A Few Questions! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 01-22-2019, 10:45 AM Thread Starter
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A Few Questions!

Hi! I'm new here, so I'll start with a quick explanation of my situation. Sorry if this is long -- I've never been on a forum before, and I want to make sure I'm coming across clearly.

I'm 19, and I have quite a bit of experience with horses. My mother was a horse trainer earlier in life, but she has a physical disability and a busy job these days. I also live 20 minutes away in another county, so I'm trying to find advice instead of bothering her.

I bought a young mare for cheap 6 months ago. A man in my area was moving, and he was desperate to sell the horses he had on the property. Ladybird was living with her mother & father and a few other horses, and while she wasn't "wild" per say, she was rather ungentled.

She wouldn't take a rope. Her previous owner had to halter her mother and lead them both into my pasture, before pulling the mother away. It was terribly sad, and both of them were deeply upset. I didn't mess with her much at that point; she was so distressed that she wouldn't let anyone near her.

For the first two months, I simply let her loose in the pasture with my mother's mare and my brother's small gelding. At first, Ladybird was very avoidant and somewhat aggressive. She was the queen bee, and she regularly chased off the other two horses. Despite being quite small, she made it obvious that she was the smartest/bravest.

Her age is somewhat hazy -- she is definitely older than two, possibly three, but we're not sure where she lies exactly. Her development over the past six months has led us to believe she's about 3 now. She grew into her body: developing a wide chest, straight back, and thick neck.

Here's a picture of her, with me for size reference:



About 3 months in, she started approaching me, so I decided to start working with her.

Within two weeks, I was able to halter her and get her used to grooming & petting. It took some coaxing to let me slip a halter on, but it only took a half-hour. She was troublesome about being led at first, until a week later she just... decided to stop being stubborn. She hasn't balked or given me lip since.

She's gotten even friendlier since I moved -- likely because it's just the two of us (and my galgo, though he's terribly afraid of horses). I rarely have to go find her; she usually comes when I whistle, or lingers by the fence until I come out. When I do have to venture into the trees to go fetch her, she follows me back out without a lead.

In fact, she's usually off-lead. She follows me around like a puppy, so I don't need one most of the time. She fears nothing, and I've never had her bolt. When she does startle, she does so in-place, and fear quickly turns into curiosity. Overall, she's a fine little mare! Very bright, and by far my favorite horse I've worked with.

However, I want to make sure I train her properly, and I've had a few issues.

Ladybird refuses to lunge, for one. She consistently turns in! I can swing ropes, brandish whips, and spin her in circles, and she is unfazed. Once in a while, I can get her to do a half-circle around me, but she inevitably turns to face me.

I'm also not sure how to start her on saddle-training. Should I wait until I fix the lunging problem? What should I know about saddle training? I've read quite a few guides online, but I wanted some input from people I could TALK to. I don't plan on hopping on her anytime soon -- I'm playing the long-game here, so I'm not anxious to rush into things.

I know this is a long post, so forgive me! I just figured some background might help. Thank you for everything!
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post #2 of 9 Old 01-22-2019, 11:25 AM
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I teach lunging with a helper. I stand in the middle with the lungeline and lunging whip, and have my helper walk the horse around me while I give the commands. It doesn't take long (depending on the horse, maybe 3 times), before the horse figures out what is wanted and I don't need the helper for that any more.

Next is long lining which is also better, to me, with a helper. I walk behind the horse "driving" it while the helper leads the horse. Before too long, the horse realizes what is wanted.

Although I don't regularly use a helper when saddling for the first time, I would think that would be useful too. I start out with some light thing like a towel on the horse's back, then a saddle blanket, then a bareback pad, and every few days, make it a little closer to a saddle. It's nice if you have some trust-worthy person holding the horse while you do these things.
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-22-2019, 11:32 AM
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I came to say...

WELCOME to the Forum!!!

I'll leave the training ideas and suggestions to those far more qualified than I to help you with...

Just a howdy from me.
....

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-22-2019, 11:51 AM
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The horse following you around is a good thing, but it sounds as though she's a bit insecure. Maybe you can start by training her to stand at some distance from you without getting nervous. You step away from her, and when she comes in, move her back to where she stood. Then start positive reinforcement before she comes in again, so she realizes that (a) distance doesn't mean separation, and (b) there's something in it for her for being patient.

I can see how she may have abandonment issues based on your story. Just start by training her to trust you that she won't be abandoned even if you are standing a bit away. Just make it a thoroughly positive experience for her because she's not doing anything wrong by trying to be with you.
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post #5 of 9 Old 01-22-2019, 11:51 AM
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For lunging, I've had a similar issue with my filly and what I realized is that she wasn't lunging because I missed a step. I had taught her to disengage and move her back end away, I never taught her how to do that with her front end. So if you try to lunge with only having taught how to move the hips, then the horse will typically always turn in since they think that's what they're supposed to do. Once you teach them how move their front end away, it's much easier to lunge since you can then signal to them to move their front end away when they're wanting to turn in, and since they know how to do that, it'll make the learning process for lunging a lot easier. Hope this helps.

As for starting under saddle, I can't really offer too much in that area as I've not done that quite yet. Biggest thing is to take your time and listen to what she tells you. The last thing you want to do is rush and turn it into a bad experience since that'll cause problems later on. I'd suggest maybe getting a trainer to work with to help you with starting her under saddle since there is a big difference between reading something and having actual experience in it.

Either way, I wish you the best of luck and she both sounds and looks like an amazing mare! :)
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post #6 of 9 Old 01-22-2019, 12:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post
The horse following you around is a good thing, but it sounds as though she's a bit insecure. Maybe you can start by training her to stand at some distance from you without getting nervous. You step away from her, and when she comes in, move her back to where she stood. Then start positive reinforcement before she comes in again, so she realizes that (a) distance doesn't mean separation, and (b) there's something in it for her for being patient.

I can see how she may have abandonment issues based on your story. Just start by training her to trust you that she won't be abandoned even if you are standing a bit away. Just make it a thoroughly positive experience for her because she's not doing anything wrong by trying to be with you.
This is a great point, thank you! She acts clingy from time to time, which might be the source of the lunging problems. I'll start working on that tomorrow!
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post #7 of 9 Old 01-22-2019, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SummerBliss View Post
For lunging, I've had a similar issue with my filly and what I realized is that she wasn't lunging because I missed a step. I had taught her to disengage and move her back end away, I never taught her how to do that with her front end. So if you try to lunge with only having taught how to move the hips, then the horse will typically always turn in since they think that's what they're supposed to do. Once you teach them how move their front end away, it's much easier to lunge since you can then signal to them to move their front end away when they're wanting to turn in, and since they know how to do that, it'll make the learning process for lunging a lot easier. Hope this helps.

As for starting under saddle, I can't really offer too much in that area as I've not done that quite yet. Biggest thing is to take your time and listen to what she tells you. The last thing you want to do is rush and turn it into a bad experience since that'll cause problems later on. I'd suggest maybe getting a trainer to work with to help you with starting her under saddle since there is a big difference between reading something and having actual experience in it.

Either way, I wish you the best of luck and she both sounds and looks like an amazing mare! :)
Ah, thank you! I missed that step too :') As for lunging with a helper & saddle training, I might enlist my mother one of these weekends. In the meantime: groundwork!

Good luck to you too -- training horses from scratch is so rewarding, I'm glad I decided to do it. Although I must say, Ladybird has made the job rather easy for me so far!
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post #8 of 9 Old 02-02-2019, 03:55 AM
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Hi,

I missed this thread previously & saw it when you linked from your update one. So before I reply to that, I'll quickly make a comment here. I'm not reading replies, so forgive if I just write what someone else wrote...

Quote:
Originally Posted by calicos View Post
Ladybird refuses to lunge, for one. She consistently turns in! I can swing ropes, brandish whips, and spin her in circles, and she is unfazed. Once in a while, I can get her to do a half-circle around me, but she inevitably turns to face me.

I'm also not sure how to start her on saddle-training. Should I wait until I fix the lunging problem? What should I know about saddle training? I've read quite a few guides online, but I wanted some input from people I could TALK to. I don't plan on hopping on her anytime soon -- I'm playing the long-game here, so I'm not anxious to rush into things.
Re lunging, it sounds like your horse is just not up to that yet. I think of lunging as just leading/driving at a distance, on a circle. Therefore, you want to get him really responsive at yielding to light/implied pressure first - moving whatever part of her body away when you indicate, then reliable about leading('pulling') & driving('pushing') in all ways up close first. When that's all going well, you just increase the distance until it's 'lunging'. And if she turns in, you 'push' her forehand away from you.

And to begin with, half a circle is great - remember, horses learn to do what works for them. So if she does half a circle(or even less to start with) & you don't reinforce it, keep pushing, she's going to think 'well that doesn't work, I'll try something else'.

Re training her for saddle, thought your mum was a trainer. If she can't advise/supervise & you're not sure, experienced, then I'd strongly suggest finding someone to help you, hands on. It's too easy to stuff up a good horse & make them dangerous if you don't know what's what.

But sounds like you've still got a fair bit of the basics to teach her before you start riding her anyway. Given my profession, hoof care & general handling is about the first thing I'd focus on having her good at.
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post #9 of 9 Old 02-04-2019, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie View Post
Hi,

I missed this thread previously & saw it when you linked from your update one. So before I reply to that, I'll quickly make a comment here. I'm not reading replies, so forgive if I just write what someone else wrote...

Re lunging, it sounds like your horse is just not up to that yet. I think of lunging as just leading/driving at a distance, on a circle. Therefore, you want to get him really responsive at yielding to light/implied pressure first - moving whatever part of her body away when you indicate, then reliable about leading('pulling') & driving('pushing') in all ways up close first. When that's all going well, you just increase the distance until it's 'lunging'. And if she turns in, you 'push' her forehand away from you.

And to begin with, half a circle is great - remember, horses learn to do what works for them. So if she does half a circle(or even less to start with) & you don't reinforce it, keep pushing, she's going to think 'well that doesn't work, I'll try something else'.

Re training her for saddle, thought your mum was a trainer. If she can't advise/supervise & you're not sure, experienced, then I'd strongly suggest finding someone to help you, hands on. It's too easy to stuff up a good horse & make them dangerous if you don't know what's what.

But sounds like you've still got a fair bit of the basics to teach her before you start riding her anyway. Given my profession, hoof care & general handling is about the first thing I'd focus on having her good at.
Regarding for my mother: she worked as a professional trainer for ten years, but like I said: she has back issues now, and we live in different counties. I frequently ask her for advice, but I wanted some extra insight. I don't have any friends with experience in this area, so I figured I could ask for input online.

As for me, I have experience riding and working with horses, but not starting them. I actually contacted a trainer 3 days ago to lend me a hand and make sure her training goes smoothly. She's a bit older than me, and lives nearby. Some other users here advised me to seek some hands-on help, so I contacted her.

I haven't ridden her since the first time I mentioned in my update post. A fair bit of users (along with you) mentioned that I should work on her foundation, so I decided to take their advice. Thank you for the tips on lunging -- I've been working on that, along with getting her used to the saddle, walking in new areas, and leading/driving.

Again, thank you!!
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