Who knew that one horse could be so much of a problem? - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 61 Old 05-08-2013, 11:36 PM
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Someone once told me that horses, like people, have bad days. Never forget that fact or expect your horse to behave the same way he did yesterday!

I don't think he's a jerk; I think he's either confused, stressed, or insecure. When I work too hard on one thing, my horse get's the same way-- never mean, but he'll plant his feet, back up, give me a little warning hop, etc. I have tried a lot of things, but you know what gets him moving on every time? Taking a BIG breath, letting it out, patting him on the shoulder and telling him it's okay, don't worry, I know you're trying. Then I get firm, fixate on one spot in the arena, and urge him forward until we reach that spot. Then I stop and reward him for doing something-- not because it was extraordinary, but because he clearly didn't want to but he did it because I asked. And, lo and behold, we are able to move on!

Always look to reward the little things and keep the mood light. :) Good luck with your horse. I think that you both have a lot of learning to do as a pair.
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post #32 of 61 Old 05-08-2013, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oh vair oh View Post
You'll get much further in the horse world if you stop calling your horse names and start asking yourself "what am I doing wrong now that I cannot communicate with my horse".
Yeah, the "my horse is an *******" stuff was just me venting my frustration after the lesson was over and I was home again. I'm actually pretty good at staying calm when it's all happening. In fact, my instructor likes to tease me about how I sweet-talk my horse and say stuff to him like "come on sweetie, you can do it" and so on when I'm riding him. I tell her that it's better than swearing at him. Generally, the most negative I get when riding is a bit eyerollingly exasperated if Dubby really plays up.

When we first purchased Dubbin, his previous owner told us that we had to make a point of not letting him get away with anything, because "he can be a bit of a dick" (the seller's exact words). So I'm sure that yesterday's Fail was a team effort - me being Insufficiently Something (I'm still trying to work out what, but I'll get there) and Dubby playing up because he saw an opportunity to do so and/or was feeling cheesed off by my poor Equine Communication Skills or some such.

Quote:
Keep working with your trainer to help guide you through these ups and downs. Soon you will start seeing them and working them out for yourself and that's when the magic happens.
I'm doing my best! Michelle (my instructor) and Jade (dressage rider and horse trainer) have both made a point recently of telling me that maybe I'm progressing with my riding more slowly with Dubbin than I would with an easier horse, but the experience I develop with him will make me a much better rider in the long run. I try to hold onto that... some days (such as yesterday) are so very frustrating. But we do, slowly, make progress with Dubbin. For example, when we started with him, he would refuse to go anywhere near the horse washing station (a concrete pad with a hitching bar running along it). No idea why. But we've worked on this, and gotten to the point with him now where he'll not just stand on the concrete and let us hose him down, but he'll even relax and look bored after a little while there. So progress happens... it's just slow sometimes, and very much a two-steps-forward-one-step-back sort of thing.

I do appreciate everyone's advice and observations here. I really am trying to do this right; I've just yet to acquire the experience needed to be able to work out what I need to do and how to do it best.
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post #33 of 61 Old 05-09-2013, 12:00 AM
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Location: southern Arizona
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Link worked OK for me. I'm not a dressage-style rider, but I'd probably want a deeper seat - longer leg, more weight carried in the saddle - on a horse who was somewhat skittish. I'd also go with a stock saddle for additional security. Security gives confidence, and confidence radiates to a horse.

"Interestingly enough, Martindale lets Dubbin get away with more than I do, but Dubbin is never more than very mildly recalcitrant when Martindale is riding him. Dubbin has just been getting more unwilling to listen to me."

Could be a confidence issue. Could be consistency in progression in cues - doing it the same progression every time. But if Dubbin has been getting more unwilling to listen to you, then what you are doing is training him not to listen. There are a lot of reasons why that can happen. I'd suspect your release of pressure isn't consistently timed right, or consistent enough. Either that, or he has decided you'll back down, or he interprets your riding as a form of pressure.

Something I recommend often because it really helped me with Mia is just leading your horse around on a lead rope. I learned a lot about how to read her emotions, and what she considered fair and unfair responses from me. That has paid big dividends when I'm on her back...

Good luck!

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #34 of 61 Old 05-09-2013, 12:30 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2012
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My hubby's horse HATES my riding style and they get along famously. Bill detests being micro-ridden. My laid-back bush-wacking hub is the perfect amount of fun for him! Personality conflict.

That said, I'd suggest building your relationship with this horse on the ground (Parelli's as "great" as the next guy for this. Go ahead and play with that. It'll give you a starting point, if nothing else.) while advancing your riding skill on a less challenging horse. Knowing what it is you're looking for, as well as what it feels like, will help you to better call his bull**** and address it. Let his other rider maintain his schooling until you're ready to switch back.

That'd be my plan of attack, anyhow.
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post #35 of 61 Old 05-13-2013, 01:49 AM Thread Starter
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I tried to get riding video over the weekend, but it wasn't possible. (I'm intending to try again during my Wednesday riding lesson, if I can't manage it before then.) In the mean time, I've been attempting to take the advice you fine folk have offered me here: I went up to the riding school this morning to do some groundwork with Dubbin. Hey, guess what. He's figured out a new form of brattishness. I know that horses are normally poop factories, but Dubby's decided that producing a steaming pile every time he's tied up to the hitching rail is a great way to make a statement. *sigh*

I wasn't sure that was what was going on initially - I hitched him to the rail, and within a minute or so he'd produced a pile. Oh well, that's life. I cleaned it up and got back to work grooming him (and attempting to re-train him to stand still while being groomed); and then we spent an hour or so in the circular pen lungeing. When we finished, I took him back to the hitching rail... and voila! Another steaming pile, within a minute of him being tied. It seems that he'd done the same thing yesterday when my partner Martindale was getting ready to ride him, but M wasn't sure if Dubbs had been pooping on purpose. Yannow, at this point it's really starting to look like a clear statement from Dubbin. Next time it happens, we shall be Having Words.

Anyway, this morning I worked with him for about almost an hour on the lunge. Well, eventually, any way; the first half hour or so of the session consisted of him galloping around the pen in random circles whenever he saw me so much as move the lunge whip an inch to the left while it dragged on the ground behind me. Ugh, what a pain. I don't think he was at all scared of it. He just wanted to make his uncooperative refusal very obvious. I experimented with with different kinds of communication while he was dashing about... yelling "Dubbin! Whoa!" while pulling in on the lunge rope didn't get through, and neither did any of the creative swearing that I was producing. What did seem to work, as it happened, was the exact same thing I do to break up a cat fight: arms big and wide, fierce frowny face, STAMP STAMP STAMP stiffly forward while ROARING gutturally and loudly. Dubby certainly noticed that, and a few repetitions of the Big Roar when he was misbehaving convinced him to settle down and listen to me.

Eventually I managed to get him to walk around the pen quietly and calmly for a couple of laps without stopping, then the same at a trot. Then we did it in the other direction. OK, I've decided that for the moment I'm gonna call that a success. It is, at least, a start, right?
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post #36 of 61 Old 05-13-2013, 02:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StormCloud View Post
I tried to get riding video over the weekend, but it wasn't possible. (I'm intending to try again during my Wednesday riding lesson, if I can't manage it before then.) In the mean time, I've been attempting to take the advice you fine folk have offered me here: I went up to the riding school this morning to do some groundwork with Dubbin. Hey, guess what. He's figured out a new form of brattishness. I know that horses are normally poop factories, but Dubby's decided that producing a steaming pile every time he's tied up to the hitching rail is a great way to make a statement. *sigh*

...him galloping around the pen in random circles whenever he saw me so much as move the lunge whip an inch to the left while it dragged on the ground behind me. Ugh, what a pain. I don't think he was at all scared of it. He just wanted to make his uncooperative refusal very obvious.

Eventually I managed to get him to walk around the pen quietly and calmly for a couple of laps without stopping, then the same at a trot. Then we did it in the other direction. OK, I've decided that for the moment I'm gonna call that a success. It is, at least, a start, right?
A few things. I think you are taking every micro-behavior by Dubbin rather personally. First, when horses are stressed out, they poop more. It happens to people too. When my horse sees the trailer, he poops like crazy. It's not personal-- it's his autonomic nervous system! Please don't think he's pooping to make you angry. How could a horse possibly realize that given how many times they poop in a day?

Think of the excessive pooping as a sign that you need to make him more comfortable and at-ease with working.

As for the groundwork... you make it sound as if there was (1) a lot of tension, and (2) not a lot of previous training with this. Even though I lunge my boy regularly, every single time I will desensitize him with the lunge whip by rubbing it aaaaaalll over while smiling and telling him what a good boy he is. If I am working with him (and become frustrated because he's not listening), run to the barn, get it and rush back in a hurry all of the sudden he is nostrils flared and flinching-- so I desensitize again. Not because I have ever, EVER struck him, but simply because he knows a frustrated or anxious person waving a stick when he sees one! That's my fault. It's my job to take a breath, calm down and smile and apologize. Even if they know the whip isn't necessarily bad, if the person controlling it is behaving erratically, stressed or angry-- it can mean something else and therefore make him wanna run like all get-out!

Finally, do you have basic verbal and postural commands set with your horse? For example, when I lunge: an upward transition is spoken with my pitch going higher, a downward transition is spoken with my pitch becoming lower. Every command is preceded with an "and" to prepare for the cue; "and waaalk. and trot!" If verbal commands don't work, cluck means trot, kiss means canter.
My body follows my horse. If my body falls behind my horse, he slows; if it turns ahead of him, he picks up the pace. If I slump or crouch down, he knows he'd better stop.

I hope this helps. Take a deep breath, put on a (even if you don't feel it) and try to stay positive! Reading up on the subject or having a new plan of action often empowers me to stay happy and focused.
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Last edited by existentialpony; 05-13-2013 at 02:05 AM.
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post #37 of 61 Old 05-13-2013, 02:26 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback!

Re the pooping thing - I didn't know that about it possibly being a stress reaction. That's a useful alternate explanation to the "doing it to make a statement" thing, which I was extrapolating from cats (who do occasionally do this).

As for the groundwork - I've not done a lot of lunge work with him over the last couple of months, but I did do a few sessions with him before the recent acting-out started. He was pretty well-behaved in those sessions (apart from his usual tendency to periodically try to move into the centre of the pen when he's not supposed to); he certainly knows verbal commands just fine, and I don't recall having any difficulty getting him to walk or trot or canter or stop on command then. In fact, I do recall it seeming very easy at the time.

It's quite likely that I wasn't completely relaxed when we started in the circular pen - but I wasn't angry or stroppy... just alert, yannow? And maybe a bit lacking in confidence, at a guess. I led him in on a normal leading-rope, and he stood quiet and ok while I switched the rope over for the lunging rope. I'd been holding the lunge whip and the lunge rope both in my left hand while leading him to the pen using my right hand, so it wasn't as if the whip came out of nowhere. Quite probably I was doing something horribly wrong, but what I was trying to do was stand in the middle of the pen, with the lunge rope in my right hand and the whip in my left, and with the whip tip pointing down at the ground and moved very un-dramatically, use it to guide Dubbin in the direction I wanted him to go. That wasn't what happened, of course; when I moved the whip behind him (still low, pointing at the ground, and some feet away from him) he launched into a mad canter/gallop (I'm honestly not sure which) around the pen. I really didn't get any vibe of fear off him - no pinned ears, no spooky hopping around, nothing like that. But it's highly plausible that I'm not reading his cues any better than he's reading mine, so take that as you will...
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post #38 of 61 Old 05-13-2013, 02:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StormCloud View Post
Thanks for the feedback!

Re the pooping thing - I didn't know that about it possibly being a stress reaction. That's a useful alternate explanation to the "doing it to make a statement" thing, which I was extrapolating from cats (who do occasionally do this).

As for the groundwork - I've not done a lot of lunge work with him over the last couple of months, but I did do a few sessions with him before the recent acting-out started. He was pretty well-behaved in those sessions (apart from his usual tendency to periodically try to move into the centre of the pen when he's not supposed to); he certainly knows verbal commands just fine, and I don't recall having any difficulty getting him to walk or trot or canter or stop on command then. In fact, I do recall it seeming very easy at the time.

It's quite likely that I wasn't completely relaxed when we started in the circular pen - but I wasn't angry or stroppy... just alert, yannow? And maybe a bit lacking in confidence, at a guess. I led him in on a normal leading-rope, and he stood quiet and ok while I switched the rope over for the lunging rope. I'd been holding the lunge whip and the lunge rope both in my left hand while leading him to the pen using my right hand, so it wasn't as if the whip came out of nowhere. Quite probably I was doing something horribly wrong, but what I was trying to do was stand in the middle of the pen, with the lunge rope in my right hand and the whip in my left, and with the whip tip pointing down at the ground and moved very un-dramatically, use it to guide Dubbin in the direction I wanted him to go. That wasn't what happened, of course; when I moved the whip behind him (still low, pointing at the ground, and some feet away from him) he launched into a mad canter/gallop (I'm honestly not sure which) around the pen. I really didn't get any vibe of fear off him - no pinned ears, no spooky hopping around, nothing like that. But it's highly plausible that I'm not reading his cues any better than he's reading mine, so take that as you will...
I was once told by the person who taught me how to lunge a horse (and how to teach a horse to lunge), that "If you're not reading their body language correctly and getting a proper response to your cues, you're just making them run around in circles." Lunging, contrary to popular belief, is about getting the horse to listen to your cues, both verbal and physical. Until you can read your horse's body language correctly (and he, yours), all you're going to be doing is making him run around and, more than likely, confusing him.

For the time being, I would forego any ridden lessons and concentrate on having your instructor teach you the *proper* way to lunge a horse, how to read him, and how to get him to respond correctly to you. Once you've gained his respect on the ground (lunging), you'll be amazed at how well that will translate under saddle.

Just my two cents...
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post #39 of 61 Old 05-13-2013, 04:56 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
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hey!
I admit that I was a little bit "shocked" when i see your post title...
But when you describes your horse, i see mine... years ago!
You have to know that horses never ask to be with us... we do! so we have to do everything to make them happy.
If you'd make things more interesting to him, you will see that his behaviour will change a lot with you!
As someone says, maybe you should watch the parellis DVD and do the 7 games :) it helps a lot!
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post #40 of 61 Old 05-13-2013, 05:59 AM
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When I looked at your video, you looked unbalance (as is everyone when they first learn to ride) and every time to lost your balance and tipped forwards, the horse fell into walk and then turned to the person who was lunging. He looked increasingly confused. "I can't figure out what this rider wants!" Some horses are incredibly patient and tolerant of beginners giving them confusing cues and falling every which way. Others, less so. It takes a confident horse to calmly deal with a beginner rider who is throwing them off balance and who can't give clear aids. Many will find that stressful and "act out."

It sounds as if your horse fits into the latter category. The only thing to do (other than sell and buy a more tolerant and patient critter), is keep trying to improve, taking your lessons, and recognize that it's your inexperience that's probably confusing him and stressing him out. Most importantly, you should stop blaming him. Your horse isn't just trying to be an *******, bratty, cop an attitude, or anything like that. He might simply be a more sensitive horse who isn't ideal for beginners.

I tell people that they should fill up a backpack so it's within 10% - 20% of their weight and then adjust the straps so it fits in an awkward, unbalanced way. Then go for a run, or a long walk, or a hike up a mountain, or some relatively athletic activity. It's hard, isn't it?
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Last edited by thesilverspear; 05-13-2013 at 06:07 AM.
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