Retraining a mare that hasn't been ridden in about 5 years! help!
I'm retraining a QH mare that hasn't been ridden in about 5 years! I started her on the lunge line and she was quite unresponsive at first, but she's doing much better now. I have been able to put a saddle/bridle on with no problem and she will lunge with tack on. She's extremely responsive to leg pressure and voice commands and she remembers everything. (She used to be a ranch horse) The other day I started getting on her and she handled it very well. She's got a great temperament and she loves to learn new things, she'll do anything for a treat! But, she does offer to buck. A lot! She's very smart and knows exactly how to throw you (We've learned this from a few years back when my sister tried to retrain her). I was just wondering, how do I go about the retraining process to avoid bucking in its entirety.
If it helps, she's about an 11 year old mare. (15hh) and I need her riding by the middle of may (it doesn't have to be perfect, but just riding!)
Thank you very much!
Check to make sure it isn't saddle fit problem or that she doesn't have a sore back though. I found out that one reason my mare was bucking was the pad I was using was bunching on her back. One day, I decided to try a thicker pad and she has slowed down on the bucking alot. She still gets her mare attitude every once in a while though.
The saddle fits her very well! and it's a really nice saddle pad.
I think it's just the bad behavior she's gotten away with for 5 years!
also, when I go to take her bridle off, she swings her head into me and tilts it to the side. I'm not sure if that's just her wanting it off or what, but how do I correct this?
I won't comment on the bucking because my phone will die half way through my reply on that..lol.
BUT, I can comment on the unbridling. My old lease mare use to do it every single time I took her bridle off (only if I rode with a bit though, a hack she wouldn't move her head around). Everytime she did such I would make sure I got it off her poll and over her ears and hold it until she stopped moving her head. I almost got whacked a few times, but you definitely have to be careful and quick. She just wants the bridle off, but it's unacceptable :p
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I'll definitely try this!
It does take awhile though. It took me..almost a month of 4-5 days a week doing such. It can be done in a day if your horse is a saint and catches on quick ane doesn't try to play games with you, but mine loved to forget what we learned the day before, haha.
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My mare did the same thing with the bridle and bit, till I switched her to a hackamore. Now, she doesn't do it, but isn't as responsive to the hackamore yet as she was to the bit. My theory is that she needs her teeth floated, but I haven't had a chance to get the vet our ther to check. It also could be because we have worked with her for month curing the pasture bad habit of not having a job that she picked up. It all takes time and work. If you find something that is just unacceptable behavior to you, such as following to close when leading, invading your personal space, head throwing, you have to correct it and keep correcting it every time he does it. At first, you may not seem like you are making any progress then you have that break through moment when you realize that when something was difficult becomes very easy.
One thing that really helps with the bucking is to stay busier when you're on her, keeping her thinking about doing something other than bucking. Especially lateral work turning left and right, un-tracking the hindquarters, picking you up out of one eye then the other. And petting. If you don't stop petting her in these early rides for more than 5 seconds, you'll be better off. Sometimes if you let them stay straight for too long they zone out and then get surprised when you remind them that you're there and buck you off. This should hopefully become less of a problem the more rides she gets but right now you want to be keeping her occupied every second that you're up there. I'll stay very busy on a horse at first, and then gradually tone it down as they relax into the movements that I'm asking them to do and FEEL more like they're okay with me, with their environment, and with the things I'm asking them to do. That's when I'll get quiet and offer the horse the chance to stand and enjoy the quiet. After a couple days of that, they'll start looking for that quiet spot and bucking won't even become a thought!
I think it's impossible to avoid the horse wanting to buck... BUT, one tip is that a horse's back has to be lined up in order to buck. I would do what's in this video, but also teach her to move her hip out, because it will help to un-allign the back. I've used it many times before and it works for stopping a horse from what it's doing
Teaching the Emergency Stop/One Rein Stop - YouTube!
Unfortunately, if the bucking isn't a pain issue, then it's probably a pretty engrained habit and will be very difficult to stop and you likely won't be able to avoid it, regardless of what you do with her.
If you aren't confident that you can ride through her bucks, I wouldn't even attempt to ride her. I'd find someone who could ride her out because every time she bucks someone off, it's just solidifying that habit that much more.
There are things you can do to minimize the power in her bucking and make her easier to ride, but someone is still going to have to ride it out of her...over and over and over.
Where I'd start on the ground is working on her lateral flexion so that she gives her nose at the slightest hint of picking up the rein. For this, she needs to be in a snaffle, nothing with shanks. Once in the saddle, when she starts to tense up in anticipation of bucking, take her nose to one side, start bumping with inside leg to move disengage those hindquarters, and proceed to work the piss out of her in little tiny circles (think moving at long trot speed in an area about 10' diameter). Work her until she's sucking air hard. If you start to get dizzy before she feels "done" then take her nose the other way and continue without a break.
When you let her out of the circle, don't let her stop and "catch her breath". Immediately go back to whatever you were doing when she blew up as if nothing had happened. Do this every single time she starts to bow up. Given enough time and enough work, she may get over the bucking...or she may not.
Keep in mind, taking her nose to the side and disengaging won't stop a dedicated bucker like she sounds to be, but it will usually take their power away and make their bucking easier to ride.
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