problems with my mare, please HELPP! - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 28 Old 09-02-2009, 03:57 PM
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Delta is an 15h2 8yo dapple grey Irish Draft mare - intelligent, light, sensitive, skittish. She lacks what Fort Paillard calls "calmness". SHe draws her confidence from her rider. If she doesn't feel happy with her rider, then she'll shie so quickly that he or she will come off for sure. If the rider is tense, then Delta is tense and unpredictable. Despite her kindly temperament she is no novice ride. One treats this girl with kid gloves. Although if you are indeed competent, she'll go on the bit and make a stab at all the fancy dressage movements.

However, her role in my life is to mix it with traffic and the community. Like her predecessor she's to be a go it alone, anywhere I deem to go, any terrain, in town or in countryside, any weather, hack. She must remain calm and collected at all times. She is still learning her trade.

Today its been miserable. It rained incessantly this morning and although she had a raincoat, she hated it. The barn owner had brought her in early for the dentist. She doesn't like being handled by strangers and when I arrived I could sense she was tense. Whilst she stood untethered in her stable, the dentist inspected her teeth, at first without the brace, whilst I stroked her neck. The technician and I chatted whilst Delta's teeth had their regular rasping. He had his unprotected hand in her mouth whilst I stroked her neck and back - all whilst she was standing free.

Later I put her out in the field - in the miserable cold wet rain.
At 4 pm I brought her back in from her field. She had been standing by the gate- she didn't like the weather but really it was really too early to come in. She had not had time to graze the field. Nevertheless she had been clearly asking to go back into her stable, so I took her in.

At 8.00pm I went up again to put her to bed. She sniggered as I arrived and I went over and said: "hello". I gave her a hug. She nudged me for an apple or two. I made up a small tray of pasture mix, a drop of local honey and some marsh mallow and garlic mix. Into the bowl I dropped a couple of sliced windfall apples. I took the bowl over to her in the stable and whilst she ate I stroked her back and neck. We shared her supper. She finished her meal and asked me with a nudge for another apple - which of course I had in my pocket.

I checked her water. I made up a haynet of steamed hay. I looked her over. I turned out the light and said "Good night - see you in the morning." I got a lick and a light nudge.

The other 6 horses in the barn had looked on throughout this process - which is a nightly occurrence. They have their own owners. DiDi would have been very jealous if I had gone near them. I am her human - not to be shared with them.

Tomorrow we'll hack out. I'll tack her up in the stable and together we'll walk to the mounting block. She'll stand still whilst I mount and adjust the girth. I won't have held the reins to lead her at any time; she will walk freely alongside me. The routine is all too familiar. Even the route is constant - she's not ready for the big wide world yet.

She knows the daily routine. She expects her tea. She draws her confidence from my presence and my calmness. I am allowed unfettered familiarity with her even in her stable. Of course I am disobeying most of the rules in the BHS manual. DiDi is pampered and sheltered. After all, she is just a horse - but she is my horse. Without me I firmly believe she is pretty much useless for work outside of the arena. She would freak out and be a danger to herself, her rider and onlookers.

This is the same horse that had me off her back three times within the first two months of my owning her. She was, as I now realize, terrified after being moved away from her previous owner. It took me months to recognize her fundamental timidity, I had thought she was just a stroppy mare. I was wrong.

Nowadays when that wretched German SHepherd dog comes racing at her, she stands and does not run. She trusts me and pretty much she does what she understands me to have asked her to do.

Barry G

So ladies, you've got to give time to the horses in your lives. If you come to be as lucky with your new horse as I have been with Delta, then indeed you will be blessed.
xxBarry Godden is offline  
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post #22 of 28 Old 09-02-2009, 04:32 PM
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^ beautiful.
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post #23 of 28 Old 09-02-2009, 09:27 PM
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If you don't mind me asking what is your background? Everything you right is very well done but this post is literature.
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post #24 of 28 Old 09-04-2009, 05:07 AM
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I am not a professional trainer neither do I earn a living from horses but I have owned and ridden horses for 33 years. My first interest in particular is "horse psychology" - my second hobby is "writing about horses". I am not interested in competition - I am interested in hacking/riding for pleasure - in the widest sense of the word. I enjoy the company of my horse.

My particular issue is that many of the old school professionals still believe that horses are dumb animals. I feel strongly that horses try to communicate but that we humans don't watch and try hard enough to understand. If we would occasionally think as a horse might think, perhaps we could understand more.

This particular thread is concerned with problems faced by owners who have taken on a new horse - a very common problem. One senses the emotions involved from the post. But when you think of what the horse is going through with the change of environment - it is not surprising. My present horse Delta - a very skittish mare- has been a project for me and I am just beginning, after 12 months of therapy, to get her to react calmly in some pressurised situations. She is now rideable out within the community but there is still some way to go. If I had listened to what some of the professionals had suggested, I should have passed her on long ago.

So my thoughts about the Horse Forum are that it is an opportunity to put forwards a philosophy. Seemingly there are a lot of young Americans wanting to learn to ride English. Perhaps I and some of the other folks who contribute, can help them to find a more humane way through to their horses.

Thank you for your comments. Much appreciated.

Barry G
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post #25 of 28 Old 09-04-2009, 05:24 AM
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me too....

Five months ago i brought a gelding who did the same to me rearing bucking kicking out at me bolting when being led ect.....He systamatically turned me into a nervous wreck.I got a lot of help from an instructor in natural horsemanship,who gained his confidense then taught me how to do the same.What i thought was bad behavior was him saying im confused scared and want to get the hell away from you.We now are turning into great buddies so dont dispair with help you can resolve this.I have found that i need to be confident.consistant and slow around him and the results have flowed from there.It wont happen over night but as they say the journey is better than the destination,have fun learning and know that you are not alone with this one.Bevie
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post #26 of 28 Old 09-04-2009, 02:32 PM
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Apologies but this is a long article. The problems presented with the arrival of a new horse are significant and only too common.
The Problems Delivered along with a Newly Acquired Horse.

Many horse owners have the idea that when the horse presents with a behavioural problem, the answers lie with the riding instructor. Wisely some owners do consider approaching, an animal psychologist. In many instances the problems lie in the horse’s lack of calmness - a term which in the equestrian world has a specific meaning. It is well established that it is a waste of time to attempt to train a horse which is not in a state of calm.The way forward obviously is to track down the reason for the horse’s agitated state and to eliminate the cause(s). Included in the search for distractions will be the tack, the teeth, the back and any other obvious reason for the horse suffering discomfort or even pain. However horses suffer as much from mental anguish as humans and too often the mental state of the animal is ignored. With horses, change brings anguish.

The professional might often advise: “Oh the horse is being difficult - just be dominant and if necessary give it a whack”. In the XXIst century that cannot be the correct response. The professional may will have built into his instinctive handling of horses, his own way of solving what often is seen to be a short term problem. The owner however is often left with continuing difficulties which will remain and even intensify if not tackled early on. The key to finding answers lies in understanding the likely causes of any problem,

A horse’s day of 24 hours is brightened (or darkened) by the personal attention of the owner for a few hours at most. For the remaining 20 hours or more, it lives or maybe exists in its environmental regime, which will vary according to the facilities available locally. Some horses spend long hours in stables; others are free to roam in fields along with other horses. In modern times horses are kept as a leisure pursuit and are more finely bred, the nutrition is much improved and the work load is significantly reduced. Too many of today’s horses are overweight and unfit. Nowadays we are more likely to kill with kindness than overwork, neglect or abuse. The horse meanwhile gets bored and picks up bad habits,

In most cases much of the control of the animal is left with the professional livery/barn owner, who probably carries the responsibility for the well being of several horses. Often establishments adopt the regime of “in during the night, out during the day”. But in every small herd, there will be a dominant horse mostly male but often female. A strict hierarchy will have formed. The top horses will get first access to the food; the weakest will have to wait. The tricky phase starts when a new horse is put in with an established group. The new horse has to find its place in the ranking This is the animal kingdom where only the fit survive.

There is also the question of the mares coming into season. Hormones disturb not only the behaviour of the mare but also of all the geldings around her. Fighting can easily flare up. When horses themselves cornered and forced to stand, they will fight back. There are scenarios where the horse has not been damaged physically but has been frightened mentally by some equine confrontation. Imagine how a human feels when first confronted with a bully. The bully may go away but the fear of bullies remains with the bullied.

So bringing a fresh horse, especially a mare, into a different environment is one fraught with potential problems. A buyer sees one horse, agrees to buy it and takes it home; very often to discover that the horse which was so carefully chosen, is not the same animal a few weeks later. Unsurprisingly this meta morphis is not a rare occurrence, The only way to cope with what is likely to happen is to wait patiently and to observe closely. It may be necessary to adapt the regime of the new horse. Unfortunately in a busy yard there is too little time to wait and watch.

So imagine the scenario. A proud new owner has collected the horse from its previous environment which no doubt through time had stabilised. The new horse has been shipped to a different environment. Upon arrival the horse has the immediate need to establish itself within another herd. The horse has lost its old friends and it has to find its place amongst the herd. The experience can be traumatic for sensitive, highly strung horses. The events of the first few days are of significant importance to the future behaviour of the horse which has now been re-homed amongst total strangers both equine and human. Ideally the horse should have been segregated and introduced in stages to selected members of the home herd.

The new owner will be associated in the mind of the horse with all of these changes. It is the new owner which is grooming the animal and who is riding the animal. There are new aids, new tack, new regime, new food but perhaps more importantly in the horse’s mind, new insecurities. Everything has been changed and if there is one thing a horse dislikes, it is change. To a horse, things which are unfamiliar are potentially dangerous. The horse also has to face the problem that it is disorientated; it has not yet assembled a mental picture of the surrounding area. It doesn’t yet know which way to run for safety. If the horse had formed previously a strong bond with another horse, the trauma of losing that companionship is enough stress for it to handle for the first few days.

When the attentive owner does consider all these issues, it can be seen that not to have the need to face a potential behavioural change in the newly purchased horse is mere wishful thinking. Any horse is going to take time to settle down. How long the unsettled period will last has much to do with the ability and experience of the owner and the temperament of the horse itself. There is even a small chance that the horse and rider will never find compatibility.

Undoubtedly what the new owner should have done before collection, was to have made a careful note of the previous owner’s regime for the horse, which must now be matched as closely as possible at the new home. Issues of diet and routine should have been noted and maintained for the initial period of induction. Changes should have been introduced gradually

As for riding problems, well these are inevitable. No two riders sit the same, hold the reins the same, give the same aids. No two riders have the same aspirations or have the same level of ability. The new owner is taking over the previous owner’s relationship with the horse. A horse can’t comprehend the human concepts of buying and selling “ownership“..

To a large extent, Western saddles are interchangeable but English cut saddles are rarely readily transferable between horses. Any new or old saddle should be fitted professionally on a different horse for shape, width and length. A badly fitting saddle gives a horse a valid cause for evasions. Likewise a change of bit type or even a change of bridle can also cause extreme discomfort and become a root cause of evasions..

What is expressed in this article is merely a catalogue of discomforts which may inhibit a horse from settling down into a new environment. Every horse is different and has its own preferences and habits. Every horse has its own collection of bad memories. Sadly even a horse which has been in one environment for most of its life can find resettlement equally as difficult as a horse which has been passed from owner to owner. There can be no standardised re-settlement procedure but a check list might help with defining a programme of adjustment. That horses respond badly to change should be accepted as a fact of equine life. Change represents the unknown and the unknown is potentially dangerous.

Until the new horse has settled down into a state of calmness, then good work with that horse may be difficult to achieve. Indeed new unforeseen problems may emerge. Of course, the previous owner may well have known of particular problems with the horse and such issues might have been ignored in the sales negotiations. We must perhaps allow for the owner becoming nervous when riding the new arrival. His/her tensions might transmit to the horse, fuelling the horse’s existing fears. Fear breeds fear, which can turns to anger and violence - in both human and equine. No one seems to notice that horses get angry too.

Firm, positive but kindly handling must be the name of the game. It may take months for the new horse to resemble the creature originally chosen to buy. A good partnership doesn’t come easily. If we riders were to spend more time in trying to understand what the horse is saying to us, instead of spending so much time on telling the horse what to do for us, maybe the task would get easier.

Don’t ever think horses are just dumb animals - they aren’t.
Barry G
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post #27 of 28 Old 09-04-2009, 03:01 PM
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[quote=aynelson;392796]With all due respect Kevinshorses, you obviously have never ovulated.

Ha! That made me laugh!

Is she a nervous horse? There are massaging techniques and sound techniques you can do to build her confidence up, research it.

Some names for your horsie on equestrian rider
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post #28 of 28 Old 09-05-2009, 07:37 PM
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Barry, you are truly a gift to this board. Your posts to this thread in particular have helped me realize I am expecting too much from my new boy, too soon. I have also realized he is not nearly as snarky and rotten as he could be; mostly he's just a bit pushy and maybe somewhat impatient.

The description of your bond with your mare, contrasted by the difficult times you have also faced has painted a wonderful picture in my head which I will carry with me through the next several months or longer as a reminder of where I want to go with my boy and how much patience it is going to take me to get there. Thank you so much, also to the rest of you who have posted some terrific advise here for us new to the joys of horse ownership!
tealamutt is offline  

behaviour , moody mare , sour horse , trust issues

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