No more good trail horse?
Hi guys, I haven't been on here in forever, but I have a little sneaking suspicion that I'd like help with.
So here goes, I had a pony for 9 years, 3 of which I also had my horse, Dozer. When the pony passed away he was at the equine hospital. The last time Doz saw him, he was being walked down our driveway towards a trailer at 9:30 at night.
At first, he didn't act any differently. I took him out on a ride alone and he did fine. I trailered him down to the equestrian center to bathe him and he did fine.
About two weeks later, I decided to take him out for a super early (6AM- to avoid the mid-June California heat) and he changed. He spooked at everything and continuous tried to run home with me. I got him to the top of the hill (I was meeting my friend at the bottom) and then he lost it. He tried to run right off the side of the hill multiple times. I broke down, cried, and called my dad to have him trailer us home because I didn't trust Dozer to safely be lead or ridden home.
Maybe it was just because he had never been out that early? So I took him out on the street (In hand tis time) to check. He was still absolutely horrible. I walked him around the street for about half an hour and he calmed down a little bit, but there was no major light bulb "a ha!" moment where he went back to normal.
He continued on like this all summer. So I lost interest for a while. I'd meet friends and we'd have to go back to my house because Dozer couldn't handle himself. I ended up just riding other people's horses. They were less hassle.
He was still really well behaved in our arena, so I rode him in there every so often. But not too much.
About three weeks ago, my cousin and I decided to ride him and my dad's horse(Very green broke draft- never been ridden out of the yard) on a ride down the street to a development. Dozer only spooked twice! It was awesome! He was back to himself. Looking back, it was very dumb for us to go out. My cousin was riding n my new treeless saddle(with our only cinch) so I was riding Doz in just a bareback pad and neither of us were wearing helmets.
Anyways, since it went so well, we decided to go out again on Monday. On Monday, Doz had apparently remembered that he was supposed to be a dumb horse on trails, so he reverted back to that. Awesome, huh?
Okay, so the morale of the story is, I always rode him out in my(or my dad's) treeless saddle while going out and he was always bad. However, the one time I rode bareback, he was good. Could this mean his back is hurting him or he is being bad because he is somehow in pain? He doesn't roll excessively or anything as if he is trying to correct his back alignment but it could be something, right?
Or is this just his mental breakdown?
I'd really like to get him back to normal so that when I go away to college next year, he will still be ridden on a somewhat regular basis.
Okay, I'm done. Thanks for reading! Here's a pic of the big doof :)
It could, potentially, be pain. Or a breakdown. Is he good every time you go bareback?
I haven't taken him out bareback since we lost the pony except for that one time. I'm thinking about testing it out though... I have a good seat (from riding a half blind, bucking appy for a year and half) and I'd wear a helmet. So why not?
He has some sores on his back. Not open sores but little patches where the fur is missing and theres a scab (I think caused by my dad's horse). He gets them every so often but its nothing new. I used to ride him in a saddle with those and he was fine.
Have you ever been riding with other horses when he's "bad"? Not riding to meet other horses, literally riding with another horse like you were with your cousin...?
I'm inclined to think confidence issues stemming from lack of confidence in you as the herd leader (possibly with a side of back pain).
My Lacey girl gets the same way. When I don't take the time to be a benevolent leader with her and just kind of let her do her thing instead (a sin I am guilty of as we speak), she gets all kinds of naughty when I ask her to do things on her own. Really, it's only because she's worried that I'm going to let her down when the going gets tough since I haven't been showing her that I am a capable leader. So she tries to take over but she knows that she's not a good leader either = shenanigans.
All it takes is me stepping up and laying down the rules - I choose when she eats (I put down her grain bucket but she doesn't get to eat until I say so), I "lead her from behind" (basically herding her) and she's required to go where I tell her to, she doesn't get to run away from me when I let her go in the pasture until I've said "ok", etc. For her, it's really the little things that matter. She doesn't need me bullying her around, she just needs reliable guidelines.
Of course, that does not mean she's perfect after I consistently do those things but instead of having a long drawn-out fight, it's a little "but I don't wanna! Oh, but you say I have to? Welllll, okaaaaay, if you say so" 'fight'.
Monday's ride was with my cousin riding my dad's horse again. So he was bad walking out with a horse. I don't really think its a confidence thing with him. When we are in the arena, I tell him to do something on the rail, and he does it. I feel like lunging him, he gets lunged. I want him to jump a single barrel laying on its side in the middle of the arena, he jumps it. If he didn't want to listen to me, he didn't have to. He knows he can overpower me (Especially when I try to worm him! [But I make him little treat/wormer sandwiches now so that isn't an issue]) but he chooses not to.
I think a lot of his issues outside stem from the fact that before I got him (about 3.5-4 years ago) he was allowed to eat while out as long as he remained walking and I don't allow him to. That's about the extent of my "I'm in charge while out on trail attitude". I mostly just keep a hand on the reins, keep the reins rested on his neck, and chat with whoever is accompanying me or listen to my music. I'm very relaxed out on trail, and he used to be too. And he was that first ride out with my cousin. But all the other times between the death and now, he hasn't been.
If your horse is not absolutely dead broke, you sure shouldn't be going out bareback without a helmet.
There are not many horses that can be put out in the pasture and remain great trail horses. You can't expect that of him.
If you are serious about using this horse, you need to be sure that his saddle, bridle, saddle pads, etc. are all perfectly fitted to him. Then you need to ride him several times a week, preferably daily. I would start in the arena. Then I would go on trails with another horse that is well mannered. If you only ride once every few months, you will never make any progress.
Classic case of barn sour, buddy sour.
If you can not get him over it, either find some one(a trainer) that can, or get rid of this horse before you get hurt . These horses are dangerous. He might just decide to run in front of a car or truck or buck you to the moon and back.
I have horses that have not been ridden in years, and, other than being out of shape, will be just fine the next time they are ridden. Do it all of the time.
BUT, they have to be well trained, not buck'em out, ride a few months and call them broke. "Broke" and "Trained" are completely different.
Okay, maybe the way I phrased it was weird.
This horse has been a very trusted trail mount in the past. I've taken him out bareback, saddled, work prior to leaving the yard, and right out of his stall. However, ever since Bart's death, he hasn't been good.
The saddle I use on him is treeless with a buildup pad, the fitting has been checked and its fine. The backup saddle is an Aussie saddle with a custom buildup pad to make it fit him properly.
This behavior isn't stemming from him not being ridden and taken out daily, I was doing that when the problem first came about and it didn't make him act any better.
I trust him around traffic. He use to be a solid horse that would let me ride him through the del taco drivethrew. Though his calmness has vanished on the street, his survival skills have not. He will not be running into traffic. And anyways, the street I ride him on has very little traffic and its residential so no one is going fast enough to be unable to stop anyhow.
I know I sound awfully defensive right now and I know that you guys were just trying to be helpful and provide me with the advice I asked for, so thank you but I don't believe those are the causes for his changes. Although the buddy sour idea may be somewhat of a cause, I think he has come to terms with the idea that his pony friend is gone and that he is stuck with my dads horse.
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