Give Up & Sell or Trot On??? - The Horse Forum
View Poll Results: Give up and Sell or Conitnue to Trot On?
Keep trying to connect with your gelding 1 8.33%
Send him away for some training 2 16.67%
Sell him to a more expeirenced rider 9 75.00%
Voters: 12. You may not vote on this poll

  • 3 Post By Saigold
  • 2 Post By Horsef
  • 5 Post By SwissMiss
  • 4 Post By Horsef
  • 4 Post By tinyliny
  • 1 Post By mslady254
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post #1 of 10 Old 06-01-2020, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Northern WI
Posts: 1
• Horses: 0
Give Up & Sell or Trot On???

Hi everyone - I've been around horses almost all my life but I am no expert. I had a horse growing up, worked for fun at trail guide tourist businesses in my 20s and 30s and finally bought a horse of my own again about 2 years ago when I was 46. I'm having so many problems and need some good advice from experts on whether I should sell this horse or keep trying. Please help!

Doc is a 12 year old grade QH gelding that I bought on consignment. He was an older man's ranch horse "out west" and was up for sale for a while until I fell in love with him and bought him. I use him for fun arena work and trail riding. He is easy to catch and is mild mannered and seems so sweet. He tries hard and that is what I like about him. However, he can be spooked so easily on the trail or even in the indoor arena sometimes and it is hard for him to calm down after he is "heightened." He has thrown a buck sometimes when he gets scared and he can also buck/crow hop when he transitions from a trot to cantor (at times) and he he will also try to buck when he won't listen to my reining or leg cues in the area and we "clash". In the arena, he is good at listening to cues with a walk, trot not much and cantor is not very often. I've taken a few riding lessons with the owner of the ranch I board at and I ride him a least once a week or more for the past 2 years. Just when I think we are gaining trust with each other, he will buck or get heightened on the trail and not come down. He doesn't respect me and I can't trust him like I would love to.
So in hearing this story, please comment on what you think is right to do. Should I continue to try because 2 years is not enough? Should I bring him in for 30 days training or a refresher? Or should I not risk these 48 year old bones and trade him for another horse? I have been struggling with this decision for almost a year and I need an unbiased, expert opinion. Any and all feedback and corrective criticism are highly welcomed!

Last edited by serenasue2; 06-01-2020 at 05:22 PM.
serenasue2 is offline  
post #2 of 10 Old 06-01-2020, 05:34 PM
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 184
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In my opinion riding should be fun. I’ve been in your position where I got a horse that was too much horse for us, even though he was good on the trails. Before having kids I would have probably kept that horse and continued to try and work it out of him, now with kids it’s a different story. Can’t afford to get hurt. The ground seems harder and farther away. So I made the decision to get a much calmer one and found the other one a home where the rider doesn’t mind a very forward horse. He is the first horse I re homed that I bought for myself.

Having said that, if he is not malicious and it’s something that can be worked on, then it’s worth getting someone to ride him for you to work some of the kinks out. But if the thought of getting on his back scares you, then it may be time to find one that doesn’t.
Saigold is offline  
post #3 of 10 Old 06-01-2020, 06:05 PM
Join Date: May 2014
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I would sell him and get a calm horse. I am your age and we just donít have the time or the bone density to spend five years retraining a difficult horse (which is generally hit-and-miss with spooky horses anyways. From my limited experience, spookiness is a character trait, not a training issue in most cases). Realistically, majority of us will stop riding in our fifties. That gives us 10 to 15 years of riding time left. I personally donít want to spend that time being scared and getting hurt, I want to enjoy it.

But, if you only ride once or twice a week - your next horse could easily turn into a spooky mess. There arenít many horses out there who can keep that schedule and keep their training/their wits about them. If you can only ride once a week, I personally would look into having someone ride that horse during the week. Either a share with an experienced rider or pay someone to ride the horse for you and keep them tuned if you can afford it.
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post #4 of 10 Old 06-01-2020, 07:19 PM
Join Date: May 2020
Location: United States
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I accidentally voted on this and didn't read it, so don't count my vote for keeping him ahaha. I do not have an opinion, as this can have many outcomes and all of the ideas are not bad in themselves, however they can go wrong in their own way.

So, lets go over each right now from my unopinionated standpoint.

Option 1 - Keep him
This IS a good idea because you know where he is his entire life and know that he is not at an abusive home. However, you will most likely not be enjoying riding him while he is acting like this. There are some things you can do to help him with his own confidence. Try desensitizing to some unfamiliar object on the ground, this will help him and you because it will build his trust in you and confidence outside AND will help you build confidence as well. Also, as you said he seems to lack respect in you I would build that from the ground as well. Try roundpenning him, lunging, and basic footwork on the ground to help him respect you more.

A horse who doesn't respect you on the ground will never respect you undersaddle, and that is just the way it is. Do a lot of groundwork, and then see how it transfers to you undersaddle. Also, with his spooking problem, desensitizing on the ground is a good helper. However, a way you could also go about this problem while riding is to go on "mini trail rides". Leave the property *alone or in a group* just for a little while, and then at a small distance away, just turn around and go back home. This is almost like pressure and release desensitizing with a large object you're desensitizing to, being the world. When you leave, go until your horse seems to act a little uncomfortable then stop, wait for a few minutes, and turn around to go back to the barn. Repeat this as many times as you want, going farther and farther each time. You are literally training your horse to go on trails by doing this. They learn they will always come back home, which can sometimes be their fear while going out.

Finally, be sure it isn't pain related for his bucking. Try to find an equine chiropractor in your area. I had worked with a pony that was fine at a walk, but trotting and cantering she would constantly buck. This was all almost completely solved after the chiropractor visit, and after a couple more rides she has not bucked again since.

Option 2 - Take him to a trainer
I really like this idea. Sometimes they just need a refresher or given some manners, and you just don't have the tools to provide that for them. With this, you could bring him in for just 30 days or as much as your trainer would allow. The trainer may also be able to teach YOU a few things so you know what to do when he starts acting up. Be sure to make sure your trainer works with horses in a way that you agree with and can use similar tactics with. Consistency is key, and trainers need to be a good fit for the human as much as the horse. If you need help finding trainers in your area, try looking on Facebook in groups and such.

Option 3 - Sell him
Now, this idea isn't bad at all, sometimes they just need a different human, not your fault. Just be sure he goes to a good home and, if you're willing, allow them to give him back in case they ever need to sell. That way, he will never end up in slaughter or an abusive home. You, at that time, could choose to resell him or keep him and give things another shot.

Just keep in mind the horse's well being as much as yours, you can control where they end up, they can only feel the effects of it. Selling can be risky as people can be rotten, I have had friends make sales and find their horses years later all skin and bones, and it takes a toll on you. To summarize, if you sell just make sure you trust the people who he's going to.

I apologize for writing so much, however I hope it helps you make the right decision for you. I can't do much without actually being there in person, but if you ever have any questions I am here to help always. Good luck to both you and your horse!! I hope you figure things out and things end well for you!
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post #5 of 10 Old 06-01-2020, 10:43 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Aug 2014
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If you had him for 2 years and haven't really made progress, I would say it is time to move on. Just one of those cases where horse and rider just are not suitable for each other. Riding should be fun and you should be looking forward to it instead of dreading it and waiting for an explosion... Maybe he would get better with training or daily riding - but there is a reason you don't ride every day. Not everybody can fit daily riding into their schedule. And that is perfectly fine

But, if you only ride once or twice a week - your next horse could easily turn into a spooky mess. There arenít many horses out there who can keep that schedule and keep their training/their wits about them.
I don't necessarily agree with you here. Most horses of my trail riding buddies are lucky if they get ridden once a week... And they are no worse off than if they were ridden more often. My mare may be an extreme, but due to quarantine I didn't ride her for almost 2 months. First ride back - same horse as before. The power-steering needed some fine-tuning, but no extra spookiness. This may also in part be due to how these horses are kept. Most of them spend their days on pasture, giving them ample stimulation and exercise.
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post #6 of 10 Old 06-02-2020, 02:56 AM
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 1,628
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@SwissMiss Absolutely. There are horses who can be ridden only occasionally, of course. My own mare is one of those. But the other kind is common enough that most horse people would expect some degree of degradation rather than assume a horse can be kept like that and easily ridden. If someone is talking about a horse which isnít ridden often and starts misbehaving, I would bet your first thought would be to work with the horse more often - and in most cases it improves a horseís disposition. It is common enough that OP should take it into account when buying a new horse. Either get a horse with a proven track record of being able to be ridden once a week or make plans to have them ridden more often.
Horsef is offline  
post #7 of 10 Old 06-02-2020, 01:01 PM
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 52
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I think the best place to start would be to get a lameness/general health evaluation done with a Veterinarian on your horse. I do wonder if his behavior is pain related (ex: ulcers). If after evaluation nothing is found in relation to your concerns, it may be in your best interest to find him a more suitable home. Good luck!
Palfrey is offline  
post #8 of 10 Old 06-02-2020, 05:32 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 48,091
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Some ranch horses need to be ridden regularly, and given very focussed and demanding jobs, OR they become spooky or resistant.

I agree that if it were me, ( and not because you think you are old at 48 , says this woman of 62). . . . . I would sell him soon, while he is young, and before the economy slides , as it will. I'd sell him fast, to a decent home, and take your time finding a good trail horse.

best of luck
tinyliny is offline  
post #9 of 10 Old 06-05-2020, 08:57 AM
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 917
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Have you had anyone else ride him to see if he acts up with them, ie a more confident or more experienced rider might get a different ride. I also agree to rule out possible pain, chiro eval, vet eval. Is he up to date on teeth/floating,,,a bit hitting a sore tooth could cause 'behavior' issues which would be more evident at trot or canter than walk. Lots of layer of the onion to peel. To me, the buck and the reactiveness (heightened) are two separate issues that sometimes coincide,,,but who knows?

As to the spookiness and heightened behavior,,,imo this comes from innate personality AND from the situation,,in other words he may be naturally more reactive to things than say a super calm horse, but might be 'braver' and calmer with training. Sonny was very spooky when I got him, he got 'heightened' easily and didn't come down quickly. But after lots of groundwork with exposure to different environments (clinics, trail rides, trailering to different venues), he became less and less spooky and came down quicker if he did get upset. Also, there are things you can do to help him start thinking again Vs being reactive and emotional. I've been taught that a backing, sideways movement, or making the legs cross causes the horse to think instead of react, if that makes sense. Also, the first moment that I feel one is about to blow up, I probably would get off and do some groundwork. If getting off isnt an option, then I'd ask for back up, HQ yields, maybe sideways,,,stop and re-assess , rinse and repeat if necessary. It's rare that getting off really isnt an option. I've seen Sonny go from highly heightened to calm and blowing out after groundwork that had me standing with my back to a fence sending him in an arc to the left and right of me, with the fence giving him no choice but to change direction (yield of HQ-crossing of the feet), and he would be cantering like a maniac-head and tail high-throwing some bucks at the beginning,,calm, head below withers, blowing out after a bit.

I very much disagree with @Horse ef that majority of us will stop riding in our fifties. I forgot to read that memo, and I have LOTS of friends who also missed it...LOL. I'm 69 and no thoughts of stopping riding. Again, I know LOTS of people riding who are over, some well over 50's.

One of my friends went thru over 10 horses because they all had behavior issues that scared her. After #10 she started taking horsemanship lessons (groundwork and riding) , built her confidence and gained techniques to work thru the problems and never got a #11. Oh, forgot to say that she still had all the horses, she just kept adding to her herd. Most folks couldn't do that! Only bringing up this example to say that it's so hard to get a perfect horse, the next one could seem calm and wonderful in the purchase process and turn out to be as 'bad' or worse. Just another thing to consider.

I lean toward possibly getting a trainer for him AND an instructor (not just riding,,,groundwork--I'd personlly recommend 'natural horsemanship-) for yourself. But, you have to go with your comfort levels and nothing at all wrong if you decide to sell him to someone who may be a better fit with him.

Stay safe. Have fun.
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Respect......rapport......impulsion......flexion.. .
Be as soft as possible, but as firm as necessary--Pat Parelli
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post #10 of 10 Old 06-05-2020, 04:56 PM
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Join Date: May 2012
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With the horses I have had there were far more that could and would do just fine being ridden once or twice a week. Most were ok with weeks in between depending on work and weather or the summer off if the heat was too much. They were used for trails and light work. It really depends on the horse. If that is what you are planning on then don't go looking at horses that are worked 6 days of the week, every week and assume they are fine at once or twice because they are docile and willing under that load. Give them a different feed, pasture, housing and a lighter load and they may be a firecracker in disguise or even if not that too much for you to want to deal with every time you ride.

As for riding past 50 I didn't get that memo either but due to circumstances beyond my control I have had periods of time where I didn't ride. I'd say it depends on who you hang around with. If it is the crowd that rides for enjoyment and has horses well suited to them and the means to keep riding no reason to stop but there are many that rode as kids or wanted to ride as kids and did not get back into/into it until older and if they don't have the fortune of riding a suitable horse may choose to quit sooner rather than later.

Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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