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Mare won't let me back on
Since the spring, I have been working with a six-year old Arabian mare. She has been making wonderful progress until a month or so ago when I fell off of her. When I attempted to get back on she refused to stand still, even when I had someone hold her, she kept jumping foreward every time I lifted my foot to put it in the stirrup. So now every time I tack her up and try to mount she's all over the place. So I stop trying to get on and lunge her for a few moments and again attempt to mount. We go through this routine and she'll still won't let me on. Any ideas.
Congratulations on training the Arabian mare, it's a very special experience and I hope you are enjoying it as I have enjoyed training young horses as well. My first question would be this, what was the cause of your fall? How did she react to it and how much had you worked with her prior to the fall? What has she done?
Perhaps she got injured in your fall and is associating riding with pain. Maybe she thinks it's a game, also. There are so many endless possibilities. I know my horse is sometimes having "fidgety days", when he hasn't been ridden in a while. Have you attempted to remount her several times? There has to be a way to get on the horse. You have to, otherwise she may never associate riding with pleasant things. You can't let her get her way, horses aren't like that. You are giving in, the easy way and going to the next solution, lunging. Whereas lunging is a great start, it's not going to help in this case (besides ground training). You've got to show this horse who is boss and get back on to her. You shouldn't care whether it takes minutes or hours, you dedicated yourself to training this mare and you shouldn't stop until she is trained. I don't know what else to tell you, sometimes they are like this when they are sore. How long has this been going on for? Gently run your hands down her spine, lightly pinching, and see if she jumps at any particular spot. That could indicate a sore spot, you could give her a few days off for rest/recovery. You definitely need to have her vet checked though.
Sometimes horses, especially young and green horses, are especially susceptible to our emotions. Are you nervous? Hesitant? It could also be that you're expecting her to act up, so you tense up, maybe get a little grumpy even before the riding starts. She may be picking up on that. Have you tried putting someone else up on her to see if she dances the same way? I think the reason for the fall is also something to look at--was it rider error, like asking her to do too much so she refused, or was it horse error like she was just being obstinate? This can also lead you down other avenues like pain, or maybe slowing down your training process.
One thing my trainer taught me, was that if you fall off, unless you or the horse are seriously hurt, you have to get right back on, even if it is for just a couple minutes more just to show the horse that you falling of does not mean that she "wins", or that its a scary or bad thing. I would ask all the questions above, and then maybe even get a chiropractor out to work on her, and put her back in alignment. She may just be scared that you are going to fall off again, or that something weird or scary is going to happen. I rebroke a 4 year old Arabian gelding, who's owner said that he was fine and had a person on him a couple of times before, and later we found out that part of his skittishness was that she took him out on a trail ride her second time on his back, and fell off, scared the crap out of him, and let him run home. She promptly put him back in his stall, and didn't try to get on him again.
My mare came to me with a bucking problem undersaddle, as well as a 'leap foward' as soon as you try to put foot in stirrup. Here's what I did...
One, thing I made sure to do was to do solid ground work with her for probably 2-3 weeks before even considering getting on.
When I started putting the saddle on her, that's all I did at first (for about two days); put it on, longe her, do some bending, and then strip it off her, and that was that.
Then I started taking the stirrups and starting slapping the fenders on her sides, as well as shaking them foward and back; this was to get her 'reused' to 'leg movement' on her, without putting myself at risk of her tossing me...Lol! I did this on both sides...not stopping until she was relaxed, or standing still for atleast 10 seconds. I then moved onto putting my hand in the stirrup and putting some weight there. I, again, did not 'release' the pressure until she was quiet.
To get her reused to someone being 'above her' I starting utilizing her 'send command' to send her between a fence and a barrel, which I was perched on. When she was comfortable going back and forth with me sitting on the barrel, I then stood up and did the same thing. When she was going 'through' without panicking, I then would stop her at an area between the barrel and the fence, so that I could slap on her saddle, pet her, etc.
Once she was comfortable with the whole send, stop, and be rubbed\saddle slapped on, I then moved onto leaning over her. No foot in stirrup yet...I just got her used to me simply leaning over her a bit. Patted and petted her all over on the side that I was leaned over on. When she was fully comforable with that, I moved onto putting the foot in the stirrup, and putting my weight on her that way.
I would then mount up, get off, mount up, get off, etc. I never quit while she was upset, or not standing still. I also never proceded into getting on if she wasn't totally trusting and relaxed in what I was doing with her...get on while she was in 'flight' mode, was asking for her to revert back to her previous behaviors.
I think at one point she had either tossed someone, or had been jabbed hard in the side while someone was mounting, and this caused her initial behavior; the previous owners who had her, didn't know how to work through the behavior, so it set deeper in (I believe they bought her not knowing she had this behavior). Anyway, she is now able to be ridden, and even after a few weeks of not being ridden, I got on her today with a BOOST from my hubby...something I had NOT done with her prior...she stood like a ROCK!!!! I was really proud of her!
I have only been walking her along the rail (in a western saddle after we had a rodeo fest) and recently a put an English saddle on her and my trainer had her on a lunge line. We were trotting around and each time she stopped we asked her foreward again with no problem. Suddenly something happened (i'm still not sure what) and she leapt foreward and scooted to the side right out from under me. When I hit the ground she stood as still as a rock, looking at me with the "what are you doing down there," expression. Now each time I even lift my foot to mount she bolts on me. Her reluctance (obstinance) might stem from my trainer wasn't all so patient one day and Rainy (Arabian) backed up and ran into the mounting block. But she didn't seem overly scaried or worried because she was licking her lips. Thanks for the tips
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