still looking for a new instructor for me. Sorry for being long just my story.

My two horse Apache and Sammy are my world
along with our dogs Patch and Bear.
But I will always love you Jimmy R.I.P
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post #65 of 225 Old 03-03-2011, 09:31 AM
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"Sorry for being long just my story"

Apache, you don't have to apologise for anything. It seems to me that you are telling we readers what your problem is and that can take time.
You tell us you have a problem
You tell us you've been to a certain extent mislead and let down
You tell us you are working on the problem

What is difficult for we readers is to come up with a sharp sharp series of solutions because the problems which you are experiencing are not uncommon and the solutions are not always easy to find.

I haven't seen your horse, nor met you, nor seen you with your horse.
I can't approach your horse, I can't play with him. I can't sense his problems
All in all from thousands of miles away I am pretty useless at trying to give you positive advice in a few words. But here are a few words, hopefully to be of help.

Presumably you have a training ring - if not create one , round, oblong or square. This arena becomes your horse's work room. When you take him in there he works and he expects to work.
Groom him every day, even if he is not dirty. Get him used to your touch, your smell, your voice, your little ways. Make yourself, his personal owner.

What I can say is that you seem to be doing the best you can and you haven't given up. Which is a credit to you. You are not going 'to wreck him' because you are not going to hurt him.

As a guess, I repeat, a guess. I'd suggest going back to working him in hand from the ground. Buy a thin rope training halter which works on the nose and on the poll. Read carefully the instructions as to how to use it. If you use it incorrectly it hurts so be careful with it.
Get him to walk at your shoulder on a loose rein.
When you turn right, he should turn.
When you stop he stops. When you walk on, he walks on.
You play with him every day for 20 minutes or so, at the same time, in the same place. Regular routine is important for a horse.

Then slowly but surely bring into the scenario, obstacles such as he might meet out on the trailsie logs, plastic bags - whatever. Dustbins are great, they fall over. Poles on the ground. plastic sheeting. Buckets, flags.
Walk him over them, around them, get him to knock them over with his feet.

Once he does these things at the walk, with your head by his head, then do the same things at the walk with you up in the saddle. Walk, turn, stop, start, back up. stand. Walk him into corners, then back up out of them.

He has to learn the aids - your aids (cues). If you turn your head, he goes that way.

There are to be lots of tid bits. Lots of smooth calming voice. Lots of strokes and touch. No whipping. No shouting, No coarse handlng. When he does something wrong - tell him 'No' , then make him do it again.

But he has to walk out at your command .
There can be no balking, nor rearing, nor whirling.
Quiet, patient, persistance from you at all times.
No anger,no loud voices, no tension. Ask, Insist, Demand.
Use your hands, your pointed fingers, your body - shove him over.
Watch him. Learn his responses. Learn his individual ways.
Find out what he likes - then ration it, but don't ever deny him completely. Use what he likes as a bribe.
Find his fears and then allay them, one by one.

And remember one other thing - whenever you go to your other horses, he is watching. He is wondering why you are playing with them and not him. He might well be jealous. So be careful not to show favouritism. Every now and again go to him first and ignore the other two.

Apache. I can't tell you how to work this animal, I've never seen it. I am just giving you some tips to try. I can't see what you are doing wrong - if anything. Just make sure you don't get hurt.
All I can say, is that if you can turn this animal, then you'll probably have a faithful servant for life.
He'll owe you.

And stop apologising.


PS There is another recent thread on the forum about 'bonding', read it.
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Last edited by xxBarry Godden; 03-03-2011 at 09:37 AM.
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post #66 of 225 Old 03-04-2011, 03:55 AM
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^^^ Thanks for the advice apart from riding him all of the above is basically what I have been doing. I probably should do it more often then I do but I do sometimes only spend the afternoon with him and not my other horses. I feel he has improved a lot over the past few months. I just am not game to get on him because I can be quite a nervous rider. For example when being lunged he used to simply stop and rear at a walk or not go out of the circle, now he is almost perfect on the lunge line since he knows I'm not goiing to take his silliness and I have improved with giving the right signals. I don't even have to be holding him for him to understand my cues for him to move a particular part of his body. He is also the most polite horse when it comes to dinner time and he is the top horse of the paddock. I feel he has come to respect me a lot more since I first got him but he still has a long way to go. I also think I have read that bond thread.

My two horse Apache and Sammy are my world
along with our dogs Patch and Bear.
But I will always love you Jimmy R.I.P
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post #67 of 225 Old 03-05-2011, 09:45 AM
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Sometimes I read back what I have written a few days earlier and I realize that my written words may have come over a little strong. Maybe when replying to you that was the case. I apologise.

If you are already doing with your horse what I suggested, then you are doing about as much as you can. All you now need is time, a little luck and some cooperation from the horse.

Sometime an animal which has been abused can’t bring itself to come to terms with humans. I have found with some rescued big dogs that I can’t pass them on to yet another owner. The animal has lost faith in humans.

We now have on our new small private yard a small group of horses Each animal is gifted in its own way but each shows the marks of some abuse I the past. They all call for very sensitive and careful handling. None of them, for different reasons, would last more than a few weeks in the hands of a novice owner. If we are to sell them on, and things don’t gel with a new owner, then we shall have to bring them back or later hear they have been put down or at least passed on yet again. But sadly in such cases the mental trauma to the animal will have been compounded by the latest unsuccessful episode.

Of our group of strays perhaps the easiest to find a home for is a very genuine 8 year old cob; a horse needing regular and close contact with a human. His owner never plays with him nor grooms him nor works him, even though he cries out for attention. She has even instructed that no one else is to ride him. Presently her priorities in life are elsewhere.

He is not neglected by the way of food or shelter but he lacks stimulation which this little chap desperately needs. I have started to play with him and now he follows me about. When I arrive on the yard, his head goes up and he watches out for me to go over and say hello. Sadly, over the long term, there is no place for him in my life, I just want to see him find a good home with a young family. However the more I give him comfort, the more he will look to me to be his human carer. So knowing he is to be sold on, I must be careful not to allow him to become dependent upon me. But it is more than I can personally do, to ignore him completely.

We have another mare who came in the other week, as a bag of bones - literally. We paid $40 to take title to her. We are feeding her up and she is being groomed regularly. We are giving her some TLC. But whenever stressed, she weaves. The other day for the first time, I put a lead rope on her and led her out into the schooling arena. She is still partially emaciated but her strength is massive when she works against me. She is going to make a big powerful horse. She’s gentle enough but she is very nervous.

We shall never be able to remove from her memory the six months of gross neglect when in an icey cold winter she was left out on top of a windy hillside without hay or adequate ice free water. That was probably when she learned her vice. She is beginning to look better but she’s damaged in her head. I have no worry that we can’t bring her back to good shape physically but can we make her rideable? And if we find she can’t be used for riding, what do we do with her? I know only too well that we don’t have the resources to rescue all the horses who currently are seeking a safe knowledgeable home.

So Apache join the rescuers club. All I can say to you is: do your best and follow your gut instincts. Read the books, take advice but in the end follow your own counsel. Let us hope you have some success with your chap. Forming a bond with the horse, if it will let you, must be the first step in rehabilitation.

And, again, my apologies, if my words read harshly.
Barry G
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post #68 of 225 Old 03-05-2011, 10:03 AM
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Thanks and its alright it did not come across as really strong or anything I would rather someone just told it to me straight. It's nice to hear you help all those horses if I could I would love to be able to do something like that. My boy is definitely the sort who would become very aggressive if beaten or anything I believe. He is also the sort of horse who couldn't really care less if you left him alone or played with him (luckily for me I have other horses who are much more affectionate) I think he may be starting to change though its only taken 7 months lol. I take into account everything people tell me and then try it with him and depending on how he responds I keep going with it or stop. I try to watch his body language as closely as possible when I work with him. I'm starting to find it a lot easier to read him with the slightest movement on his part and I think he's done the same with me. So this has kind of made us bond a bit more over the last couple of months.

My two horse Apache and Sammy are my world
along with our dogs Patch and Bear.
But I will always love you Jimmy R.I.P
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post #69 of 225 Old 03-08-2011, 06:08 AM
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Wow JDI, great post. I really like the part about mentioning training a horse isn't a romantic book with a perfect ending, because I tend to think it is a lot. I bought my girl a year ago... I guess.... minor problems. She didn't trust people but I loved her, so I got her.

I still love said horse and wouldn't sell her for the world. In all honesty the year I've had her, I've probably only been truly working with her for 3 months. I was kind of the opposite, I was scared to fail so I'd justify it by going to the barn to just visit her, give her treats, then let her go back to the pasture. The mere thought of failing was too much for me and I maybe worked her, I don't know, a half hour a week? She was spoiled, and now I realize that. I do much more work with her now. My new barn owner knows his stuff when it comes to training so I feel comfortable about making mistakes. That's how we learn. She is coming along so well now. The stable owner mentioned today how relaxed she was. Since she's not a dangerous horse, I've decided to 'stick with it.' Plus, I love that girl more than anything.

But thinking back even farther to my first horse, Dakota, I realize how much I have learned. I kind of did ruin him. I had never had a horse before, I was only 14 years old, and I thought I could train absolutely anything. Three years later, I look back on all I have learned and realize that's the important thing. Moving forward. These wonderful trainers we see weren't born horse whisperers. They have studied the horse a long time and took advice from other people. People need to stop portraying horse training like they do marriage - perfect in movies, happy endings, etc. when in real life it takes a lot of hard work and respect!

Thanks again for the wonderful post!

You can tell a gelding. You can ask a stallion. But you must discuss it with a mare. -Unknown
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post #70 of 225 Old 03-12-2011, 12:02 PM
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I do agree with the OP. I have seen quite a few inexperienced people buy young horses, and then immediately get hurt. I think a lot of them don't know what they are dealing with. That being said, I think a good trainer can fix almost any problem, as long as the person is willing to work WITH the trainer and learn too. I am not personally a big fan of the "ship the horse off to a trainer and get it back fixed" mentality. I think the rider needs to learn the methods with the horse, and that a horse cannot be magically fixed no matter how much experience the trainer has.
I also agree with the OP's comment that a person needs to know when to put the ego away and get help. I had this experience recently. I bought an OTTB (and I'll admit I didn't know what I was getting into). After she backed up and fell down on top of me, I decided it was time to call in help. But then the question becomes, where do you find help? How do you know if a horse trainer is good or loony tunes (and I also agree that there are WAAAAY too many loony people out there calling themselves "trainers").
I think the key, the like OP said, is to use word of mouth. Talk to other people who have had problem horses, and what trainers they have used. If possible, watch the trainer in action, giving a lesson or working with a horse. It takes a special kind of trainer to work with a problem horse. It can't just be somebody who gives riding lessons. That is a different skill set altogether.
That being said, I lucked out and found a wonderful trainer. He immediately understood that my horse had a problem responding to pressure. She thought backing up would allow her to escape pressure. He started her over and we are slowly reteaching her all of the commands. She is a doll and I love her greatly, and am so glad I didn't give her up. So, in summary, I DO think a horse can be fixed, but like the OP said, we have to be humble enough to know when we can't do it ourselves.
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