How do you know if your horse is not "the right one"? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 10-08-2014, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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How do you know if your horse is not "the right one"?

I'm still a pretty new rider, and in my 40's. Just over a year ago, with help from a trainer, I bought my first horse. He's a steady guy, not at all spooky, an appaloosa, about 18 years old. I love him to bits, on the ground he's an absolute sweetheart! BUT the problem is he is not fun for me to ride.
We don't really know his history as he was a "rescue", but it seems he's learnt a few tricks in his years, like his fake limp when he's feeling lazy, that caused me much distress until I figured it out!
I wanted a steady, safe, trail horse to enjoy the summer. Well, I've been trail riding 3 times since I've had him. It was not so fun. He gets nervous on the way out, and jigs badly on the way back. On the last trail ride when his front feet started leaving the ground we both walked back.
He's not perfect in the arena either. Sometimes he's fine, but for a while now he tosses his head at any contact. I've had his teeth checked, and have ridden him in different bits, a hackamore, a halter and a bitless bridle, but he still fights all contact. (Not fun at the canter!)
I lunge him. Round pen. I've done the ground work. I have all the Clinton Anderson DVD's. I am still having lessons with my trainer (though inconsistently due her medical issues). She's tough and seems to think we can get through it ("... you'll be a better rider ...!") But I'm getting pretty discouraged.
Other than the jigging I've never felt unsafe. I don't want to give up on him as he is a sweetheart, but I don't look forward to riding him. Every ride is a fight. After a year should it still be this hard? Is it all me? Is there a more suitable horse out there for me, or is this as "fun" as it gets?
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post #2 of 25 Old 10-08-2014, 03:05 PM
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When you aren't having fun it isn't the right horse. However on the same note a trainer can help sometimes and others it just isn't the right fit. I've had my fair share of problem horses or horses that weren't right for me and while yes i worked through them, it was extremely frustrating and many times I wanted to just give up.
Now I found my "perfect" horse and always enjoy a ride, sure we have our tough days but the good days are so much more then the tough ones.
Since I am used to aways having some sort of challenge my guy even gets boring at times haha.
Do not be afraid to accept that he might just not be the best for you, however he might be feeding off your nerves as you are expecting him to act up and he can sense it.
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post #3 of 25 Old 10-08-2014, 03:17 PM
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How do you know when your in love? You just know.
That said your confidence level will go along way in making things feel right.
If you dont know how to work through small bumps in the road they will turn into big bumps with any horse. If you have not felt unsafe I would stick it out. The jigging can be something you are creating. If you are calm and work him past being nervous he should come around quickly.

That said there are many undiagnosed medical reasons that can attribute to some of the things you are describing.
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post #4 of 25 Old 10-08-2014, 03:17 PM
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You need a new trainer, as this one clearly has to talent with picking the correct horse for their client. I would start there and let the new trainer deal with the rest
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post #5 of 25 Old 10-08-2014, 03:42 PM
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When you want to sell and but something else it's usually not the right horse. You can decide if you want to keep fighting to find a way to enjoy rides with him, or you can give up and but another horse who suits you more.

I don't know your riding level and I'm gust guessing blindly, so please don't take offense: it might be your riding style that causes (or at least, doesn't fix) his attitude. I said might. I can't be certain. I don't know it this is the cause, and how much you are willing (or able) to improve.

It is within your rights to decide that you want a horse who'll be ok with your style. Horses are not children, they are not lovers, you can decide to fight and make a "relationship" with them work, or you can sell. That's nothing shameful in selling.
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post #6 of 25 Old 10-08-2014, 03:54 PM
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post #7 of 25 Old 10-08-2014, 04:42 PM
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Should it 'take this long?', who knows....Can it take this long..deifinitely. It somewhat depends on how often you get to work him or ride him. If it's only a couple of times per week (like me ..), then you need to consider the number of hours per month (or year) compared to someone who gets to work/ride daily. It's a huge difference, so you could cut yourself a lot of slack in that regard.

You don't say if you are trying to ride out solo, or if other people are with you. Many horses get very unconfident being asked to ride out alone and would exhibit the behavior you describe , esp. if they don't see the rider as confident/in control/a leader. that doesnt mean being harsh, of course.

I don't think he and you are anywhere near ready to be cantering ! Until he is solid and obedient at walk, don't trot. until the same at trot, dont canter. That's the safest plan, imho.

Can you work thru this?....most likely, esp. with help from a good trainer. You just need to decide if you want to take whatever time it takes to work thru these issues, or if you'd rather have a more suitable (your words) horse. Absolutely nothing wrong with either decision!! it takes a wise person to be willing to admit they are over horsed.
I was most definitely over horsed. I did decide to take the time it takes, and we have gotten better and better, it's taken several years to get to this point. But, it was better enough to become fun rather than always a fight fairly quickly (sorry, I dont remember exactly, and each horse sets the timeline anyway, so my time is not relevant to what someone else's time might be). Believe me, I feel your pain, and remember well being exactly where you are now.

Is it all you ? yes and no. Yes, he has your number and knows how to push your buttons (been there, done that, got the tee shirt). No, he would test the boundries with whoever is working/riding him, and only someone with more experience/savvy than you (me) would get better results.

Is this as fun as it gets? No,No,NO !! it gets really fun ! Sonny still tests me , but not nearly as often or as persistently. We rode Sunday and he got a bit antsy when my friend and I decided to have our boys stand still while the other 2 riders went ahead on the trail. When I was at your point , he would have blown up and/or blown me up , I probably would have gotten so scared and upset i would have dismounted to feel safe. Sunday , I just persisted in asking him to stay on the spot I picked out , and he quickly calmed back down. (THIS is our spot, walk off and we go back to sideways and we go back to it,,back away and we go back to it....then he decides that it IS our spot and stands there calmly)
Sonny was a pickle in the arena, too,,before we started making progress. The head tossing,,,oh yeah,,,and I truly believe he was saying 'no! I won't!'. I can't remember the last time he tossed his head with me riding.
It's a hard decision that only you can make. Sonny is now a very good trail horse, and Iv'e decided a good trail horse is worth his weight in gold, so I can offer you hope...but you have to be honest with yourself as to whether you want to put in whatever time it takes. And again, there's no 'shame in your game' to decide that another horse would be more suitable. But,,,and this is part of what made me decide to try to work thru Sonny's issues....the next horse may seem suitable at purchase time, but turn out to be as 'bad' , or worse than him. just something to think about.

Good luck!
keep us updated on how things are going

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Be as soft as possible, but as firm as necessary--Pat Parelli
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post #8 of 25 Old 10-08-2014, 05:10 PM
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If every ride has been a fight, and it has been a year. Maybe it is time to try a few other horses? I think I would. Are there other horses at the barn you could possibly try, to just get an idea?

Horses can't fake a limp though. If he is limping, I would have your vet or farrier check that out.

Let us know how it goes.
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post #9 of 25 Old 10-08-2014, 05:29 PM
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if you have honestly tried for his long, to the best of your ability, its time to call it quits. This isn't fun for him, or for you, so move on.
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post #10 of 25 Old 10-08-2014, 06:21 PM
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I'll bet your horse knows you aren't interested or not enjoying his company. That would explain the escalating issues when you're on his back. Same thing could happen with another horse if you don't learn how to train the bad behavior out of him, but it might not.

There are about 25 horses at the barn where I ride. Out of those, there are really only 2 that are sweethearts all the time, and one of them is mine. The rest can be buttheads when they feel like it and they regularly test riders and need reminding who is the boss. It's in their nature to always be checking to see if you're up to lead-mare status.

What are the chances you're going to find one of those perfect horses if you sell the one you have? Probably not that good. People tend to hold onto those horses, not sell them.

If it were me, I'd give it one last push with your current horse with a trainer there helping, and work on the horse's attitude under saddle. And don't expect too much at once. My horse was nervous the first few trail rides we did, but she eventually got better and better and now she's great.

You can't expect them to just get over their fears without a lot of desensitization first. And sometimes that desensitization takes a while. I'm not saying you aren't aware of this stuff. But sometimes even with Clinton's DVDs, you can forget that not all horses catch on as fast as his do in the videos. :)
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“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” ~ William Shakespeare
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