What to do for defiant horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 2 Old 11-08-2010, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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What to do for defiant horse?

Help... I have an arab/saddlebred cross that is defiant. We have come a long way. He used to not be able to walk on a trail without prancing, would bolt, and will rear and has bucked (just once, but spectacularly) before. He hasn't done those probably since last december (the bucking incident). The rearing is not high, more like just testing you. I taught him to lunge. I can do circles and serpentines on him at a trot and a canter under saddle now, calmly. He's really responsive to your seat. My problem is that yesterday we decided to go on a trail ride instead of working in the area we use as an arena. The other person I was riding with was really afraid to push her horse, who was being a jerk and barn sour. He kept turning around on her, which of course worked up mine. The other girl says her horse is submissive and can't go in front of mine (dominant), so that sticks me out in front and wandering off by myself while hers has turned and gone home, until my horse realizes he's being left and wants to go too.

It wasn't fear, we'd been around that field twice already. Part of it is buddy sour, which is fairly fixable (work him with other horses, relax while he's 'by himself'). But the fact is, the defiant is still there, and it's an old habit that's come back. I'd say turn and go out into the field by himself, and he'd evade, dance sideways and rubberneck. I turned him tight in 5ish circles on the opposite side and then asked again, he took a step forward, so I released. He took one more and then stops. I squeezed and then he tossed his head back ( his old precursor to rearing) and then when I kicked him hard, he kicks up his heels. Since I had the halter on and lunge rope with me, I slid off and hit him every time he slowed down changing directions every other circle or so until I got tired. Problem was that when I got back on, he did the same thing and this time he kicks up his heels and wouldn't move except to back up, so that's what we did, and then I asked him to go forward. One step, I released, two more steps and then he says no, again. Should I have stayed on and kept circling the first time? Or did I just successfully teach him to threaten me? Should I have really got after him (whip if necessary)? Or just run him until he does what I want?

I stopped there, because the fence we were beside was electric, and he doesn't pay attention to where he's going in that mode. I lunged him away from the fence, then walked him on the ground to the middle of the field and let him relax. I'd say 'by himself', but he's fine going anywhere on the ground with you. I hopped on and rode home after that. So what to do? Yes, he knows what I'm asking, no he's not green broke. This problem went away completely in the 'arena'. He has also responded well to carrying a crop and threatening (not hitting) him with it. He's pretty wired already, I'm not sure that's something I really want to add.

Advice appreciated.

Last edited by onholiday; 11-08-2010 at 10:41 PM.
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post #2 of 2 Old 11-08-2010, 11:56 PM
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hello on holiday,

I read and reread your long post and thought about it. I think I would be about as baffled as you are , to be honest.
I do wonder about the thing you said where you lunge him and "hit" him every time he refuses or changes direction. I wasn't clear on that. There are occasions to hit a horse, but pretty rare.
I would probably try going out on the trail by yourself. Try first walking out there leading him on a leadline and make it as relaxed and fun as can be. Then try some very short rides by yourself. If you can turn around to home when he is still willing to go forward, then YOU are making that decision and he has the welcome relief of knowing that you aren't out there to force him onward without an end in sight. It's the old, "stop while you 're ahead" strategy.
It might take a long time to get him willing to go out into the trail for longer and longer periods of time.

If he is being defiant it's usually either pain or fear based. You may think that he has no fear because he's been out there before, but my guess is there's fear more on the level of "worry" that makes his mind stay locked on going back.

As for working him on the ground, you have to get his mind to change, and that means any sort of change. So, if you have to get off of him, work him until you see him let go of that thought that keeps him focussed on "home". You will know because his ear will be on you, he may lower his head and his demeanor will change. Once you get that change, then snuggle a bit and go home (but don't over do it with food immedieately upon returning. )

When you are on top of him it's harder. If you are afreaid of being bucked off (and I can totally relate to that kind of feeling) you will want to work him in circles until you feel that "change" in his thinking. Look where his ears go , look where he is looking. Do you get his ear or eye onto where you are pointing his nose?
Be sure that when you circle you don't get angry and start just dragging him around in a "I'll show you!" frame of mind. That will scare him.
You say, "No, not that way. Nope, not that way" Allow him to chose the wrong way, then disengage his hindquarter (not endless spinning), which would be turning him around until he steps under with one hind leg and the other hind steps over and disengages any forward motion. He may only stop for a moment but if he will stop for a bit, all the better. Then ask for the forward, let him choose the wrong way, pull one rein and disengage his hindquarter (if you don't know what that means, look up on Youtube, ok?)
Keep offering him the choice to go forward and let him make the incorrecct choice and then disengage and offer the forward again. If he eventually makes the correct choice, and goes forward a couple of steps , gently stop him before he make the wrong choice (while he is still going the direction you are asking for; forward, and just let stand here and pet him if he'll hold still.
Then try again.
does this sound like it would make sense? I am no expert, I am the first to admit. Let me know how it's going. I will be earning from you, too.

Last edited by tinyliny; 11-09-2010 at 12:02 AM.
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