Rearing :-( - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 2 Old 09-07-2008, 10:50 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Posts: 117
• Horses: 2
Rearing :-(

So Scout has been really really nice recently (yesterday was a bad bad day....I'll rant about that one in the general forum). I've been riding him (just got my new saddle, and it's AWESOME), and he's really great in the saddle. After three days of riding, he's already starting to make contact with the bit. Up until now, we've been doing mostly ground work because, like most ottbs, he had zero respect for me on the ground. I thought we'd made it pretty far. He now keeps away from me when I'm along side him, he whoas when I whoa and turns around me without stepping on me. He's passive and cool as a cucumber.

Yesterday, I took him for a walk down the street (just to get him used to the new environment, and in order to get to the trail, we have to walk down this street - it has a 6 foot dirt shoulder) and he reared up because he saw a herd of baby cows in the pasture across the street from him. Now, he's reared before - the first time on the trail, there were dogs running on top of corrugated tin, but it was stupid of me and I'd only had him less than a week and we hadn't done much in the way of ground manners. I wrote it off to that. He reared, and then as soon as we got him moving again, he was perfect for the rest of the walk (oh, I should note that I'm not riding him, I'm leading him - I don't want to be on his back if he rears). Absolutely didn't spook at ANYTHING else - including dogs running along the fence, barking.

The second time he reared was when we were trying to trailer break him, and it was bad. He was striking out at the trailer and actually fell over onto his rump at one point. We finally beat him at that game, got him into the trailer, and the next day we opened the trailer and he walked right in. So, the incident yesterday was the third time.

Is there ANY WAY to make him stop rearing? I'm fairly certain it is a fight response for when he's scared, so how do I get him to look to me as his leader? I know when he's already rearing that the key is to get his feet moving (something difficult to do on a 6 foot dirt shoulder when a pickup truck is coming), so how do I get him to where, instead of rearing as a first reaction, he waits for me to tell him to just walk past the baby cows? HELP PLEASE!!!!!


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post #2 of 2 Old 09-07-2008, 11:44 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Ontario
Posts: 6,166
• Horses: 5
I think you are right, that his fear / flight response is to rear. From my experience, the trick is to nip the rear before it happens. Ya, I know, easier said than done. However, you've had some time with him and you should be able to recognize when that body weight shift is starting. That's the time to bring his head down, around and back. Force his balance to be off to keep him on all fours.

To prevent it, there's the training idea of bringing his head down on command. It's not easy. I've tried it on one of my horses, but she is pretty mellow as it is, so I stopped bothering. I really do need to try it on the other one who would be rearing if I wasn't *always* watching for it. Frankly, I've been lazy and that's no excuse. (OK, OK, I'll start today...)

Anyway, the method is to apply downward pressure with the halter and as soon as the horse gives even the tiniest bit, give a reward. Continue with this until eventually, you can get the head down to the ground on cue. My thinking here is that if you train this in well, it becomes as 2nd nature as moving forward on cue and if he goes to rear, as soon as he feels that downward pressure (hopefully b4 the rear), he will settle down. A calm horse had his head down.

Also, you might try just generally working with him on stuff that spooks him. Present some scary stuff and walk him toward it until just before you know he's nervous. Then stop. Wait and forward a couple of steps. Stop again. Continue with this until you've got him close enough to the scary thing of the day to have made your point. IMO, this is teaching him that instead of letting the natural flight instinct take over, you are encouraging him to use his natural curiousity to STOP and look. I *am* using this method on my younger horse and so far, so good. We have come across a few scary things on the trail and instead of spooking, she has stopped.
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