Teaching mare to like work
 
 

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Teaching mare to like work

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  • I found a great trail horse but she hates the arena
  • Training a trail horse to arena work

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    05-12-2012, 02:20 PM
  #1
Started
Teaching mare to like work

I have a 12 year old Quarter horse mare. When we first got her she was 5, and she was a total brat. She bucked, bit, kicked, wouldn't load...but now she's much better, much calmer, a lot more pleasant to be around. But she's still very sour towards arena work. She never did any until she came here, she had only trail ridden. She's GREAT on the trails- not spooky, bold, surefooted, and she really seems to enjoy it. But when you take her in the arena (actually my arena is just a part of our pasture, it's fenced on three sides and open on the other, but it's very large) she doesn't want to do anything. She can barely trot a circle let alone canter one. Her right lead is horrible because all anyone ever did was canter on her left. All she wants to do is get back to the barn, or trail ride. She has soooo much potential for something!- she has a beautiful natural, powerful stride and natural low head carriage, she's bred for pleasure, and she's really calm, but she just doesn't want to do anything. She gets in there and doesn't focus at all. I know she may never be amazing, but how can I get her to accept actual work so I can get her somewhere?
     
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    05-12-2012, 02:20 PM
  #2
Started
I really like natural horsemanship training too.
     
    05-12-2012, 02:47 PM
  #3
Super Moderator
Is she the same way in all arena? I mean, say, one that isn't next to her bedroom and kitchen, so to speak?
     
    05-12-2012, 02:57 PM
  #4
Started
Yes, I've tried her other places and she's no better.
     
    05-12-2012, 07:59 PM
  #5
Foal
Personally, I am a BIG believer in restarting arena-sour horses from scratch. I am aware that not ever rider has the patience, resources, or overall skill for doing this, but I have restarted a QH straight off the track, a VERY worried Andalusian/TB cross, and my own overly sensitive TB rescue... and I've had GREAT results with each.

I'd start off with doing easy & enjoyable things in your arena... lead your mare around and feed favorite treats... if she is a playful horse, play with her. If she enjoys being scratched, scratch her in her favorite places. Just do a few of "her favorite things" in and around the arena, with absolutely NO WORK involved until she absolutely LOVES being in and around your arena. Next, start by doing EASY ground work, such as lunging. Always work with a positive attitude and try to be fun! When she shows ANY sign of improvement, no matter how slight it is, reward her by being done and doing "her favorite things" as a reward. If she wants to be back in the barn so badly, when she is good about not showing, reward her by taking her back so that she knows that the fastest way to get out of the arena, is to get straight to work and get it done faster. When she is leading/lunging without any major problems, try getting back on her. Start by walking, then gradually moving up the gaits. Work in baby strides... if she goes around one 1 lap without issues, let her be done. Work your way up slowly and reassuringly. What works for my TB is if he wants to run back home, I turn him around and make him walk in the opposite direction for about a fifty feet. When he turns around, if he picks up pace or gets moody, I turn him again. I do this for however many times it takes for him to realize that the fastest way to get home is to walk obediently. This may take a couple of tries, but it DOES work. The key is to be PATIENT and POSITIVE.

... But that's just how I would do it ;) Good luck! Let me know what you eventually try doing (even if it's not my idea :P) and let me know how it works out!
foreveramber likes this.
     
    05-12-2012, 11:56 PM
  #6
Super Moderator
Arena sour horses can be a real problem. She is 12 years old and has never developed a good 'work ethic' and has a less the 'willing' attitude. Some of these horses never make good arena horses. But then, part of it may be the way someone has ridden her there.

This is what I would suggest. I would develop her work ethic on the trail. I would do a LOT of jogging/trotting on the trail and would find and identify every place where you can jog or lope a circle. I would lope several hundred yards at a time on the trail in her least favored lead. This will, at the least, get her comfortable in both leads.

After only a few 'working' sessions on the trail, you will find out if she is just resistant in the arena or if it is the 'work' itself she is resistant to.

Then, when you get home, go out to your 'arena' spot, jog a single circle, get off, loosen your girth and lead her back to the barn.

When I do this with a roping horse that is bad in the box, I always end each riding session in the roping box, dismount there, loosen the girth, take off the bridle and lead him out with tie-down.

I have done this many times with arena sour barrel or roping horses -- some that three people could not get into the arena.

To keep show horses (like a reining horse) from getting arena sour and wanting to leave the arena, I would always take a reining horse, after working a class, out to a training area and ride the horse harder there than I did in the ring. Then, I would get off, loosen the girth, stand around a while and finally take him back to the barn. If you want a horse to get stupid about being in the arena, just work him there, ride him out, go straight to the barn and let him rest there.

When people ride here, either for lessons or as I have an apprentice right now, one of the first things they learn is that I never want them to ride a horse out of the arena or in from the pasture if they are riding there. I want them to stop out where they were riding, make the horse stand perfectly still for a few minutes, then dismount, loosen the girth and lead it back to the tack-room. Some horses are then girthed back up and ridden off again if they get too anxious to get back to the barn. I try really hard to stop bad behavior before it starts.
     
    05-13-2012, 12:02 AM
  #7
Showing
What are you doing in the arena, riding around on the rail? You have to make it interesting. You want good riding from her, then you're going to have to invest time to put it on her. Teach her to canter well. Grab an instructor to help you, they do make house calls.

Maybe you work too hard in the arena without any breaks. Show her it's a good place to be by having nice loose rein walking breaks and going over ground poles, around cones, weaving, etc.

Mix it all up so she's engaged and ready to learn, rather than unfocused and not keen.
KaiKamm93 likes this.
     
    05-13-2012, 01:44 AM
  #8
Started
It's the work itself, I've worked her on the trail and she didn't like it.
     
    05-13-2012, 01:52 AM
  #9
Showing
Well she is either not a fan of being ridden and therefore a sassy miss, or she's in some kind of discomfort or pain and needs that to be checked out.
     
    05-13-2012, 02:42 AM
  #10
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by howrsegirl123    
I have a 12 year old Quarter horse mare. When we first got her she was 5, and she was a total brat. She bucked, bit, kicked, wouldn't load...but now she's much better, much calmer, a lot more pleasant to be around. But she's still very sour towards arena work. She never did any until she came here, she had only trail ridden. She's GREAT on the trails- not spooky, bold, surefooted, and she really seems to enjoy it. But when you take her in the arena (actually my arena is just a part of our pasture, it's fenced on three sides and open on the other, but it's very large) she doesn't want to do anything. She can barely trot a circle let alone canter one. Her right lead is horrible because all anyone ever did was canter on her left. All she wants to do is get back to the barn, or trail ride. She has soooo much potential for something!- she has a beautiful natural, powerful stride and natural low head carriage, she's bred for pleasure, and she's really calm, but she just doesn't want to do anything. She gets in there and doesn't focus at all. I know she may never be amazing, but how can I get her to accept actual work so I can get her somewhere?
Wow I feel like you just described my mare (great trail horse, only ever been trail/ranch horse, good potential, hates arena work) except she just turned 7 and is still in her sassy, total brat phase since I just recently got her after she was left out to pasture for a year...
     

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