A Whole Buddy-Sour Herd - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 03-24-2020, 11:28 AM Thread Starter
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A Whole Buddy-Sour Herd

First I should probably give some background. I grew up on a family farm around horses, but became estranged from that family around the time I hit middle school. Recently we have reconnected with that family, and since my team lessons at school have since been cancelled due to Covid-19, my roommate (also on the team) and I thought we might go out there and see if there was anyone workable for the time being. (We also cleaned out the barn and salvaged an amazing amount of tack, but that's for another post.)

What we've found is that my grandparents hired a very nice girl to work and maintain the horses, but she was laid up for a year after surgery. (She's a jouster, but a little more on that later.)

So here's the herd:
Brandy- A boarder's horse that got dumped on us after she threw his wife and she broke her wrist. By everyone's account it was because they didn't know horses, but we have been cautious. She's very friendly and has okay manners on the ground, she takes tack okay but is a little cranky about the girth. We haven't tried to ride her yet because she obviously needs more work. She's also the boss mare and the other horses freak when they are separated from her.
Skippy- A cousin's horse that was also dumped on us. She was a good kiddie horse but hasn't been ridden in at least a year if not more. She's hard to catch and doesn't like being separated from Dolly, but is very compliant once you have her. She does tend to be a little antsy though.
Dolly- An ancient sway-back mare that we've had since I was a kid. She's one of the most sour, and will sit at the fence and call and call and call after any horse that's not there.
Chaucer- Also very old, but very spicy and the girls have started using him for jousting. It's very good for him and he doesn't care about being away from the herd at all, and they don't seem to miss him as much.
Wrangler- The jouster's horse that she boards with us. He is also pretty sour, surprisingly, but also gets very jealous when he's not taken out for work.

So basically, the only horses that we're able to try for are Brandy and Skippy. Wrangler isn't our horse, Chaucer is pretty high maintenance and riding a different discipline so we don't wanna mess up his training, and Dolly is of course unridable because of the sway.

We have made some good progress, but we are by no means trainers and I don't want us or a horse to get hurt. (I've read some other posts here already and I already feel like we're in over our heads.) Brandy and Skippy aren't necessarily wild, green horses but they're definitely out of shape. I've also read and watched a lot of resources on working buddy sour horses but none of them seem to apply to a whole herd, so I wanted to ask the experienced people what the best course of action would be.

We are in a position where we could potentially get another horse more suited to our level that we could actually work and practice with, but then the issue would be keeping them from souring too.

How much of a lost cause do we have here?
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post #2 of 28 Old 03-24-2020, 12:21 PM
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If nothing else you sure have provided a good visual of this herd’s herd dynamics, lol.

This would make a great caricature cartoon:):)

To be serious, I think your assessment is correct, that Brandy & Skippy are your best options.

IMO, it would be a waste of time, spending money, to bring another horse into the mix. Plus adding a new horse to such a tight knit clan, could result in a horse getting seriously hurt. It’s just not worth it.

If you and your roommate can always go to the farm together, I would take Skippy & Brandy out together for now.

You wouldn’t necessarily have to school them together but just have one nearby, grazing and being brushed, while the other one is being prepared to be ridden again. When one horse is finished, switch the process.

I would imagine both horses will be pretty good with ground work and your cousin’s horse that was used for children will likely make the fastest progress in the riding department.

Brandy was probably too much horse for the boarder’s wifey-poo. I have little sympathy for people like her. My friend rescued a perfectly good horse out of a similar situation that ended up half starved. They ended up having to re-home him due to their finances and he’s been in my pasture since 2007. Actually the doll face is my avatar

Anyway, Brandy is the one I think will have to be saddled with caution and she should be carefully checked for pain issues and be sure she has a good fitting saddle.

If the last time she was ridden was the broken wrist event, that doubles the trouble of getting back her and trying to get her to work.

Not knowing any of her history, she would be a good candidate for you to put a sandbag dummy in the saddle before either of you get on her. And for now, I would also let the first one to ride her be the person Brandy seems the most inclined to connect with:)

Lastly, welcome to the forum! I hope you keep posting updates:) And pictures — we love pictures:)

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.
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post #3 of 28 Old 03-24-2020, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the welcome!

We had not previously taken Brandy and Skippy out together, since we wanted to try and assess them individually, but I think that's a great idea and we'll definitely try it! We haven't been out in a few days due to a lot of rain; the whole place is muddy and we've found that if Brandy slips or is unsure of her footing, she is prone to get panicky pretty quickly. We've heard secondhand that the farrier suspects that she has some back or back feet pain, so we're gonna try and get that checked out and see what's up.

From what we've been told, boarder and wifey were not very nice people so I don't have any sympathy either lol.

In some of the tack we salvaged were two very nice plastic/nylon saddles that we've been experimenting with since they're so lightweight. We also measured both of them and got them new girths that seem to fit very well. We'll definitely look into the sandbag thing, too! Thanks for your insight and advice!

And here's some recent pictures of the gang!
Wrangler is the friendly palomino boy, Brandy is the chestnut dun biting his face, and in the last pic from left to right are Skippy, Chaucer, and Dolly lol.
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post #4 of 28 Old 03-24-2020, 01:50 PM
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BrandyBrandyBrandy, you should not be biting your friends in the face, lol.

Bless Dolly, she sure is swaybacked:(:(. I hope Brandy doesn’t pick on her.

If you’ve heard rumors of pain issues, yes, get clearance on that before trying to ride Brandy. It would be good to take clear videos of her movement while you’re doing ground work with her. Sometimes slight lameness gets missed with the naked eye but shows up on video:)

Also, since it’s muddy, the horses may be dealing with thrush. Thrush can also be painful enough to cause some lameness and make them unridable.

If your or your roommate have enough experience to recognize thrush, get a hoof pick and see if you can carefully pick up Brandy’s hooves to check for it. Hopefully she isn’t so soured that she won’t try to kick your head off.

If you’re hesitant to try, hopefully you can get the farrier out who started the rumor and get some help & hoof care instruction from him/her:)
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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.
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post #5 of 28 Old 03-24-2020, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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We can definitely take a few videos of Brandy next time we're out there and post them here.

Brandy and Skippy both lead okay, and love the attention of being groomed lol. Sometimes when we're brushing them out they will get a little dancy or neigh back to the herd but they have yet to kick or try to bolt (thank goodness)! They both give their feet well so we can check for thrush too! The farrier supposedly comes out every 6 weeks so we'll ask when he's coming out again and talk to him.

Another concern we have with the herd-bound behavior is how rowdy they get (especially Brandy) when we're turning them back out to the rest of them. Any tips on that?
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post #6 of 28 Old 03-24-2020, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by kbrewer View Post
Another concern we have with the herd-bound behavior is how rowdy they get (especially Brandy) when we're turning them back out to the rest of them. Any tips on that?
I do but, I’m in my 70’s. I learned the method from my grandfather, who was a kind and fair horseman but also no nonsense:)

Others may have a better idea that is equally as effective.

The way we kids were taught to make a horse go thru the gate like a lady or a gentleman was to take one wrap of the lead rope around the lower nose.

You need to stay close to the part of the rope that’s snapped to the halter.

It takes some doing but it is possible to lead the horse and be able to tighten down on the rope a little with one hand, or quickly grab the rope and pull down a little with the left hand.

And while you’re doing that with one (the right hand:), dig that same shoulder into the horse’s chest and firmly push back while firmly saying “WHOA”! If the horse stops completely, all well and good, and it’s then up to you to give the cue to “walk”.

If the horse slows down, keeps its head to your shoulder, while peacefully walking to the gate, also well and good.

If the horse gets antsy and tries to Bull it’s way thru you, this is when you can quickly take your left hand, grab the pulling/tightening end of the lead rope and tighten down a little, dig your shoulder into the horse’s chest and make it spin in a circle because you are still holding the halter with your right hand.

I was 12 years old and 5’2” when Granddad taught me that trick. You don’t need brute strength but you do need some strength and to be quick on your feet. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to do that, generally with the same horse if it hadn’t been worked in awhile.

The reason you need your left hand basically free is to open the gate as you won’t always have someone with you.

Once in the pasture, face the horse toward its buds (NOT facing the gate you just came thru) because you don’t want to be in the way when the horse no doubt will whirl and kick out.

Then make the horse “hold still” to get the halter off and if the horse does tend to kick out, know which hind leg it uses so as to avoid it while you holler “I’m gonna send you down the road one of these days!” :)

Unfortunately for me, nearly all my Keeper horses have kicked out with the left hind but only one of them ever needed gate charging lessons. He is now 26 and will still occasionally try to push the gate but all he needs is a “NAH!” in his old age, lol

The worst case scenario would be if the pastured horses are waiting at the gate. Then you need a buggy whip. Snap it hard on the gate and firmly holler “BACK UP!”

If you can do that with the horse you’re holding behind you, the horse will learn it is not the one the whip wrath is aimed at.

That was all probably clear as mud. Sometimes, if you’re by yourself, you need six hands to handle one horse and a lot of creativity.

To reiterate, someone else may have a better idea, so long as it isn’t a namby-pamby poor poor Brandy idea. Judging by her desire to rearrange Wrangler’s face, she is a horse that may need thirty seconds of “I’m going to kill you” every once in awhile. Lol

Just make sure she isn’t in some sort of pain - she is allowed to tell you she hurts but she is not allowed to hurt you while she’s telling you:):)
AnitaAnne and kbrewer like this.

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; 03-24-2020 at 05:24 PM.
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post #7 of 28 Old 03-24-2020, 05:22 PM
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@kbrewer do you mean they try to blow past you to get to their buddies once you turn them out?

Some things I have heard that might help:
1. Turn them to face the fence before you take off their halter (this has not personally worked for me FWIW)
2. Give them a cookie when you take off the halter. See if they will wait for another, then hand it over. Or bring a bucket and make a show of putting the cookie in the bucket while you take off their halter. They would ideally still be eating the cookie when you step back toward the gate.

We have taught our horses that they have to submit to the uncomfortable / undignified ritual of being hugged and loved on when we turn them out. Sometimes you can tell they are antsy to be back with their buddies, but they know they are supposed to wait for this, so they do. When I'm done hugging my horses, I say "OK" in a clear voice and pat them on the shoulder, to let them know they can go. That might take some work with these guys, but I'm just sharing what our process is with ours.
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post #8 of 28 Old 03-24-2020, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips and the laughs lol. Brandy can be a sassy lady so it makes sense that we should give her some sassy right back! :)
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post #9 of 28 Old 03-24-2020, 05:33 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, we'd have to do a little more work before we could submit them to the horrors of turnout cuddles lol, but thank you for the advice! We can definitely try to employ that later on. :)
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post #10 of 28 Old 03-24-2020, 07:22 PM
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With a horse that wants to take off at turn out I have put 2 lead ropes on them and I take them away from the gate so I don't get caught in a tight space, have them stand and take off one lead, if they move away I stop them with the other one then put the lead back on, talk to them scratch them then repeat until they stand quietly to have the lead unsnapped. At these times in the beginning I might let them go with a break away halter.
Then when they are standing good for me I unsnap the lead put the rope around the horse's neck and take off the halter but I can still hold them with the neck rope. Even put the halter back on and lead them around for a bit then repeat.

This process takes a little time for them to get good at being turned out but it has always worked for me. Just another training session and ground work session.
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