Training an Explosive Gelding
This is not my horse, rather a friend that lives hours away in a small town
. A friend has a percheron gelding she is very attached to. He is 4 years old. A bit of history:
His mother was owned by my friends father. their family is very attached to their horses. this mare is purebred percheron, generally very even tempered and true to breed type. she had three foals, this gelding was the second. all three foals are owned by family members. Circumstances surrounding the second foal were unfortunate(while the family delt with some tough times, the mare was sent to a reputable breeder to be bred and trained to drive, instead he turned out to be very dishonest and did no work with the mare at all) he was handled very, very little as a foal, then sent to someone trusted who was supposed to work with him after weaning and geld him, but ended up turning him out on a quarter section instead. they figured out what was going on, health problems were resolved and they took him back, by this point as a unhandled 2 year old stud. he was gelded, the first person to work with him was a little rough, but got him halter broke, then my friend ended up with him.
she has since done all the ground work and desensitizing, he saddles, bridles, lunges ground drives and has had someone up on him. The problem? He is top of the herd, 16.2hh and around 2000#, and very reactive. He has thrown someone twice, once they were on bareback being led, a branch snapped, he took off, rider bailed before a fence. Second time he was saddled and being led someone smacked something 50' away and he came unglued, bronced the rider off.
obviously more desensitizing to a rider is in order. i of course suggested a trainer, but do to unexpected health problems that is currently not an opption.
he seems to bottle up his anxiety quietly, then explode when he gets too tense.
does any one have any experience working with this type of horse? any training tips?
The fact that you state he is 'top of the herd' has absolutely nothing to do with his problem only that he seems to also be top of the human herd too.
He is not in the slightest way desensitised because if he was then he would not take any notice of noises around him.
It is impossible to say where the problem lies because unless his actions can be seen then there is no way to say why he is doing the bucking.
What I can tell you is that this can very easily and rapidly become a difficult habit to break.
"Back to Basics" is my best advice. I would go back to the ground... More exposure. He's obviously either legit uncomfortable with his surrounding and did not benefit from the sacking out/desensitizing that he recieved or he has found a way to get out of whats being asked of him. Which is why it can get out of control. "I don't like it and here is what I'm going to do about it." I would trace back my steps and go back over the work I've done. If it were my horse - I would think I missed a few key details. I also agree the him being at the top of the herd has no influence on his under saddle behavior.
It could be a situation where buckling down and realizing that maybe someone is in over their head before its a tactic against the rider could mean .. 30 days with someone more experienced with this type of 'problem'. Could save a lot of wasted time and injury. Thats a big horse to be just tossing people around.
I still say though start from scratch. If your friend has the experience to get the job done then maybe she just missed a few details and can rebuild her foundation. :) Sometimes a horse that has a shakey upbringing requires a more detailed and time consuming ground training period.
Bluespark, google Meredith Manor then go to Articles. Ron Meredith explains training a horse with groundwork, taking the handler thro a step by step process along with the whys and wherefors. Read his article on heeding vs leading (he exlains why), as this helps the handler to understand the whys of the remaining articles. By doing it this way trust is built. Horses with trust loose their spookiness. The thing is, that in order for this to work one must have infinite patience and never be in a hurry. If done like this, you can take two things you've taught him well and suddenly there are other things he will do well.
This horse needs serious desensitising, loud noises, scarecrows on his back, tarpaulins over his ears, the lot.
Yes, agree with others, back to VERY basics. This horse doesn't sound like he's close to being ready to ride yet.
The way I see it, he has not been desensitised much at all, but he's one of those horses - either innately or because of prior experience - that feels it's best to 'shut down' & put up with stuff rather than react to his fears. As a result, he may appear to 'calmly accept' stuff, so your friend feels he's desensitised & ready to move on. So he's on edge about everything already and so the smallest 'trigger' pushes him over the edge, so he appears to react ridiculously 'out of the blue' or 'for no apparent reason'.
If you take it right back to the basics, there will be signs that he isn't truly confident about certain steps, but they may be minute ones compared to more 'outgoing' horses. Eg. he may hold his breath, breath shallowly, he may look 'glazed' or sleepy, or be a little 'jerky' in his movements.
Is he healthy (sound, good feet, etc...)
Does the tack fit him right?
Is he exploding from pain, fear, just because he can, why?
This is one of the main scenario I see happen a lot. A horse throws or nearly throws their rider due to pain or improper tack and they (the rider) get mad at the horse, thinking it is a lack of respect or training (unfortunately I do see the lack of respect just as often but pain is usually the last consideration). The horse is then worked, until the injury becomes prevalent or the improper tack creates an injury. And the rider has to spend extra money on a vet call because they didn't listen to the horse's cue earlier.
Point is vet check and tack check are well worth it. Better safe than sorry.
With that said if you can rule out health and tack, then everyone here has advised you well. Start back at square one. Ground work, ground work, ground work...
Good Luck to your friend!
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