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RollyPolly 07-22-2013 01:33 PM

Disrespect, Confused, Scared?
I've recently started working with a mare I rescued. She used to be extremely hard to catch and would kick any chance she got. I've gotten some ground manners down, and she does not kick anymore. She is also a whole lot easier to catch. A little about her... She was abused and starved. She was broke the 'extreme inexperienced' way where she just had a saddle thrown on her and somebody got on and rode her out. The guy spurred her bloody and used a harsh bit he did not know how to use. He tore her mouth up so bad she could not eat for 3 days (I learned this from a neighbor of the man). She was also beat with a stick and poked in her right eye which led to slight blindness. She is very spooky, but I have desensitized her to ropes, plastic bags, saddle pad, whips, etc.

I recently introduced lunging to her, and she is perfectly fine lunging in a right circle. If I try to lunge her to the left, she will go a little but will stop in the same spot and backup, sidestep, and rear. She will put her head down and snort. Any place I try to lunge her, she will find one place where she will always stop. I will eventually get her to go a little, but she then comes into me and kicks out (at me). We go through this until I get hot and too tired of it. When she stops, I wave the whip at her (so she starts backing up). I get behind the drive line and try to push her forward with motion and the whip. She will either keep backing (I've tried making her REALLY back, but it doesn't do anything), or she will rear up and sidestep. When she does finally go, she barges into me with her shoulder (I put pressure on her shoulder and front end.. doesn't help) and kicks out. I will make her switch directions... She's perfectly fine going to the right. She'll sometimes will try to leave or come in too much, but I correct her and we go on. I am very confused on why she does this...

Any suggestions?

AmateurOwner 07-22-2013 01:41 PM

I would investigate pain. Sounds like you are doing great work with her! Keep it up :)

rideverystride 07-22-2013 01:58 PM

I'm going to second pain. It just seems kind of odd that she would lunge perfectly to the right but not to the left.

Golden Horse 07-22-2013 02:38 PM

Which side is her eye injury? is that related I wonder

Ian McDonald 07-22-2013 02:43 PM

Any action the handler takes that even remotely looks like a precursor to the handling that she had before (such as raising a whip) will trigger in her a defensive response - in this case a learned behavior. To deal with that at the same time as trying to teach a horse how to operate correctly requires a lot of ability - awareness, timing, experience, consistency, and clarity about expectations. You won't find the key to this horse overnight - but keep trying. When you run out of knowledge, seek more knowledge! Go to bed thinking about it and wake up thinking about it. Have those little epiphanies that come out of nowhere while you're in the shower, while going for walks, or lying awake at night. Seek out other horsemen whose horses work for them in ways that you admire and learn from them. If you can do these things you may someday get through to her and become much, much stronger in your horsemanship.

As for the mare, realize that you will never erase those experiences she had before. But you can 'over-write' them. Given enough time, of course. Maybe years! If that is in you, then I have no doubt that you'll succeed. If not..well maybe better just to let it go.

RollyPolly 07-22-2013 02:59 PM

She is such a great mare once you establish a bond with her but that bond can be gone within seconds if her trust level with me bottoms out. Heck, I've even gotten on her bareback with just a halter and lead rope (I had a lot of nerve and too much coffee that day), and she was a little angel.

Her eye injury is on her right eye (weird, huh?). I feel like I'm tearing her down instead of building her up when I try to teach her to lunge, but I feel lunging is very important for the beginning stages of horses (I'm completely restarting her). Instead of teaching her to lunge, should I just desensitize her daily? Also, I was wondering about Monty Robert's Join Up. I've heard mixed reviews about him. Some say that he is amazing and really helped their bond with their horse, but I have also heard that his stuff is junk and he's just out for a buck.

I will get her checked out as soon as possible. I'll keep you all updated. :)

Foxtail Ranch 07-22-2013 03:30 PM

My experiences ( which are limited) have been that most horses prefer clockwise to counter clockwise. Her barging into you is disrespect and refusal.

The mare in my avatar is my April. I got her from SIL because she was too much horse for her and her trainer. She pulled back and reared when you tried to brush, tie, bridle or saddle. She crow hopped, bucked and kicked out when riding. But she was gorgeous, athletic, sensitive and moved smoothly, so I traded SIL my old Mac computer for April.

I used Clinton Anderson books and videos. I got videos on Giddyupflix for cheap rental. Like you, I started on ground work. April did much the same as you described, except instead of kicking at me, she tried to run me down. The first couple of times I stepped out of her way. I knew I was the loser in this contest of wills. I read, watched videos again, and steeled myself. When she came at me, I hit her in the forehead with my stick as CA had instructed. Before I could feel the full weight of guilt, she screeched to a stop, looked me in the eye, then turned and trotted off in the direction I was pointing. She only tried it one more time and I held firm.

It was a great turning point for us. We are still working on stuff but she is a great partner for me.

Once you can be sure it's not pain or disability, press on. Ask, tell then demand that she move in the direction you asked. And don't let her past convince you to baby her. No one deserves to be babied, and it just makes things worse.
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RollyPolly 07-22-2013 04:02 PM


When she came at me, I hit her in the forehead with my stick as CA had instructed. Before I could feel the full weight of guilt, she screeched to a stop, looked me in the eye, then turned and trotted off in the direction I was pointing. She only tried it one more time and I held firm.
I've smacked her on the neck when she comes into me, but she just keeps coming and goes to her stopping point.

Foxtail Ranch 07-22-2013 04:48 PM

Well, your problem here is a little different than mine was. My mare came straight at me and I came straight back at her. Your mare is moving away from you right? She is backing, side stepping and rearing? Move with her at a safe distance and keep up the pressure

Start with pointing and clucking, then use the stick to tap her behind the drive line. Increase the pressure with each swing. 1, 2, 3...1, 2, 3.

She can back up. You just walk with her. She can side step. Step with her. She can rear. Just stay a safe distance and keep the pressure on!

As soon as she makes on step in the right direction, stop all pressure and let her have a 5 second break.

Then start again with point, cluck, tap the air then tap her, and tap harder until she moves. You may need to whack her a time or two.
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RollyPolly 07-22-2013 05:36 PM

She does it all. As soon as I get her to move from her backing, sidestepping, and rearing, she immediately barges into me and will kick out. Thankfully, I'm pretty quick on my feet and do not get kicked. She doesn't kick out every time, but she will do it. It seems the more pressure I put on her and the further back I get, she thinks we are off to the races backwards and sideways. Finally, the races are on going forward, but it's her coming into me and pushing me out of the way. If I get her to go a little, right before her 'stopping spot', I will stop her and change directions. I thought that would tell her to redirect her energy instead of stopping and getting away with something, but it didn't help.

I think I'm going to work with her later today and see how she does. If it isn't a pain issue, I'm going to get a round pen/haul her to a friend who has a round pen and go from there.

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