Gaited horse rescue mare - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 11-08-2019, 01:33 AM Thread Starter
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Gaited horse rescue mare

Iím hoping someone can advise me. I acquired a TWH mare 2 yrs ago and have done natural horsemanship groundwork and in the saddle. She is very soft and giving in controlled environments. Mostly in familiar surroundings. She gets worried in arenas cuz sheís always looking for the boogey man. She spent a few years running wild from wolf dogs before her first safe home but the gentleman who gave her to me is aged and could not keep her. He did gentle her to lead, tie, trim and trailer. My problem is that she picks up a nice lope in the round pen but once out in the open, she seems to lose confidence and I wonder if sheís equating the increase in speed with escaping to survive. I have had a nice lope on her on the dirt roads following my other horse but only after quite a bit of distance when she can settle. Now my kids are all out of the house and I am the only rider. How can I help her through this insanity? She is twelve and to my knowledge was 4 at first rescue. I donít have any training history on her so I approached her as completely green. She yields fore and hind, stops on a dime and backs by my seat, and gaits well when I pick up the reins. I ride her in a hackamore. Thanks for the help.
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post #2 of 11 Old 11-08-2019, 03:15 AM
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Hi & welcome,

Quote:
Originally Posted by cjexplus8 View Post
soft and giving in controlled environments. Mostly in familiar surroundings. She gets worried in arenas ... spent a few years running wild from wolf dogs before her first safe home but the gentleman who gave her to me is aged
Few things bit unclear to me, wanting clarification... So she is worried but still 'soft' in the arena? Then I'd just work with her on easy stuff with lots of stress free breaks, until she is OK about it. Don't understand 'running wild from wolf dogs' - was she a feral & literally running wild, or...? And what makes her a rescue? Was the old guy keeping her in a bad way, or...?

Quote:
My problem is that she picks up a nice lope in the round pen but once out in the open, she seems to lose confidence and I wonder if sheís equating the increase in speed with escaping to survive.
Firstly, wouldn't be doing much fast stuff in a round pen, not good for her body - or heaps of circles generally. Yeah it's normal for a horse to feel insecure/be reactive in unfamiliar situations, esp if by themselves(meaning just with you, not with other horses to feel safer with). It's also normal for them to get more antsy in faster paces if they're a bit insecure, because cantering raises adrenaline levels.

Quote:
I have had a nice lope on her on the dirt roads following my other horse but only after quite a bit of distance when she can settle.
I'd be inclined to do 'short & sweet' stuff with her, not take her too far or too long outside her 'comfort zone'. Be that due to distance, time, speed...

How can I help her through this insanity? She is twelve and to my knowledge was 4 at first rescue. I donít have any training history on her[/QUOTE]

It is not insanity. It is her being a horse, being reactive about something she is insecure/untrained/trained badly about.

Bit confused as you said the old guy had her last 'gentled her' to leading etc, so I assumed that meant she was untrained to anything else. Did he have her since she was 4yo or...? Not that it matters much - knowing her history won't really change how you treat her now.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #3 of 11 Old 11-08-2019, 07:55 AM
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Hello and welcome:)

I am also curious as to exactly what her living conditions were (runnung Wild & wolf dogs) means.

While a rough lifestyle no doubt scarred her, I suspect she is an anxious/insecure horse by births and her issues may never be completely resolved. I know because I have a relative of hers, lol

He is now 25 and has been with me since he was 2-1/2. He was never mistreated before he came to live with me, so I know his issues are him. I have run into a couple of folks, thru the years, with horses like this -- unable to focus in wide open spaces.

He is the most trust worthy horse on a narrow rock cliff trail but he loses it, in the wide open. He's never been safe to ride him alone down a busy state highway like a few of my other horses were, and riding him in a parade would have been suicide. When my alpa horse was alive, this horse would go calmly anywhere in open spaces behind him but he became very reactive in those same open spaces alone.

He's been given physicals, had his eyes checked, blood tests -- it's all in his head and the only thing that helped him was a LOT of hours in the saddle.

I never rode him as much as I rode my alpha horse because he has always been work to ride. My alpha horse was a joy and made me look better than I was, lol

I haven't been able to do any real riding for years and my alpha passed five years ago. That means this horse has reverted back (or become worse) to his nervous/spookiness. He's great on the ground. I can do anything with him, I have fallen under him and he just stands there holding his breath until I say "I'm ok" because I work on the ground with him a couple of hours every day.

The bottom line with your mare is that you have to keep her going under saddle or she will likely go backward mentally.

Also, change of diet also helped my horse a lot but that was after I had to stop riding. Turns out he is grain and soy sensitive - getting him off those helped settle him a lot, and putting him on MagRestore (magnesium maleate not mag oxide) for a couple of years also was a big help.

Don't let anyone tell you to stop using the hackamore either:). I rode my horse his entire life in a hackamore due to tooth issues and he was fine. Early on I spent a lot of money on bits, including a 3 oz. sweet bit, all of them only aggravated his nervous mouth activity more.

That's another thing, lollol. All that mouth action and tongue twisting, which he will also do at Liberty, led to TmJ issues a few times and he needed his head adjusted by the chiro:):)

I'm not much help, except to say she needs ridden a lot and I would lose the arena or roundpen activity, if at all possible. She is probably bored to death in that environment and needs the challenge of trails and road riding, if you have access to low traffic roads:)

We like pictures and I especially would like to see a good side view of her minus all tack and on the opposite side if her mane. A summer pic, if possible, without winter hair cluttering up what I'm looking at:)

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.

Last edited by walkinthewalk; 11-08-2019 at 08:04 AM.
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post #4 of 11 Old 11-08-2019, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
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Her history as I know it...she was bred by a couple who also raised wolf hybrids. A couple of the canines escaped and took to chasing the horses. Her dam blew through a fence and the foal went with. They spent 3 years running and foraging. They were chased and corralled when the couple divorced. Wife tried to manage all the animals alone. Sheriff responded to neglect reports and they were confiscated.

The gentleman took several, including the dam and young mare. The dam was euthanized due to a severe hind leg injury. He took gentle care of the young mare and let her find her place in his herd of horses. He hunted and packed a lot, so he let her follow along. He gently introduced her to trailering and handling, including haltering, grooming, trims and bathing. He maintained her for 5years this way.

Then He gave her to me when my gelding of 28 yrs died. Iíve had her for two years now. I started ground work with her using natural horsemanship methods that I found on YouTube. If they were gentle, it studied their methods and slowly introduced her to new things. I even built a huge obstacle course. When i felt she was ready for riding it was difficult to find someone willing to start an older reactive horse so I ventured on my own. I just took my time in the round pen.

Eventually we got out on into the pasture with someone on my alpha mare. The round pen is for desensitizing to new tools or introducing new material before heading out to the pasture. She loves to trail ride. Will go anywhere I ask. She has a busy mouth, like she has conversations with herself all the time. She will sweat like a stuck pig just with worry. Sheís keenly alert. Like on high alert.

Itís taken two years of hard work and Iím proud of us. Sheís first to the gate, first to catch, puts her head down into the halter AND bridle. Though reactive and easily startles, she never spins or tries to bolt. She will startle in place and gather her composure, breathe loudly and then plugs on. Iíve had her at indoor arenas and her reactive side escalates. She gets uptight about the chirping birds in rafters, dirt hitting the side boards, horses intermittently sticking their heads in from their stalls. Since I donít show, I just decided arenas arenít a deal breaker.

I was just asking because Iím deciding that I have a horse who loves to lope slow everywhere and I have this mare who gaits and Iím learning that I need to switch mindsets when I ride the one or the other. Thanks for the advice. The gaited mare is the spotted horse in my profile pic.
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Last edited by loosie; 11-09-2019 at 04:39 AM. Reason: paragraphs are your friend!
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post #5 of 11 Old 11-08-2019, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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My mares are fed Timothy hay. No grain. Joint supplement, turmeric and a multi-vitamin supplement. They are on turnout 24/7 with run in sheds. They are on 2 acres each, separated by a high tensile hot wire. Their sheds are side-by-side. They are barefoot trimmed.
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post #6 of 11 Old 11-08-2019, 11:57 PM Thread Starter
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We live in farm community and I ride on lots of dirt tractor roads. Most of our roads are gravel, so my horses are in scootboots.
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post #7 of 11 Old 11-09-2019, 05:13 AM
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OK, so as far as you know, they were chased by dogs once many years ago, and neglected in early life, then well looked after since then. So there seems no burning Big Thing in her past that would be a big effect on her now. Though if she's never had any good experiences of dogs, she will likely be nervous of them. Mind you, even if they were treated cruelly or some such, it still shouldn't have a lot of bearing about how you treat her now.

Why I think it's important to establish that is, you are calling her a 'rescue horse', which tends to come with a certain mindset, about the poor, downtrodden/traumatised animal & that she requires special care & treatment now, because of how she was treated in the past. Whereas, assuming - as it sounds you do - you will treat ANY animal with respect & consideration, I think it's best to forget/disregard the past(& many don't know it anyway, of horses they acquire), and just treat her as you would any horse, taking stuff day by day, dealing with her how you find her at any given time, in the present.

Quote:
She has a busy mouth, like she has conversations with herself all the time. She will sweat like a stuck pig just with worry. Sheís keenly alert. Like on high alert.
So it sounds like she may not have been started with a bit very well, is not comfortable with it, be it that it can't be comfortable in her mouth for some reason, or that she hasn't been desensitised to wearing it before it's been used. Might be best to ditch the bit, for now at least, or only use it just to get the mare used to just wearing it without reacting.

If she gets so worried about stuff generally, is on 'high alert', I would NOT be asking her to canter at all yet - remember, cantering of itself raises stress/adrenaline levels.

Quote:
Since I donít show, I just decided arenas arenít a deal breaker.
Yep, good. And I would personally be taking everything a lot easier, work on getting her truly comfortable with more 'basics' before asking for stuff that makes her more nervous. Try to avoid putting her in situations that make her really nervous. If you get her comfortable with 'easy' stuff, then you've got something to fall back on, she will gain trust in you, and you can then move on to 'bigger' stuff gradually, & get her comfortable there, before asking for a bit more... etc.

Oh & diet & nutrition - everything should be balanced, but particularly too little magnesium(& more is used/needed for stressy horses) and too much potassium are particularly associated with 'overly nervous' behaviour.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #8 of 11 Old 11-09-2019, 08:30 AM
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Great advice in @loosie 's last post.

Wow, that is some piece of history on your mare. It sounds like you have done everything right, including diet:).

Her inner workings still sound very much like one of my TWH's so it's likely that "she is who she is" and has thankfully landed in a great home:). Horses like this are often very much misunderstood by the general population and can easily find themselves thrown away or abused. It's part of why I have hung onto Rusty all these years -- he's a terrific horse but wouldn't be for the majority as they would not have the patience to deal with his ornery self:)

Please give some thought to adding Mag Restore to her diet. At least feed her one bag to see if it helps her. I saw a huge difference in my TWH in only a few days.

https://performanceequinenutrition.com

Be sure to click on the "magnesium 101" tab at the top and read up on why extra magnesium malate can benefit some horses.

Also, this is mag malate, not mag oxide like Remission. Mag malate is much more absorbable in the system, therefore the benefits are seen faster:)

While they have pointed the product toward performance horses, on their new web page, it is for any horse that is anxious and cannot focus, be that intermittently or all the time.

It is expensive but worth every penny if it works:). The company is in Petaluma, CA and great to do business with.

I have always bought from PEN, because they are the only company I know of who sells magnesium malate.

It has just occurred to me that I have about 1/3rd of a 4-1/2# bag of MagRestore left. I opened the bag one year ago, so it's still good -- I keep all my horse supplements in the house because they cost too much money to get ruined by our heat/humidity in the barn.

Rusty had been on MagRestore for about three years. As I mentioned, it is expensive. My other other Is IR with serious trauma injuries and costs me a bloody fortune to maintain his quality of life.

I took Rusty off the Mag Restore to see how he would do, knowing I would still spend the money, if he reverted back to his very anxious/spooky self. The Mag Restore seems to have "righted the ship", as he has been fine this entire year.

Meaning, lollol. I will mail what's left of the MagRestore, so you can at least try it, to see if it helps your mare's anxiousness. You will know one way or the other by the time you use up this last 1/3rd of the bag.

That way you don't have to spend the money on a full bag, and be out the money if it does not work. It is pellet form and very palatable -- at least I think it is -- Rusty is like Mikey on that 70's TV commercial, he eats anything, lol

If interested, PM me your shipping address and I will have DH take it to work with him Monday. I would much rather give this to someone, such as yourself, than to see it sit here, in its bag, inside a plastic container, then end up getting tossed sometime down the road. This would also open up a spot on the dresser in the spare bedroom for something else, lollol
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A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.

Last edited by walkinthewalk; 11-09-2019 at 08:35 AM.
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post #9 of 11 Old 11-10-2019, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, loosie. No, I donít give her any special treatment per se. I am patient and I do use extra caution for myself when I work around her for my own safety. A sudden loud noise and she can whip her hind end around quicker than a jack rabbit Sheís definitely the submissive mare. Last year while clearing manure, she came to visit me and my alpha mare decided to move Blossom away. Blossom was so focused on evading the alpha that she swung her hind quarter around, stepping into me with my rake, standing on my boot toe and knocking me flat. Tore the meniscus in my knee. That was an experience. Hence, they are now separated in their own pastures. Even with her quirks, I still prefer riding her than the alpha QH. She is just more considerate of me. I appreciate the advice and encouragement. Her busy mouth is pretty much any time. Even when Iím on the ground teaching her something new. Iím coming to accept that she has developed a stress signal. So I watch for it and then back up on whatever we are doing together until we progress without the stress signal. I just tell her, ďBlossom, slow and steady wins the race and youíre winning today.Ē Itís become our mantra.
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post #10 of 11 Old 11-10-2019, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, walkinthewalk, for your comments. Iím still learning how to navigate the site. I did start an album. Iím. To a great picture taker. I donít know how to message yet but I did send a friend request.
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