The Wrong Horse and Expectations
 
 

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The Wrong Horse and Expectations

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  • What are the training expectations of a five year old horse
  • Expectaions of a five year old horse

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    10-12-2011, 07:34 PM
  #1
Foal
The Wrong Horse and Expectations

Hi everyone-

This is my first time asking a question and I have only been stalking the forums for a few days so go easy on me. :)

About five months ago I purchased a new horse. I had been away from horses for about ten years, but had taken some lessons and remembered how much I liked having my own horse. I am a pretty solid intermediate rider, though I lack confidence sometimes. When searching for a horse I had two criteria
1. The horse must not be spooky. My last horse was spooky and was just too unpredictable. Total confidence killer.
2. The horse must be safe on the ground to handle. I really wanted a horse that even my non horsey husband could hang out and groom with me.

The horse I ended up buying is a five year old Arab mare. And yes, you guessed it, she ended up being a spooky, cranky, hot mess. I tried her out numerous times with her previous owners, but she wasn't really getting worked, she was a bit underweight and the arena footing was super deep sand so I'm guessing she was just tired most of the time. She fit criterias 1 and 2, even though she was young and green. Then she got some weight on her and some muscle and voila! Mare who wants to dominate me and is a Nervous Nelly under saddle.

I brought her home and promptly put her into full time training with my dressage trainer. She has now been in full time training for almost five months. I have taken weekly lessons and sometimes twice weekly lessons. I have never come even close to falling off, but I'm not comfortable with her under saddle OR on the ground. I KNOW that the problems are with me since she is much more focused and happy with my trainer.

So, my questions are these:

1. Do I just sell her and assume I bought the wrong horse? My concern is that horses always mirror their riders, right? Which means that I'd just end up with another horse that spooks and gets cranky on the ground because it's me who's not getting it right. I know she'll improve with time and age so I do I just need to wait this out?

2. Do I look for another trainer? After five months I have not gained confidence and my horse is still prancing in the wash rack, lifting her hind legs at me and occasionally going in for a bite. Are my expectations too high?

Sorry this is such a long post. Even with this length, I'm sure I left out details that might be relevant. I appreciate everyone's feedback and advice.
     
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    10-12-2011, 08:42 PM
  #2
Trained
I think the answer is 3 drop the trainer and sell the horse. For your next horse buy one that is old and ugly. If the horse is ugly and the owners have kept it long enough to get old then it must be a fine horse. You need something that is dead at both ends to learn on. Don't look at anything that is under 15 yo and don't buy anything that you fall in love with from the road!
     
    10-12-2011, 08:47 PM
  #3
Trained
If you do not feel comfortable with this mare, and lack confidence, I would sell her and find something older and quieter for you to re-gain confidence with while you get back into horses.
In a lot of cases I would recommend going to a trainer and working through the issues, but your post gives me that vibe that the best thing would be to move to a more suitable horse. Arabs do have a reputation for being quite hot, which for a more experienced rider can be great, but if you're trying to re-gain confidence this is not such a great choice.

Though you are correct in saying that a horse will mirror it's owner, some horses are still naturally just hot headed and quite difficult. Another horse may be quite happy to stand around and be your friend without putting a foot out of place.
There is a lady down my end of the world, who recently purchased a 3 year old hannoverian breaker from the stud that I bought my yearling from. She is a VERY nervous woman, tip toes around her horses and breaks down if the horse so much as flinches.
This young horse, has honest to got, not put a single foot out of line since the day she bought him. It is as though he is acting as her 'rock' and just waits out her nervous episodes then continues on his merry way. That is a one in a million horse! But shows that it is not every case that a nervous rider will create a nervous horse.
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    10-12-2011, 08:52 PM
  #4
Foal
I agree with Kevinshorses and Kayty. A good horse will forgive your mistakes, and teach you along the way. My first horse was going to be a 3 y/o filly who bucked, so we sold her and got a sweet old gelding who was the best horse I ever had for teaching. Start off slow, look for something older with miles under his or her belt, but don't look for something that has been completely unridden, that is underweight and in a bad arena. If the arena is bad, ride it somewhere else. Get a nice fat or fit horse, so you know its not going to get silly with work, and get a breed suitable for your prupose. Arabs aren't renowned schoolmastrs; get a nice quarter horse, or warmblood, or something of a breed that everyone praises for its temperament. Some (not all) Thoroughbreds also fall into this category, but start with a good solid schoolmaster. It might even be a bitzer crossbreed? Go on how the horse feels. Don't think that because its gorgeous, you should perservere. You'll know straight away if you've got the wrong horse, which it sounds like you have. Your new nice old gelding will be everything you're looking for, and will give your partner a new friend, too!
     
    10-12-2011, 08:57 PM
  #5
Yearling
Horses mirror their owners? That might have some truth to it, but sometimes, a horse and an owner just don't click. That's all there is to it. I am the last person to stereotype breeds as there are exceptions to every one of them, however, maybe Arabs aren't the right temperament for your comfort level.
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    10-12-2011, 09:30 PM
  #6
Showing
This mare's issues can be dealt with. Use a knotted halter on her and altho you shouldn't yank on it you can certainly put your weight into pulling her head around and driving her hip away and acting like you plan on killing her. Do some serious groundwork with her and get her moving forward, backward, side to side. Don't hit her but you can let her think it could happen. You need to really boss her around. And no guilt about doing this. She doesn't feel any when she tries to indimidate you. Once she's respecting you on the ground there should be improvement in the saddle because you ain't takin' no guff. Coaches have a way of teaching, but not too much, so you keep returning and paying and paying.
     
    10-12-2011, 09:37 PM
  #7
Foal
Thanks for everyone's feedback so far! My instinct has been to give her a few more months with me working aggressively on groundwork (possibly with a different trainer). I have owned Arabs before so I know it's not just that I don't get along with them as a breed. Also, I'm not a novice with horses; I'm just out of practice a bit and don't have the same bravado I did as a youth!

I appreciate everyone's suggestions!!
     
    10-12-2011, 09:41 PM
  #8
Yearling
My two cents worth. I agree with the rest. Based on what you say about yourself I'd suggest a cooler breed of horse. And older, more settle horse isn't a bad idea either. QH are often a very forgiving breed, but are by no means the only ones. Avoid the hot breeds. A warm blood/cold blood cross might be something to look at (e.g QH/draft cross).
Better to have an animal that you can enjoy than one you're never sure of.
As for the attempts at kicking and biting. To her you're not the boss. Lead mares (the "bosses") don't get kicked and bit by the others and they deal out punishment if someone does. You would need to establish yourself as the "boss" to stop that behavior. Not a task to be undertaken if you're unsure of yourself. To be the "boss" you have to be sure and confident. A horse will know it if you're not.
     
    10-12-2011, 09:54 PM
  #9
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saddlebag    
This mare's issues can be dealt with. Use a knotted halter on her and altho you shouldn't yank on it you can certainly put your weight into pulling her head around and driving her hip away and acting like you plan on killing her. Do some serious groundwork with her and get her moving forward, backward, side to side. Don't hit her but you can let her think it could happen. You need to really boss her around. And no guilt about doing this. She doesn't feel any when she tries to indimidate you. Once she's respecting you on the ground there should be improvement in the saddle because you ain't takin' no guff. Coaches have a way of teaching, but not too much, so you keep returning and paying and paying.

This kind of ground work, with a young horse that has exhibited mildly aggresive posturing, and an owner who admits to being nervous around the horse is a recipe for even more mixed up rider and horse. YOu really need an expereienced person to show you how to do this kind of work if you plan on attempting it for the first time.

I agree with most of the posters so far; you should sell this horse and find yourself one that is better suited All that talk about old horses . Sometimes old sounds like "bad" or "less", but old can be really good. Older, more settled horses are just a joy to be around. I am no hotshot rider, so I really appreciate a horse that's reliable on the ground and in the saddle. There's so much to be said for NOT being afraid of your horse.

Good luck in whatever decision you come to .


AND, welcome to the forum!
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    10-12-2011, 10:20 PM
  #10
Super Moderator
Welcome to the forum!!

We have been putting horses and people together for many years. This is not the right horse for you and probably not the right instructor for you. You need a confidence builder -- not a horse that needs schooling and an already confident rider/handler. Then, instead of an instructor that concentrates on one venue like Dressage or Jumping or Reining, you need a knowledgeable mentor or an all-around trainer that can teach you how to interact with a horse and how to 'be in charge' without being aggressive or mean. You will gain more confidence from learning to 'read' a horse and learning to be a leader to your horse than from all of the maneuvers that someone harps at you to get right.

When you learn to 'think like a horse', amazingly, everything else just falls into place. Find someone that can help you do that.

I would look for that person first and then get them to help you find a suitable horse. You want one that is solid, trained and not in need of feed or more training. There is a saying in our business about thin horses: "Many thin horses cannot stand prosperity. Good feed, a good deworming and 100# of added flesh can turn a wimp into a monster." I have seen it happen too many times to count.
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