Scared behin the eyeline under saddle.
Right those following Reeco's progress will know he has been one of the most difficult horses I've ever come accross (and that is saying something since I normaly deal with abused horsess).
Reeco is now at the point where he can be ridden in walk trot and canter an has been shown several times under saddle with success.
HOWEVER once the saddle and rider are onboard NOONE can touch him anywhere behind my leg. If you do (as my mother found out when she went to clean some poo off a white sock) he will bolt.
I can do anything on the floor with him, poke him prod him, plastic bags all over him and he doesnt flicker.
I can do the same with the saddle on. he doesnt move at all and is quite happy to let me touch anywhere with anything.
HOWEVER once the rider is on he freaks if anything comes near him behind the riders leg. In front of the leg is fair game and his is quite happy with it.
I also cannot carry a cane of any form with him (which Idealy I do need to do).
So has anyone got any ideas on fixing this issue (an it is an issue that I simply cannot ignore as he does it if it rains on his bottom as well) without putting a rider in danger?
I've been told to get him on the lunge with a rider on him and provoke a reaction, then just ride it out and teach him it wont get him anywhere. However, that is very risky for the rider (likely to be me) and runs the risk of him bolting blind through a fence or into a wall so I am looking for safer options!
Can you, when mounted, swing your legs back and forth as far as you wish? Can you touch him there with a rope while mounted yourself, fiddle on his back with all your body parts, swing a whip, etc.? If not, it should all be done very, very slowly, as if with a green horse who has just been backed. It seems to me that he needs basic approach and retreat work by you at first, then by another horseperson with a good feel and timing to do it from the ground, while you're mounted.
Will he do this if you have him on the lunge, saddle on, and then use desensitizing techniques, like with a flag on a stick, toward his flank and buttocks? no rider on at all. And have the stick /flag move from one side to the other so that it moves from one eye to the other.
I cant even carry a whip on him let alone swing it, picking up a lunge whip on the ground results in lots of tension (yes I've tried rubbing/scratching him with it and he will tolerate it but will NOT relax untill you put it on the floor).
Ropes are a big issue all on thier own that we have worked through on the ground but ropes whilst mounted is not something I would like to attempt (ropes on the ground resulted in him fracturing his skull and spliting his bottom lip in half, we can now long rein but it took 6 months to get him to the point where he didnt bolt blind as soon as the line went behind his bottom.)
I've done all the approach retreat stuff with him on the ground and he is unflappable on the ground you could quite litteraly do anything at all with him on the ground but put a rider on him and even with someone on the ground he will go into panic mode if touched behind my leg.
The major problem is that I do not want to provoke him into bolting as he does truely bolt blind, he will go into walls, through fences etc, he does not care about his own safety when he is panicing, he would litteraly gallop over the edge of a cliff if he is in that state of mind.
I've made major progress in that when he spooks under saddle he now will most of the time NOT bolt. I've taught him to stop dead instead and wait for reassurance, however spooking is not panicing and believe me his reaction to being touched behind the saddle is total and utter panic.
He really is a challenge, and considering all that, you've done a fantastic job getting him to the point of being able to show. But that issue is such a big hole that it will always be a very dangerous place, won't it?
Have you consulted with a trainer who deals with problem horses, for some alternate ideas?
Have you thought of trying a dummy on him? Get a set of long sleeved coverall's and stuff them firmly with wadded up newspapers. Zip tie around the cuffs of arms and legs to keep everything inside.
Take him and the dummy inside the round pen before you tie the dummy on!!
Keep him on a lunge line inside a round pen and use a flag behind the dummy. If he spazzes, you should be better able to control his head and keep his rear end disengaged until he figures it out.
Of course, that all hinges on if he reacts to the dummy the same as a human. :-)
ETA: TIE the dummy on, don't let him buck it off!!
Start with work in hand behind the saddle, rubbing/etc. When he is calm with that, start ridden but with a handler all the same things, including swinging the legs. Once he can do that do the same thing w/o the handler and eventually be able to swing the legs at all gaits, and caress him all over the quarters. Takes a little time, but they will calm. The hardests point is to ask for still and allow it, NO hanging onto the horse to try and stop it.
A horse doesn't have the best eyesight when looking forward and it's even worse for what's behind him. He seems to have a highly developed sense of self preservation. When doing groundwork you need to do it until he drops a hip. That is when you know for certain he's relaxed and bored. It may take hours, days or weeks but you need to get him so he'll relax when touched around the hindquarters.
IF it were as simple as you seem to think it is then I would have already done it. It isnt that simple, he will bolt if he is so much as touched behind my leg and no one on the ground can hold him when he goes.
We have tried having a handler on the ground with him (my instructor) i started by patting and stroking his shoulder which he was fine with (on his left hand side as that is his better side) then I moved back to patting my leg (making a sound) which he was also absolutly fine with, Then I put my hand just behind the saddle and by the time I contacted he was off. My instructor tried her best reassure him on the ground and keep him calm but he bolted and she did her best to hang onto the lunge line (including some fairly impressive skiing!) but had to let him go in the end. I stayed on thankfully but it is not an experiance i want to repeat.
I'm not sure he would react the same though as I've had the dummy litteraly hanging off the side of him (poor Wesley had had a bit too much to drink we think!)
Reeco does not buck when he freaks but holding onto him is a major issue.
I'll get Wes back on him and see how he reacts at least it is anouther avenue to explore. I do know a lady who has a Ardall dummy which is a proper weighted dummy like this:
As it moves and feels more like a real human I might see if she will lend it to me to try on him
I would have him in a stable and have a rug on him with both a back strap and leg straps and let him stew. By the end of a few panic sessions, he should be use to it.
I have had a couple of horses like this and both had 'back problems. Could be something to do with that.
I would also put a crupper on him and hang all sorts from the strap so it is all behind his girth area. Basically sacking him out with what he is afraid of.
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