Riding horse after 3 years
I am new here. I have a 14-15 (we think) year old grade gelding named Fess. He hasn't been ridden for the past 3 years (I have had him for 7 years). I am just getting out of an abusive marriage and want to get back into riding like I used to, but I'm a little lost where to start.
Fess was always an excellent horse. We were one of the best in our drill team. He has beyond excellent ground manners. But he has been sitting in a pasture (for various reasons) for the past 3 years. He is healthy and sound, and can be quite feisty.
When I try to longe him, he refuses. Doesn't buck or kick or do anything bad, he just turns to face me and DOESN'T MOVE. He will follow me around. I don't even have to touch him to get him to move forward, back, sideways, etc. He is very in tune to me it seems. But I know I definitely need to do some longing before I attempt to get on him, I just can't figure out how to get him to MOVE.
Buy yourself a thin rope training halter which works on the nose and poll
Buy a lunge line something about 20 ft long and a lunge whip
Buy yourself a tough pair of boots, so when the horse treads on your foot , he doesn't break your toes.
Buy a pair of good tough gloves
And start to work the horse in a closed pen in hand.
Each day,when you collect him ( if you can) then groom him - all over , even if he is not dirty. You are grooming him, for him to get to know you, your smell and your voice.
Fit the halter, attach a short length lead rope and lead him into the pen.
Lots of circles. Walk , stop, walk, turn about, turn right turn left.
Use 'Woah', 'Stand', 'Walk on'. Do some stands, where he doesn;t move for a few minutes. 20 minutes at least.
At first you may have to tug - but tug and let go. Tug and let go
Do this little routine every day, at the same time of day if possible.
Each day take two small apples chopped into 6 slices in your pocket - they are rewards for doing well. Maybe even presents because you are beginning to like him.
When the horse walks at your shoulder -on the right and the left - on a loose lead line then you are winning.
Then move up to lunging him. It is not difficult but ideally find a nice, gentle,
kind, sweet voiced, female who has experience with horses to show you how.
(You never know!)
The horse doesn't forgive you for neglecting him, so you've got to make good.
When you feel comfortable with him, then think of rebacking him - very gently.
Don't be in a hurry to get on his back until you think he trusts you. And when you do try have someone who is not frightened of horses with you.
You never know you might get to like it.
The horse isn't holding any grudge against you for "neglecting him" . Nonsense. He was probably happy as a clam in the pasture not being ridden. Horses dont' think that complexly.
If his ground manners were good three years ago, chances are he will remember them and with a minor reminder as to why he needs to follow you (you are the leader), he will no doubt fall right into line again.
As for lunging and him not wanting to go forward, well, he isn't used to working and is going to be reisistand to it at first. Horses do their darnedest to avoid work. And YOU might be out of shape as far as your ability to make lunging directions perfectly clear to the horse.
There are several really good threads on lunging which deal in particular with the same problem: horse stays facing handler so handler can't get to the place on the horse's body where applying pressure would induce the horse to go forward.
I don't at this moment remember the threads I am referring to, but if you did a search using the thread tools you may find some.
Also, on the Stateline Tack website there are good videos by a Canadian trainer named "Chris Irwin" who explains quite nicely how to fix the very problem you are talking about, and do it with minimal fuss.
My way is more abrupt and gets the job done quicker, but I can see his logic in keeping the horse calm and discouraging it from throwing his head up. (you would need to watch those videos to know what I am talking about)
Could anyone help me with the link?
Good luck on reconnecting with Fess and on your newfound freedom. You deserve all the happiness out there!
Thanks Tiny, I will definitely look at that video.
I didn't mean that I left my horse in a pasture and haven't touched him for 3 years. I still groomed him and he always had his feet done and his teeth done and his shots, and is well behaved. He was always well fed and happy, we did groundwork, just hasn't been actually ridden. He is very feisty (always was) and I am having a hard time getting him to longe for me properly.
Barry, I'm offended that you think I don't "like" my horse. I am in the middle of a divorce, and had a baby 7 months ago, so he hasn't been ridden, but has by NO MEANS been neglected. I used to ride 7 days a week, but circumstances changed. I don't need to work on him walking at my shoulder, he will follow me around with NO leadline, he mimics my every step, if I even step one step backwards he does also. It's just actually being on his back that I haven't done.
Thanks to everyone that has CONSTRUCTIVE information for me. I'm so looking forward to riding again!
My apologies for misreading your post. And I did utterly.
I went 3 years without riding Blue because i got pregnant and then had no time with an infant, i finally started riding again this year, Blue is the type of horse that i can let go for a while and he will be exactly the same, barn sour, buddy sour and gate sour lol, so i know exactly what to expect, since his ground manners are good i personally would just get on him, preferable in a small ring, and just walk around and see how he feels about working again
For lunging, make sure you step way behind him so that you will be in the position to drive him forward and give him a tap with the lunge whip along with clicking and/or telling him to walk on. Don't pull on the line and let it out once he starts moving around you. Keeping behind him is key! When it feels like you are too far behind him, you'll be in the corrct position.
Just to be clear, I don't mean behind his back legs. :P If you are looking at him from the side, you should be facing, at an angle, his hip or slightly behind his hip.
Sometimes this is easier done free lunging in a roundpen or small paddock, if you have access to something like that. That way you don't have to worry about the lunge line and you can experiment with placing your body in front and behind his motion, thus stopping or driving him.
If you have another well-broke horse, you could pony him while riding the other horse. It's a great way to get him fit without him having to carry a saddle and a rider at first.
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