New Issue: Gelding Panics When Tied
I'm trying really hard to keep this short, I tend to ramble. Key bullet points, I have taken riding lessons over the years, been with current instructor now for 6 months, but she recently had a baby and works outside of the farm so hasn't been as available to help on a day-to-day basis. There are very knowledgeable people that board at the farm as well that have helped when they could, and I've been trying to research this topic but I really would like to hear what you guys have to say after hearing a little bit about him.
About the horse:
He's my first horse. I've had him for a little over a month, he's a 16y/o Arabian Gelding, has pretty good ground manners with the occasional quirks that get corrected, spooky (though he's in a new place to him), able to saddle up but still working on having him accept the bridle (he's getting a little better, weirdly... one of the boarders there has a much more quiet approach than my instructor and he was able to get the bridle on within a minute which was a record lol). I still ride him with the halter under the bridle. He is polite under saddle, though I always lunge him a bit before a ride just to get him moving and potentially some extra spunk out of him. Luckily, he doesn't buck or anything like that even when lunging.
To my knowledge he has never had issues with being tied and apparently did well in crossties. I know of his history for the first 14 years of his life (he was halter broken and shown as a colt, then later on saddle broken and ridden leisurely), the last 2 years are a grey area because he was owned by someone else in that time (a barn that was open to children to go whenever they want without any supervision from an instructor, which probably what caused some of these issues). With that said, he may or may not have been mistreated. I maybe wouldn't say abused, per say just handled by people who know nothing about horses and potentially taught him some bad habits, which may have inadvertently abused him.
When the issue started To MY knowledge:
The day he arrived he came in after a 6 hour trailer ride. Probably the longest ride he had been on since he was a wee boy after his long ride up to a trainer in PA. Apparently he trailered fine (hired a trusted source to transport him). We let him relax in the pasture for a few hours, then went out there, loved on him for a bit, then brought him in to be crosstied and groomed. I normally just do a single tie with my lesson horses, but the woman who owned him for the first 14 years of his life (and then the last month before he came to me), said he does fine in crossties. So, we tied him. My instructor was present for this. He stood well for about 8 minutes before I had to leave the isle to sign the boarding contract. My father, the man I'm dating (who the horse is loosely familiar with), and BO still with my horse, started saying "whoa, whoa whoa!" and as I heard the horse go into a full blown panic and came back into the isle. This "panic" I'll call it, involved him jumping back jerking his head back and tugging full force with his neck, his front legs straight out in front of him as he pulled back with his rear legs. He was wearing a breakaway halter at the time with the leather crown strap, and it broke right as we were about to pull the latch on the end of the tie to release him (this panic lasted about 5-8 seconds before the halter did break). He turned and cantered out of the barn to a corner where we corralled him. We made sure we tried to end that day on a positive note.
Next day, went to the barn, decided -not- to do crossties, so I used a regular single tie. Had him there for at least 40 minutes while I just grooming on him, giving him affection, etc. he was fine. Put him out to pasture, left. Next day, same peaceful horse. The following day, I noticed he had a scratch on his right eye and it was cloudy. Not sure what caused it, if he did it in pasture or if it was from his panic the time the halter broke but the vet was called. No infection, antibiotics for preventative measure, and it's cleared up with just a mark now where the scratch was which I'm hoping doesn't cause scarring.
On going issue:
But now ANY time without fail if he's tied single or cross, he out of nowhere will panic. The reason I say out of nowhere is we have checked the barn for things that could have potentially spooked him, tried to correlate anything we did that may have frightened him, etc. and couldn't come up with anything. I try to visit him daily, and if I can't do daily, at least 5-6 times a week. I've been grooming him in hand and everything else in hand.
Yesterday one of the boarders who was helping me bridle him told me to every day put him in a tie for 30 minutes and associate it with good things. Like yesterday, I personally never give him carrots or alfalfa cubes, but we gave him one carrot and an alfalfa cube once we put him in the ties and he was standing politely. I groomed his back, girth, etc. to prepare for the saddle. We put the saddle on while he was tied, and RIGHT as we were done within a minute he began his panic.
The boarder didn't release the ties, he pulled the reins down to get him to I guess focus/gain control? and he was able to get him to settle down. We had him stand for a minute so he didn't think we were rewarding him for panicking and then went outside to mount. Was able to mount but once I sat in the saddle he danced forward for a second and tried to turn back toward his pasture, which I corrected. To me he was still feeling anxious. Throughout the rest of the ride however he only spooked once and it was over low flying ducks that landed into the pond beside us, which spooked the boarder's horse as well who is as close to bombproof as you can get a horse. He was a great boy after that and stood very politely for about 30 minutes while I sat in saddle talking to another boarder and her child. He trotted very nicely and we did some round pen work before doing a light cool down work and I returned him to the pasture ending on a positive note.
The next step my instructor wants to take is to patient tie him. She told me which I'm aware of, if he keeps this up, he can very well hurt himself quite seriously as well as any human around him. Would patient tying work? Is this something to bring in a behavioral trainer? Any and all advice welcome. I'm all ears, if we're doing anything wrong, also please say so.
The farrier comes out end of this month and he's due for a trim. I really don't know how this new farrier will take to us holding him vs. him being tied.
Anyway, thanks so much for reading my novel, this is the first what I consider real problem I've had with him so far.