How do you break annoying and possibly dangerous habits? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 11-01-2015, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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How do you break annoying and possibly dangerous habits?

This is long, sorry, but I really need to fully explain.

So, I'm pretty new to horses as I have only been riding for a year and I had to have knee surgery halfway through which pretty much reset my training physically. Well, I got my horse about 5ish months ago and the first thing I want to say about him as that he is sweet and I CAN handle anything he throws at me tantrum wise(buck/rear/kick).

Cubone is a 18yr old APHA registered paint gelding. He has amazing ground manners, doesn't kick/buck/bite/rear/etc., and is all around a great first horse. He was marketed as a beginner friendly horse, however I strongly believe he is better suited for an intermediate rider. Simply because he most definitely has a mind of his own. If he wants to do something, their isn't much you can do to stop him. I've worked through most of his initial purchase problems (not walking when being led, being pushy on the ground and while riding, not even wanting to walk under saddle and then later trotting under saddle) except his ALWAYS going to spectators.

I can handle him rearing(he's only done it once), and even bucking if he ever does this and I can totally handle his many tantrums under saddle, but I can't break his habit of seeing spectators and trotting (even cantering) to them. I can't turn him away once he starts and now I have to pull really hard on the reins just to stop him (which kills me inside because I hate pulling his mouth. ). I've tried pushing him past but he just stops and doesn't listen to any of my cues and starts throwing his head and turning sharply in circles. At one point I was sure he was going to fall over. He has now started trotting with his head practically turned to me but he is horribly off balance and now I'm afraid he is going to fall and hurt himself or me because of his habit.

The only way I can prevent him from going to spectators (AKA my mom and co.) is not letting him see them at all. I have to keep him completely turned away from them and that is now hindering my training.

Second annoying habit:

This might be a habit or this might just be a super annoying vice. I'm not totally sure. Cubone HATES arenas. When I first got him, just getting him to move was hard enough, but finally I was able to ride him well (with tantrums) but slowly he has been losing more and more interest in riding. He absolutely hates entering an arena and now no longer stays in the dirt paths of the arena and ONLY listens in the grass area. From his previous owner, I know that he did lessons for 10 and up children, did parades(which I have picture proof) and was good in any environment (which I also believe), and may have done ranch work at some point in his life but she isn't sure. She never mentioned he worked in an arena explicitly. I haven't tried riding him in the pasture simply because I want to keep that as his chill area and there are no trails I can go to test my theory that he just doesn't work well in arenas.

Any advice with keeping him on the rail? He hates to be there and when I do make him, he starts spooking at random things because he is frustrated and he also doesn't listen to my cues. Should I just try riding him around the property to see if it is just the arena he is having problems in?

Third vice:

This one truly is a vice. He hates to canter. Once again, all his problems seem to be in an arena as when I went to try him out before purchase, I cantered him in his paddock. I have to state that right now, he is overweight and where I live it is very warm and humid so I'm not cantering at all right now. I'm trying to get him fit before I even attempt again. But when I do, I need some tips to get him into it. I know how to get a horse into a canter. My trainer told me to run him into the canter but he simply does a super fast trot and ignores my cues. However, a friend of mine who has way more experience came and she got him to canter from a stand still, English style. Should I try that? That's how I learned to canter from my lessons and I was simply trying to run Cubone into the canter like my trainer told me to.

Any tips? :)

Thank you for reading that! Thank you in advance to those who reply! I do love my boy and even if he never shakes these habits, I do plan to keep him and continue working with him till the day he is retired(Which I should add he is in great shape and doesn't act his age in the slightest.). He is my handsome butt-face! <3

also, I am thinking a harsher bit might be needed but I'm not sure what I should get. I know the bit is meant for neck reining, but he has had no problems until now with stopping and steering. (He doesn't neck rein but I'm teaching him that now.)

from today's ride:

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post #2 of 24 Old 11-01-2015, 05:50 PM
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This horse needs SERIOUS restart training from a professional and capable horse trainer.

He is not suited for even intermediate riders as horses shouldn't have to try THAT hard to keep their way. It sounds as though he has gotten away with one thing, and over time it has escalated. Quickly.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #3 of 24 Old 11-01-2015, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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I have a trainer that is currently working with him, I probably should have mentioned this. I am not on my own in any way. I just wanted to see if I could get advice from others. :)
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post #4 of 24 Old 11-01-2015, 05:57 PM
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When you say you're working with a trainer, do you mean that he's frequently getting training rides, you're taking lessons, or both?
I think this horse could benefit from 30-60 days with a trainer as it doesn't sound like that's the arrangement you currently have. You're absolutely right when you say that these "tantrums" are not something that are beginner safe. They're only going to get worse if not corrected :/

He's a handsome guy, and I look forward to hearing what you decide to do!
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post #5 of 24 Old 11-01-2015, 06:00 PM
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I think he has your number. All the problems you describe are the same problem. He does pretty much whatever he wants and you can't make him mind.

My advice is to find an instructor who can show you how to make him listen to you. If you are working with someone and they aren't helping you with these issues, find someone else.

From your friend's experience with the canter, it sounds like he doesn't know how to run into a canter and thinks you just want him to trot fast. Follow your friend's example. There is no reason why you can't canter for a minute or so even in pretty hot weather.
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post #6 of 24 Old 11-01-2015, 06:05 PM Thread Starter
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Right now we don't have any options for a 30-60 restart trianing. He is being ridden by a trainer every so often but he is an angel with the trainer so he can't address it. :(

My trainer believes that he simply doesn't respect me so I have been getting firmer with Cubone with some results except for the going to spectators. Only just recently have I been getting any results but he still goes to them. My trainer has watched me ride and he thinks that Cu could benefit form a harsher bit, which is what I'm leaning towards right now.

I also have been getting lessons with him. My trainer does not believe my horse is dangerous, just stubborn. REALLY stubborn. He feels that I need to get cubone past his habit with guidance, not have someone fix my horse for me. I must say that I have become a better rider working with Cubone.

Edit: Yeah, we are looking into a new trainer. However, we are going to be changing barns for personal reasons and moving closer to home so we are looking for a future instructor right now. However, the instructor we have no is very experienced and seems to know what he has doing. He has helped other riders with similar horses with good results before. :)

Last edited by Partebuilts; 11-01-2015 at 06:11 PM.
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post #7 of 24 Old 11-01-2015, 06:10 PM
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This horse is having you on. He needs pushing on to make him go. His stopping problem is not about the bit, he is just not listening. You need to be the boss. Make him work in the arena. When he goes well, keep it short and take him out. If he is playing up make him work harder. Also, on the other hand, feed him or brush him in there he has good associations with it.

I suspect at some stage he has been petted and given treats when he 'runs' to the audience. When it happens tell the audience to walk away, while you walk him past and keep going. Don't give in to him. Do you carry a whip? If he is doggedly going in a direction you don't want a flick with the whip can help bring his attention back to you.

Do you have access to a good trainer who can work with you and the horse? As you are new to horses, you would both benefit from some extra help.

With regular work your horse will get fitter. I don't know what you are feeding but get advice as to whether his diet is suitable for the work he is doing.

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post #8 of 24 Old 11-01-2015, 06:11 PM
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Can the spectators carry a whip? I would try this without the rider first and see how he reacts to being shooed away with the whip.

Lesson horses like to stop and be petted by spectators. It is an instant reward.

If you have a small enclosed arena, I would get off if he runs to the spectator. (make sure to use reins you can quickly unsnap) Have mom or whatever spectator there holding the whip, and have her chase him away and chase him all over the arena at a canter. It might help if you get a whip as well and stand on the other side of the arena. Just be careful! He may try and kick and get angry that you didn't just let him stand there and get petted!

Get back on and ask him to walk past the spectator. If he drags you back to see them, repeat the above.

IF you have a large arena, and cannot do the above, have mom (or a volunteer) lunge him while you ride.

This all depends. Does he know how to lunge? How does he respond to being chased away with the whip?

He may respond just by having your mom or the spectators standing there holding the whip...

The same with the canter. You ask him to canter, and have mom standing there with the whip to reinforce you from the ground. It sounds like this is more of "your" mistake than his. Some horses will not canter if your seat is not perfect and if you do not ask them to canter with the correct signal. My old mare is a fantastic lesson horse for this reason. If your seat is not perfect, if you are bouncy or not a good rider SHE WILL NOT CANTER. If you have excellent posture, she will canter right away- as my beginner cousin learned. It just so happens she has perfect posture and doesn't hunch. She climbed up and accidentally signaled the canter instead of the trot, and good ole Desy thought she knew how to ride!

The correct signal for the canter is to Sit up straight and tall, tip the horse's nose to the outside and take your outside leg back and scoop it forward. Try this at the walk. You may be surprised!

As far as him dragging the rider where he wants to go, I would pull his nose all the way to his shoulder, and kick him in a tight circle. It is not acceptable for a horse to drag you where they want to go with their neck bent the other direction! If you have to stop him, stop him. Do not let him get away with it!

Lots of lesson horses hate arenas, as it is boring, boring, boring. If he behaves while riding in the pasture, you can do so. But I would try getting him to behave in the arena first.

Your complaints are pretty typical for a children's horse who has learned bad habits.

Does your friend who got him to canter have the same problems? As it could just be that you need a few more riding lessons. OR he needs a few rides by someone who can discourage him from his antics.

He does not actually sound like a bad horse. He is just a horse who has learned to take advantage of small kids and is testing you.
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post #9 of 24 Old 11-01-2015, 06:13 PM
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Location: Missouri
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Well then I hope you're getting lessons. Being so new to riding and owning a horse that is challenging you at every turn, requires guidance.

Horses aren't fluffy coats and braids, horse riding is a dangerous activity because the horse has a mind of its own. Before you can work with it, you must learn by someone that is more knowledgeable so you don't end up seriously hurt.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #10 of 24 Old 11-01-2015, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Partebuilts View Post
Right now we don't have any options for a 30-60 restart trianing. He is being ridden by a trainer every so often but he is an angel with the trainer so he can't address it. :(
You need the trainer teaching YOU how to control the horse. Sounds like he has got away with doing as he pleases with beginners...let him know you are not a beginner, don't be soft with him. Take one thing at a time and work on overcoming the problem. Being firm with a horse is not the same as being mean to it.

Your trainer should be able to address it by standing on the ground and giving you directions. If he/she can't do that, you need a better trainer.

I am not so sure restart training would really be the answer. The horse goes well enough for your trainer, he is taking advantage of a weaker rider. YOU are the one that needs to change. Be determined, you can win this :)

He looks a lovely horse

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