Starting a 21 yr old mare
 
 

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Starting a 21 yr old mare

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  • Wollowbee mare 21 years old
  • Training older broodmare for saddle work

 
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    06-07-2009, 02:32 PM
  #1
Liv
Foal
Starting a 21 yr old mare

Back in January, I bought Massy. I absolutely love her, she is an awesome broodmare, babysitter, and all around horse. I had heard when I bought her that it had been 7+ years since she'd been ridden, so I always had it in the back of my mind to ride her eventually. I bought her as a broodmare, and will be breeding her in the fall of this year or spring of next year. She is a gorgeous slightly stocky TWH mare who has a shape better fitting an 8 year old than a 21 yr old. Picture a strawberry roan pony on steroids, and that's what she looks like. An overgrown children's hunter. Perfect health, too, before we go there.

I have been hopping up on her bareback for about a month now. Not meaning to move anywhere, just reacquainting her with the feeling of weight on her back. When I did ask for some movement, I got nothing in return. When I pulled lightly on he reins (right or left) she just let her head be pulled back all the way to my shoe. She does back up, so that's something, and does so with the lightest of touches. Going forward still seems to mystify her, even though I've connected a cluck with forward movement.

I put a saddle on her yesterday, and tried to put a bridle on her. She would have none of the bit, and fought it every second she had it in her mouth like a 2yr old. So I switched to my bitless, and she was cool with that. Saddling up she was better than anyone else in my herd, and stood still perfectly for the few minutes I had to leave her tied. At this point, I thought maybe she would remember a bit better with a saddle on, and that maybe the bit refusal was a product of bad training somewhere along the way. I know she has had some good meaning but not so good for her natural horsemanship thrown at her (see my thread in the Natural Horsemanship forum), so I was expecting a blow up when we started riding.

Getting up on her, it was the same as bareback. She didn't react to my heels, my hands, my legs, but still backed up on command. Not backing up as a way to get away, only when asked.

She doesn't seem to have any hangups, no spooks or anxiety. It doesn't seem like she is just refusing to react, which she does sometimes with other things, she will look back at me like she simply does not know what to do. She moves away from pressure on the ground, responds to clucks for movement, will gait in hand in response to clucks and kisses, etc.

So, my question is this. What good resources are out there to help someone start an older horse? I'm looking to take on the project myself, as I've rebroken about four horses with many years since riding behind them plus abuse for trail and show. My figuring is if I'm going to learn how to start a horse basically from scratch, why not work with the older patient broodmare and not the hyper younger horse?

Any advice from you guys is welcome! Thanks!
     
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    06-07-2009, 02:55 PM
  #2
Foal
Have you had her teeth checked for as far as not wanting the bit goes? Also, does she go forward with the saddle on when on a lunge line? I know she doesn't go forward for you when you are on her, bareback or saddle, but I would see what she does on a lunge line, and then try again. Sometimes (with the babies anyway) they just don't know what to do once the tack is put on, so they just stand there. I know this probably doesn't seemt to be the case with your mare since she does it bareback too, but it was just a thought. Good that you have gotten her to connect with the cluck and going forward. I would work from that, like a cluck and a squeeze (or kick if the squeeze doesn't work), that way she starts to assosciate your leg with going forward. I don't have any resources for you, but hope this helps! Good luck!
     
    06-07-2009, 03:01 PM
  #3
Liv
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ahsisi    
Have you had her teeth checked for as far as not wanting the bit goes? Also, does she go forward with the saddle on when on a lunge line? I know she doesn't go forward for you when you are on her, bareback or saddle, but I would see what she does on a lunge line, and then try again. Sometimes (with the babies anyway) they just don't know what to do once the tack is put on, so they just stand there. I know this probably doesn't seemt to be the case with your mare since she does it bareback too, but it was just a thought. Good that you have gotten her to connect with the cluck and going forward. I would work from that, like a cluck and a squeeze (or kick if the squeeze doesn't work), that way she starts to assosciate your leg with going forward. I don't have any resources for you, but hope this helps! Good luck!
I did get her teeth checked before I bought her, everything is fine there. I'm not overly worried about the bit situation, I ride most of my horses in a halter or bitless anyway. She does go forward with the tack on while longing, that's what I started her with (and probably should have mentioned in my first post). She did know how to longe before I got her, but seems to have forgotten everything else.

Thanks!
     
    06-07-2009, 03:28 PM
  #4
Started
Could you have a friend come out and help you a little? Put a rider on her and lead her, then lunge her. See if she's willing to move forward with the weight of a rider under command of someone from the ground, then ease her back to the rider's control?
     
    06-07-2009, 06:07 PM
  #5
Weanling
I just started riding my mare again, and she's 21 years old as well. I hadn't ridden in 10 years due to breaking my back, but we are beginning again and she's been okay, but very sour attitude (heck, why should she have to work now, right???). We are working through things.

I'd have someone go out with you and when you ask her to move forward with your leg, have someone lead her with the bridle as well. She'll pick up soon that your leg means move forward. You can also have someone help you on the turns, or you could use a long line and drive her from behind, getting her to turn before you actually ask her to turn when you are on her.

Post some pics. I'd love to see your progress. You can see my old girl in the Western Riding section... we try to ride on Sunday's and Wednesdays.
     
    06-22-2009, 11:47 AM
  #6
Weanling
If she's good in the bitless, I say just leave her alone and ignore a bit. Some horses don't like bits to begin with and it just causes a fight and resentment on both of your parts when the bit is involved.

It's great that she is good with you bareback. Try getting someone to lead you around like a pony ride. It might jog her memory and help you out. Riding a mare in the first few months of pregnancy and after the foal is born is always good and I recommend it. It makes them feel useful and I swear the foals learn that riding is fun for it :)

Good luck and have fun. She's sound and healthy, she'll make a great little riding mare.
     

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