problems with my mare, please HELPP!
sorry this is so long but please take the time to read, i desperately need advice ....
Ive had my mare april for just over two months now, and to start with, she was a complete angel in every sense, to lead, catch, groom, on the ground and to ride. Now however, shes started to turn sour, shes not the same friendly horse i first brought and its really knocking my confidence about the bond i thought we could have. First of all, shes being moody and invasive on the ground, she'll sometimes lunge at me when i try to groom her or put her ears flat back when i walk past her. In her stable shes also really grumpy and aggressive, if i walk past her to get out of the door she puts her ears back and acts like she really doesnt want to be around me. I can understand if shes not really a loving, touchyfeely horse but this is really upsetting me as it seems as though she doesnt want to be around me. Also, several times shes not wanted to be caught in the field, or if i just wanna go pat her in the field, she doesnt like it and turns and bucks in my face and gallops off. She also puts her ears right back when i do manage to catch her in (she allows me to catch her the majority of times but still with her ears flar back).
I absolutely love my mare, shes a little superstar to ride, not cranky at all and so laid back and willing to please, which makes it even harder for me to understand her unwilling and sometimes viscious behaviour on the ground.
I know her behaviour doesnt sound too bad but its not nice ot have to deal weith all the time cos i just want a horse who knows im not gonna hurt them and who will let me give them cuddles and things that i used to take for granted.
Her old owner said she wasnt treated too well by her owners before, she was tied up in her stable with her food just out of reach and hit with a whip when she wouldnt move over in the stable, so i understand its hard for her to gain trust with humans but i desperately want her to trust me.
Im not used to dealing with a horse like this and despite the fact i love her loads, it gets me down and i would really consider selling her if it continued as most of the thing i love about horses is the realtionship you can have with them on the ground.
I would love it if anyone has any advice, tips i could do to try and gain her trust and stop her bad bahviour, or have had similar stories they would like to share, as any ideas wouild be appreciated, i dont want to give up on my little mare.
Thank you so much!
Because it is a shift, have you ruled out possible physical causes for her behaviour? Horses communicate about problems differently than we do and often times when we think it's a nasty attitude, it's them telling us, "I hurt. I don't feel good." etc.
You mention what a nice ride she is, but not much about actual work done on the ground (just her behaviour in catching, walking past, etc). What sort of groundwork do you do with her? Her behaviour IS a problem because it is a small step onto a very slippery slope with a dangerous horse at the bottom of it. She is not showing you respect which indicates, to me, that she doesn't see you as her leader.....which is why I asked about groundwork.
Thank you for replying!
To be honest i havnt really ruled out anything physical, being my first horse i wouldnt really know what to check; the fit of her saddle, her teeth, etc. She seems healthy and happy within herself and doesnt seem to be in any pain but its definately something i will look into, is there anything you would advise getting checked out?
Im sorry but dont really get what you mean by groundwork. She is fine to be led, sometimes stops when leading her in from the field and needs encouragement to walk forward again but is not nasty or bargy and listens when i ask her to stop, walk faster or slower. She is great to lunge, responsive and calm and is not silly or anything of the sort. Have done some work with us both on teh ground in the school and shes respectful of my space and listens to what i want her to do, its just really when shes tied up, in her stable or in the field when i have problems wiht her.
I think you hit the nail on the head when you say you dont think she sees me as a leader, i feel that too, although she is respectiful when im riding her, i dont get the same feeling when im on the ground, do you think i need to be more firm with her, or ado you have any advice to try and get past this leadership issue.
I was thinking about trying join-up with her but dont know if this will help with our leadership problem?!
I would certainly rule out anything physical. You might want to have her checked for ulcers.
If you can rule out everything physical, my suggestion would be to try the Parelli 7 Games with her. It's a great way to build trust and respect and to start getting the horse to change his/her opinion of the human.
As far as physical things that could cause behavioral changes, have her teeth checked, if a vet hasn't seen her within the last year is might be wise for her to have a check-up. Ulcers may definitely be the culprit. Have her hooves been trimmed recently? Changes in angle from overlong hooves may cause discomfort as well. An equine massage therapist or chiropractor may be helpful as far as finding and relieving any sore spots. Is it possible that your mare could be in heat?
Once any physical cause has been ruled out, I agree that your mare is challenging your position as leader. The Parelli 7 games can be a good place to start rebuilding your relationship with your horse, but there are lots of trainers out there with systems that basically accomplish the same thing. I personally like Clinton Anderson's version, but others like the Parelli's, Dennis Reis, John Lyons, Monty Roberts (coined Join-Up), Chris Cox, and Ken McNabb also follow a similar philosophy. As far as who's best, it's all personal preference and what works best for you and your mare. I've seen all of them get results. Basically, move her feet the way you want them to move, your idea, not hers. Drive her shoulders out of your space, drive her hindquarters away, back her up, drive her forward on a circle, etc. I would look into any of the trainers listed above, they all have some wonderful exercises to do on the ground (groundwork :wink:) to help establish respect.
If she gets any worse behaviorally, I would recommend finding a local trainer to help you. A grumpy, moody, disrespectful horse can turn dangerous.
Best of luck!
thank you scoutrider and spirithorse, i will take what both of you said into account and try and establish our relationship on the ground once (hopefully if) i find out there is nothing physical behind her behaviour. I am familiar with both parelli and monty roberts, and so will probably consider using some of their techniques, as several freinds have found them sucessful with their horses. I looked up the parelli seven games and they look like they would be useful so am thinking of starting to try them out, so thank you very much for the advice, will keep up to date with our progress!
Two months is not a long time.
For the horse the first week or two was perhaps "going away for the weekend". Now the horse knows it is not going back to its old home.
Her routine has changed. Her equine friends have gone.
Horses are resistant to change (as are indeed humans).
And you have come on the scene. You are new. You represent change.
You don't say if our have access back to where she was. If you do, I'd go back and look over the regime under which she lived.
What is missing in her current life? What has changed?
Then I 'd try to find out what rank she had in the herd - is she a dominant mare? Is she trying to dominate you now?
Have you changed her tack? Is the bridle and bit different.
Is the saddle different and does the new one fit her?
How did the previous owner ride her? Was that rider more or less competent than you. What did the previous owner use the horse for?
But at the end of the day it is time that you need. You have as yet no memories together. You have not as yet had time to earn with the horse your own brownie points.
Why should the horse come to you?
The horse doesn't understand the concept of "ownership".
Either you two fit together or you don't.
Ears back - well what does that mean? In some horse it is a sign of aggression but you should always take care when in their stable - it is their stable, you merely muck it out. As long as you don't boss her around in the stable, then eventually she'll come to let you in.
Is there any other person who enters her stable whilst you are not there?
I realize of course that there is a lot of emotion in owning a horse but it works both ways. The horse has not yet got to feel affection???(wrong word) for you as yet - and you are miffed. As a human that's understandable - but as a horse it is incomphrehensible.
You seek from your horse companionship. A relationship. A warm feeling.
Most horse lovers do - except perhaps those who obsessively seek ribbons. But it all takes time. You have to earn it.
You've got to find what this horse wants from you. It most likely will be food, security, routine, safety, consistency, fair firmness, a degree of tolerance, order, trust, kindly discipline.
Horses are fundamentally motivated by food, fear, familiarity and sex.
Some horses are more friendly towards humans than others. Some horses are more choosy. But in two months you don't really know much about her.
Get this horse to realize that her bread is buttered by you and you alone.
All the good things in life come because of you. No shouting, no whipping, no arms waving. You are to be cool calm and collected. You are to be the boss. You must exude quiet, cool, firm, fair, competence.
Allow for her being in season - her hormones change.
Do not under any circumstances tolerate any form of physical aggression
from her but don't ever get angry with her in return and never strike her.
It is a battle of wits - but you are the more intelligent although the mare is the more crafty.
I now own a very sensitive mare. I was used to geldings - which are different creatures altogether. SHe has had me off 4 times so far. SHe is skittish and lacks calmness. SHe pretends to be frightened. But I believe I am winning. SHe looks for me. SHe is beginning to look out for me. SHe'll now follow me at the shoulder. SHe is intelligent. SHe is sensitive. SHe is a strong girl. SHe is forward going. SHe can still be a huzzy but less so. But it has taken almost 18 months.
I do a lot of groundwork in the arena. I lead her on a training halter - we walk along head to head. I take her out for walks along the country lanes - me on foot; her at my shoulder. We do familiarisation work with dustbins and bags. I persuade her to follow me without my holding the lead rope.
SHe has had one nasty accident with other horses.
SHe has been sick with a bad chest infection.
We've had one very serious incident together.
But at last SHe whinnies when I approach.
SHe nudges me for her horse biscuits.
We have some memories together - now.
I am beginning to like her but I still miss my previous horse, Joe.
Samskye, you screech a cry from the heart. Have patience and persevere. With persistence from you, in due course the horse will come to realize you care. But you have to be the kindly boss and the horse has to be the willing servant and that's a difficult relationship to get right.
Is this something that has just started for the past week or so? Since she is a mare, it is possible that she is in season and some mares can get pretty cranky during those times.
She very well may be just being a mare during her cycle. Unfortunately that happens sometimes. Sounds like you are doing all the right things and getting some good advice here. One question is she the same with other people? We have a mare at our barn that over time she just got "marish" and is the same with everyone that deals with her or walks by.
Does a kick in the leg hurt less if the mare is in heat? I own two stallions and I would never dream of allowing them to act like stallions and just excuse it. No mare I have ever owned has been allowed to act like a mare when I'm around her. They will sink to the lowest level required of them. Put the bar high a require them to act like geldings and they will. Allow them to be disrespectfull because of gender or age or breed and you will have problems.
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