I recently bought a 6 year old, OTTB mare. She had already been worked with some, as in I can saddle and bridle her, and ride fine. My issue is with her ground manners- she has none. As soon as I'm in the saddle, I can work her through whatever issues she has.
1. She is extremely buddy sour. She and my paint gelding have been together for 2 week, and after a few days, were inseperable. I've tried to fix this by tying her, and then riding my gelding away, in view and then out of view, back and forth,, so she gets accustomed to the fact that he WILL come back to her. It's getting a little better, but it leads to the next problem
2. My gelding has become attached to her. Since he is so well trained, it only shows when he is tied alone and I ride off with her. He will pace and whinny till she gets back. But because she needs work herself, I can't focus on his freak out while trying to make a decent ride on her. She will test me, whirl around and try to run back to him.
3. She has no patience whatsoever. When tied, she will stand and paw almost constantly if left alone.
4. When leading, she (again) can't be alone. If my gelding gets out of sight, she whirls around, elevates her front, whinnies, etc, and acts like I'm not there. She won't run away from me, like she still know I'm leading her, but will run INTO me. As soon as I turn her out, she'll run the fence line until my gelding is back with her
5. She refuses to load in my trailer. Granted, a 2 horse straight load wouldn't be my traveling choice, but I'm running out of ideas to get her in.
She lunges okay, and that's how I get rid of most of her energy. Very soft in the mouth, just a stubborn mare. I have no way to separate the two, without the risk of property/horse damage. I need to be able to not worry about her if I take the gelding to a show. I tried to take them both last time, which resulted in 3 useless hours of trying to trailer her for the ride home.
Any ideas would be appreciated!
I'm having the same issues with my gelding, I want to see what others say to this!
Was she spelled after her time on the track? How long has she been off the track?
My warmblood gelding was exceptionally buddy sour when I purchased him. My agistment owners forgot one morning to now put him out last, and he attempted to jump the stable door and hung himself by the stifles.
I found that while handling him, the best option was to ignore the behaviour. If I reacted, he would get worse. Put the horse to work, as soon as my boy would start to neigh, pace and jig around, I would start making him yield his quarters and shoulders, back up, leg yield in hand etc. It was a good tool for me as he would HAVE to concentrate on where his legs were going and forget about carrying on like a pork chop!
Under saddle he was fine, as long as he was busy.
For paddocking, I found that changing paddocking arrangements around helped a lot. Some days he was on his own but next to another horse, other days he was in with a small herd, and once he got good enough to stop trying to kill himself pushing through or jumping fences, he went out on his own with a paddock between him and the other horses. By changing it up, he stopped getting hugely attached to one horse, and began to settle. He got used to different horses coming and going.
Unfortunately my boy wasn't driven by food, but if your mare is a bit of a foodie, you can try giving her some hay when you take the other horse out to distract her.
Regarding tying, leave her there. Don't give her the time of day when she paws. As long as you tie her somewhere the she can't damage too badly with pawing, and tie her solidly to something that won't pull away so she can take off with a pole attached to her head, then she can just stand there and paw to her hearts content.
Once again, my boy did it, and in the end I left him standing for half a day. I cleaned tack, cleaned stables, cleaned my paddocks, worked the youngster and by the time I was done, he was snoozing happily. He was MUCH better after that and settled very quickly. Just make sure you are around the vicinity so if the proverbial hits the fan you can go in there and 'save' her.
If she pushes you when you lead her, don't allow it. Personally I wouldn't discipline in the form of voice and a whack in this situation as it can flare the anxiety. Instead, stop, back up, yield away from you, and walk on again. Repeat every time she pushes into you. If she's got a few brain cells in that noggin of hers, she should work out pretty quickly that you're not going to walk any faster if she shoves you.
With the loading issue, how are you loading her? What technique are you using?
She sounds more like a stressed mare, rather than 'stubborn'. She's in a new environment with a person she hasn't got to know & trust yet and she's very likely had a stressy start in life on the track too. Don't know what her diet is now, but diet & nutrition has a big bearing too. Of course I suggest you look into it & decide for yourself, but the first thing I'd be doing with her is adding magnesium to her diet & ensuring the diet was healthy, low GI, etc.
I agree with the advice Kayty has given. Especially as she's new to you, I'd be working with her in the paddock with your gelding or wherever she's comfortable first & once you develop a good thing with her, then start taking her out.
Then when you take her out, be considerate of the reasons behind the behaviour & make it as easy as possible for her - doing the 'staging' of separating them is along the right line I reckon. So bearing that in mind, pretty much just ignore the 'wrong' behaviour you get & make sure any 'good' stuff is reinforced well & gets her what she wants(what she feels she needs). Doing it that way should gradually get her over it with minimum further stress.
You really need to find a way to separate the mare from the gelding. We never run them together or across a single fence from each other for just that reason. Can you use a electric wire on top of the fences in two different places? Many geldings just 'fall in love' with a mare and become total basket cases.
You can address the patience issue by tying the mare out in a safe place far enough away from the gelding that she can learn to be alone. Do not try to mess with her; just keep an eye on her from a distance. I have had it take as long as three full days -- tying one out in the morning and putting her back a night and tying her right out again the next morning after she has eaten and taken a drink of water.
If you tie the mare out, do not let the gelding run a fence; tie him up, also, but out of sight of the mare. This really does work. Sometimes it does not look like it will work, but by the second or third day, the horse will whinny once or twice and then just drop its head and cock a back foot and rest until it is put up or put to work. Do not quit until you hit this point.
We have found that a frantic horse is a 'reactive' horse as opposed to a 'responsive' horse that is thinking and learning. Since a reactive horse is not going to learn anything positive, we just tie one up all day, every day until the horse is quiet and we find we have a responsive horse that is thinking and listening and learning. There is a HUGE difference in the rate of learning before and after this patience lesson. It is like dealing with two completely different horses.
We use a big tree with a big limb coming out of it. We have a nylon lead-rope tied to the limb with a big 5 inch bull snap that has a good swivel in it. The snap is higher than the horse's withers. This way, there is nothing for a horse to paw and hit or to kick. They can go around and around (why you need a good swivel snap) and can paw and dig huge holes, but they cannot hurt themselves. We have had them dig such big holes that we needed to fill them back in with the front end loader each evening. They ALL gave it up and learned to accept being alone and learned to think and respond.
I disagree with keeping horses separated - it's not fair or healthy for a horse. And while I do things more gradually than just tie them up & leave them, to reduce further stress, it still works without separating them the rest of the time. Hadn't considered tying the one left behind though - my horses are more than happy to go out with me alone, but the one left behind gets antsy...
I have very few horses that are alone. I just keep mares with mares and geldings with geldings and never put them across a fence from each other unless I have to and then there is a hot wire on top.
If you leave one frantic horse alone without tying it up, you run the risk of it getting in a fence or otherwise hurting itself or of running off a lot of weight. I have seen horses that started stall walking or fence walking and even weaving from being able to obsess over a horse friend.
And you're exactly right about a frantic and reactive horses not being stubborn. Being stubborn require concentration on the horse's part and not being willing to give in to a request. A frantic horse is not that focused. [Actually, they ARE focused, but it is on the herd or their friend.] That is why we never try to train on one. We get them quiet and responsive first.
We think that exercising one until it is settled is not the best way to get a horse's attention. It just gets sound horses a lot more fit and takes a lot of weight off of many of them. Young horses and ones with questionable legs can be longed or round-penned until they are crippled and still not be focused on their trainer or handler. Tying a horse out away from the others has just worked soooo well for over 40 years, that I just do not even attempt to teach one anything until it is quiet and relaxed.
^Boy, I WISH it'd run some weight off my boys!
I had single horses by themselves for years with no real ill effects that I could see. A little more effort, but not huge problems.
TWO horses OTOH were a pain in the neck and lower places! They would attach to each other and run the fence when one was taken out and ridden away from the other. I had a hot fence so the one left behind would whinny and run around and carry on. The horse I was ON was never an issue.. they were trained. It was the horse left behind that was a problem.
My solution? I went out on the other horse and let them carry on. I had a mare and a gelding. The gelding was more of a nut job left alone.. but again, the hot wire there really wasn't any choice for him.
Oh if I had box stalls and the like in those days I would have used them. If I had more horses it would not have been an issue. If I had 4 horses.. two of each sex.. then I would have had a better solution too.
But I had what I had.. a run in shed or two standing straight stalls and no barn doors to shut them in.. and an attached pasture for the both of them and fencing backed up by a hot wire.
Not ideal.. but I made it work. I also made it work with a single horse. I was in college and working and training horses in those days. Not exactly made of cash and did not have land or opportunity to change any of it.
My mare lived alone for 2 years no ill effects there either she could careless about other horses. If shes got her hay and shelter shes fine. Not alone now but she could care less when other two horses leave the property never whinnys for them,or runs the fence.Doesnt whinny when they come back either.
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