Training and Heartbreak - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 05-12-2009, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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Training and Heartbreak

As much as horse training is amazing, it sure has its heartbreaking moments. I had to endure a pretty heartbreaking episode yesterday.
I started my boss's little Lippizaner/Halflinger mare several years ago. She was amazing. Light enough to read my thoughts, yet safe and reliable and without worry. She was soft in her mouth and in her gaits. When I was starting her, I had to be extremely thorough, take my time, and do what was appropriate to her because she could have gone either a great quiet, realxed and happy horse, or a scared nervous and defensive horse. People ask me all the time if I get close to the horses I spend time with, and of course I do but this particular mare was extremely special. I always said if she were 16 hands + I'd steal her for myself.
Anyway, once the time came for my boss to ride her, she did every now and then and never had a problem. Maya was always a sweetheart. Until recently.
My boss has been taking her Holsteiner gelding over to a different trainer, a dressage specific trainer. She is very German in her methods. Her gelding is one who needs constant motivation, constant giving of the aids. She seems happy with what they're doing with him, as it might work for that type horse.
She has been taking Maya over there for the last few weeks, and I volunteered to ride her in a jump lesson yesterday because my boss would not be there. Previously, I had done quite a bit of jumping with her and she was always amazing. Jumped like a big horse, just bent in half underneath me. :) I thought she'd make an incredible event pony.
I was immediately overwhelmed with sadness as I walked Maya around our jump field. Maya was not Maya anymore. If I let the reins be soft, away she'd bolt. I could not ride her with my body. Everything was done in the reins. She had become so dependent on the reins that she had forgotten everything I had taught her. She could not carry herself. She could hardly steer. Her balance was so far forward it was ridiculous. She'd charge the jumps because she was so tense on not knowing where to be in her body. Her canter was a disaster. As the lesson went on, she got quite a bit better, but that was heart wrenching to say the least.
I try to be an neutral to different ways of riding as I can. A kind of chew the meat and spit out the bones type attitude. lol I realize this is the reality of the horse training world, but nonetheless it is hard when you had such a success getting a horse to where it needed to be, and have the horse remain happy and relaxed.
The methods used I believe are okay for the gelding, even though he has become even more withdrawn and introverted. I do not believe they are doing what is right by Maya, and it saddens me. How quickly one can destroy a horse is amazing.
Any of you had to go through this?

In riding, a horse's energy is like a river- guided by the banks but not stopped by them.
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post #2 of 15 Old 05-12-2009, 11:24 AM
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I haven't but I've heard the tale many times from my friend who breeds and trains Peruvian Paso's. I'm guessing the methods of the German are much like the typical Peruvian training. Very harsh and demanding. It is sad when the damage can't be undone.


"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
- Anatole France
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post #3 of 15 Old 05-12-2009, 11:27 AM
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Please keep in mind that horses grow and change just as people do.
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post #4 of 15 Old 05-12-2009, 06:20 PM
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I've gone through many similar situations. Working with other people's horses and getting them just right, and then having to see them fall apart is crushing. I know it's heartbreaking, but somehow you have to find a way to move past it. I've gone through it so many times that I understand that they horse will revert back if their owner/rider doesn't work with them in the same manner as I do. The only thing you can do is explain how you ride and teach the owner/rider, but if they won't change you've done all you can. Hang in there and don't get too discouraged

"Maieutic Manege"
The art of horsemanship through sharing new ideas with one another
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post #5 of 15 Old 05-12-2009, 06:36 PM
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Yes, it is devastating to see a horse that was started so wonderfully and progressing nicely ruined because someone thinks they need to fix something that is not even broken. Being around professional training all my life, I have seen it too many times. There was a gelding many years ago that my Dad trained for NRHA competitions. His name (I think) was Rio Leo Superstar. He was wonderful and had won more than his share of events while in training with Dad. He was a different type of horse though and if you put too much pressure on him, he would just break and start freaking out. However, if you kept the cues and hands soft, he was incredible. Anyway, after the horse was sent back to his owner, the guy was showing him in some big NRHA show and thought "If I get in his mouth, he will stop harder }:)" Even though Rio would already drag his butt halfway down the arena. So in the middle of a class, the rider got in his mouth and halfway down his throat. Poor Rio just locked up and ran off with the guy. After that, he never rode him again and ended up just selling him. It was just so sad, I never knew what happened to him after that. I can remember riding that horse when I was a kid and I loved him.

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 #6 of 15 Old 05-13-2009, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys! :)
Unfortunately it isn't in my power to change the situation. But I do know what was and I am proud and grateful. At least my boss is happy, even if its on her horse's expense.
Thanks again for your thoughts. :)

In riding, a horse's energy is like a river- guided by the banks but not stopped by them.
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post #7 of 15 Old 05-13-2009, 12:47 AM
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And this is the reason I don't train horses, at least ones that are not mine.

I am a specialist in what I do. I train riders to train horses. I may or may not ever get up on a horse but I know exactly what is going to happen usually before it does.

I teach the rider to see these things. I can walk away from a horse/rider combination because I won't allow myself to develope that attachment that leads to heartbreak.
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post #8 of 15 Old 05-13-2009, 07:46 AM
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Many trainers make their living retraining horses that they've trained. They call it "tuning them up". They get a horse ready to go, turn him over to his owner who promptly undoes the training (or at best, undoes it over a period of time) and gives the horse back to the trainer for a "tune up". Sort of like an annuity.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.


It's not always what you say but what they hear.
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post #9 of 15 Old 05-13-2009, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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I can def see your point, Spyder. As much as it is sad my passion for it remains the same. lol
Iridehorses, that's true as well. Kind of like job security, eh?

In riding, a horse's energy is like a river- guided by the banks but not stopped by them.
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post #10 of 15 Old 05-13-2009, 12:28 PM
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I am by no mean a pro trainer or even a trainer but I have started horses and gotten them bomb proff blah blah etc. etc. My friend bought a 4yr olf OTTB gelding who was much too much horse for her but he was spoiled and she loved him. She never wanted to show him and just wanted a trail horse so I figured eh. I can't get her to change her mind so I will work with them. I spent a month getting him to give to the bit and really use his body while being ridden. I we worked and seeign new thinking like fallen trash cans etc. By the end of the month he could pull a tarp, open and close gates, and was a nicely started trail horse. My friend came out to ride him and I set up a little trail course for her. Well, it did not go too well. I told her to just take is slow and easy with him just like a laid back trail ride. She had spurs on and I told her she does not need those with him I mean he's an OTTB and she was not lucky enough to get a laid back easy going one. As she was dragging a tarp the wind picked up and he spooked, not bad a little jump forward and a spin to look at the tarp that had flown for a minute. I tell her to drop the line and just let him check it out so he can see that nothing is going to eat him. She did and when the wind picked up it moved and he jumped a little again and out of no where she smacks him! and then says "I told you I would need spurs with this psycotic animal!" and dismounted and stormed off with him. Long story short I never did anything for her again and she's since then sold that horse and bought a 5yt old Arab who was also sold a few months later for a similar reason. Sorry this is so long but you are not alone. I hate it when unfortunate situations happen.

*+*Know Jumps Know Glory, No Jumps No Glory*+*
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