Pushy/Spooky 7 year old QH mare - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 03-13-2014, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: PA, USA
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Unhappy Pushy/Spooky 7 year old QH mare

I bought a 7 year old quarter horse mare in October of last year. I have had some success with her, but I have found that she is very pushy. She seems to not have much respect for me or other handlers. For example, she will walk all over you when leading, and is very rude when I lunge her. I was wondering how I could establish respect with her, as I think this might transfer over to our riding, where I have another problem.
Ruby has lived at her new barn for a few months now, and I have ridden her English in the indoor many times. Recently she has been extremely spooky for what seems like no reason. She’ll be riding fine when I first get on her and be very bouncy and light, and suddenly she won’t respond to my legs or seat at all and spook at things she has seen many, many times before. A few days ago she was scared of the door in the indoor arena which we had ridden past so many times that day and many days before.
Any advice?
Thank you
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post #2 of 7 Old 03-13-2014, 08:46 PM
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Hi, welcome to the forum!

Well, at least you know the source of the problem- lack of respect for you and others that handle the mare. This is good! So many people have these issues and are determined to prove that it's something other than a respect of space..

So how do you solve it? Become more clear, concise and firm with what you ask of her. Is she trying to drag you along as you lead her down the aisle? Then turn around and back her booty up a good length. Do a ton of groundwork, really focus the groundwork on making sure that no matter which way you move her feet, she moves them away from you and not into you.

For example: Some people have the issue of a shoulder pushy horse when they focus on moving the haunches away from them- but what they don't realize is that the forehand engages toward them, if they are asking for the haunch turn incorrectly, and now you have a horse that thinks it is okay to turn their shoulders into your space.

All in all I think it would be beneficial for you to have a trainer that can show you all these things in person, it's very hard to describe in writing.

As for the spookiness, your horse is trying to give you a reason to back off her. I see it all the time. If you know she will spook at the gate, bend her, make her do some lateral work or something that she will have to put her mind to so that she can't focus on the spook. By keeping her mind engaged during the whole ride she won't have a moment to think about the silly spook.

God luck!
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post #3 of 7 Old 03-13-2014, 09:43 PM
Green Broke
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She is spooking as a sideeffect of lack of respect and trust. Probably not necessariy to scare you in turn but because she does not see you as her leader plus she's probably a dominant-type horse, especially with people, and therefor get's "skittish" when you try to control the situation. It might start out as defiance but when she feels that she cannot gain control, it probably turns into a fight and then she loses confidence.
Also, if she feels that you are not in control or are nervous, this will either make her nervous or make her take advantage of you even further.
First thing to address is her respect on the ground.
don't tiptoe around her. If she pushes into your space or bowls past you, begin by asking her to back off with light pressure and then increase that pressure until you get a response.
If she is barging into your space, don't hesitate to slam the rope a few times and hard. She will probably throw her head and leap away. When she does this, don't keep chasing after her. Allow her to back out of your space and then let her to stand a moment to absorb the lesson.
This may take a few times before she understands why you are doing what you are doing when you are doing it.
Also, with a horse like this it is a good idea to teach her to lead a few feet away from you. Don't hold her close and hope you have more control because it's not good to encourage a horse to be in your personal space if they already have a problem getting out of it.
It sends mixed messages.
Do this by forcing her away from you (a training stick is helpful here) Walk forward and if she doesn't move with you, send pressure behind her with your stick/rope until she moves with you. If she barges ahead, wiggle the rope or snap it to get her to back off.
Depending on the horse, this may take a few trials before she gets the hang of what you are asking.
Also do plenty of exercises getting her to back away and come to you, bend her body away from you and yield her forehand and hindquarters when asked.
Remember that pressure causes a reaction but it is the release that teaches.
If you can gain not only her respect but her confidence and trust in you as a competent leader (and just because you pay the bills and control the bit doesn't make you a leader in her mind) then that will transfer over to how well you can manipulate her from the saddle as well as help cure her spookiness.
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"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly."
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-14-2014, 09:49 AM
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You've really hit the nail on the head with saying that she doesn't respect you! We need more people in the horse world who can admit that.

Everyone else has given you good advice, and I think you two could benefit from a trainer who can be there and see first hand what is happening. However, some small things I would do in the interim or on my spare time with a mare like that is just make sure that you enforce your space at all times. Make a mental boundary, and push her out of it every time she enters uninvited. Even if she isn't being particularly offensive, you need to make this as black-and-white as possible for her.

Groundwork is another good one to work on with her. You said she's disrespectful on the lunge line, so try free-lunging her in a round pen (or arena if you don't have one, but that can be tiring!). Keep her at a specific distance from you, and if she tries to come in on you, change direction without you asking, or changes gaits then up the pressure on her and let her know that it's going to be a lot more work if she wants to do things her way with you.

As others have said, the spooking sounds like it stems from a lack of respect as well. The same principle applies in the saddle as it does on the ground - the leader is the one who makes the other move their feet. If you see her head shoot up and she starts acting like she's going to spook at something, put her to work! If she's been in the arena for a while now and there's nothing new in there, she's likely not genuinely afraid. Putting her to work could be doing circles (make sure she doesn't break gait), a direction change, or gait transition - whatever you can think of that takes effort and thought on her part.

"If you act like you've only got fifteen minutes, it will take all day. Act like you've got all day, it will take fifteen minutes."
-Monty Roberts
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-14-2014, 10:45 AM
Green Broke
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I agree you need to build respect. Also, what is this mare being fed? spring sillies + rich feed = a handful.
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post #6 of 7 Old 03-15-2014, 12:37 AM
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I feel that saying 'lack of respect' is THE problem is just like saying lack of obedience is. Of course it is a problem - that's a no-brainer, but it doesn't help someone learn WHY the horse doesn't 'respect' them, WHAT they should do about it.

Calm, good, clear & trustWORTHY leadership is the big ingredient in EARNING respect from your horse.
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post #7 of 7 Old 03-17-2014, 03:16 AM
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I had a similar experience with my mare when I first got her. She was my first horse and turned out to be quite a departure from the lesson horses I was used to. When I was leading her she would step on me, push me, pull me around and sometimes nip or strike at me when I tried to make her do something and she was almost impossible to lunge. My instructor taught me some groundwork exercises and gave me lunging lessons, and with a lot of practice she now has good ground manners and lunges without trouble. As far as riding in the arena, I tended relax when things were going well. Not a good idea. I learned I need to keep focussed on her and keep her focussed on me through leg and/or rein contact. If not, she would be noticing the neighbors in their field, the car coming up the drive, the cat walking by the door, etc., all of which, apparently, were very scary for her. I have had her about 1 1/2 yrs and have come to realize that demanding respect from my horse doesn't make me a beast and, more importantly, the more confident I am, the more confident she is and our rides have improved immensely. Good luck with your girl.
Alexandra V likes this.

To ride or not to ride.....What a silly question!
Emma2003 is offline  

explosive , mare , pushy , quarter horse , spooky

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