Retraining Performace Mare - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 15 Old 10-15-2008, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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Retraining Performace Mare

My Walker mare Harper used to be a performance horse, and I'm starting to ride her for the first time since she's had her pads off. She's a DREAM other than a few issues.

I have very soft hands, so much so that it's sometimes difficult for me to ride horses with harder mouths because I cannot adjust. When I first rode Harper, it was in a small ring with a halter and leadrope, and I noticed how she was very sensitive to my hands. I didn't think much of it and decided I would wait until I had a bit in her mouth to decide how soft her mouth actually was. I have been warned by person after person that her mouth will be ruined, I may never get her back to normal because of her original training and she could probably never be used as a dressage horse and would always have issues because of it.

As in most things, Harper laughs at convential wisdom. I put her in the softest bit I have (loose ring hollow mouth french link snaffle, *phew* mouthful), got up on her, and started her on a straight line. The second I went to take a little bit of slack out of the reins (I had dropped them to get some of her mane out from under her saddle pad), she stopped. I figured I had done something odd, so I got my reins right and asked her to keep on. She seemed completely confused, then backed up until I put a lot of slack into the reins. Every time I didn't have a ton of slack in the reins while going on a line she did this.

After fighting with that, I thought maybe she had a pretty soft mouth. As I went from dressage-mode to trail rider-mode, I opened up my right rein but only managed to move my hand a few inches before she took a very sharp circle. I was totally not expecting this as I asked for a wide one, so I overbalanced a bit and pulled both, she stopped fast enough to nearly throw me over her neck. We worked for another 45 minutes, and she didn't get much better.

In that time, I discovered that her sides don't even register a kick or a squeeze. The only time they seem to wake up is when I squeeze or kick and cluck at the same time, then she reacts like I've hit her with spurs (she had very abusive former owners) and launches forward 10 feet before settling into a walk. Clucking by itself doesn't do this, and squeezing/kicking does nothing at all.

How do I even go about starting to normalize her? I have never seen a horse with this soft a mouth. I tried my bitless on her and she hated it, she does great in a halter but it's hard to stop her in that. Also, any tips on working with the cluck/squeeze thing?

Thanks!

Hugs and Blessed be
Angi
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post #2 of 15 Old 10-16-2008, 12:15 AM
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Find a bit she will take too. This may take time. Have you checked her mouth for alcuerations (sp) or anything to do with her oral health.
I personally think ur confusing her, with ur commands.. either that, or she gets frustrated and has no idea what your asking of her.
If she only responds to voice commands, that's not such a bad thing..


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post #3 of 15 Old 10-16-2008, 12:28 AM Thread Starter
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I really don't think it's the bit. I tried her in everything from my french link to a walker bit to a bitless to a hackamore today and in everything she was hyper sensitive. The vet has checked her just a few weeks ago, and she's just fine. I agree with the confusing her bit, but with these horses they are trained to go in one direction for a bit, turn, then go in a straight line again. That's it. I'm basically re-breaking her.

Thanks for your answer!

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Angi
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post #4 of 15 Old 10-16-2008, 12:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angilina View Post
I really don't think it's the bit. I tried her in everything from my french link to a walker bit to a bitless to a hackamore today and in everything she was hyper sensitive. The vet has checked her just a few weeks ago, and she's just fine. I agree with the confusing her bit, but with these horses they are trained to go in one direction for a bit, turn, then go in a straight line again. That's it. I'm basically re-breaking her.

Thanks for your answer!

She was a Dressage Performance Horse right? Dressage isnt just made up of turns, n different directions.. Not at all.. Every horse, no matter what disipline - to suceed in something requirs flatwork - the basis of Dressage. Dressage is french for training.
Im curious.. So your re-breaking her? Run me through what you would do... Maybe some figure of eights, getting her to come off your leg, trot poles, or maybe just a canta through the bush... that's flatwork - well requires some sort of ground training.

Maybe im not understanding the situation properally.. but she sounds like an intelligent horse.

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post #5 of 15 Old 10-16-2008, 12:50 AM Thread Starter
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Oops! I forgot to add the Tennessee Walker Performance bit in there. My bad. This (link to youtube video of a horse like her) is what she used to do. Horses are abused and forced to do that walk by those shoes and pain applied to their front legs. That's what I am trying to bring her back from.

Sorry!

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Angi
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post #6 of 15 Old 10-16-2008, 12:57 AM
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ooh haha.. Gosh.. Well I cnt help you there... I don't think we even have TWH in Australia...

Cya around

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post #7 of 15 Old 10-16-2008, 10:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angilina View Post
I really don't think it's the bit. I tried her in everything from my french link to a walker bit to a bitless to a hackamore today and in everything she was hyper sensitive. The vet has checked her just a few weeks ago, and she's just fine. I agree with the confusing her bit, but with these horses they are trained to go in one direction for a bit, turn, then go in a straight line again. That's it. I'm basically re-breaking her.

Thanks for your answer!
Have you tried her in a rope halter? Is there any way you can completly restart her using that? That is how my friend taught me to start horses. Get them completly used to the rope halter and starting cues in that, and then introducing the bridle over it and combining the cues. If they didnt understand in the bridle, introduce that cue slightly with the rope halter along with a bridle. Food for thought, perhaps?

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post #8 of 15 Old 10-29-2008, 07:17 PM
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Ugh. I hate that discipline. I just wanted to say good luck. I am sure she will get it eventually and love you for not being abusive like you say her past owners were
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post #9 of 15 Old 10-29-2008, 10:12 PM
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i'd try a fat french link or regular snaffle paired with a running martingale. Like this:


Also, orajel applied to the corners of her mouth will help numb them a bit...

I love saddleseat - never understood the walking horse section of it, but I must admit I love the discipline

kickshaw
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post #10 of 15 Old 10-29-2008, 10:16 PM
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Spastic its not the disipline its the breed (its not sactioned by the USEF). The disipline is nothing like what big lick TWHs do.

Kickshaw holy cow that's a nice lesson horse!
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