Advice needed for Training Abused mare!
Hello all. This is my first thread here, i decided to seek out others in the horse community because i am having a problem.
I train horses using natural horsemanship methods, with a little bit of old school cowboy mixed in.
I've been very successful, but just took on a mare 2 days ago that really scares the crap out of me. I've hit a brick wall already, and my confidence has suffered an extreme blow.
Fancy is a 4 year old QH mare. Her wolf tooth came in, and the man who owned her at the time was an imbecile. He began to beat her around the round pen, yanking her mouth and putting her in extreme pain. She then bucked him off, and he chased her, beating her with a water hose. She panicked and ran into the panel on the round pen, got hung up in the bars, and he kept hitting her while she was stuck. He tried to ride her a few more times, with similar results.
Her owner now has had the tooth removed, but had to call me in because she bucked him off the 3 times he has gotten in the saddle. This horse is TERRIFIED of having a rider on her back. She is almost impossible to catch and halter, tries to walk over you when being led, and will not turn to the left (the side the tooth was on).
When on her back, she bucks violently when asked (no matter how gently) to turn to the left. When on the ground in the round pen, she resists lunging on her left lead. She hates the direction. When she tries to turn back to the right and i pressure her to turn back to the left, she throws her back legs out to kick me (hasnt connected yet, thankfully.)
She has improved drastically in just two days, as i can now catch and halter her, even saddled with no issues.
I saddled her today, and had my partner hold her lead rope while i mounted up. As soon as my butt hit the saddle, she spooked like crazy and began to buck. I bailed off before she could throw me. As soon as i was back on the ground and she could see me, she approached me on her own and put her face down for me to rub.
It seems to me like she is scared that she is going to get hurt every time someone gets on her back.
I have 28 more days to work with her, and i am at a loss as to how to proceed.
ANY help and advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm sure the training is working, but its obviously going to take time for her to trust me. Do i need to proceed as i am, or try a different tactic?
How long ago was it that she had her wrecks? Is it possible she is still feeling physical pain from the "training" she received?
If you are seeing real progress in 2 days I'd say you are already on the right track and just need to give her more time, and if her idiot owner doesn't see the value of giving her more than 30 days training after the damage he's done to her, there probably isn't much you can do to salvage this mare's future.
My advice is give her the best start you can with the time you are given, and hope her owner doesn't screw it up, if he does, don't accept the mare back unless you have full control of how long she stays with you.
Personally, I'd stop riding her and work on gaining her trust. Resolve the issues that she has on the ground FIRST before trying to ride her. I think it might just be a little too much at once for her baby brain.
a)pain - make sure this is totally ruled out
b)fear - sounds likely in this case. Lots of trust building ground work.
c)total disrespect - Respect building ground work.
Go back to the basics, get her trust and respect and rule out pain. If the owner expects to get set results in a short amount of time, they need to invest in a ATV, not a horse.
After tangling with the round pen, I would suspect she's probably out somewhere and could use a good chiropractor and maybe even some massage therapy. THEN once she's given the all clear physically I'd worry about her saddle work. Right now though, I'd go back to the very beginning and start her like she's a new born foal, never been handled and work through all her issues, as someone else suggested, ON THE GROUND. You might progress her through several levels in a day if she's really developing a trust for you or you might have to spend several days on one issue, but if you start at the beginning and work up you will develop that trust and find any holes from her previous training.
Once she's physically ok and you've worked up to the point where she's easily saddled and accepts you standing over her from a mounting block or truck tail gate or ...... whatever you have, then you can think about putting a foot in the stirrup. If you're a certified Parelli instructor, you have all the tools you need to get this horse to come back to full trust and to accept a rider. You just need to remember that when you're working with a horse you're on THEIR time, not they on yours.
Thanks everyone! Her incident with the round pen was about a year ago, and she has been out to pasture ever since. She was checked the first day i was out by a vet, and he checked for pain.
Getting up on the mare right off the bat was not my idea, believe me. Owner got angry when i dismounted almost immediately, but i did not want to lose the trust she'd already gained in me.
I havent had one this difficult or scared before. I've mostly gotten horses that have a bad attitude or a few easily corrected problems. She is truly terrified of people.
Also, i took the advice of everyone here and called her owner this morning. Also, let me point out that her owner now IS NOT the same one who abused her. I explained to him that she is not going to be a quick fix, and he told me to take however long i need to get her "right in the head", as he put it.
I am heading out to the barn now to start the days work, but i will be sure to let everyone know how she did today. I think i'm going to need some "people support" with this one, as she has shaken my confidence in myself as a trainer.
Also, i am uploading videos of her and stuff, will try to get the links up later.
Ever think about clicker training to help her relearn that moving to the left is a good thing?
the scared ones often take the most time. My buckskin mare that I just sold was severly abused. although she never turned to bucking she was terrified of people, the saddle, saddle blanket and men in general. It took alot of time, patience and ground work.
I would teach flexing on both sides, teaching her to bend her neck around to both sides till she can touch her nose to her sides. Also lots of yeilding the hind quarters. These two excercises will be the foundation for the one rein stop, which is a great tool in a situation like this. I know when my mare would start to get panicky in a new situation the one rein stop saved my but more than once and helped her to calm down and think rationaly.
If becoming a horse trainer is your goal then you'll no doubt learn some invaluable lessons from this experience. Provided that it ain't the death of you. :P
I've got one like that myself. In his case, it's been almost a year and his trust in people has come a long way but he's still holding a piece of himself back. It's that little piece that isn't quite right that I'm still working on. Of course, he was a bronc in his last career and has been hot-branded at least twice. I couldn't dream of fixing a horse like that in 30 days. Just sayin'. ;-)
30 days is not going to be enough to work "magic" on this horse. As others have posted, she needs groundwork and trust building before someone tries to ride her. The owner should either allow the needed training and time to help this horse or sell her to someone who will. Just my opinion.
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