Six plus weeks in...give up or start over? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 40 Old 07-31-2013, 03:43 AM Thread Starter
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Six plus weeks in...give up or start over?

I've had my Paint for about seven weeks now and just when I thought things were getting better, they seem to now be getting worse.

When I rode Saturday morning, I got up at the back of one of the barns since there was a mounting block already there. I always use that one and then walk him to the round pen or arena. This time, he took off trotting very fast (my trainer's told me this is an unsafe trot for him) and tried to run back to his barn.

I slowed him down to a walk and turned him around, did a few circles and started to go back to where we started to head to the round pen from there. Thought, "ha, I got you under control" and all seemed well. When we rounded the corner into a long straight length, he took off. Like full-on gallop.

I lost one of my stirrups so had trouble shifting my weight back into the saddle. I couldn't get into his rhythm in that position, so after unsuccessfully trying to stop him for about 200 feet, I decided I needed to just do whatever I needed to do to stay on...and I had to lean forward, grab mane in one hand and horn in the other...reins loosened.

Instead of taking me back to his stall (which really I wanted since then at least he'd have STOPPED) he did a number of laps around and between the buildings. I had to stay down to avoid the eaves of the buildings, the of the hot walker that he ran through, etc.

Finally he slowed down enough for me to get upright again and I pulled back with all my might and he slowed enough for one of my neighbors to grab his halter. He would have dragged her but a second later my dh grabbed the other side and he finally completely stopped.

I was so terrified, not only of falling off but that if I did fall off he'd hurt someone else around the I figured if I fell off onto that surface (it's compacted dirt/sand and gravel) it'd probably kill me. I'm almost 40 and have only been back to riding for 3-4 months.

I went into this thinking I was buying a dead-broke, anyone-can-ride trail horse...and knowing he needed to gain weight and muscle, that we'd get in shape together. I didn't personally ride him until a couple weeks ago since I'm heavy and we wanted to give him a bit of rehab time first--but I did do ground work every other day with him, fed him, groomed him, etc. For a while he was getting rinsed 4x daily because he stopped sweating. We spent a lot of time together and I thought we'd built a lot of trust.

I've led my kids on him and both my teens have ridden him and he's always been an angel, but only in the arena or round pen. My trainer was planning on having him ready for trail rides after one more month...but he became barn sour and even she couldn't keep him at a walk after her last attempt at a trail ride...he dragged through almost a mile in our sandy wash and wouldn't go below a trot. He was only wearing a halter though so we thought adding a bit (snaffle cause he's terrified of the curb bit that was "his") would do the trick. It did for a few rides and then he got over it.

When he bolted with me, he had it in his teeth, I'm pretty sure.

Some of the witnesses say I need a stronger bit. Some say I need to do a one-rein stop or run him into small circles. Well, he's 22 and while he's been declared sound to ride, he's got mild arthritis and is still stiff...I was pretty sure we'd have tumbled if I'd done that while he was galloping on slippery footing.

I realize that leaning forward probably did not do a lot to encourage him to stop. He was a barrel horse. But it was that or fall off. His canter (which I've only sat when he's being naughty) is pretty smooth but that gallop or whatever he was doing was tough!

My neighbor lunged him till he was quite tired and then I lunged him a little bit more. We made sure he was submitting...eyes softening and licking his lips, etc. He was obeying commands and yielding well. Of course I had lunged him before the ride too.

I haven't ridden him again and while I'm being encouraged to ride him in the round pen since he's never acted up there, I am not sure I should or that I can. The vet said I can lunge him all I want but that if I really want to recondition him, he needs to be ridden daily, even if it's just 15-20 minutes at a walk.

There are some concerns "down at the barn" that this horse is gonna hurt me, no matter what...that he'll always be unpredictable. One trainer's opinion is that he needs to "go back to square one." My husband isn't really keen on months and months of training. We're into him for too much already, especially for what he his. I know that's my fault...and live and learn...but where do we go from here?
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post #2 of 40 Old 07-31-2013, 04:38 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2013
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Coming back to add...the vet I used last (still haven't found my "forever" vet LOL) suggested taking him off grass hay and doing 100% alfalfa. So he started getting that plus his Sr. which has alfalfa plus alfalfa pellets (cause he doesn't seem to eat much actual hay). Al my friends say the alfalfa is making him "hot" so we've got him back to 50/50 grass/alfalfa for a week and then we'll go to 100% grass. I replaced the alfalfa pellets with grass pellets and we're reducing him Sr. to about 1/4 of what he gets now. The general consensus is that he's being overfed and fed too much sugar and protein. I can't disagree with that's possible. The barn doesn't weigh the hay and I've wanted him to gain weight, so I very well could have been overdoing it with the Sr., etc.
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post #3 of 40 Old 07-31-2013, 05:04 AM
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I'm wondering if him starting to get back in shape is giving him more energy.
That might start to explain why he was so calm when you got him and now he's acting like this, among other reasons.

Is your trainer still working with him?
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post #4 of 40 Old 07-31-2013, 05:10 AM
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alfalfa is also known as rocket fuel so I'd get him off that quickly.

Without being there I honestly cant say what happened but I can say you did the right thing by staying on as long as you could.

I'll put you mind at ease that the fall probably would not have killed you but it would have hurt. Have you been taught how to fall properly and how to dismount in an emergancy (i.e with the horse at a gallop)? if not find someone who will teach you as it is the one thing that will minimise the potential injuries should you fall off.

I'm also goiong to say that untill you have this sorted even though you ride western I would be wearing a helmet.

I would try lunging him BEFORE you get on him. Also If he does it again then a one rein stop is your best option. He will not fall over, the whole point of the one rein stop is that it puts them off balance and forces them to stop or fall, if a horse is not in a blind panic then it will always choose to stop (and your lad was not in a blind panic trust me on that one!) Shorten your rein as much as possible and jam your hand behind your knee, keep him circling tightly untill his neck softens and he comes off your hand.

RIDE your horse FORWARDS and keep him STRAIGHT

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post #5 of 40 Old 07-31-2013, 05:57 AM
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I've also heard that about alfalfa. I've "rescued" a few and can say that more food, better weight can lead to some um, unexpected freshness.

I second the helmet thing. Im a beginning rider, and even though Im pretty sure my green filly wouldn't go out of her way to dump me...well, better safe than sorry. ;)
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post #6 of 40 Old 07-31-2013, 08:40 AM
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Barn sour horses can be tough but the habit can be broken. On the ground first, work the horse near the barn, get them nice and tired..a lot of changes in direction, keep them moving. Then, walk them down to the arena or other location well away from the barn and other horses and allow them to rest. Essentially you want them to think that being away from the barn means they get to rest...being near the barn (near the working area), means they have to work.

Even at the barn door, if you have problems getting them away, make them work..move off to rest. Simply backing them up a distance could work.
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post #7 of 40 Old 07-31-2013, 09:29 AM
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Yes, work him only in the round pen. You are going to be bored, but you need to be STUBBORN. Do NOT let hom take ONE step wrong. Do NOT let him turn his head to look toward the bar, or off in the distance, or ANYTHING. Lead him there. If he looks at something besides you and your chosen destination, YANK. If he is not WITH you, back up suddenly. Make a sharp turn INTO him. GET MAD. But not frustarted. Animals know the difference.

Going back to the barn, don't go there. When you get close, lunge him. When he gets to the stall, tie him away from hay, etc. YOU control the water, too. He is not going to die of thirst in 45 minutes.

Good Luck!

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post #8 of 40 Old 07-31-2013, 10:28 AM
Green Broke
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first, get him off grain and alfalfa, if nessesary put him on a feed with lots of cool calories. Right now he's being fed like a race horse, so I'm not surprised he has lots of energy!

circles are your friend. get very familiar with them. start by riding him in the round pen, then move up to a corral, etc. one step at a time. Every time he speeds up without being asked, circle him until he goes back to the required speed. Pay close attention to HOW you ask, and make sure you release preasure as soon as he complies with your request.

I would bet after a few sesions of being circled every time he speeds up he will be far more relaxed and attentive, and less inclined to speed up.

I ride lots of OTTB's, and tough mouths, running through the bit, and constantly wanting to run come with the territory. a rider with soft hands, and lots of circles, can fix this issue.
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post #9 of 40 Old 07-31-2013, 11:56 AM
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Hi lilipoo. I think you did very well under those circumstances. I know this may be hard to believe right now but that was a valuable learning experience - you kept thinking; came up with an on-the fly (no pun intended) plan to use and you survived to tell us about it (which should also make a good story for the grandkids one day).

This reflects what a couple of the other posters have said: Get him off the high energy food (oats and alfalfa) for the time being which is what you are currently doing; work on your circles and getting him flexing into a circle; learn and practice the one rein stop; get back in the round pen (helmet on) and take that next ride. I think you will also need to find a balance between going back to square one with his training and being able to go out on the trail with him. I know this is the tricky part because you'll have to be very analytical here and figure out what the trigger(s) is that sends him speeding off, work on eliminating it, and what you are (or are not doing) to reduce reactions and keep control. This is what horsemanship and good riding is all about and it's not learned over night so don't feel discouraged - you will prevail.

Good luck and we'll expect progress reports.
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post #10 of 40 Old 07-31-2013, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by faye View Post
Have you been taught how to fall properly and how to dismount in an emergancy (i.e with the horse at a gallop)?
Really? At a full gallop I'd be looking for a water landing. Most of the times I have come off a horse I really didn't have time to prepare for the "take-off." In all seriousness, I am not trying to be a smart-a#$, but how do you fall properly? Between the point of separation from the horse, being suspended in mid-air like a Warner Brothers cartoon character, and the eventual splat on the ground, there is not a lot of time to get in position.

OP...good advice here. Get him off hot feed. He probably needs a bit of something though, like a joint and vitamin supplement. Two of our horses get a handful of senior feed just to carry the supplement. And starting back in the round pen is what I would do. It sounds like you have a retraining job.
This next bit of advice is my personal opinion...If I want a trail horse, I will shop for one with that experience or at least a calm and willing disposition to work with. Years ago I decided not to ever buy a horse that had been used in arena speed events. Not that they can't be a trail horse too, but I didn't want to deal with the fast take-offs that might be encountered if the horse was not well trained. Sometimes we get a horse and later find little surprises we need to work out but I prefer to not knowingly start with something that may be difficult to overcome.
**My most heartfelt apologies to the racers and gamers out there who all have perfectly trained horses!!!! No offense meant.**
OP...I wish you the best. A runaway is scary as all get-out. It's good that you have a trainer to help.
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