Warning, long: When is it time to get off the horse? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 44 Old 06-28-2013, 04:57 AM
Join Date: Jun 2013
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Honestly I believe you did the right thing! she is smart and she was trying to outsmart you. Smart horses get mistaken for stubborn horses. you are the lead horse never forget that. some are quick learners and some take a lil longer! Awesone job I think!
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post #22 of 44 Old 06-30-2013, 01:10 AM Thread Starter
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So it is now 4 training sessions later.

The first day, I brought my lead rope and new tying halter to a tree far away from everything, no horses or people nearby. I tied her up and had to get out of the way FAST. She threw a massive fit, reared, pawed, screamed, pulled by bracing all four legs against the ground. It was straight out of a cartoon. She got herself some nice halter burns from pulling so hard and everything. And then she magically got free without breaking anything (I was watching). Turned out because the halter was new it stretched a bit and she had pulled so much- anyway I was frustrated but she went right back to the tree, this time I made it tighter than I normally would, and I attached a second rope to the tree, I really couldn't afford her getting loose anymore. Also, I spoke to the trainer before me, and turns out the reason she doesn't know how to tie was because she kept breaking everything, so they quit (I wish people knew that quitting is worse than not training them at all...).
Fast forward a few hours of battling a tree, trying to flip herself and getting back up, and she starts to stand nicely. For about 20 minutes at a time. Then she has another fit. And so on. Then finally she stood for 30 minutes and was pretty much sleeping at the tree, I went to untie her and she lost it when she saw me coming. So I turned right back around and left her there (I was hidden behind a shed a ways away just watching her). The next time I went to untie her after she stood nicely, she was quite respectful. So she got her supper and then went to join her friends.

The next day, she got tied to a different tree (wanted to make sure she can stand everywhere, not just at one spot). This time she only fought for about 40 minutes then gave straight up. We took her inside for a hose-down (she loves them), then on the way out she pulled back and threw her head as we went to grab the halter. So she got tied again for a while. Until she was good. And then went outside.

The third day, she stood pretty well. Twice she started to pull back and went to fight and then it was like she remembered it was useless anyway.

Since then I've been bringing her in to stand in the barn by herself with no horses around, and she has been good about it. Usually she will call once when she first stands, but then nothing. I think though that with her it is going to be a few weeks of a process- she has been getting away with it for so many years that she will still show signs of fighting when you tie her at first, and I need her to stand still from the get go, I am not willing to compromise here.

Also found another thing she is just horrible about- syringes! We went to de-worm everyone after the first day of tying, and she- AGAIN- threw a fit. I think part of it related back to the tying problem, we tried to hold her head down to put the syringe in her mouth and she wouldn't take it. So she was tied again. So I bought a gallon of apple juice and every day we tie her up she also gets syringe trained at the same time. That seems to be improving as her tying gets better also.

Anyway, things are going a bit better. Like I said, this is going to be a way longer process than teaching a green horse how to tie- since people have attempted it in the past and then just let her get away with things... But the progress in the last four days makes me optimistic that there is still hope for her, just that I will need to spend more time on her than I normally would. And be certain that I am never letting her get away with ANYTHING AT ALL.

Curiously enough, since 5 days ago, she has gone from herd bound on the far end of the pasture to waiting at the gate for me with nickers to get her every time I'm out and doing something. She even waits at the gate area when all her friends are away doing other things. It boggles the mind since I feel like all the training sessions have been less than ideal and in some instances downright insane, and yet she seems to look forward to coming with me....silly mare...
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post #23 of 44 Old 06-30-2013, 01:36 AM
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If you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck. ~ Marine 1SGT J. Reifinger
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post #24 of 44 Old 06-30-2013, 07:53 AM
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Congratulations!!!! You are proving exactly what I have tried to tell people over and over but most of them have not listened. You cure herd-bound behavior and they love you for it --- they really do.

People, I've tried and tried to explain that this is how the equine mind works. When you tie them up, their herd is much less important to them and you become much more significant in their lives. You prove to them that there is life --- a good life -- after separation, and they are going to get to go back to their herd anyway.

We had one take 3 full days, 8-10 hours each day before she gave it up. She went on to become a top cutting horse winning a lot of NCHA money. Before that, she could not be shown because she would whinny in a class. She could not be hauled unless you took her buddy with her. She went from an idiot to a op horse.

This is exactly why we tie every horse up away from others before we do any training on them. You are training a pleasantly different horse that learns 100X better and learns to love and depend on you in the process.

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post #25 of 44 Old 06-30-2013, 01:48 PM
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Wow, this is so interesting! Thank you for keeping us updated.

I'm curious—does she put her head down nicely when you ask (with poll pressure or pulling down on the halter, etc)?

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 #26 of 44 Old 06-30-2013, 02:06 PM
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I spent a lot of time doing what you did only to find the horse promptly reverted when the owner took it back. Big lesson learned. By all means stick with the horse if you feel confident you can ride it out, but do it on condition the owner takes half a dozen rides/lessons before taking the horse home. If you don't, you will get a bad reputation, that you didn't retrain the horse. The owner has to be part of the package.
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post #27 of 44 Old 06-30-2013, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, like I said, I'm cautiously optimistic. She is getting much better and the training sessions have become much shorter- she started at 4-5 hours a day...

Little Jane, she was a little here and there. If she was feeling good that day, she would lower her head, if something caught her attention or she was feeling sassy- well good luck. Now, at the end of every training session we make her lower her head politely a good 10 times, if she doesn't throw her head at all she can go, if she does, she ties where she can't throw her head in the air. I am told by a friend who knows OTTBs this all goes back to not ever being taught to tie properly.

Saddlebag, good point. The policy here with us is that we start training on our own but the owner needs to be present and riding their horse during the latter portion of the training sessions before they go home. Train the horse train the owner kind of scenario. Of course what happens to the horse after it goes home can be another story- some horses do revert, but usually the owner either makes excuses or knows they let them get away with things. It also helps that we reserve the right to take photos and video when we are training, and so having proof the horse was behaving when they were here usually stops the owner from claiming their horse wasn't trained. This particular owner is a lifelong horse person but has always bought well trained kid broke horses until this mare, and so she knows she didn't have the energy to work with her by herself.

That being said I am disillusioned with the prospect of sending horses home to revert back to bad habits, and I've seen it happen several times already. But the way I look at it, if there is just one little thing the horse takes away from here that makes them better, then maybe it wasn't all for not. And to be fair, making the owner be present and riding their horse helps a lot. We try to tell them that they are a trainer every time they interact with their horse whether they realize it or not. There has been once or twice where the owner still didn't have the courage to ride their horse after it was trained and was perfectly good for us. In cases like those, we recommended that they sell their horse to an advanced rider and buy a beginner broke horse. No use begging for an accident to happen.
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post #28 of 44 Old 06-30-2013, 07:09 PM
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Hey, any progress at all (which you've made a lot of, by the sound of it) just proves that there is hope that she'll get over her issues. It sounds like you're doing great with her.

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post #29 of 44 Old 06-30-2013, 08:30 PM
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I can't comment on any of the training tactics, but I'm bookmarking this for future reference...

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #30 of 44 Old 07-27-2013, 02:13 AM Thread Starter
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Progress being made...I think

So I have another update re: OTTB that was trying to break a record for number of problem behaviors...

I have been working with her consistently for the past few weeks- since the original post. First she learned how to tie, that was the hardest part. Then hobbles, which she did fine with. The syringe training is ongoing- much better so far, the challenge has been doing it on both sides because she will learn it on one side and then that experience just falls out of her brain magically when you go to give her a syringe on the other side. But she is getting better.

She is still getting really excited when I go to get her in the pasture- she would willingly follow me around away from her friends even though that means she is going to need to work and do things that push her limits. I am taking this as a good sign.

Under saddle, her major problem was standing still. Being off the track, she would like to get going the second you swing your leg over, or she would prance about excitedly, spin and just generally be badly behaved. If you asked her to stand a little to firmly, she would rear. So we had sessions of just getting on and off, if she was bad, things would be unpleasant for a while. If she did good, I get back off and she gets a crunchy. Seems to be working so far- we have gotten down to trying to walk away once, then thinking better of it once she realizes it's not fun, and then she actually stands. It's like a miracle. She also has been standing nicely in the middle of working, on a trail ride, and when I am trying to open gates while on her. Progress made!

Otherwise she has stopped giving me trouble under saddle- she hated the ball, now she plays soccer. There is a ramp and she would rear if her owner tried to take her towards it, now she goes and stands on it like a good girl. Key: never show her a second of hesitation. She has beautiful movement and collects beautifully in all three gaits. Her laterals are solid. The key is that she never wanted to do them so she didn't, and got away with it.

We are going on consistent trail rides, and she's been great. Usually she will prance for 10 seconds and then settle to be the calmest trail horse at walk/trot/canter. No spooking. I usually take her towards the herd and then away from it, and she does it nicely. She hasn't done solo trail rides though because she did used to rear quite high and I don't want to be left in a field to die. However, this is on the agenda for next week- a short jog out with somebody watching from a distance and we'll see how it goes.

Anyway, now comes the disheartening part. Speaking to the owner, I have emphasized once and again that the key for this mare would be regular work, and leadership. For years she would get away with pretending to be afraid of everything: wide eyes, huffing, puffing, and bam! people give up. Except I think now it's just a reaction more than actual fear. I made sure to emphasize that work and consistency together with a confident leader would make this horse into a WONDERFUL athlete or pleasure horse, either way. Like I said she is super athletic and moves nicely, and she has been great on the trails, downright brave.

Well I learned today her owner is going to sell her. According to the owner, there is no point in owning a horse you have to fight every step of the way, and all that she wanted is a quiet pleasure horse. I'm a little disheartened. And even though she is doing well now, I am afraid if she falls into the wrong hands no good can come of it- she will injure herself, her new owner or worse :(
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