Too Much Troubles!
First, I'd like to say I love dear Murray, but some days, arugh.
1. Mounting: I use to be able to re-girth him and mount on him, with or without a mounting step. Now, he fights me to get on. I will even just stand and hold the stirrup, and he'll try to swing his head over mine to back up. I have tried sharply scolding him to stand and not move, and he will stand for a few seconds before moving around again. He backs up, and will throw his head up. Sometimes, Sue will help me by holding him while I get on, but the days she is not there, Murray and I have a huge struggle. Any ideas?
2. Lunging: Murray use to lunge really nice, with and without tack. Now, he rears, and cowkicks. I can have him ready, but the moment I try to turn him out, he starts to act up. Nothing I try seems to work to move him out. Flick the line at him, shoo him off/away. Any ideas? My friend also tried and she couldn't get him to move.
3. Catching/Leading: Again, Murray was really good to catch and lead away. Now troubles. Same as lunging. He puts up one big fight, and has tried to bite me while doing so. Any ideas?
So some info on Murray, if it will help:
-headshy, possible from breaking/training days. Last owner is a soft-touch lady.
-is more of a puppy, like to follows you around (kinda annoying if he doesn't listen to me =/)
-broke as a western/trail horse (I'm adjusting him to English)
-hasn't done "work" in about a year. Just lazy riding from the last owner.
Any help would be great. Just finished paying him off, and would like to keep him at LEAST one year before deciding anything else. Thank you.
First & foremost, make sure you eliminate/resolve any physical issues he might have, such as back, saddle, teeth, other tack, etc. These issues are often pain related.
Unfortunately, if you rule out pain, and he was as good as you say when you got him, it sounds like his problems may be with you or the situation he finds himself in now(sounds like others deal with him too?). A *good* instructor/trainer might be a great help to work with you & the horse, to ensure you're going about things in the right way. Diet & management could also play a part in his behaviour.
While you can(usually - some won't tolerate it, end up 'rogues', 'untrainable'...) just make the horse to just do what you want, I believe that the horse's attitude is just as important as the behaviour he gives me and I want my horses to enjoy my company & games too. My horse is recreation for me & I want me to be so for him too.
Specifically to your questions...
"Now, he fights me to get on. I will even just stand and hold the stirrup, and he'll try to swing his head over mine to back up. I have tried sharply scolding him to stand and not move, and he will stand for a few seconds before moving around again."
He obviously doesn't enjoy being ridden any more for some reason and seems rather 'vocal' about it. I personally wouldn't ride a horse like that, until I'd taught him to be comfortable with me mounting. Scolding him & making the situation more unpleasant is not likely to improve his attitude - just means he's ****ed if he does(you get on), ****ed if he doesn't. I would be breaking the task of mounting down into easy steps and rewarding him(with something Good, as well as removal of Bad, ie. your pressure to mount) when you get the 'Right' behaviour, no matter how small that might be to begin with.
Eg. What do you do when he stands for those few seconds? That is the behaviour & instant you need to reinforce to begin with, not punish by putting more pressure on him in continuing to mount. "Well standing made matters worse so I'd better try dancing around more"
So... I'm holding the stirrup & my horse is moving around, telling me he's not happy about it. I keep holding the stirrup(keep the pressure on) if he's not too upset by it, with the rein shortish but not tight, just moving around with him. The instant he stops, or even hesitates to begin with, I let go of the stirrup(negatively reinforce, remove pressure), say 'stand' and give him a scratch or a treat(positively reinforce, reward). I repeat this until he's obviously comfortable standing while I fuss around before I ask for a *little* more & repeat the process. In this way, using 'approach & retreat' tactics, you can get a horse confident & comfortable about just about anything that doesn't hurt him.
Unfortunately there is no shortcut to repetition in training, often especially in 'retraining', due to the horse's possible opposing experiences. To begin with this process can be slow, depending on the horse's previous experiences & understanding. But the more you approach things in this way, the quicker it gets and the more it rubs off on everything else you do with the horse. That is one part of what I think of as real respect - it can be earned when I am respectFUL of the horse.
"2. Lunging: Murray use to lunge really nice, with and without tack. Now, he rears, and cowkicks."
This sounds like he's 'giving you the finger', telling you you don't have the right to ask him to do that. He sounds possibly a rather 'dominant' & smart personality. I would get after that behaviour, make it known that this is not tolerated, but I would also make a point of making things worth his while. Encourage him to want to do what you ask, so you avoid many battles in the first place. Again, breaking things down into easy steps & practicing & positively reinforcing these before asking for a bit more is a big key.
I think you need to make a point of being just(I'm sure you do at least some of the time) nice & fun to be with. Initially I would avoid doing anything unpleasant with him for the time being. Spend lots of time just hanging out, brushing or scratching him(if he enjoys that), feeding him, etc.
'Catch' him to do this, then let him go. But again, if that's too much for him right now, break it down & start with, say, giving him a treat for allowing you to approach him. This can gradually progress to touching/rubbing him with a halter & then putting it on, taking him out, etc. Even once he's again good at coming when called, make a point of only doing nice stuff to him for the first few minutes at least, and work on getting him happier about the stuff he finds hard about life with you now.
"-hasn't done "work" in about a year. Just lazy riding from the last owner."
While you may see what you want of him as 'work', if you want him to perform for you with a good attitude, I believe you have to make what you want 'play' for him, or if not, at least rewarding & worth his while. I would be working out the reasons he doesn't want to 'play' with you now & changing them.
I pretty much agree with loosie. For all the issues it just sounds like he isn't enjoying himself, so he becomes vocal about it. Punishing him will not make things better, in fact in the long run it will make things worse.
I like Loosie's ideas, BUT I think this horse is in pain.
You say he hasn't been worked in over a year. How many days a week are you riding/lunging him? How long have you had him? Has someone experienced checked the saddle fit?
Thank you for your input Loosie, this has been great help.
And, we've already ruled out pain in any form. His tack fits him nicely and he's in perfect health, and eatting alright.
I've had him under 8 months, his "attitude" started about late Jan. early Feb.
Who started the riding/training on him again...you or someone else ? Are you in a boarding stable where other people ride?
Spyder, he is at a lesson/boarding barn when only I ride him. I ride English, and he was trained western.
Any new mares in field? Is there a SINGLE possibility someone tried to ride or work with him and you were not aware of it? I KNOW it happens in some barns (not saying yours, but know some cases).
I don't believe it's a switch from western to english made him to change so much.
A horse learns something and once it learns it, it usually does stay. Sometimes it will be a bit rusty but it comes back. HOWEVER if a horse is punished for doing something it has learned to do right then it gets confused and will act like the OPs horse.
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