Getting a horse back into shape HELP - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 4 Old 06-09-2020, 07:10 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Jun 2020
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Exclamation Getting a horse back into shape HELP

I have a quarter horse mare who is 11 years old. She was a well trained hunter jumper when I bought her back in 2015, perfect for my first horse. After only owning her for about a year I was forced to relocate with my family leaving my horse behind. There were complications with transporting her to our new home and she had to be left with a friend of mine who owned horses. She was never ridden and only turned out in a round pen once a week for a little over a year. When I finally transported her here she was out of shape and so was I. Since then, I have rarely been riding her and been trying to bond with her. She seems so distant with me and we barely have a connection anymore. Lately I have been riding her more consistently but she does not listen to my signals and just wants to go back to the pasture. Since she is my first horse I do not know what to do. I live on an island and there is not many trainers and the ones I have seen do not seem legit. I feel like I'm stuck and that a part of me is missing. I want to get back to where I was and I want to get my horse back there but I don't have the experience and I have no one to help me. I always end up frustrated but I am determined to establish my relationship with my horse.
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post #2 of 4 Old 06-15-2020, 06:31 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Northern California
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There's a lot of things to consider in this situation. It sounds like you have both had some big life changes and a lot of time off. I would start by simplifying your goals. Your first goal should be getting her more confident in you. If every interaction between you has been unpleasant, she's going to choose her pasture or her buddies over you every single time. Her pasture is a comfort zone and she's likely trying to tell you that she's worried or uncomfortable about leaving. The more you try and push her past those thresholds, the less trust she will have in you. Instead of riding, try working with her on the ground first. If you have a round pen or arena, bring her there or you can work with her right in her pasture. Make your sessions short and easy at first so they're enjoyable for the both of you. By doing this you are creating a foundation to build on. (You can even bring a chair and spend 10-15 minutes on your phone or reading a book, totally ignoring her. This is "undemanding time" where you're present, but not asking anything of her.) When you're both ready, try riding her in the pasture using the same principles as you did with your ground work: start easy, eventually ask for more. Work up to the problem areas outside of the pasture. Begin with ground work exercises in those spaces then move on to riding. If things ever start to fall apart and you get frustrated always take a deep breath and simplify by going back a step. Remember, horses and humans don't speak the same language so it's your responsibility to make certain you're being clear about what your asking her to do.


While working on all of the above, try to keep a few things in mind:
Reward the slightest try. Horses operate by feel — they’re masters at reading body language of humans and equines. They’ll always take the path of least resistance. So reward them as they search for the correct answer.
Do as little as possible but as much as necessary. In the beginning you’ll do a little and wait for a result. The horse can feel a fly land on him, so to think that we have to inflict a great deal of discomfort on them to convey our message is wrong.
Be Consistent. Become a fixture in the world of your horse. Endeavor to be the same (ideally optimistic and happy) in every situation; it can become habit-forming for you, and it will lead to more trust being put in you by your horse.


Here are a few links to some ground work exercises:
https://www.equisearch.com/guides/cl...und-work-30915 (go to the download link at the end of the little article)
https://chasinglarkscom.wordpress.co...-time-to-ride/
https://altamirahorsemanship.com/pre...ease-training/


Good luck and have fun!
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post #3 of 4 Old 06-15-2020, 07:15 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Jun 2020
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Thank you so much! I'll definitely look into those links. :)
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post #4 of 4 Old 06-15-2020, 08:28 PM
Foal
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Northern California
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You're welcome!
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