Am I overreacting? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 04:51 PM Thread Starter
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Am I overreacting?

Hi all! So I've recently begun the process of bringing my TB rescue mare back into work. She is very smart, very insecure, very spirited, and very concerned about what other horses are doing. I've only ridden her at the walk so far, and she's very calm...until something sets her off. Yesterday it was her pasture buddy tearing up the field trying to be a rodeo bronc.

When this happens, she gets very fidgety, tries to buck, crow hops, etc. Is this something I should be overly concerned with, or should I just continue trying to calm her and redirect her attention? I'm hoping this is something that will improve with more miles under saddle, but as a very nervous rider, it worries me. I'm so hoping that she doesn't end up being too much horse for me! Oh and I WILL be enlisting the help of a trainer :)

Anyway, thanks for any insight/advice!
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post #2 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 05:15 PM
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You need to work more on getting her to focus on you, more so than "calm her down." If her feet are moving, she can't focus on the shenanigans in the next pasture. If you aren't trotting her yet, I would start working up to it. In the mean time, see if you can get her to leg yield or side-step, or even pivot. Bring her attention to her feet. Don't say, "it's okay, he's just being silly over there." Instead, say, "I'm asking you to do this, now."

When she is trotting, I would work on circles, serpentines, change of direction, and transitions during moments like this. I personally like the impulsion of the trot to get a horse to focus, there just isn't enough energy in the walk, you know?

Good luck! And don't let yourself get nervous, because that'll just make it worse.
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Last edited by riccil0ve; 01-07-2013 at 05:19 PM.
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post #3 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 05:18 PM
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Hi and welcome, first question is how long have you been riding? How old is this horse? and of course, what sort of training do you both have. Also, where are you riding? I also say good on you for getting a trainer, because on the ground help is soo valuable.

This could get better but it could get worse. The horse needs you to be confident and sticky. If she learns that she can act that way and be rewarded (i.e. you get off, voluntary dismount or other) than it will continue or get worse. If it does not work she will hopefully stop.

I would try to ride in an area where she does not have distractions Ie other horses. I would also not get off her until she was in that calm, collected frame of mind. I would also resist the urge to run her around or trot. She needs to master walk before she can move to other paces. I am not a trainer so take my advice/opinions with that grain of salt. I am sure those trainer folks will be along soon.
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post #4 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 05:34 PM
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I agree with ricci..

Assuming you are a good rider and can deal with her being a putz, I would definetly make her move her feet. Circles, trotting, direction changes..anything to make her focus back on you..

Trying to hold her back and calm her down will only make her act worse.

Also I am not a trainer either, but I have 3 mares that become a bit buddy sour when they have not been ridden in a while..if they want to be stupid about leaving their friends, then they get to work a little harder- coddling them only reinforces the idiotness.
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Last edited by peppersgirl; 01-07-2013 at 05:40 PM.
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post #5 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 05:40 PM
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Okay, don't smack me, but I disagree about riding the mare right now. We had something similar happen with my daughter's 3 y/o Holsteiner. She was riding in the arena and a ummm...I'll be kind and call them a horse person, turned her 4-legged nutcase out 20 ft from the arena. Spooked her green horse so bad, he threw her against the dressage railing, spun, jumped over her and clipped her in the head with his shoe. Thankfully, she was wearing a good helmet.

Concussed and with a broken arm, she did remount but what other choice do you have. My daughter has been riding for about 20 years and a local cowboy said no one could have stayed on that horse.

We sent him to a reined cow trainer, yes - he's a dressage horse - but he put him to work. He sorted cows, drug logs and was ridden in the mountains. 4 months later we have a solid horse with a good mind.

Find a good, kind, western rider and put her to work! Good luck and ride safe!
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post #6 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 05:54 PM
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Chance is a nervous horse also. I'm doing something similiar with him in the outdoor arena.

I am currently working on bending him in a circle around the step stool which is soooo scary and incrimentally bringing him closer. I turn him, and we do the same. I also weave poles with him, and do random pattern work.

I found that simply going in circles giving him something like a hamster wheel syndrome. Its mindless, its boring, he wants to move! Every time we have done that he has been a different horse than when we started. When I feel he has mastered what we have been doing at a walk, I.e. Not an overly excited, nervous boy who wants to just run straight off, I will move up to a trot and so on.
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post #7 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 06:01 PM
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Make sure you don't focus on things that might spook your horse. Look where you want your horse to go, and send her there. And yes, make sure you keep her busy and don't inadvertently reward her for acting up.

All this is assuming you're an experienced rider...you may want to find some good help on the ground, too.
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post #8 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 06:06 PM
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Theres a really big part of me that wants to tell you that this is not the horse for you - as a nervous rider. A horse like this needs someone who is calm, confident and experienced to keep them settled and reassured.
My pinto was exactly like this when I first got her and I think she would have done some serious damage to a novice or nervous rider as you have to think fast to stay ahead of them and be able to stick on and not quit when things get a bit scarey
Maybe working with a good trainer will help you and her
I did find that ground work - controlled disciplined liberty work especially help Looby a lot as she had to learn to listen to me and focus on me. She actually enjoys doing it and her understanding my voice and verbal commands helps to relax her when she gets stressed under saddle because she's learnt to like being a good girl
Good luck & welcome to the forum
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post #9 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for all your replies! rookie - I have been riding for about fifteen years, though pretty infrequently for the last five (went to college and got my first job). I never went higher than lowww level eventing (just up to novice). My mare is ten..I adopted her a few years ago, but have only done groundwork with her. She did race, but I don't know how long she was off the track before I got her when she was six. I ride in a fenceless sand ring next to her pasture. She is definitely buddy sour in a "I'm going to be calm for awhile until I realize my friend is calling so I think I'll freak out a little" way =P and since the only other places to ride are open fields far away from her field, I feel like the open ring is safest. I don't feel comfortable riding in our round pen...It's pretty small and made of the metal tube panels.

I have made huge progress in becoming more confident around her lately and I can already feel that carrying over to the saddle. She doesnt so much spook as she does throw a fit. Hm...to stop completely or make her work more??
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post #10 of 14 Old 01-07-2013, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your honesty and ideas, everyone! I don't have the option of selling this mare. I can only give her back to the rescue, which is...not a good place for her. So here she stays!
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