I dont know what to do (sorry long post)
I have a 7 yr old morgan cross gelding that I bought from a trail riding place as a kid safe trail horse. My husband who is a complete beginner rode him a few times and the horse did well. Shortly after I bought him (spring of 2011) I got hurt on another horse and didnt ride again until last fall. I didnt ride my morgan because I had severe confidence issues, and he seemed kind of hot wanting to jigg and I was afraid he would rear or take off on me. I rode school horses and a friends dead broke quarter horse while I gained my confidence back. So he has been a pasture puff for a little over a year. He is a very nervous and spooky type horse so I took him to a trainer last week for a little refresher course. She has ridden him once in the 8 days he has been there and tells me he has severe problems. She said he is too sensitive on his sides and hind quarters and basically gets terrified trying to get away from leg pressure and she doesnt understand how anyone ever rode this horse a year ago. She says he is extremely green and wants to start back at the beginning with his training. She tells me I have two options................ I can either just get someone to "cowboy" him and she is not sure what that would do to a horse like him or we can try training from the beginning again with lots of desensitizing and ground driving. She doesnt know how long this will take and if it will work. I dont know what to do I cant afford to pay a trainer indefinately, I dont want him hurt or mentally damaged by "cowboying" him and she tells me if I try and sell him as he is he would most likely go for meat. Any suggestions? Have any of you ever worked with a horse like this? I had a vet check him out and he found no pain or medical reasons for his behavior.
Well first of all, the horse is in a new place with a new person and new rules, and new herd, and hasn't had much chance to settle down. That being said...
I would want a second opinion. I would also want to see the "episodes" she is talking about. Some people are more finicky than the horses. It may not be as bad as she's making it sound. I find it hard to believe that you would see THAT much regression. Granted, a horse that has had that much time off you will expect to have to get them used to working again. I'd start with taking him for walks, groundwork, THEN riding. Anyway...I'd want to know what kind of rider this lady is and I'd want to watch it happening and see how out of control it really is. If possible (depending on your health/confidence/etc) it might be good to try him yourself and see what it feels like to the rider, too. Morgans do tend to be willing and forward horses. That's one thing that I love so much about them. For somebody who isn't used to it, it may seem like crazy behavior I guess...? Anyway, before panicking, think of the other possibilities and investigate them. Then, if need be, go ahead and panic ;) Just kidding...but if the horse really is as regressed as she thinks, I would go with the starting from the beginning method. The horse probably just needs a chance to accept the fact he is going to have to work again. Good luck!
I'd be wanting a second opinion, too. He may be fresh, but "severe problems" and "doesn't know how anyone rode him a year ago" when you know different? Something doesn't add up.
As an aside, if you are fortunate to have a cowboy around available to ride him, that will be one lucky horse. If, on the other hand, you are referring to some know-nothing wearing a hat, I don't recommend that route.
By any chance was he from a barn that trained Saddleseat? I would ask the people you bought him from if they would consider giving him a refresher, since they know his history. If not, I would find a barn that has experience with Morgans. Some horses, mine for example, aren't ridden with strong leg signals, and can get very confused when they are used.
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If the horse didn't appear to have the fears and other issues with your husband, despite his being a beginning rider, as you mentioned, there is definitely nothing wrong with the horse and from what you described the horse is extremely nervous and frightened.
I would not return the horse to that trainer or have him "cowboyed," and I would personally steer clear of those purported trainers.
I agree with a previous poster about starting from scratch, and personally I would begin from the very beginning, as if the 7 year old was a 7 day old. It is something you can do also to help you learn how to get past your own nervousness and fears, and you can work together. It will take only time, no money.
Many horses from riding and rental stables endure a lot of abuse, and thankfully he is only 7 and that is in his favor.
I can help point you to books, videos, and offer suggestions and advice to help you begin your journey if you'd like. You'll need to put riding out of your plans for him for awhile, is all.
I guess my first question would be-Do you have the ability to do any of the groundwork? Personally, I would bring him home and work on the ground with him for a while and see what your thoughts are. Gain some of your confidence and his trust. Desensitize him a bit while looking for a good (not a cowboy) trainer. I would question this trainer and the assessment and would definitely want another opinion. That said, I would also start again at square one. It sounds like he has some "holes" in his training perhaps. You also need someone who will teach him while teaching you. I bought a very experienced trail horse myself a couple of years ago. A beginner had no problem riding him-in fact you could put a monkey on him on the trail and he would be fine. However, he had NO ring training at all and came undone when asked to do anything more than a beginner would ask. He simply did not understand, got frustrated and would not move. Period. He spent 6 months with a great trainer I know starting over. The best $$ i ever spent. I then sent him for 8 months reining training, which gave me a great trail horse with a great handle, who can also do fun things in the arena, and I have all of my confidence back, which was shattered when I bought this guy. My friends are amazed that I just lope around open fields now, which I never did before. I have watched trainers push my horse to his limits and now understand that, in my case, he is extremely safe and will not do anything dangerous. THere is value in watching someone else who is a far better rider, work your horse and push him. Watch, listen and learn. You will learn tons about yourself and your horse. It is invaluable, IMO. It is hard rebuilding confidence, but you can do it.;-)
Yes I agree that something isn't adding up for sure. He hasnt been ridden in over a year but I have done lots of ground work with him and he has impecible manners and can lunge with very light contact. he backs from voice commands, stands perfect for farrier and grooming. I am not a trainer so I am not all that sure how to go farther with him. We have gone for lots of walks, and done ground work with obsticles. The reason I took him to a trainer is that he is very spooky and no matter how much we work on desensitizing he is very nervous almost scared. I was not comfortable getting on him after him having a year off, I am not confident enough in my riding skills to think I could stay on a serious spook or a scared bucking fit. He has never done that but I am afriad he might sobasically what I wanted was for the trainer to ride him a few times to get himused to being ridden again.I never imagined he would have all these issues she says he has. I am going over to the trainers on the weekend to watch her work with him. I will try and get a video. She basically told me last night she would try to ride him one more time just to give him another chance to see if he acted different. She is a very highly recommended trainer in my area and I had to wait a year for her to have time to work with him. By cowboying him she meant getting someone to just ride him through his fear reactions and whatever he might do. I am prety sure at the riding stable where he was born and raised the person who broke him just saddled him and rode the buck out of him. I know they told me they didnt believe in ground work or lunging and when i asked about farrier work they said he had been roped thrown and trimmed once in his entire life. I worked with himon the ground things and he is very good about that stuff now I guess my main concern is that he seems so afraid all the time
Sounds to me like that trainer needs a bit of 'cowboying'! ;-)
To be honest, if this were my horse I would be getting blood tests done (after watching the trainers session) because if he is low in selenium or magnesium for starters that will cause a lot of problems. Somethind to me really doesn't add up.
A friend of mine has a pony who has only just been tested low for selenium, and they have her on selenium doses now and shes as calm as ever, whereas before she was erratic, scared of everything, and would run through every command given.
My big gelding was low in magnesium not long ago and boy oh boy that was incredibly interesting. He was scared of everything he usually didnt bat an eyelid at, he went absolutely rodeo down the full length of my paddock with me holding on for dear life, and this is the thoroughbred I have to put spurs on because he is so ****ed lazy. I couldn't place a cover on him when usually i can run up to him in the paddock with it flapping and throw it over his neck to pull it down. Trees had horse eating monsters, and other horses were carnivores. His FOOD was out to get him, and the mud in the gateways was an evil pit of doom... This horse is usually bomb proof.
When you watch the trainer work with him, watch VERY carefully. I don't trust something about this trainer for some reason. Watch her hands and feet, aswell as his ears and tail etc all the time. If it is her that is the problem for him, you will know if you watch close enough, even if she tries to say its the horses problems.
I don't believe for a minute your horse has 'severe problems' if he was able to carry your beginner husband without going off the walls.
Getting a video would be the most helpful. That will allow you, as well as us, if you choose, to watch the trainer and the horse and their reactions to each other. It is very difficult to watch everything at once.
Interesting about the Mg and Selenium.......certainly something to try that won't hurt anything and may well help.
From the info from the place you got him, I would say that he definitely has LOTS of holes in his training, and personally, I would probably start at square one, based on that info, and NOT with a "rough, just ride 'em out" type of trainer, as it seems that was what he had the first time.
If you get a good trainer, and the one you have may not be it, you should be able to get through this.
Perhaps if you let us know what area you are in some of us may have suggestions. After returning from one of the Extreme Mustang Makeovers recently, I can tell you that amazing things can be done in 90 days. Yes, those were blank slates, so may be easier in some respects, but there are some really good trainers out there who may be up to the challenge. (and some may consider them the "cowboy" type. ;-) ) And they are all over the country.
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