horse that lays down while riding
I recently acquired a three year old QH mare who has about 30 days training under saddle. She is a sweatheart on the ground and did fantastic my first time out on her which was a nice easy trail ride following another horse. About half way back she laid down in a sandy area. No big deal - I know that happens sometimes. About the 6th ride on her, while riding in a grassy paddock, this happened again. She is sour about moving forward, and though she is not nasty, the laying down clearly seemed to be an avoidance tactic this time. Wondered if anyone could offer any insight on how to correct this problem and what the likelihood is of these problems passing as she matures and has more time put on her.
Thanks in advance for your help!
that can definately be a dangerous problem and should NOT be taken lightly. I'd say each time you feel her knees buckle to go down kick her, turn her head as to do circles, and maybe give her a tap with the crop. That is NOT an acceptable thing for a horse.
If she still won't listen, give her a good whack with the crop (yes it may be cruel...but I'd rather get the horse aware that she's doing something really bad than have her possibly roll on me)
You need to definantly correct this growin bad habit, or it WILL become worse. I mean, this is a serious problem. When you feel her legs buckle and she kinda feels like she is goin down, you need to kick her and drive her forward. Every time she tries this you need to correct her, I mean rollin when you aren't on her when she is out in the field is fine. However, her attemptin to roll with you on her back is a NO NO!
If i were you i would definantly stay alert when ridin her, and if she starts to go down then correct her.
If you don't then you or someone in the near future could get hurt or worse.
Having had a lot of experience with young horses, I would be inclined to think at this point in her training it's a not-so-happy coincidence that she happens to want to roll and you're asking her forward. I think it's unlikely that it's a learned avoidance tactic.... yet. I think it sounds like she doesn't really know what forward cues mean. You're right, she will learn to do it as avoidance reasons soon enough if it works for her tho.
You say she's 'sour' to go forward? This usually implies that a horse has had enough of some monotonous, unrewarding behaviour, or is nervous of it - such as leaving the home environment or friends. As a 3yo baby with very little training under her belt, I think it's far more likely that she just doesn't understand what's wanted. She may have been taught to yield well at the breaker's yard, but horses don't generalise well & that small experience in that particular environment doesn't mean she 'knows' the 'commands' in different situations.
It sounds like you first need to do more work with her in teaching & reinforcing yielding(moving from pressure with softness & understanding, not resisting or escaping it), especially to teach her to move forward on cue. I would teach her on the ground first, to yield in all ways - eg. forward, backwards, right left, up, down, and from various different cues & positions - eg. fingers on her side, where your legs will be when riding, rope/reins, rope or stick swung behind her, etc. I would also reinforce these lessons in a variety of different settings - eg. take her for a walk & have a play out on the trail somewhere. Then I would go over all those lessons on her back, starting in an arena or some familiar, low distraction area.
Once she's pretty good at yielding, take her out on the trail & give her your forward cue when she thinks about rolling. If she ignores it & does more than thinking about it, don't be afraid to give her as strong as necessary 'forward cue'! But start softly & escalate the cue gradually, if/as necessary. Keep the pressure up until she stops thinking of rolling, even if the first time or 2 this means you've had to jump off her & she's down with you still smacking her rump or such. Quit hassling her the *instant* she starts to respond, even if the first time or few this is just a hesitation.
If you've first taught her how to respond appropriately, making this easy and pleasant for her, then you make the 'bad' things consistently unpleasant, she'll soon stop doing those things, because they don't 'work' for her.
Thanks for the great reply, Loosie!
The second time she went down it happened so fast (and I wasn't expecting it) I didn't have time to respond. She was calm about it, but after I stepped off, I did swat her a couple times to get her to her feet, so as to say, "Hey - this is not acceptable!". I have ridden her once since w/o incident, other than a tiny bit of the sourness to move forward. We were riding in a paddock alone, so it could be the unwillingness to "leave" her buddies (though we were just riding a circle in the adjacent paddock). I have started some long lining work with her too, and will continue that as well. Thanks again for the encouragement and great advice!
I hate to bring up HYPP but have you had her tested? Our Fancy used to sort of start to fall over but if you could nudge her on in time she was ok. What she is doing is a symptom of the disease.
HYPP may be a consideration only if her horse has Impressive in her pedigree.
I am more inclined to agree with loosie. Good advise.
You have made sure your cinch isn't too tight and the saddle fits correctly, I suppose. Thought I'd toss that out there, as some horses lay down when the cinch is tightened or if there is pain, instead of bucking, etc.
However, I am inclined to agree with Loosie. Just wanted to to meniton something that's not been.
She is HYPP N/N.
I don't think it is an issue with the saddle, as she was so good the first two times out (down the trail, following others). I don't think the girth was overtightened, but will certainly keep that in mind the next time I tack up.
Thanks for the advice!
I have only come across this in a couple of horses I have owned in the past one was a Quarter/Welsh cross who only layed down with very green riders.. And a Arabian mare who layed down when crossing a good size mud puddle. I think she thought she was sinking.... But if you can keep them moving forward etc.. that will surly help.
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