Cranky, bucking horse under saddle!
   

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Cranky, bucking horse under saddle!

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  • Retraining a cranky horse
  • Natural horsemanship bucking

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    03-30-2014, 03:37 PM
  #1
Foal
Cranky, bucking horse under saddle!

Okay so recently (this winter) my young standardbred mare is getting very cranky when ridden! Pain is absolutely 100% ruled out. Teeth recently floated, treated and scoped for ulcers (which she had from racing), all tack checked by my coach and my mares massage therapist, it all fits. Recent chiropractic exam, all good, she is currently getting month massages. She's on an ulcer preventative, and joint supplement. She does have an old injury from racing that doesn't bother her at all normally, but I have back on track quick wraps, no bows and polos for the hard workouts or the very cold days. She is confirmed sound by vet, and looks absolutely fine on the lunge line, and still bucks and runs in the pasture. Feet recently shod. I'm ordering the back on track mesh sheet as well (possibly saddle pad too), because she does have a long back so is prone to back soreness. I do stretches with her (back and legs) daily that the massage therapist suggested. She's been off most of the winter, mostly due to us trying to find something wrong with her, and not wanting to ride Incase she was sore. Anyway my massage therapist, chiropractor, vet, farrier and coach all told me to go ahead and ride, but she is so extremely cranky and sour.

As suggested to me by my massage therapist, I'm currently getting her back into work by lunging 4 days a week (encouraging long and low frame), and riding once a week.
When I ride I'll go, lunge her to warm her up for 10-20 minutes, then I'll get on and do lots of circles and long and low walking. I'll ask her for a trot and she'll instantly pin her ears and buck. She will buck hard, if I punish her for the buck using my crop or dressage whip she'll buck higher and sometimes rear. She throws complete temper tantrums. And she's always bucked a little, but this is 1000% worse. Then she'll start shaking her head when I try to get it down. Then she'll spook because her heads not down, and the cycle repeats. The more I push, the more cranky she gets. I've ridden bareback, just halter instead of bridle, different saddles, different bits, nothing makes a difference. If I repeatedly back her up until she "wants" to go forward sometimes I can get a few good trot strides, but then she gets cranky again. Sometimes the backing up doesn't work but circling her until she "wants" to go forward does! Today she trotted a couple laps, but that's it. Cantering? Don't even think about it.

Ground work is good, and she'll respect me on the ground, we can walk/trot/canter in hand without a halter (just leadrope around her neck), ground driving is perfect, lunging is perfect, lateral work is good... Please if I'm missing something tell me!

In the summer she will ride perfectly, gallop in fields, jump, anything I ask of her. Don't get me wrong, her attitude comes out and she doesn't like the indoor arena (which is my only option in the winter), but nothing like this!

Any suggestions please let me know, whether it's supplements, ground work, ridden work, just let me know! I'll try anything at this point!

I'm thinking natural horsemanship may work? But I wouldn't even know where to start. Obviously I should get a rope halter and long lead line, but where from there?

I'm currently at a barn that does english and western, nobody does natural horsemanship there, so I have nobody to look to. I'm thinking of attending some clinics in the summer, but I don't want to wait that long to get started.

Don't get me wrong I still intend on using a saddle, and bridle sometimes (shows, new places, ect) but I've ridden her in just a halter before and she does well so if consider losing the bridle for now.

Let me know if you have any ideas on making her more willing and happy while ridden! Thanks
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    03-30-2014, 03:46 PM
  #2
Yearling
^NH is going to do nothing to change anything. It's been a long winter and I think the horses have hated it as much as us. It appears you have had everything physical checked out, so just start getting her back into a SOLID routine.
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    03-30-2014, 04:39 PM
  #3
Teen Forum Moderator
Has your saddle fit been checked WITH your weight in it? The saddle distribution can be quite different with weight. Or could it be something about the way you're riding (subconsciously of course!) that is bothering her? Maybe if you could get a video we might be able to see something. Sometimes it takes a pair (or three) of outside eyes to see what is going on. I kind of think its one of these two things if your mare is good on lunge, ground driving, and in hand.
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    03-31-2014, 12:27 AM
  #4
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevylover96    
She does have an old injury from racing that doesn't bother her at all normally, ...I'm ordering the back on track mesh sheet as well (possibly saddle pad too), because she does have a long back so is prone to back soreness.
Very impressed that it sounds like you have covered many bases trying to rule out physical probs. As the people you have consulted all seem to agree, there's a fair chance they're right too. But then what you have written above appears to contradict that. What are you feeling the need for that mesh for? When is she 'prone to soreness'? What is the old injury(never met an OT horse without...) & when does it bother her?

As you have said about the mesh(I'd be very hesitant in using something that promotes even more heat under a saddle BTW), I take it that muscle stiffness is a problem. Lack of magnesium particularly, sodium &/or too much potassium, among other nutritional possibilities could be behind that & even if there is no 'real' problem that a bodyworker can find, tight muscles of themselves can cause discomfort, esp in exercise, which may not show up as obvious pain when the horse isn't working.

While all these 'experts' have apparently agreed, it is also worth keeping in mind that horse chiropractics and bodywork is an unregulated industry, so they may or may not be well educated, skilled people.

Quote:
When I ride I'll go, lunge her to warm her up for 10-20 minutes, then I'll get on and do lots of circles and long and low walking. I'll ask her for a trot and she'll instantly pin her ears and buck. She will buck hard, if I punish her for the buck using my crop or dressage whip she'll buck higher and sometimes rear. She throws complete temper tantrums.
That sounds like a lot of circles, especially for an ex-racer. This is hard on bones & joints. I do appreciate that some like to lunge in circles for exercise, but for a variety of reasons I'd be ground driving, taking for walks, doing hill work, etc, instead of so many circles.

Have your bodyworkers checked her & her saddle out while you've been trotting? Saddle/rider pressure is higher at a trot than a walk, and studies with pressure sensor pads have shown that pressure points from imperfect saddle fit, rider balance, etc, are tripled at the canter as at walk & trot.

Doesn't sound like 'temper tantrum' is likely, but if not pain, then fear, memory of pain, etc. Horses are very associative thinkers & previous experiences don't necessarily fade without effort. Punishing a horse for pain or fear responses will indeed cause it to escalate, because it's just adding to the 'badness' association. Has your 'coach' or other experienced rider ridden her? Does she behave any differently with different people?

Quote:
Today she trotted a couple laps, but that's it. Cantering? Don't even think about it.
That's great & assuming it's not pain/discomfort, but fear/association, if you managed to get that & stop *before* it got too much for her. You want to practice as much as possible, to get better at, the 'right' emotion/behaviour, while minimising likelihood of her practicing the 'wrong' emotions & reactions. Therefore if you reckon you can get a couple of laps out of her before she 'blows', I'd be just asking for only one for now. Lots of walking, interspersed with single laps(or whatever you think she can give well) of trotting should allow you to get better at trotting & replace her 'bad' associations with good ones.

Quote:
her attitude comes out and she doesn't like the indoor arena (which is my only option in the winter),
So perhaps the fear association is with being ridden in the indoor?

Quote:
I'm thinking natural horsemanship may work? But I wouldn't even know where to start. Obviously I should get a rope halter and long lead line, but where from there?
If you don't know anything about 'NH' then I wouldn't worry. Excepting to learn more about equine behaviour, bodylanguage, behaviourist training theories, which will of course help. If you have a good instructor/trainer to work with, who is skilled, considerate of the horse & observant, whether 'NH' or otherwise should be neither here nor there. You also don't need a rope halter to do 'NH' & you must already have a long lead if you lunge & ground drive??

Can't find it in training forum(tho I see you posted a same thread there - best to stick to one & not duplicate), but there was a recent post about bucking at the trot & one handy piece of kit - which won't change the *reason, emotions, association* but will prevent really bad bucking & keep the rider safer, while you work on retraining, is Cherie's 'overcheck' type string.
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    03-31-2014, 06:11 AM
  #5
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie    
Very impressed that it sounds like you have covered many bases trying to rule out physical probs. As the people you have consulted all seem to agree, there's a fair chance they're right too. But then what you have written above appears to contradict that. What are you feeling the need for that mesh for? When is she 'prone to soreness'? What is the old injury(never met an OT horse without...) & when does it bother her?

As you have said about the mesh(I'd be very hesitant in using something that promotes even more heat under a saddle BTW), I take it that muscle stiffness is a problem. Lack of magnesium particularly, sodium &/or too much potassium, among other nutritional possibilities could be behind that & even if there is no 'real' problem that a bodyworker can find, tight muscles of themselves can cause discomfort, esp in exercise, which may not show up as obvious pain when the horse isn't working.

While all these 'experts' have apparently agreed, it is also worth keeping in mind that horse chiropractics and bodywork is an unregulated industry, so they may or may not be well educated, skilled people.

That sounds like a lot of circles, especially for an ex-racer. This is hard on bones & joints. I do appreciate that some like to lunge in circles for exercise, but for a variety of reasons I'd be ground driving, taking for walks, doing hill work, etc, instead of so many circles.

Have your bodyworkers checked her & her saddle out while you've been trotting? Saddle/rider pressure is higher at a trot than a walk, and studies with pressure sensor pads have shown that pressure points from imperfect saddle fit, rider balance, etc, are tripled at the canter as at walk & trot.

Doesn't sound like 'temper tantrum' is likely, but if not pain, then fear, memory of pain, etc. Horses are very associative thinkers & previous experiences don't necessarily fade without effort. Punishing a horse for pain or fear responses will indeed cause it to escalate, because it's just adding to the 'badness' association. Has your 'coach' or other experienced rider ridden her? Does she behave any differently with different people?

That's great & assuming it's not pain/discomfort, but fear/association, if you managed to get that & stop *before* it got too much for her. You want to practice as much as possible, to get better at, the 'right' emotion/behaviour, while minimising likelihood of her practicing the 'wrong' emotions & reactions. Therefore if you reckon you can get a couple of laps out of her before she 'blows', I'd be just asking for only one for now. Lots of walking, interspersed with single laps(or whatever you think she can give well) of trotting should allow you to get better at trotting & replace her 'bad' associations with good ones.

So perhaps the fear association is with being ridden in the indoor?

If you don't know anything about 'NH' then I wouldn't worry. Excepting to learn more about equine behaviour, bodylanguage, behaviourist training theories, which will of course help. If you have a good instructor/trainer to work with, who is skilled, considerate of the horse & observant, whether 'NH' or otherwise should be neither here nor there. You also don't need a rope halter to do 'NH' & you must already have a long lead if you lunge & ground drive??

Can't find it in training forum(tho I see you posted a same thread there - best to stick to one & not duplicate), but there was a recent post about bucking at the trot & one handy piece of kit - which won't change the *reason, emotions, association* but will prevent really bad bucking & keep the rider safer, while you work on retraining, is Cherie's 'overcheck' type string.
Her old injury was a fracture to her right hind pastern, unfortunately the man who owned her continued to race her once it "healed" but be didn't bother to take x-rays to see how well it healed. So it does get sore during extreme cold weather, or when she bangs it on something... She gets tangled in fences often because she rolls to close, so little injuries like that tend to have her leg flare up. Normal riding, including jumping and galloping don't ever bother her, she was sound all summer. So that injury is the main cause for me to have her on a joint supplement! The back on track stuff makes her not stiff or sore during the cold, so that's not an issue anymore, before I got the back on track wraps, she was stiff, but not anymore.

My massage therapist suggested the mesh sheet because she has had back soreness before, when her back was out of line when I first got her, it's fixed now, but she wants me to use it to prevent the soreness.

My trainer tried riding her, and she will do the same thing, she can get some trot strides, but she still bucks, and tries to rear. She actually does better with me, because my instructor has a slightly more aggressive way of riding, and my mare doesn't respond well to it at all, I'm the one who trained her to saddle, and she only knows me, anyone more aggressive makes her a lot worse.
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    03-31-2014, 06:13 AM
  #6
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevylover96    
Her old injury was a fracture to her right hind pastern, unfortunately the man who owned her continued to race her once it "healed" but be didn't bother to take x-rays to see how well it healed. So it does get sore during extreme cold weather, or when she bangs it on something... She gets tangled in fences often because she rolls to close, so little injuries like that tend to have her leg flare up. Normal riding, including jumping and galloping don't ever bother her, she was sound all summer. So that injury is the main cause for me to have her on a joint supplement! The back on track stuff makes her not stiff or sore during the cold, so that's not an issue anymore, before I got the back on track wraps, she was stiff, but not anymore.

My massage therapist suggested the mesh sheet because she has had back soreness before, when her back was out of line when I first got her, it's fixed now, but she wants me to use it to prevent the soreness.

My trainer tried riding her, and she will do the same thing, she can get some trot strides, but she still bucks, and tries to rear. She actually does better with me, because my instructor has a slightly more aggressive way of riding, and my mare doesn't respond well to it at all, I'm the one who trained her to saddle, and she only knows me, anyone more aggressive makes her a lot worse.
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Oh and also when I lunge her, I lunge very large circles (whole lunge line) if the arenas free, or actually most often I walk with her and have her on the rail most of the time!
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    03-31-2014, 07:57 AM
  #7
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevylover96    
My trainer tried riding her, and she will do the same thing, she can get some trot strides, but she still bucks, and tries to rear. She actually does better with me, because my instructor has a slightly more aggressive way of riding, and my mare doesn't respond well to it at all, I'm the one who trained her to saddle, and she only knows me, anyone more aggressive makes her a lot worse.
Could it be a purely training/er problem then, that your trainer's whole style is 'aggressive' - so under their instruction, you are more so too - and this is not suitable for her? IMO there is a big difference between aggressive & assertive, as there is between domination & leadership.
     
    03-31-2014, 12:08 PM
  #8
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie    
Could it be a purely training/er problem then, that your trainer's whole style is 'aggressive' - so under their instruction, you are more so too - and this is not suitable for her? IMO there is a big difference between aggressive & assertive, as there is between domination & leadership.
My trainer doesn't affect my riding when I with her alone, I never ride my own horse is lessons anymore, I ride others. I ride her in my own time, because I don't really want he involved because of her training style.
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    03-31-2014, 01:01 PM
  #9
Started
Does this horse get turn-out time?
Just a thought...
     
    03-31-2014, 03:57 PM
  #10
Foal
Do I understand correctly that if she bucks you stop and get off? If this is the case then you are rewarding her for bucking and she will then buck so not to be ridden. This will reinforcing the bad behavior.
Unless you feel she in unsafe I would ride her every day. Get someone to assist you in a round pen and have them move her with a flag so you can just be a passenger, if she crow hops or start to buck have the assistant pressure her with the flag until she move out. If you feel you cannot ride the buck, then pull her head around and move her hind qtr’s but do not allow her to stop. Keep her moving. If this is beyond your confort level then find an experienced rider and you work the flag.

As for lunging, running a horse in circles will only increase her stamina. It does nothing to engage their mind. There is nothing wrong with ground work before your ride but I suggest trying exercises that will get her thinking about what you might ask her to do next.

Reward the good behavior and make the unwanted behavior difficult.
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