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Requiem 10-17-2010 07:12 PM

Problems with my mare.
Hey ya'll. I have a seven year old AQHA mare I need some help with. I don't have an arena, so I take her and my walker out on the land, which has a lot of good spots to work with her and take her on trail rides.

Well, yesterday she started doing something weird when we were trail riding. Candy is always wanting to go fast, and so I have to make sure she stays at the pace I want her when we're out riding. She started to go forward sharply so I pulled her back, and she started backing up and wouldn't stop. I pushed her forward, and she tried to take off running, so I stopped her again and she did the backing up thing again.

She acts a lot like some barrel horses at the gate. So today I had a friend take my other horse out so she would relax a little bit, but she did it again, and this time in several different spots. I finally just got off and walked her because my friend was getting worried.

I checked her mouth for any sores or anything that could be hurting her mouth, even though it doesn't seem like she was reacting to pain in her mouth. I couldn't find anything, but I'm going to call the vet out here if she keeps this up. She has previous training and experience in both jumping and barrel racing, if that helps any.

It sounds to me like she's getting anxious to get up and run. What do ya'll think? I haven't let her run since this all began. What should I do about this? I'm really worried because she was doing so well for me in everything she did, and this started happening so suddenly. She's my best friend and I love her, and I certainly don't want to ruin our riding time together with bad habits forming. I'd be grateful for any tips or advice if you have any to offer. Thanks!

Chiilaa 10-17-2010 07:35 PM

When she starts going backwards, make her continue going backwards until you decide to stop, not her. Make her realise that going backwards is hard work because you will keep her going backwards. So if she steps one stride back, make her go five. If she steps ten, make her go twenty, and so on.

ImagineThat 10-17-2010 08:52 PM


Originally Posted by Chiilaa (Post 785339)
When she starts going backwards, make her continue going backwards until you decide to stop, not her. Make her realise that going backwards is hard work because you will keep her going backwards. So if she steps one stride back, make her go five. If she steps ten, make her go twenty, and so on.

This is a good suggestion. I had a mare (named Candy! ironic...) that did the same except she would fly backwards. She would run into anything behind her. It was very dangerous.... and we ended up doing what Chiilaa said a couple times and it worked.

But, it was random and not because I asked to her to slow down.... so I'm inclined to ask, are you positive you are accidentally cueing her to back up? Since you are puuling back to slow/stop her..... How do you ask her to go forward once she starts backing up?

NorthernLights 10-17-2010 09:44 PM

I'm training a mare who will back up when she get's confused or over excited. Make sure you back up gently, and you horse is trained enough to be comfortable with backing or you may cause a rear. I usually pull her into a circle then drive forward with my seat and legs.

mom2pride 10-17-2010 09:56 PM

I agree with Northern...if you "make" this mare back she may very well get upset and go up and over on you. She is using her reactive part of her brain at that time, and is not thinking by anymeans...thus the reason she wants to evade your cues and do her own thing.

When she starts rushing foward, get her to go in a circle and keep her moving, in a working trot, or better yet a canter, and keep her moving until she wants to slow down on her own...and then keep her moving some more; make going fast "your idea", and make her work. She will figure it out quickly that maintaining the gait you want and going foward, is much easier than having to work hard on a circle (make sure to do both ways, too). She may get really sweaty for the first couple training rides, but once she figures it out, you will have to work her less and less that way.

Requiem 10-17-2010 10:13 PM

Thanks for the suggestions, ya'll. My mare has got a very quick back up, and just like your mare, ImagineThat (named Candy? Too cool! XD) she ran into just about anything behind her. We ran into some bushes, and she still kept pushing back.

But my trainer taught my mare and I to back by pulling back with even pressure on the reins while putting some leg into her, and when we stop after backing I release the pressure of my legs and rein and she usually stops. When she's excited, she usually wants to go forward. She's never gotten my commands confused before, so it was quite startling. When I ask her to stop after having moved forward, it's usually enough to sit deeper in the saddle and say "whoa," and she drops her hindquarters into a good stop. When I ask her to move out, I give her slack with the reins and push her with my seat more than my legs, and when she tries to bolt forward the cycle just starts all over.

Also, NorthernLights and mom2pride, today I tried bending her in a circle, which helped to keep her from backing quite a bit. She still wants to bolt, so I have to stop her and she tries the backing thing again -- but if I put her in a bigger circle and work her at even gaits as ya'll suggested, I have a feeling that might help quite a bit. I wouldn't have thought of it, but it definitely sounds useful!

She's an absolutely wonderful mare normally -- I don't understand what's gotten into her. But thank ya'll very, very much for the suggestions; they'll definitely be put to use. c:

ImagineThat 10-17-2010 11:54 PM

Another thing to do is teach her a good solid one rein stop. That will definately help with the bolting, and may help with the backing thing too.

And I agree with the circles when she gets too fast.

Horse Poor 10-18-2010 01:53 AM

Requiem…without seeing you it's hard to say what the problem is…but based on what you have typed, this is what I would do differently…

To back up - shift your weight back (lean back slightly) and pick up the reins…pull back slightly and once she gives to you hands RELEASE the reins (do not pull back with even pressure on the reins even though that is what your trainer says to do)…use your legs to squeeze her back…when you want her to stop, take your legs off, relax (stop riding) and lean a little further back (whoa) - do NOT use the reins to stop her. My best guess is that you are unconsciously sending mixed signals by leaning forward and squeezing with your legs while pulling back on the reins, or, not giving her a good whoa cue once she backs and you don't want her to (ie. using the reins causing her to simply pull her chin in and keep backing, faster if you have your legs on). She should have slack in the reins whenever she's doing what you want…not just when you want her to move out. When you want her to move out, lean forward slightly and cue her with your seat and legs…she should already be on a slack rein. It's hard to explain…but I think you get the idea…

At any rate…Good luck!

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