Back in the saddle after 12 years, respect/confidence - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 06-02-2008, 02:55 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2008
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Back in the saddle after 12 years, respect/confidence

Hi everyone,
This is my very first time posting on this forum! I am back in the horse scene after a 12 year hiatus... I feel whole again being around horses, but I have to admit I am a bit rusty. I just took over care of a beautiful, big 11 year old thoroughbred mare. She is fundementally a great horse. However, she is a rescue. A year ago she was rescued from a bad situation where she was found confined in an 8x8 indoor stall...Even worse she was about 400 pounds underweight. The rest of the circumtances we are not aware of... this is all the information we have about her previous situation. The good news is that she is now perfectly healthy, and has adjusted pretty well to her new life. She has a lot less issues than one would expect for a horse that came from her situation. She is pretty well mannered under the saddle... at least that has been my experience from the 3 times i have ridden her so far. However, she is a grouchy gal... her ground manners are not so good. She walks in to me while leading, she does not like me to touch her, especially her face and neck. She does not stand still while grooming... she swishes me with her tail and gets nippy, She is generally pretty nervous. Cleaning her hind hooves are nearly impossible, she kicks. She seems distracted and on edge at all times.
Prior to my hiatus I rode nearly every day for 15 years. I had a wonderful horse who was very sweet and gentle. Because I am not used to a very nervous horse, and because i am out of practice... I feel right now I lack confidence . I know this mare has been through a lot, and is very apprehensive of humans... I would like to learn how to gain her trust and respect, help her with her anxiety, and in turn feel more confident in my ability to handle her.
I would like to start by educating myself with some good techniques and knowledge. I am just starting to research some of the programs out there.... I am looking at Clinton Anderson as many on this forum seem to like him... also I guess Parelli is good as well??? Anyone have any opinions? What do you suggest for my situation?
Thank you !!!!
Beena is offline  
post #2 of 9 Old 06-02-2008, 10:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Missouri
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First of all WELCOME!! OK...... Since you have a lot of knowledge 15yrs prior to your break..... I say just take a big deep breath and breathe. You should have plenty of common sence its just gonna take a bit of time to tap back into it!

I really like some of the Natural trainers out there however a lot of it is just plain old common sence. My guy was/is headshy... He wouldn't let us handle his face, neck and ears. Now...about 7-8months after working really slowly and gently with him we can totally handle his head. I think sometimes they just need enough time to understand that you are not going to do anything to cause them harm.

I would start with ground manners. Refresh her or actually teach her what is and is not acceptable. Parelli has his 7 games for this I have heard good things about them but alot of the games are common sence. I would work with things like back up, and moving to your touch (shoulders and rump) we took Dumas on walks like a dog to teach him that being with us is a good thing. We were also able to work on him giving us our space then too. It was a really laid back way of both us and him working on trust.

Check out you tube. There are clips of actual trainers that will give you an idea of their programs as well as students that are working on their own with their horses. I'd look at Monty Roberts and his "joining up" I also like Clinton Anderson...I think he is a little more no noncense. Parelli is good but I feel it is a bit too much sometimes with Horsenalities...I'd try to get a broad view of the trainers out there and find one you click with that is easy to understand and follow. I like John Lyons too.

The grooming thing is also something that we have had to battle...Dumas just didn't understand that we were wanting to give him love and affection...He still doesn't like a spray bottle or water...its a work in progress. He will let us brush him all over now, but it has taken a good month of brushing to get him to understand that we are loving on him.

I think you will be able to get to her back hooves after she begins to trust you more. She had to defend herself before you were so open hearted to give her a good home. I really think this is just a time issue where she needs to realize that you are her buddy...not just another human. BTW... it was only a month or so ago that I was concidering getting rid of Dumas for a horse that had a better personality...I'm sure you will get frustrated...just hang in there.

Sorry for the long winded answer!

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

1 Chronicles 28:20

Dumas'_Grrrl is offline  
post #3 of 9 Old 06-02-2008, 10:49 AM
Join Date: Feb 2008
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Hi Beena,
First off congrats on the coming back into horses and joining our great horse community Good for you for working with a rescue and giving her a second chance.

Second, because you have been off for so long do you think it would be beneficial to maybe take lessons at a local riding club to get back into riding, rebuild all your riding muscles and rebuild all your confidence before getting on your rescue?

Unfortunately because she is a rescue and you don't know her history you have to deal with her with even more patience and delicacy than any other typical horse.

How long have you had her? regardless of her history you need to lay down some foundations with her before you can move on with her and ask more of her.

Make sure you you teach her good ground manners. Make sure she respects you and your space. It is going to take a longer amount of time but you can't correct her as easily if she starts misbehaving under saddle if you haven't fixed problems from the ground first. Regardless of what has happened to her in the past her kicking, biting or pushing you around IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
From the sounds of it you will have to start from scratch, but you can do it. It will be good for both you and her-learn from each other, a good refresher and a good way to start building a good bond with her.

Lastly-I demand pictures!
my2geldings is offline  
post #4 of 9 Old 06-02-2008, 12:06 PM
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Hi and welcome to the forum!! It must feel great to back with horses! I agree with My2Geldings about taking lessons and building your confidence up before working with this mare. Being nervous around a nervous horse won't really accomplish much. (Sorry if that sounded blunt). My heart broke, by the way, when you shared her story. That is so sad. That's great that you want to work with her though. It sounds to me that she didn't get much attention, if any and that is scared just being around humans and having them touch her. This mare needs to be exposed to a lot of human contact, in my opinion. By this I mean lots of kind, gentle, soothing people who can brush her, talk to her and make her feel at ease. I would suggest getting other people to help you as well. Not to make her feel confused but to get her used to different people as well. Spend time just being around her, maybe taking a step-stool and sitting in her field. Letting her come to you, sniff you and become used to your company, things like that.

Good luck and welcome!!

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Jubilee Rose is offline  
post #5 of 9 Old 06-02-2008, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2008
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Hi Guys,

Thanks for all of your replies!!!!
Unfortunatley, my new horsie lives in the Boonies... way up in a canyon, about 15 miles up a windy road, and far from any trainers or even a ring... I only have a paddock and hundrerds of miles of trails.... so lessons aren't really an option... and quite frankly, I had a lot of training when I was younger and feel I can get myself back into shape with practice and time... although if there were trainers and a ring I would certainly do it.
I just took over care of this horse last week... even though officially she is not my horse... no money was exchanged... she is now my responsibilty and i am the only who will be riding her and working with her. I am just a bit intimdated by her ground manners. I want to learn some techniques to use to work with her... like Dumas girl said... a lot of it will be common sense, and i think what I need to do it just take it slow and let her get to know me...
So, aside from getting a few DVD's this is my plan... spend as much time with her a possible, have her get used to me, and be at ease. Until I got on her last week... she had not been ridden in 3 months. she acyually did really good once I was on her... she was a little sketchy, but not bad and quite responsive, did not fight with me, etc...but like i said her ground manners, crappy. I did notice a marked difference after we came back from our 20 minute ride yesterday.. she was much more relaxed and not as grouchy. So much of this may be that she has been cooped up. Also, considering she spent I don't know how much time in a 8x8 indoor stall, and then in the last year, she has pretty much just sitting in her paddock. She is used to being confined... so that would explain why she is uneasy outside of her comfort zone. I don't know if she was abused in other ways before she was rescued, but apparently she was starved and a very sick girl... so anything is possible.

Does anyone have any good techniques to deal with nipping and her walking over me? Considering she may have been abused, I don't know how I should reprimand her... my first instinct is to swap her on the nose when she nips... but since she is wierd about her head and neck, I don't know it that is a good idea. Since I just started working with her I know it is crucial that I establish authority with her now... "nip it in the butt"
Also, with her walking into me? My first reaction it to push her away... She also nudges me. Any good advice/instruction would be helpful. I do not have a ton of experience with these types of behaviore issues.
p.s. I am not terribly nervous around her at all... just my confidence is a bit down due to being rusty. I think if I am armed with some knowledge I will be just fine... Than you again you guys!!!!
:) Beena
Beena is offline  
post #6 of 9 Old 06-03-2008, 06:47 AM
Join Date: May 2008
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ground manners

Hi there, I've found when a horse walks in to me or crowds my space, I turn around and face them completely. I then walk towards them (with authority) and use my hands (but not touching) to back them off. It will surprise them, but it doesn't scare them. When they back off, I turn back around and begin walking. I will repeat it as often as necessary. Also, I wouldn't worry too much about the other issues, as the more you work with her it will get better. The thing is to repeat, repeat, repeat. They will get used to your MO. I think a week is not enough time to see a huge difference in a rescue horse. Don't coddle her, but do the same things with her every day the same way. She will learn that she doesn't have to be grouchy with you. Good luck and congrats
dustytrailzz is offline  
post #7 of 9 Old 06-03-2008, 08:31 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: SE Kansas
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Welcome to the forum
I think the advise from dusty is great on keeping her off of you. When I train the little ones to walk on a halter, I use a rope halter (very important). I walk with my hand about a foot from the snap, my arm at a 45 degree angle. That way if they get to close I can instantly use my elbow to back them off. Do a lot of walking around like this, backing her off everytime she comes into your space. She'll get it with time.
I think the important things is to not get in a hurry. Take each issue at a time and work on it. Start some approach and retreat on her face just rubbing on her till she will except it.
Try lifting her back legs with a rope. get a rope around her back leg and while standing at the shoulder lift the back leg. Do it over and over on each side. Thats one thing that you have to elimanate any health issues before you can work on it much. She may be in pain.
Feel free to ask any questions here. There are a lot of knowledgable friendly folks who love to help others.

"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
- Anatole France
Vidaloco is offline  
post #8 of 9 Old 06-03-2008, 10:51 AM
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Location: Missouri
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Dusty gave some really good advice for keeping her off of you! Since you have only had her a week give yourself a few months! Dumas would NOT let us touch him for almost 3 weeks...(he's the headshy one)...we could touch his shoulder but not his neck and face. It took us going out 2x a day for feedings and just sitting with him. He eventually discovered that we were his meal ticket and then we started touching his face throught the fence. We have just done it more and more. We have had him since October of 07 and just this week he finally came up to us and offered us (free and willing) his head to rub... It was amazing!!!!! So 7 months in and Finally he really trusts us with his head. Now he had great manners under saddle....So it was really just a trust issue.

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

1 Chronicles 28:20

Dumas'_Grrrl is offline  
post #9 of 9 Old 06-03-2008, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2008
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Thanks guys!!!!
Beena is offline  

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