Warning, long: When is it time to get off the horse? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 44 Old 06-25-2013, 12:29 AM
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I would have done as you did. The only thing I might have done differently would have been to have a more elastic type of rope or attachment, so she could feel some give. In her case, I don't know that it would have helped though.

Now, to reinforce the tying and standing, I would let her spend several days tied to a "patience pole". She'd go out right after breakfast, have a hay net and water there, and go in at dinner. She'd yell, fuss, pull, paw, dig and scream, but she would stand there for the entire day. And the next and the next and the next until she learns to stand until someone releases her, without drama and without acting out in any way.

I had a mare who, while not under saddle, still had those "check out" moments. My summation of her was that when she got scared, if you could catch her early and get her to calm down you might save the situation. If not, she fed on herself to such an extent that it was Lights not on, Nobody home and a Tornado is spinnin' in the basement. I sold her to someone who professed to like "emotional" horses, with full disclosure. I don't miss her.
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post #12 of 44 Old 06-25-2013, 12:52 AM
Join Date: Jul 2011
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Originally Posted by ridingadventures View Post
Thank you so much for your reply everyone, and I would like to give you guys an update. I know when a horse gets themselves into a panic there is no learning to be done, and since their reactive side often overrides the thinking part, you essentially have to wait it out. Which is what I had to deal with this time.

As I mentioned, I rode this mare after we got back home until she started doing a bit better (so we have a big ball in the arena, and her owner said "she's always hated it", which meant that as she got close to it she rears, spins, loses her mind the same way she did on the trail. So my goal for the day was for her to push the ball with her legs several times without arguing. I would wait til she got out of her frenzy, then try again. She figured it out and did what we asked. We quit).

The next two days I worked with her on being away from the herd- I put her in a separate pen, fed facing away from the herd (she didn't eat for a day because she refused to turn away from the direction her friends were in, even though she can only periodically catch a glimpse). I also worked with her on some basics, lungeing, some ground respect. I figured we'd start at the beginning.

Yesterday I got on her in the arena, and we rode. She was great. Gave me one sass when she tried to trot off the second I hit the saddle- but she was corrected quickly and no more problem. Then we went outside with 2 other people. She led, she followed, she stayed between the two and walked beside them. One of the other horses threw a fit but she didn't feed off him at all, she was calm and super responsive, light on the bit. I was SO excited.

So I put her in a stall to get some food and water before I turned her out, everything was good. Then as I went to take her out, a little girl trying to ride needed a bit of help and I just tied *my* mare quickly to a post with a quick release tie to go over and help her. Now a little background information is needed. While working towards my license, I am working with two other trainers that are knowledgeable and certified, one of them trained in Europe. When outside horses come in we talk to and have a questionnaire for the owners to identify what kind of problems the horse is having. The owner told us that this mare (she is a 8 yr old OTTB) has never had any problems tying at all, so we weren't worried. And we use cross ties primarily in the barn, and she's never given us any trouble. But my guess is that she has always used cross ties at home (I know the place) and has never been trained to be tied anywhere else. Because I tied her, and the second I turned my back she pulled back, and just LOST it all over again. Luckily the little girl was in the fenced indoor arena and the only other people there were myself and one of the other trainers. So she threw her head so hard she broke the first halter. So we figured we can't let her learn that she can pull and be free, so she was tied up again and we just waited with her. She would pull, process, pull. And go forth. So when she was processing we tried to go over to her and praise her, but she wouldn't let you near her. She tried to strike and a quick three crops to the chest stopped that, but she wouldn't stop pulling. She yanked so hard she landed herself on her butt and put extra pressure on her face. We made her get up by giving her a tap on the butt for incentive, and she did.

So we weren't trying to meddle per se, and we were trying to let her figure out that standing still wasn't putting any pressure on her and it was really just the simplest way, but we couldn't leave her alone to figure it out either- on the third blowout she yanked on the rope, put some pressure on the halter and tried to lie down and just give up. We had scissors and a knife on hand and immediately cut her lose so she wouldn't choke, and she was fine.

She would come down and process for a few minutes, and then fight again. I don't know WHERE her thinking side was, but nowhere to be seen. Anyway. This lasted for over 4 hours! We were done at 1 am.... Then she stood. Still. And stood some more. And then we gave her a bath and some food.

And so now my next question is...what would you guys have done? I mean at one point I felt it was dangerous to her to continue because she was just trying to lay down and give up, and had we not been prepared with scissors and a knife she would have choked herself. And on the other hand, this was SUPER dangerous behavior and it would be a hazard to any of her future handlers if she was let to get away with this kind of behavior without dealing with it. But I wondered how you pick and choose your battles like that? Like I said, I have had lots of stubborn and green horses and sometimes both, but I've never seen one like this.

The sad thing is, she really is a smart, beautiful mare and she is friendly and goes well under saddle, she has beautiful movement and is responsive to a rider. But it's like somewhere along the way, probably when she was trained at the track or trained afterward, a critical step got missed in her training that led to these kinds of problems. And she has been allowed to get away with this kind of behavior, having led to her owner not being confident around her, and letting her get away with even more behavior.

It makes me so sad :(

Honestly.. I would not have tied her off to help the little girl. Your entire session with this horse was to have her focus on you, and you assumed she'd be fine tied without really anything to focus on.

Do not make that assumption again. I would have told the girl hang on, put the horse back in the stall (or back out) and then went back to help the girl. Imagine if her horse fed off of the horse you were working with, and they both freaked out. That would have put the little girl in danger as well.

With a horse with these types of blank mind do-what-I-want attitudes, you should not assume anything that you were told before was true and you should treat them with clear communication and break everything down just as you were doing with her fears and with her behavior on the trail.

Now that this horse has learned they can break halters.. it will be a very long process to undo that habit. Believe me, my horse did it.

Also the horse may need her neck/throatlatch area looked at by a chiro because injuries to that area occur when a horse pulls back with a halter on.

I guess the gist of my post is: Never assume anything... always set the horse up to succeed.. not to get into a dangerous situation.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #13 of 44 Old 06-25-2013, 07:50 AM
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I think you made 2 mistakes:

First --You tied her too close to where there was activity and other horses and handlers. I think you should have said something like,"I am really in a bad spot here with this really goofy horse. Let go put her up or tie her somewhere and I will be right back to help you."

Second -- Don't ever put a halter on her head that can break. Only tie this idiot with a new knotted rope halter and a really good 15' lead with a 'twist style' quick release snap.

Hint -- I use a 15 foot lead-rope tied solidly to the halter with a bowline or honda knot that I can get out. I run the lead-rope THROUGH my tie ring (located 6 feet above the ground) and tie it off 8 feet from where the horse's head is.

I don't want to waste lead ropes by cutting them unless the horse is going to die and this way, I don't even have to do that,

I don't want horses to learn they can break a halter or that I will cut a rope and release them at exactly the wrong time. [Pressure should be released when they do the right thing and not the wrong thing.]

On the rare occasion that I have to release a horse that cannot get up, I wait until it actually chokes and their tongue turns blue. I just sic the dog on them or spank their butt while they are down throwing their tantrum and most will get up and not find throwing themselves to be a good thing that is rewarded. Cutting a rope on a horse that has thrown that big a tantrum is the ultimate bad reward at a bad time. When one 'sulls' and its tongue turns blus, you HAVE to cut the rope. I have never had one injure its neck when they are tied higher than their withers.

My favorite place to tie a spoiled horse is to a rope hanging down from a big tree limb. Be sure it has a good swivel in the rope or at the halter.

Over the years, I have just tried every way there is to get them back to thinking and responding and I honestly have not found anything else that works once they 'check out' and just go into tantrum throwing 'self destruct' mode. If what you do does not help the training process and just keeps happening over and over, you have not 'fixed' the horse and it will never be safe to sell or put in the hands of another rider. The horse will get them hurt or killed. Most of the outside horses that I have taken in that were this bad or were mean and aggressive were set to be sold to get rid of them (they would have gone to the slaughter buyer) or they were set to be put down. Quite frankly, there is nothing to lose in this situation with this kind of fit throwing idiot. They are too just dangerous to move on to a new owner.

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post #14 of 44 Old 06-25-2013, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks to all of you for your comments. I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge.

So the second she threw her fit I knew I made a rookie mistake tying her instead of just taking the extra 5-10 and taking her out properly. I should have just told the little girl to dismount and hold her horse until I got back. ESPECIALLY since this mare did so well at our ride that day and now this... I've been kicking myself ever since.

Also good point about not taking anyone's word for it. That will really teach me, and I guess better now than in 10 years.

I was, and I am, just SOO frustrated that she broke the first halter and even more frustrated that I had to cut the second. I totally get that it was pressure released at the wrong time, but I didn't want to kill this mare! And she would NOT get up even with her butt being cropped, I don't know what got into her. Which is why we worked until 1 am because we refused to give up now that she had got lose. And even though it took longer, she did stand at the end, it was just a harder battle.

So here's what I've done since: yesterday I cleared all the pokey branches below 8 feet on this great big tree we have in the back of the farm, where nobody rides and there are no horses being kept. I also cleared the ground around it. I went to the tack store and I bought some supplies like a longer lead rope and an ideal halter for tying. Thank you for tips on how to tie it up a bit better, hopefully this will help. I also got a tie ring and installed it at a tying post as a second option.

I think horses are more resilient than I give them credit for, but because I haven't seen many horses throw themselves down like that...this morning the vet came by to float a few horses and I had her checked out to make sure she was alright. And today in an hour or so I am going to tie her to that tree and there she will stand until either she learns how to tie or the world ends.... hehehe oh and I also got a 100 training exercises book so I can sit and read about 300 meters away from the tree and keep an eye on her...should be a good day...
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post #15 of 44 Old 06-25-2013, 03:08 PM
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First recommendation I'll make is: Quit kicking yourself. It's over, and today is a new day. That's how the horse thinks. Kicking yourself isn't going to train her and it's distracting for you.

The rest of your post sounds like you have a good plan. Just be ready for her to short circuit again, maybe over the same thing, maybe over something else.

The mare I had would literally forget you were there, walk over the top of you and then looks surprised to find you there. Then she'd get upset over something utterly routine. I will never forget the day I learned to really appreciate a 16 X 16 stall. She got blanketed at night, unblanketed and a sheet put on in the morning and then out for turn out for a few hours. One night I was there when she got blanketed and, God only knows why, she blew it and as I was walking from the back of her stall to the front, she had a complete melt down over being blanketed. If she had been in a 12 X 12 stall, I'd have ended up in the next stall over. She let those hind feet fly and I was able to get clear because of the size of that stall. No clue why she lost it so bad, she just ......had a maggot in her brain or something. One day she flipped out in the wash rack and threw herself down with all 4 feet in the air. No reason, she wasn't even being bathed.

Just never, ever trust this horse and always be on your guard with her.

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post #16 of 44 Old 06-25-2013, 03:27 PM
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A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. CS Lewis
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post #17 of 44 Old 06-25-2013, 03:57 PM
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Me, too. Subbing.
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post #18 of 44 Old 06-25-2013, 04:06 PM
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post #19 of 44 Old 06-25-2013, 04:39 PM
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post #20 of 44 Old 06-27-2013, 02:52 PM
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Wow, I haven't yet met a horse that crazy. But if I ever do, I will refer back to this!
Good luck with her!

Crickett-Born 10:30p.m. May 17th, 2013.

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