Problems Moving Forward In A Newly Started Mare - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 07-08-2012, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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Problems Moving Forward In A Newly Started Mare

Moving Foward in a newly started horse... Okay, I feel dumb here because I'm stuck. And I suspect I've totally screwed this horse up. I'm just being honest here, but any help or advice would be appreciated.

Now, don't shoot me but I normally have trained all my horses myself and I've had many over the years usually for ranch work and trails. I don't do dressage, but every horse I own has in the past been ridable and driveable. I am by no means an expert though, far from it... I pretty much know nothing technical (unless you count going through parreli and john lyons but not all their stuff meshes well with me) as far as I can tell. However, everything's worked out and I've trail rode and done ranch work for years both as a young girl and now as an older adult with no issues.

However, an arab has me stumped. Now, let me say I have had drafts and draft crosses and quarterhorses and morgans. I've even had warmbloods. But I'm a larger woman and never ever had arabs because I feel like being 6'4"/250 I'm too large to ride one.

But in comes my husband and a 'gift horse' from a friend who needed to thin down her herd. She gave us a lovely 8 year old arab mare for nothing who has absolutely nothing wrong with her other than she's been a brood mare for her whole life and never been under saddle. I've done all the ground work for her and her saddle fit is great so is her bridle fit which is just a plain straight snaffle - nice and comfy no twists or harsh woahs involved.

So.. here's the issue. I can't actually ride her because she's like maybe 15 hands, delicate as a flower, and really is the opposite of what I consider the high-strung arab (after owning lots of drafts and draft crosses) in that nothing excites her (except the thought of having to be out of the barn in rain) and she loves bathing, loading, and doing all her ground work. Now, when I get my husband on her or a neighbor girl who's happy to help on her under saddle as an additional piece of tack, we've gotten to one point and then we've came to a screaming standstill.

I totally get that this is my fault. I'll put all the blame on my shoulders, but here it is... don't laugh.

She'll do anyting I ask her as long as I'm right there beside her on the ground. She'll walk forward, trot, canter, etc... she'll do it on and off the lunge and with a rider. But she absolutely won't listen to the rider or look at them or follow their leg cues or desires whatsoever. Because she's used (and more importantly I have) used the rider as an additional piece of tack she just doesn't even acknowledge them being on her. When I walk away she just stops confused. I've started getting the rider to move her away from me - which she listens too - but its like there's an invisible tether in her mind and when they reach that point her brain has assigned she yoyo's back to me on the ground or will not walk out faster than I can walk or run, etc.

Now, this is great exercise for me, but its getting ridiculous. Weve stalled and she just won't transfer her attention and affection to the rider. She's not nervous without me. She just 'shuts down' and yawns and drifts off to sleep and will stand in a pasture forever. The rider can't get her to turn in a circle or anything though she will flex her head and lay it along the rider's knee and respond to the reins that way.. .she just won't walk on and get on with life as a saddle horse at all.

Obviously this has to change.. I can't keep up her lessons on the ground etc.

Anyone ever had this problem? Anyone know how to take it further? I know I should haul her butt to a trainer but everyone around here is $500 a month or more for thirty days and I just don't have that cash in todays economy. I'd rather solve this issue and learn from it myself, but I'm afraid this horse has been ruined by my hand already. I've even tried getting others to work her with me away and she does the same thing with them.. which tells me she's trained to obey the ground person not the rider and I need to fix this fast.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Things to try?

Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 20 Old 07-09-2012, 09:06 AM
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Hehe you sound like me ;)

My first thought - does she ground drive? If she doesn't she should. This will teach the horse to move away from you, driving out away from the person in charge.
My next thought - she's clearly very bonded to you and if you're not her rider she needs to bond with someone else. Let your husband and the other rider do all the same groundwork you have done with her. You should either not be present or be somewhere the horse can't easily tell you're there, teach them the techniques and get out of dodge. This is their time to learn each other.
Let the riders ground drive her, if she won't listen to them on the ground she won't listen to them on their back, and at least they're safer down there. Though safety doesn't seem to be an issue.

I hope any of this works or at least sparks an idea. :)
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post #3 of 20 Old 07-09-2012, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Punks!

She ground drives just fine with someone behind her telling her what to do. It's not the 'she won't move out' thing, its that a ground person is telling her to do it.. she hasn't made the transfer from ground to whomever's in the saddle. She does ground exercises with everyone who's not me just fine. I even found out last night with me removed from the situation she'll go through her whole routine, a new routine, and act like she does with me with two completely new people - one on her and one on the ground. She still listens to the ground person and won't do anything without them asking her too.

She'll walk, trot, canter with a stranger on the ground and a stranger on her back, she just won't do anything without the ground person around.

PS. I also posted this thread in training and got some advice there because I saw that the 'riding' forum was broken up now and they didn't want new posts after I posted. Whoops!
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post #4 of 20 Old 07-09-2012, 07:53 PM
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Sounds like you need to get a rider for the horse. Find someone in the area who could use a new horse to play with (teenage girls are awesome for that), and let them at her.
The horse just needs to realize that the riderr is in charge, not you. Whatever that takes, the rider needs to let her know. Yeah, maybe she'll have to use spurs or a whip. Whatever. Once the horse listens to the rider, you're all set.
You could also try just driving her. Anyone can take over for you.
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post #5 of 20 Old 07-09-2012, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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As I said my husband is her rider. She just won't move out for him unless someone is one the ground. She will hesitantly with a carrot stick or a buggy whip.

Did you just tell me to turn this horse over to a teenage girl??k wow. I'll pass on that.
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post #6 of 20 Old 07-10-2012, 12:56 AM
Green Broke
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You are going to have to get out of this equation. By that I mean, leave the area entirely.

I have had this happen when doing lessons. Horse is used to me being there, as I start new riders in hand, and when I move off? Horse is like HEY, where are you going????

You have not messed this horse up for life. Just doing normal things for a horse.

IF your husband is not the village idiot on a horse? Leave. Simply that. She will start to pay attention to his cues, provided your ground work has been good.

But leaving is the only way to do this in my opinion.

Horses make me a better person.
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post #7 of 20 Old 07-10-2012, 01:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks palomine! I think that's what I have to do too. I'm also glad this has happened to others too.
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post #8 of 20 Old 07-10-2012, 04:53 AM
Green Broke
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First off, she's not as delicate or fragile like you think. My wife's horse is also an Arab. Well, he's an Arab cross but I think he's mostly Arab. He's only 15.1 HH and under 1000lbs. We've had over 250lbs. on him and he didn't break. You may feel awkward being so tall on her but as long as the sessions are short, she'll be fine.

Now, what to do with her. I will suggest two things. But first, how does the rider ask her to move forward? No matter what horse I ride, I ask with a squeeze of my legs. If no response, I suggest by squeezing again and kiss to them. Still no response, I tell with a squeeze, kiss and a spank. The spank can be with the reins, or a crop. You could use spurs if you know how to use them correctly. The spank is done on the hind quarters and I would keep spanking, slightly increasing how hard, until the horse stepped forward. Usually, it only takes one spank for them to move.

The other thing you could try is teaching her the "go cue" while on the ground. Have her stand next to a wall or fence. Stand at her shoulder but face her rear end. Using a stick or crop, touch her side where the stirrup or heel would be for a rider. She probably won't move so start tapping her there until she takes a step forward. Drop the stick to the ground but let her walk forward and you walk backwards with her. Let her walk around you so she's back between you and the wall. Let her stand and think about it for a few seconds and repeat. When she starts moving off with just the touch, switch to her other side.

The reason you have her next to the wall is to keep her from moving sideways away from you. When you stand next to her but face backwards, you are blocking her view of what you are doing. This teaches her to move from the feeling on her side and not from watching you.
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post #9 of 20 Old 07-10-2012, 05:12 AM
Green Broke
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Another thing about spanking on her. Don't just tap her like you're saying "Please move?" Do it firm enough like you're saying "I mean NOW!" but be ready for her to take off or buck. Something like you're swatting a fly. It won't cause her pain but it should get her attention. She just might not be ready for it at first.
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post #10 of 20 Old 07-10-2012, 05:43 AM
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Could she be confused to what the rider is wanting so looking for a ground person to guide her? She knows her verbal ques for going up and down the gaits right? Put her on the lunge and get the rider to give her the verbal ques and the person in the middle just kinda standing there. Then lose the line, then slowly remove yourslef from the working area. The rider should be doing lots of transitions verbally so different ques (legs, reins) arent confusing her, but the mares attention is on the riders voice.

Also, arabs are incredibly strong for their fine apperance. Try getting on your self and see if she will walk on with your voice cues. If you dont feel comfy riding her, just do a short session. Honestly, shel be fine

I like usandpets idea too

We lose ourselves in the things we love, we find ourselves there too ~Kristen Martz
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