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Project Horse Help!
I am new here. I currently own my own horse, and I am now taking on a project horse for the summer. She is a full saddlebred with champion bloodlines, but she has a bad attitude and really bad habits.
We are trying to make her a dressage or hunt seat horse. (She is definately not a saddle seat.)
Some of her problems include:
Kicking out while riding,
just stopping while riding (its to prepare to kick out, but we have been able to stop most of the kicking),
extreme stiffness on both sides, but mostly to the left.
Also, what are some great ways to build muscle on a horse?
Many people have given up on her, but I know she could be a great horse.
Any help you can give is greatly appreciated.
how old is she? As far as the stiffness, after ruling out any physical problems, the only advice I can give is circles, circles, circles. I like to pull their head (gently) around until they give it easily, then immediatly release for softness. As far as building muscle, I'm pretty blessed in that I have lots of sand dunes where I live, and when I can't get to them, I have access & permission to ride in a few neighbors fresh plowed fields..... good luck, and I hope she softens up & settles a bit.
I know a lady that bought a horse like that, she struggled with it for over a year, almost got killed a handful of times and not it's at a big name trainer learning how to jump and getting sold.
I'm assuming you've ruled out all pain causing issues.
My best advice is to get the forward gear going. Never ever ever pull back on this horse. Put a bucking strap on your saddle and hang onto it, keep your reins short enough so that the horse can't buck or rear, keep a very soft snaffle in its mouth and get someone on the ground with a driving whip. As long as the horse is stopping, you are headed down the path to making a dangerous horse. You need to put your leg on and that horse needs to say yes ma'am and move it immediately, of else it's going to have some big welts on it's ass. I would recommend first enforcing this concept on the lunge in fairly adjusted side reins and on a big circle. Really praise the horse when it goes forward from just a cluck, and if it stops and balks then it's going to remember what happened after. You just need one swift crack on the butt and the horse should be off again.
You'd be amazed just how supple a forward going horse is, the reason the horse is stiff is because it has about as much respect for your legs as an angsty 14 year old girl has for her parents.
In a word " Chiropractor"
I already had a go at one of Anebel's posts, glad you stepped in.:wink:
Hah, and depending on what bloodlines, inflicting pain will only cause the mind to shut down.
Speaking of which, how is your mare bred?
You have a PM coming your way.
so sorry I have not replied until now.. its been FOREVER. hehe.
the horse is 14.
We have been starting to work with her, and so far, little progress. What happens is she will be all stinky and absolutely crazy for a while, then all the sudden flip a mental switch and become forward and willing to go. Its quite confusing.
I am riding her in a baucher snaffle. So VERY mild.
once she gets more forward going, we will try a few different bits, including a full bridle to try a little saddle seat with her. Down here in Florida our show seasons start in September, so if all goes well, that may be her show debut.
Again very sorry for the delay, but I thought I should give an update.
I agree that this is a lack of forward motion. Some work on the ground establishing a strong response to "walk on," and other forward cues. Everything you do on the ground helps when you're in the saddle. Teaching her how to disengage her hindquarters when she kicks can immediately redirect that energy. Teach this maneuver with a soft tapping cue to do it politely, then if she kicks out, smack her once immediately in the same cue spot. This disciplines the dangerous behavior and gets her hindquarters away from you.
Daily workouts are the best way I know to build muscle. One of my horses came to me in early May very thin and lacking muscle tone. He's pretty green, and the daily workouts have already given him back shoulders and a chest. I struggle some with stiffness with this horse, and Qtswede has it down with the circling and flexion. Be careful to use large enough circles in the beginning to not lose your mare's valuable forward motion. Spirals may be helpful to keep her interested and willing.
Out of curiosity, could she be in heat when she gets sour? I worked with a mare that sounds exactly like this one. There were days when she really could be a nice mare. But when she was in heat, oh my goodness, she could be flat out dangerous. Her main issue was that she didn't want to go forward and she would kick out any time you put your leg on her. I read an article way back about how certain mares are extremely sensitive when they're in heat and cannot stand it when you put your leg on. That was her!
The problem also was she belong to a timid teen at our barn and she would tell the horse to go and the horse would kick out. The girl would get scared and just stand there frozen. She'd tell her to go again, horse would kick out. Girl would get off and go back to the barn. That's when I started working with her. So we worked on being braver and more firm. So the girl started putting up more of a fight so when i was there the mare would listen. But when she was by herself she was more timid, so the mare's training was very inconsistent. So the mare would put up a bigger fight. She finally learned from the girl that all you have to do is put up a bigger and bigger fight and eventually you'll get out of work. Dangerous? Absolutely. Anabel's response was actually good IMO. She needs to be told to go forward, and if she says no? Needs to be MADE to go forward. Kicking out itself isn't a hugely dangerous issue (when you're on) but it becomes very dangerous when it turns to bucking, rearing, etc. And habits like those usually become big issues if they aren't taken care of immediately and firmly. The key with horses like this too is that you must be very very firm, but also make a big deal of praise when she gets something right. Stop when she's being good instead of drilling her with exercises
I would also have someone come out and check the stiffness. Maybe there's something physical going on there that makes riding uncomfortable (hence the reluctance to go forward). My guess it's because she doesn't want to go forward. Most horses that suck back are tense and angry. I'd try some one rein stops to see if that helps loosen her up. Take your hand out and around and plant it on your hip. (carefully so you don't just pull back on her mouth) You want her nose to be bent out and around. Keep your hand planted on your hip until she gives in and releases the pressure of the rein. (even if it is very very slight, drop the rein and give her lots of praise) Do it to both sides.
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