Restarting the older horse... what would you do?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 09-11-2009, 06:36 AM Thread Starter
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Restarting the older horse... what would you do??

OK.... So I just got a new QH gelding. He is 12 but hasn't been ridden since he was 8. He has been standing in a stall with no turnout for 4 years. He hasn't even had a saddle on in that long...

The guy I got him from said that he put a saddle on him the other day to see what he would do. He said that he just hunched his back like he was going to buck, but never did. But I don't think he let him walk with it or anything, just put it on and took it yea..

Ok, I have lots of experience starting young horses and working problems out of the older/broke ones. But Outlaw is different. Right before his riding came to a screeching halt, he was just being started on cows as a roping horse. So obviously some time ago, he was really, really well broke, as roping horses are. But how much does a horse forget in 4 years? I want to wish that he remembers everything and just hop on like its all a perfect fairytale because I'm so excited, but I know that wouldn't be good. I have ideas on how I'm going to make the process go, I just want to see what you think. What would you do in this situation? Would you take lots of time putting on the saddle, ground driving, etc, like you were starting a fresh youngster? Or would you let him have a few hours with the saddle on, hop on and see what he does?

I pretty much have a plan in my head, but I'm interested to hear some different opinions on how different people would deal with a horse like this. I like reading/listening/watching other people's training ideas and comparing them to my own.
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post #2 of 10 Old 09-11-2009, 07:04 AM
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i'd put his saddle on, walk him around in it, if he seems okay then lunge him - walk, trot and canter with his saddle on - so he can get any bucks / leaps out of the way when you're not on his back

if all goes well, i'd then get someone to hold him while you get on, but i'd get a leg up and just lean over his back to see if he does anything, then move about a bit on his back to see if he reacts - if not, get off and get a leg-up back on but sit on him properly this time. then i'd maybe get the person helping to lead him around in a circle - just incase, and if all seems okay just have a bit of a play on him to see how he reacts then get off and put him back in his stable / field

i'd be weary the first few times i get on, and the first few sessions id just get used to him / let him get used to you and then crack on with schooling - he should be okay, he's mentally & physically mature at that age, i'd just take your time at first to see how he reacts

Last edited by hollybee; 09-11-2009 at 07:07 AM.
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post #3 of 10 Old 09-11-2009, 11:17 AM
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My mare hadn't been ridden in 3 or so years (she's 24) before I got her and I did the not smart thing - I just hopped up there like she'd been ridden last week. Personally I feel now that I should have taken it slower because I ended having to spend the whole winter last year just doing groundwork with her and no riding because she couldn't mentally handle the riding (but she's a funnily sensitive horse).
I basically agree with hollybee, definitely lunge with the saddle at all gaits and have him back up with the saddle before getting on (I worked with a baby once who had no idea how to back up undersaddle, not fun when you need to and you realize you "can't" haha). Maybe do some flexing exercises from the ground using the reins so he remembers the feel of the bit moving in his mouth.
I think that maybe the first ride (if he seems to be remembering well) you could try using the reins a little while the other person is leading him...

I guess basically, just follow his lead. He might completely remember everything! My girl remembers stuff that I never taught her, she just needed a little bit more trust in me (that we gained through groundwork) before she was comfortable. She was obviously rusty the first few times but she remembered fast.

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #4 of 10 Old 09-11-2009, 02:24 PM
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I would start right from the beginning. If he knows it he will breeze right through. If he doesn't than its a good thing you taught him before you went further.
I'm a big believer in being able to do everything on the ground before you get on.
Good luck!
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post #5 of 10 Old 09-11-2009, 03:10 PM
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my mare is 10 and for the past 5 years she sat in the pature with nothing being down to her! i just started working with her the end of May. She was green before so i treated her as a green horse and started with lunging for a few weeks and ground work then progressed to riding and took it slowly! I think if you just take thing slowly and start out as if they know nothing and see how it should be able to judge what areas you can skip and what you need to work on more! good luck :)
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post #6 of 10 Old 09-13-2009, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Crimsonhorse01 View Post
I would start right from the beginning. If he knows it he will breeze right through. If he doesn't than its a good thing you taught him before you went further.
I agree, it's better to take it slow and see what he knows and doesn't know than to jump right in.


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post #7 of 10 Old 09-13-2009, 12:41 PM
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I may be the minority here but I tend to do things that are not smart with my horses. IMHO, if a horse is considered broke, then he should never forget what he learned. Sometimes my horses are turned out for months at a time and if I need them, there is no time for lunging or groundwork so I just saddle them and step on. However; these are the horses that I trained myself so I know how they act and if they are prone to buck. With him, I would just make sure that he is soft and flexible in his head and neck, lunge him a few circles each way, and get on. But that may just be me. My QH Denny is 15 and was turned out for 4 years with no saddle on. Every now and then, I would ride bareback but I hadn't ridden him in over a year. Anyway, my main horse had surgery and was out of commission and we had to work some cattle. I caught him up, put the saddle on and swung aboard. He never offered to buck or throw a fit, he was just a little excited (which he is all the time anyway). But that is just what I would do, I suggest that you take it as slow as you need to in order to stay comfortable and confident; especially since he is a strange horse to you.
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post #8 of 10 Old 09-13-2009, 02:57 PM
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First thing to realize is that the horse is probably a little screwed up in the head and it will take some time to settle his mind. What he needs first of all is a little freedom. He needs to be turned out in a small paddock maybe 30 ft square. He has to get used to being able to move at his own will and get the feeling of freedom without having the opportunity at the first stages to gallop around too much which is likely to be instinctive. If he does that after no exercise for 4 years he is almost certain to pull muscles or tendons etc. Just get him used to having this little space

In the meantime handle him. Go and collect him, put a halter on, lead him about gently. Talk to him. Make him realize that humans are friendly again.
Even give him an apple or two and a carrot or two.

Next stage will be a bigger paddock to give him full freedom to move around. This all has to be done before riding him

Then he must be backed and you must start again at the beginning - take the saddle up to him, offer it up and gently lay it on his back.
Then take it off,
Let the horse tell you when he is ready.
It might take a while - 4 years of no movement can take a long time to rectify.
Watch his diet - feed him the same as he is used to.

This will take time and time is what you have to give. Time and understanding, patience and care. No spoiling but this horse has been chronically mistreated and you have to repair both his body and his mind.

No anger, no whips, no loud voices. Patience.

Best of luck

Richard ( Barry G's mate)
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post #9 of 10 Old 09-13-2009, 03:28 PM
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It never hurts to start from scratch. It does sometimes hurt to assume that they're broke when they haven't been ridden. Everyone's definition of broke is different so he way never have been properly trained to begin with. He also hasn't been ridden in quite some time. Some horses you can hop on. Others you can't.

If he knows it he knows it and it won't take long before you're up and on. If he doesn't, well. At least you didn't just hop on. Good luck with him.

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post #10 of 10 Old 09-13-2009, 06:35 PM
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If you treat him like a bronc he'll be more likely to act like a bronc. Put your saddle on lead him around a little and then get on. Do it in an enclosed area so you don't get in too much trouble but if he shows no signs of bucking when you first pull the cinch tight and lead him off then he will be fine.
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