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bnayc 04-06-2013 04:52 PM

restarting gelding under saddle help
Alrighty guys once again I'm asking for your expert opinions.
Here is my gelding's (shadirr) back story. Shadirr was used for therapeutic trail rides for a majority of his life. The woman I got him from took her daughter to his facility and rode him multiple times, he was great. Well about 4 years ago shadirr had an accident on the trail. The details are fuzzy, but apparently it was a mother and son who rode out alone and came back with a hurt shadirr. The son said something about a fence, and they left quickly without explaining what happened.
Well the woman I got him from bought shadirr from the facility and rehabbed him extensively. He had some back problems, but nothing severe. She had massage thereapy for him and work very closely with a vet for him recovery. After some time he was cleared for riding. He was good for her, but she would stop anytime he threw his head; she took it as he was in pain.
So here's where I am with him. This Guy has amazing ground manners. He is so willing to do what I ask, no problems or vices, stands great to be saddled and mounted. But once you ask to go forward, he gets angry and backs up. He will spin in circles if asked, any direction but forward. I have had two trainers out to work with him. The first knew nothing about horses and was quickly relieved of her duty. The second was a great trainer, but jumped off him when he kept backing up. She did this everytime and did nothing to correct him.
My question is what can I do? I feel that if I knew some new techniques I could fix this myself. He has never offered to Buck or rear, and gives his respect great on the ground. Any tips or excercises I can try would be greatly appreciated. Once again it is not a medical reason, I've had my own vet also clear him for riding.

Laffeetaffee 04-07-2013 01:55 AM

I'm so confused why the second trainer thought jumping off of him when he backed up was going to fix it... I can imagine how much worse she made the situation by doing that XD

I used to ride my boyfriend's mom's pony several years ago. His tantrum for going to the arena was to stop dead in his tracks and back up. My first reaction to this (and probably the most common one) was that I started kicking him, let loose the reins and leaned forward. This caused him to get exponentially worse and he would back up so quickly that he would nearly fall over backwards.

A good way to discourage a horse from backing up is to let him back up as far as he wants. When he starts to back up, close your fingers on the reins and sit deep just like you would if you were asking him to back up from a standstill. As soon as starts to slow down, give him a few bumps with your legs, but keep your hands closed to keep him backing up. Be very careful not to pull on the reins as that might cause him to rear up, just keep the slack out and back him. Back him up a hundred feet if you have to. As soon as you feel him trying to stop, let go of all pressure.

That will put pressure on him when he's backing up, and he'll have complete release of pressure when his energy is forward, not back. I wouldn't recommend spinning the horse or disengaging his hindquarters because you have to apply more rein which can cause him simply to back up even faster and can off-balance the horse. The safest way imo is to let him back up in a straight line just like he wants to, and then keep him backing up =]

usandpets 04-07-2013 03:02 AM

I worked with a horse like that. The owner would get so frustrated with the mare, give up, and put the horse away. No amount of squeezing, kicking, spanking or anything would get the horse to go forward. She even tried backing the mare up.

Then she asked me for help. I got on and let her back up but I would keep turning her side to side, not in circles but just a little to each side. I would keep steady leg pressure on too. Since I didn't give up on her and get off, she looked for a different answer to get a release of pressure. She tried to turn but actually stepped forward in the process. I released all pressure. Once she figured that backing was the wrong response, going forward came much easier. It did take some sessions to fully work it out of her but it did work.

Backing the horse more than they want to may work too. However, when backing up, it is pretty easy to cause the horse to rear or stumble. Some horses can run backwards pretty good but you may not have much control of them. Instead, I would try to get their mind engaged again and thinking correctly. I think that is more possibly by doing the turning side to side.
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bnayc 04-07-2013 09:54 AM

Wow guys thank you so much for replying. Your answers make a lot of sense! Ill let you know how it goes with your advice. Just one question though; if I can get him to move forward a few steps, is that when I should dismount and stop the training? So I don't push too much on him?
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usandpets 04-07-2013 11:58 AM

I guess that would depend on how you feel, and how long you've worked for that session. I probably would do it 3 or 4 times first just to make sure he's got it and not just a fluke. If you've been working on it for an hour, I might just try one more time. If he's really worked up, quit, do something else and come back to it. If he's still pretty calm, work him a little more on it. It just depends on a lot.
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Saddlebag 04-07-2013 04:45 PM

Can you round up some help? Have someone stand about 10' away with some treats or a little feed in a pan. Just sit on him and give a light sqeeze with your calf muscle and release. Allow him lots of rein and have your helper shake the treats. When he walks to her he gets them. Have her stan well away and repeat with the light squeeze. He knows what's in the pan and that will be his focus. He not allowed to follow her until both of your are ready. After 4 or 5 times, ask the helper to leave the area and see if the horse will walk with the single light squeeze. If he does allow him to continue. You may have to give a reminder squeeze if he starts to dawdle. If he responds, that is the time to stop and never near the gate. Dismount and meander around then put him away. There is no shame in using food as an enticement. You may wish to use a helper again for the second session because for now you want to keep the energy level low and his mind interested, not in rebelling.

bnayc 04-07-2013 07:41 PM

That's a good plan saddlebags. He was treat motivated in the past so I'm sure I will get some sort of movement out of him with your method. I stopped giving my horses treats when my old trainer said they could get too pushy over them.
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bnayc 04-08-2013 08:55 PM

Well today was day 2 of me getting on the saddle with shadirr. Yesterday we didn't get any forward movement, I haven't been on him in months so he was pretty pissy. I was bending him yesterday and only got off after he calmed down and gave to bending. Today went really well. I lunged him for a few minutes with the saddle before I mounted. After a few minutes sitting on him he walked forward about 50 feet towards the barn. I then asked him to turn away from the barn and shadirr also did so and walked about 20 feet before I asked him to stop. That's when I dismounted and gave him lots of praise.
I'm sure I will be asking for more advice in the future but thanks for all your help! Its a big deal that I got him to move today!

thenrie 04-08-2013 09:46 PM


Originally Posted by Laffeetaffee (Post 2151602)
I'm so confused why the second trainer thought jumping off of him when he backed up was going to fix it... I can imagine how much worse she made the situation by doing that XD

Sometimes, when a horse panics and starts backing up, the next thing that happens is that he goes over backwards. That is quite dangerous for the rider, as it is pretty tough to get off a horse that is falling backwards. I knew a very experienced and excellent trainer who was killed trying to fix a horse like that. The saddle horn caught him in the chest. While it may not seem the right thing to do from the description we have, I withhold judgment of the trainer and grant him/her the right of self-preservation over fixing a spoiled horse.

bnayc, looks like you're on the right track.

Palomine 04-09-2013 07:16 AM

I've also seen horses that will back right into gully 20 feet deep too.

Or ones that will go into thorn bushes, barbed wire fences, highway if out on trail ride.

I would wonder about something being wrong physically with him.

Could be broken withers, broken ribs, or even, depending on what happened on trail? A virtually severed tongue, back at root almost as I have seen that too. Could even have broken bar in mouth, or cracked teeth?

There is something more wrong here than a stubborn, or spoiled horse.

Until you get vet out to see? You don't need to be trying to train him.

He is doing everything he can to tell you something is seriously wrong, you need to listen.

Find an equine vet, one that only does horses, and they can take it from there.

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