Stubborn Mare wont go forward. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 05-25-2013, 04:41 AM Thread Starter
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Stubborn Mare wont go forward.

I have a 9 year old mare that has never been started before. She has excellent ground manners. She had 9 years of ground training prior to me acquiring her. The most recent 3 of them were spent being a spoiled little princess with the previous owner. She did minimal work on her and ponied her kids on her back.

You can tie her up in a bow, lay on her belly when she is on the ground. She will follow you, back up, go to the side, etc with you on the ground. It's her in the saddle that is the issue.


Every time I hop up on her she has a thing about not going forward. First time she backed up. Whatever. Worked with it and I can get her to back up on command now. She will turn in circles with me with minimal resistance. Her main issue is going forward. She will not go forward unless someone is in the center of the round pen. They don't even have to move. That is the only time she will respond to her forward commands. We have been on her about 5 times and we are struggling to get her to go forward. My 2 trainers are baffled, my husbands dad who has broken-started more horses than my hubby and my ages combined is baffled. My husband is stumped as well.

Any thoughts?

The vet says she is sound. My local saddle builder says my saddle is fine. She has a wonderful temperament. Comes when called. No other issues than wont go forward.

I use a 15 in leather saddle that is pretty light. Maybe 20lbs? I 'm under 120lbs so I know it's not a weight issue. She isn't sway backed. We are using a D ring snaffle bit.

Other info-

There is a 2 year old stallion (not mine) on the property that we have her and another mare (not mine) separated from. He will be gelded the 21st of next month.
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post #2 of 15 Old 05-25-2013, 04:47 AM
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If all pain is out, you need to get a crop or an over and under whip and get ready to argue.

Lightly ask her. She doesn't go? Kick. She doesn't go? smack her and make her. They get the idea really fast. It's ask, tell, demand with horses that are stubborn. And take no prisoners.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #3 of 15 Old 05-25-2013, 04:52 AM Thread Starter
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I have smacked her butt with my hand and she flicked her ear. And she will ignore kicking her. I tapped her with my heels, gave her a light kick and dug in a bit and she just said nope. I have contemplated getting a quirt for her but didn't know if that would be a good or bad idea.
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post #4 of 15 Old 05-25-2013, 04:58 AM
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No you need a crop or over and under, something you don't need to lean back to use, if you lean back and then ask for forward motion it can lead to further confusion as well as you popping her mouth when she does go forward because you are already leaning back. I agree with sorrelhorse ask, tell and then demand it, my guy was very hesitant to move forward but once we figured out he could ( out on trail e opened up just fine) he got an ask, tell and then a good whomp on his butt.
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post #5 of 15 Old 05-25-2013, 05:08 AM Thread Starter
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Will do. I'll go and get a crop and see how she responds. Will update with her response. Wish me luck on the battle of wills. :)
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post #6 of 15 Old 05-25-2013, 02:34 PM
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Make sure you reward every step forward even if she only takes one step give her a release. Dont keep whomping her. After she goes one or two steps ask for more. We have a mare that wouldnt go forward at all. It only took one good ride to show her moving forward isnt bad. It wasnt that she was scared she was just down right stubburn. But give in stubburness also needs to be rewarded
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post #7 of 15 Old 05-25-2013, 02:51 PM
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I had a horse with that issue. She'd learned that she could avoid work by refusing to move. No amount of kicking, whipping, or over-and-under-ing would make her budge. What finally broke her of that habit was tying her (safely) in the indoor arena and leaving her alone. That way she was forced not to move on OUR terms, not hers. We would then reward her by riding her with her buddies. She learned quick that moving was better than not.
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post #8 of 15 Old 05-26-2013, 01:08 AM
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My solution is the same as Sorrelhorse and BRA...that's why I always ride in long split reins. Reins and whip built into one.

HOWEVER, you should be prepared for all possible reactions when you take the whip to her. Some horses just decide to go right on and move forward as if it was no big deal, some squirt forward quickly but settle just as fast....and others respond very badly indeed by flying into a bucking frenzy or rearing up.

Make sure you take one rein shorter than the other so that if something happens and she reacts badly, you can get ahold of her head and get her bent for some measure of control.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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post #9 of 15 Old 05-26-2013, 02:37 AM Thread Starter
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I switched to my split reins and changed her bit. Changed from a one ear bridle to just a brow band one. She moved good for me for 5 rounds which she was rewarded for the good behavior. But then she saw my husband and stopped to focus on him. And then the trees. So I smacked her butt lightly with the reins to get her to go forward and she did. She started obeying que's then decided to just quit. Gave her the go que til she gave in. Made progress! :)

She seems to enjoy the full cheek bit much more than the D ring. She did attempt to start throwing her head but nipped that in the butt as soon as I saw what she was doing. She started obeying after her little tantrums.
:) Ty for the help! One of my trainers came out with me today to make sure everything went down smoothly. She doesn't like the split reins but they worked! :) She being the trainer.
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post #10 of 15 Old 05-26-2013, 08:07 AM
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Horses do NOT stop to 'get out of work', it has to do with balance and contact. Sustain the contact tactfully, keep the horse high enough, and do not use the leg (have ground back up). WHEN the horse moves then apply the leg (associative AFTER the horse IS moving). IF you are pinching (with the leg) on a mare, they WILL learn to stop/stay rooted. THe lack of focus (for a mare) is typical, there job in life is to look for 'incomings'. Imho these are fairly typical responses for mares, but the help of a knowledgeable young horse riders/trainer might be in order.
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