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My Pony From Hell
We have been looking for a gentle horse for my wife so we can ride together. My Qtr/Fjiord gelding has turned out to be a wonderful driving horse. The president of our driving club offered to lease us their 17 year old mare for my wife. In return I agreed to break her 3 year old daughter to drive. I've been working her on the ground for three months teaching her to walk, trot, stop etc on voice command. We then graduated to pulling an inner tube and then a tire. Last week I hooked her up to the training cart and ground drove her beside and behind the cart with no problems. She walked right off like she had been doing it forever. We had some bad weather and it was a few days before I worked with her again. I ground drove her around the arena in the surcingle a couple of laps before putting her in harness and hooking her up to the cart. It wasn't long before I was in the cart and we drove around the arena for an hour or more. Before we were finished we were doing circles, serpentines and stright lines across the diagonal. It was like she had been doing it forever. I was elated. I told my wife that as soon as she had been driven consistently on the half mile trail through the trees behind our property she would be ready to go home. I don't know what Raylyn's breeding is but the is a Hackney sized pony 12 and a half hands tall. Being the cautious type I ground drove her out onto the trail in the surcingle. The trail is an old, flat skid trail that makes an oval on BLM land. From the moment we left our property her mother was screaming her head off. Ray wasn't bad considering...until we rounded the far end of the oval and headed toward home. She sped up and kept trying to break into a trot. When I stopped her she had her head up in the air and didn't want to listen or stand. When we reached the bottom of the oval she balked and tried to turn toward home. I worked her up and down the trail fifty feet and around the trees and got her over the balking. I thought I had it made but when I took her around the loop again she turned into the My Pony from hell. She would rush and break into a trot. When I pulled her into a walk she ran backwards and turned in the reins and reared several times. She threw herself on the ground one time. I had no idea she was so barn sour, she has been so even tempered and easy to work with. Her mother is in heat and she could be coming in too. Mares are such a joy. We will start from square one on the trail. I'm sure she will get over it. Sometimes we are tempted to take shortcuts. She was so good in the arena there could have been the temptation to take her on the trail with the cart without ground driving her first. It would have been a disastrous mistake.
I have no experience with driving but I have had horses that were badly barnsour...one thing you can try is working her in circles (both directions) right next to the barn, as close as possible to the thing she is most attatched to and wants to go back to (her mom, the barn door, her pen, etc). Do it that way for at least 20-30 minutes before you go on the trails, long enough that she gets sick of it. That way, she will likely be happy to get away from the barn, which she has started associating with long, boring work instead of food and security. She will be happy to get out of there! Just one thing I have tried with a previous mare who would dramatically refuse to canter anywhere except but back to the barn...she got over it quickly when we did that for starting at about 30 minutes before every ride, gradually decreasing until she was totally cured. Hope this helps.
Try longing her in the arena.... I post this alot, because I believe spirited horses should be longed so they can get their spirits out of them before.... That may not be the case here, however.
It's been a long time since I drove but it sounds to me like you are taking the right steps with going back to square one on the trail. IMO opinion a behavior problems should be addressed irregardless of the cause (barn sour, in heat whatever.) Start with ground driving out on the trail - a LOT - and make sure that heading back towards the barn doesn't always mean work is finished (like you mentioned, going back and forth on a fifty foot section, etc).
It sounds to me like you recognize the problem for what it is and are taking the right steps to remedy it. Very glad you ground drove her first out on the trail rather than hitching her, and I'm glad nobody got hurt! Good job!
sounds like fun, maybe if you seperated her from the mare for a few weeks she might go sensible again
i don't have any advice except what you suggested and the others said but good luck :)
This might sound stupid, but did you double check her harness? The most sensible little pony I have ever seen went nuts once during a parade because a strap came lose and tickled her belly. She bucked like a big bronc and almost kicked her cart to pieces. Her owner spied the buckle, fixed the strap and she settled down like the champ she was and resumed her leisurely ride like nothing had happened. Poor girl had gotten so used to everything in it's place that one strap and buckle made her a bit nutty for a few minutes. It happens. Good luck with your training :)
my gelding is like that...is wonderful headed AWAY from home but as soon as we turn to go back he's a nutso...though he does settle down eventually. I found that he does it if we go one way he's horrible and if we start out the other direction then it's like he has no idea where he's going...weird, but i switch it up like that drive him around one way til he gets stupid about it then switch to the other direction. Keeps him focused on where we're going not that we've turned for home. That and I walk him in hand around where he has issues too and do ground work or things I normally do around the barn on the road or trail so going out isn't anything unusual. It'll take time but key is to keep working as long as she doesn't become truly dangerous about it, keep going how you're going.
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