What would you do?

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What would you do?

This is a discussion on What would you do? within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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        10-30-2011, 11:24 PM
    What would you do?

    Brief (Maybe ) background on my horse and our problems.

    Some of you may be familiar with Selena. She is a five year old QH mare we bought for reining. But she's a bit on the nutty side. She spooks at random things and has a pissy mare attitude. Mom is the one who technically owns her but has godawful balance so she's been getting away with stopping right after she bucks, rears, jumps, etc. So recently I've been getting on her to beat the snot out of her so she'll go back to behaving since its very, very hard to get me bucked off.

    This has worked for the most part. Since I've been working with her she's been going back to thinking as a follower instead of the herd leader. But I took her out on her first trail experience today and it was right back to where we started: Bucking, spinning around, rearing, jumping five feet in the air, trying to bolt off, etc.

    When she did this I just pushed her through it. Kept her busy by doing figure eights, trotting over logs, weaving through trees. But every now and then she still finds a way to be a brat. I did get off her a few times (But NEVER when she was being bad, I waited until she was quiet) and we did some trotting up hills to keep her busy.

    She has had a LOT of training and KNOWS her job, she has no excuse to be acting this way. And before you ask, this is NOT a pain issue. We've already been over this a hundred times already and my trainer and myself have concluded this is just her being a snot and bad habits learned from a rider who could not win in the battle with her.

    My question is, did I do the right thing? Is keeping her mind busy the key? She has had a LOT of training and KNOWS her job, she has no excuse to be acting this way. And before you ask, this is NOT a pain issue. We've already been over this a hundred times already and my trainer and myself have concluded this is just her being a snot and bad habits learned from a rider who could not win in the battle-of-the-wills with her. Do you think if I keep asserting myself with her that she will get better? She's already gotten a lot better in the arena, do you think this will go to the trail too eventually?
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        10-31-2011, 01:15 AM
    I'm new to this forum but I'll jump right in I guess. I'm curious what your trainer's thoughts were? You said she has lots of training and knows her job, but she's telling a different story. I'm not calling you a liar but obviously there's still some work that needs to be done. I might start by not being an adversary to the horse, you need to have the mindset that you need to teach her not "beat the snot out of her". You have to give up this "battle of the wills" way of thinking, that's not to say you shouldn't get firm if need be. You have the right idea about keeping her feet moving and her mind busy, but getting mad at her because she should know better and pushing her through it isn't going to help her be any less scared. Try stepping back and easing off all that pressure and go back to a point where she's comfortable and building her up a little slower. The horse will tell us a lot if we listen, sometimes they have to just about kill us before we'll actually start though.
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        10-31-2011, 01:36 AM
    I think I made that sound a lot worse than it should be so let me clarify.

    When she's fighting me, I make her life hard. I want her to be willing and learn that the right thing is easy and the wrong thing is hard. I instantly forget about her bad behavior when she does the right thing and praise her, pet her, and just relax. But when she's doing the wrong thing I do everything in my power to make sure she knows what she did it wrong. I start by asking her just a little firmer, then a lot more, then she gets her rump smacked.

    She is a money earning reiner but even her old owner said she has had her days. One day she's great and the next day she's off. And it doesn't help that she's had a few weeks off while we were waiting for her teeth to be floated. The sad thing being she used to be a lot worse until I got my hands on her.

    My trainer thinks that she has just gotten away with too many things, like I said in my original post. I'm not worried about the arena work and getting her back in shape there, but I am very worried about the trail.

    Edit: I forgot something. This is NOT fear. This is her trying to get me off her back. I can tell when she is scared, there is a significant differance in her behavior. The bucking, rearing, crowhopping, etc is a bad behavior learned. I would not be getting after her aggressively if it was fear.
        10-31-2011, 10:41 AM
    I think some horses are not meant for the trail. Since you've only been out once it's too early to say that's the case for her yet. When I take a new horse out on trail I do it only for a very short while, the trailering out there and tacking up take longer than the first ride. Sometimes I won't even leave the base area where the cars are parked if the horse is acting that silly. I just keep going over and over and over the same things until it's very routine. Walk down this row of trailers/cars and walk back to the trailer. Ok, no big deal? Walk down 2 rows of cars and trailers. That went ok? Quit, untack, feed treats, load up and go home. Next time try a little more. Keeping mind & feet busy and repetition is what seems to work for me.

    If she wants to be a snot, then up the difficulty a bit. Want to be a snot on just a flat trail, ok, here's a downed log to figure out......etc etc.
        10-31-2011, 10:46 AM
    Work her on the trail with another horse. Start her off with following then switch to lead, then switch let her know she can be safe on the trail. It worked with my gelding and now he can go out alone.
    Good luck
        10-31-2011, 11:12 AM
    Thanks for the suggestions you guys!
        10-31-2011, 12:49 PM
    Rather than react when she is being a"brat" maybe you'd be better served to redirect her before she ever does it. As long as she is improving then you're probably doing okay. Punishing her for behaving in the way she really feels is best for her won't get you very far. When you can get with her and make your idea her idea then you can go a long ways.
        10-31-2011, 01:18 PM
    Maybe you should try ponying her on a few trails before you ride her on them, get her used to the new scenery. Not 100% sure from your post if this is all new to her.
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        10-31-2011, 02:00 PM
    Man, you are braver than me. I wouldn't want to be on her until I settled 2 issues:
    1) is this hormonal--has your Vet checked her out?
    2) she submits to your authority on the ground in EVERY WAY.
    You aren't "speaking horse" when you ride out the bucks, stay on during the shying and hold on during the rearing and the bolting. She really is very dangerous. IF you really like her--I personally don't like horses that behave like this--you need to start her over, as if she is totally green. Even if you think it's not necessary she needs to learn to submit and win all of the little battles that we do when we break in a horse.
    My original herd leader, "Tyke", won every battle with every horse he encountered. Often he would meet a new horse, Tyke would posture, then take a step forward, the other horse would step backwards--battle won.
    Other times, he would deal with disrespect by cornering another horse, turning and kicking the heck out of the other horse. There were no other arguments after that. You aren't strong enough to fight a battle like that, but that's the battle that she is now bringing to you.
    You CAN ask for perfect manners when you lead her, groom her, pick out her feet, then pull each foot forward and you decide when the foot goes down. I would also teach her to loose lunge and lunge on the line, then to long line her. She doesn't see you as an authority and doesn't trust you. She wants a SAFE authority--I personally think she is afraid of being ridden bc of some past experiences. It's going to take maybe the winter to turn her around. I would NOT ride this horse until you do so.

    Tyke, 1987, who ANYBODY could handle and ride
        10-31-2011, 07:22 PM
    What pain issues have you ruled out? How did you rule those out?

    I had a mare that had a cyst on her ovary and she turned into quite the "brat" this spring.

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