Mare developing really bad attitude
I'm having a tough horse month!
I moved my older mare home from my boarding barn a month ago. She's currently alone (we're working on a companion) and she's finally settled in and is quiet and seems content, but she's developed a really bad attitude under saddle.
She's had diet changes, being slowly acclimated onto grass and being put on senior supplements. She's now turned out into a one acre grassy paddock where before she was on a much smaller dry lot. My daughter was riding her while she was boarded, and was able to ride her out on her own. She has competed in trail competitions and always been good and reliable.
My mare has now taken to throwing a mini-fit when my daughter tries to ride her away from the barn. She crow hops, does little bucks, and has started backing up quickly. She cantered back to the gate last night. I rode her last week and was able to get her to do what I wanted with firmness and repetition. She's always been one to offer a little challenge but then back off when you got firm.
I don't think she's insecure b/c she spends most of her day in the lower paddock. She's still a doll on the ground. I think her attitude stems from not having to work much lately. I don't ride her b/c she's 23, has a bit of arthritis, and I weigh more than I think she should have to carry. My daughter is now afraid to ride her.
Can anyone offer any training/exercise suggestions? I was going to try meandering through her paddock, slowly making our way to the bottom with direction changes and circles. Also I was going to make a point to always dismount in the lower paddock, so no reward at the gate. Any other ideas to help get the kinks worked out?
I would say she is barn sour. The best thing you can do for her is just take her away everyday. Even if it is just for a short ride away. I think the horse should be able to handle you on her just walking away and not trotting and loping. (im saying this not knowing anything about you or your horse. But at a walk her arthiritis shouldnt be that bad if your not pushing her.)
Thanks for your reply. I'm going to make a point to work on this every day, even if for just a short period. I also found a helpful article by John Lyons that provided some info on more structured exercises than I was thinking.
If you like reading get his book on problem solving.
We have had a lot of threads about this lately, but it's really quite common. Here's the deal, from somebody who has horses in the back yard and has kept mine with lots of turnout. Honestly, though, THIS is why a lot of us don't keep mares. The attitude is very mareish, even though the misbehavior is just horse.
You will need to work your horse away from a gate that leads away from the barn where she is stalled. It's a simple exercise and she won't freak.
You mount at that gate, CLOSED. You move away at the trot and circle back towards the gate, slowing to a walk. As soon as you get to the gate, cue for the trot.
REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT
Change directions and repeat the same # of times. Enough for 1 session.
Repeat again tomorrow. After about one week of this, move away from the gate at the canter, half-halt to the trot, then half-halt and halt-walk-halt on the way back towards the gate. I'd do this for a good month.
Your horse will NEVER get over wanting to run back towards the barn bc she feels safe there and her friends are there. BUT, you can make it clear to her that when you are aboard, racing back or misbehaving is not an option.
Thanks for your input, Corporal. Now I have a few tools to work with.
I was actually pretty surprised by her attitude, she's always been pretty good and I thought I knew her really well after 5 years. Lesson learned. I'll look around for those other threads to see if there's anything else helpful for me.
Actually we practice this all of the time. My 3-acre, rectangular north pasture is where we ride mostly, and our horses want to go back to the barn at some point. We just push them faster past the gate and say, "no." They are like little kids.
Funny, it's my 14yo mare who is the most pushy about this. She is, however, the sweetest tempered mare I've ever MET, more like a big dog. My two 6 yo geldings will usually wait until we're done.
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