New horse and we just don't click...
Hey there, it took me quite a while to think my problem through by myself but I've come to the conclusion that I need to hear other opinions. So here it goes:
I've bought my new horse (gelding, 12 years old) on Aug 20 and so I've had his just over 2 months. He was with the former owner for a little over 2 years. I went and test-rode him 3 times and everything went well. He was well behaved and seemed to like contact to humans. He was friendly and responsive and attentive.
To say the least, ever since I got him home - he changed. He's spooky to no end, has an attitude (trying to bite when girthing up), seems to be indifferent to me and riding is a nightmare. He spooks, parks and tests me in any other way possible.
After about 2 weeks, I got him ready, mounted and he started spinning and jumping around, with the end result of me being thrown off and stepped on (yep, I still have a large swelling on my thigh). Although I can write this incident off as an accident, it's his general attitude I am worried about. No way in hell would he come to the gate when I get there and he's just such a snob! He doesn't want to be petted, hates the dogs and just full on rejects me.
I have had his saddle fitted, am a rider with light hands and have even switched to Westen because I thought me might like that better - well, nothing really changes in his attitude.
I do a lot of groundwork with him, tried to establish respect and trust, walk him around endlessly before I mount and show him potential "threats".
I'm getting to a point where I consider selling him again but that would feel like giving up.
Do you have him with other horses? If not, that could definitely account for his attitude. Horses don't do well living alone.
Even if he's with other horses, he's not yet familiar with his new home and owner. I generally give my guys several months to settle in before I ask too much of them under saddle.
No, he's not alone, I'd never to that to any creature! He was with two other geldings at first but they picked on him a bit too much for my taste, so now he lives with a 2-year-old filly and can "talk" to 3 others across the fence. And he's outside all day and night, just like he was used to it at his previous owner's place.
I don't ask for much, I promise, all I want is for him not to kill me...
Okay, good. I had to ask, because some folks think it's just grand if they buy a horse and stick it out by itself, then wonder why it's turned into a nervous mess!
I'd give him a little more time. 2 months is really not that long, and some horses just don't settle as quickly as others.
I'm sure you have a point, but it saddens me a lot to have the feeling that my new "baby" rejects me... And also, I'm getting to a point where I'm scared to ride him because he's such a nervous mess... And by riding, we mean hacking out for a half hour or 15 mins w/t/c in the arena... So it's not like I'm making him run a marathon.
have you thought about joining up to earn his trust?
Lack of round pen kinda prevents that from happening. Plus, I truthfully don't really 100% know how to do it and that might be causing more problems than solving them...
I agree with Speed Racer. I had test ridden my mare twice, and she was pretty well-behaved.. compared to her first day home. I spent our first week just walking and getting her to not trot off on me. Now that she's settled in, things are going much better and all my doubt has disappeared completely. :-)
I sure hope you guys are right... It's frustrating when you try your best and make it as easy as possible for the horse and all you get back is a massive swelling and teeth coming your way...
Horses are very suspetible to people, places and changes. the slightest different in routine or environment and just throw some horses off and contrary to what some people out there think, horses do not "act scared" or spook for no reason other than to upset their rider. If he doesn't want to cooperate he just wont or he'd buck you off and be done with it.
What it sounds like to me is a huge confidence issue. He is not comforable with the enviroment and certainly does not see you as a trustworthy leader. It is purely a safety issue in his mind and you do not make him feel safe.
That being said, do not let this upset you! He does not mean to hurt your feelings and just because he does not want to be around you does not mean he hates you, just that you have nothing to offer him in his eyes.
My old mare was like this when i first got her, for the first several years.
Only now that i have stopped riding her as often as i used to and spending time/playing with her more has she come around.
She never used to like being brushed either and now she pushes the other horse out of the way to be brushed.
(also, just a tip - the lead horse in the herd initiates grooming, not the lower members so it may be a respect issue as well in that cercumstance that he feels you do not have the right to groom him)
This took time and alot of ground work. Just go out and spend time with him. If you catch him, just do ground exercises and take him out to graze. Do alot of respect and confidence building exercises like circles, yielding his hind & forehand in both directions, bending at the neck, backing up from direct pressure (pushing on the halter) and driving/rhythmic (wiggling the rope or any other motion to get him to back away from you) then have him come back to you.
Just get him used to you, ropes, sticks, saddles, tarps, anything at all. It may not seem like alot but every little bit helps in getting him to trust and respect you as a true leader, not a boss.
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