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MaryMary 11-07-2010 11:56 AM

Horse is getting sneaky. Suggestions?
Hi, I'm new here, and this is going to be long but I appreciate your help! My 13 year old daughter and I share our quarter horse. He lives at a barn where horses are often shared, we have a good trainer whose students do well at shows. Our horse is 9 yo gelding. The consensus is he is very smart. We've had him a year and I can now show him in hunter pleasure and do well, but he has in the past been a jerk, spooking in the ring at a home show, just "playing up" really.
This past month has been a tough one for my daughter. She is a nervous rider anyway although she loves it. But it seems every week something happens and she falls off. I'd call her an intermediate rider she jumps better than I do. But she doesn't have great balance, and falls easily.
Anyway, he's been spooking or poppling little bucks, and she'd fallen off a few times. Then she went a week or two and learned to hang on better and sat through a couple bucks. But Friday he spun around and dumped her. So her confidence is way down again. (and mine too. Hard to see your kid fall off!)
He doesn't really do all that with me (I don't fall off). I think he's getting smart and sneaky about this and doing it to her. I don't know whether to take her off him for a while? There are school horses she could ride. I am even considering trading him for a quieter horse. She loves him, but I'm tired of seeing her fall off. Accidents are one thing, but this seems different.
I plan to talk this all over with the trainer this week, but do you all have any ideas? I mean, how do you learn to sit a buck and spook without teaching the horse that he benefits when you fall off? We always trot him around quite a bit after she goes down.
Sorry so long. I am frustrated.

csuebele 11-07-2010 12:25 PM

How long have you had him? We had a problem with our new horse spooking and my 14 year old daughter falling off and also loosing confidence. We found a lot has to do with her confidence so it's a catch 22. She needs to let the horse know she's in charge and will "take care of him" so he does not have to get spooky. It's very hard. You may not have a problem because you stay calm. This plus the fact that it could be that he is getting sneaky about it and using it as a way to stop the riding. If this happens, you might want to get on him and really work him out, so he realizes that if he spooks he's not going home. My daughter also rode in a western saddle for a while as it gave her more confidence from getting dumped. She's now back in an English saddle.

We are currently watching a video series on spooking horses and the main gist is to get the horse to stand still when something spooks him. This is done unmounted.

Hopefully this will pass, but it is very hard for your daughter.

mbender 11-07-2010 01:46 PM

You could start over by lunging at a walk then trot then canter with you lunging and your daughter riding. Only til her confidence is gaining again can she canter with the lunge. And tell her or ask her if she can feel when he is about to buck or do something stupid. If she can tell her to let you know while your lunging him and slow him down. Hopefully she can regain her confidence again.
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MaryMary 11-07-2010 03:28 PM

Thanks. What I'm more concerned about right now, is what he is learning from all this. He is a smart boy and I'm afraid he is going to learn to take advantage of her, even though we make him work after she falls off. That's why I'm wondering if she should ride another horse for a while.

I think some despooking would be good for him, I'll probaly look into that. My trainer doesn't really do stuff like that, but it would probably help.

horsequeen373 11-07-2010 03:39 PM

Grazing reins so he can't put his head down to buck? At least for a little while so she can gain confidence.

mbender 11-07-2010 05:25 PM

He is definitely learning he can get her off his back! But the whole reason of lunging your daughter on the horse is to help keep things slow, keep him under control and your daughter safe. But you can do whatever you feel more safer with.
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mbender 11-07-2010 05:30 PM

Do you have a horse that is trustworthy? That will help her get her confidence back? The other thing I will say is if she loves him and you really don't want to get rid of him help them together. He will probably always test his rider now to see what he can get away with but if you work with your daughter and him together she will learn how to handle the tests. Just my opinion. Good luck
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MaryMary 11-07-2010 11:11 PM

Just rode him this evening. He was perfect until some people went by pushing a stroller and someone yelled at the dogs. Then he started squealing and spun around and bucked a little. He did it three times, each time the dog lady yelled. It's like he was looking for an excuse! Well, he didn't get rid of me and I made him trot around after that. But I'm pretty sure I'll ask the trainer to let her ride one of other horses for a while, until he gets this out of his system. Might be the change in the weather I suppose.

haleylvsshammy 11-08-2010 11:12 PM


Originally Posted by MaryMary (Post 808720)
It's like he was looking for an excuse!

He was looking for an excuse. As with many horses, they try to look for an excuse or "spook" at something stupid so they can "change the subject" as my BO and I call it. I would suggest not letting him get distracted and keeping him working for several rides so that he gets the idea that he can't change the subject. Or, as scary as it sounds, when he starts acting up and bucking put LOTS of leg on and make him work! I hate doing this with my horse because it can be frightening, but after he works hard for several minutes after he acts up, he doesn't even try to act up again. It would probably be best it you did this for now since your daughter is not very confident.

Good luck!

ErikaLynn 11-09-2010 02:23 PM

I think first you need to let your daughter get on a horse that is well trained just to gain her confidence back and be able to establish her balance.

I think your daughter being nervous has to do with him spooking. Nervous rider=nervous horse. Your horse also might not like your daughter being off balance, it might confuse him, so he bucks to get her off.

I think the main thing is that when you ride him and he spooks, just ignore it. Doing a circle will help get his mind off of whatever it was that scared him. Just make sure whoever rides him is confident

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