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Need Honest advice on the challenges I am having with my first horse. Thinking I need to sell him, but not even sure best way to go about it.

Short version of background: rode English for 3-4 years in my teens and didn't ride again until mid 40's. Took lessons on and off for 4-5 years. Bought first horse last February when I was 51.

Found horse on craigslist, took instructor with me and had vet check. Seemed like a good fit so I bought him. 7-8 yr old grade gelding. Brought him back to instructors place and boarded there until December. We had a really rough winter and spring weather wise so didn't get to ride him as much as needed. He got a little testy.

Finally after a few more small issues I sent him to training for 120 days. Ended in March and now he is mine to finish. Things were going very slowly after he finished training - not very happy with end product (thought he would be pretty broke) but still having small issues. He does perfect for trainer but just has my number. Was really working on ground work and was riding him in arena at a walk and trot.

Had to leave town for a family emergency for one week and when I returns there was a new mare in the paddock with my horse. That's okay because my contract for boarding says he could be in with another horse. But now I can't catch my horse. The paddock is about 1/2 acre and he just continually runs from me and hides behind the other mare. I tried for over an hour the first night and 1-1/2 hours the second night. Using methods I read about but nothing works not even treats. I told the trainer about it and he got his four wheeler and chased him until he wore out (30 minutes). He was able to catch him and then just fed him and let him go. But when I go back out tonight I can't catch him.

I want to sell him. Trainer said I won't get anything for him because he is grade and says he is really smart but lazy.

Concern: I think I need to sell him and find an older dead broke horse, but don't want to sell him to someone who will send him to be killed. He rides great, stands for farrier, loads into trailer, does not bite or kick. Should I leave him at this place and try to sell him? Or should I move him to another barn until I can sell him- where I can catch him easily (or now that he has developed this game is it correctable) I have never had to sell a horse and not sure best way to go about it. Don't care so much about money just want to make sure he gets a good home.

Sorry for the long version, just don't know where to turn.

I am a little confused here. You said your "instructor" went with you when you purchased the horse, then he was sent out for training, then a "trainer" chased him with the four wheeler. How many people are we talking about ? It seems strange to me that a horse that rode well initially for a rider of your ability would need 120 days of training. Perhaps after a winter of no work a few rides under a professional and then a GOOD trainer working with both you and the horse was all that was needed. The catching problem is certainly frustrating but that can be corrected and I am glad to hear that you are working on that. I also don't think that there is such a thing as a "perfect" horse any more than there is a perfect job or relationship. It is all a matter of what one individual is willing to work with or try to correct.
 

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My 2 cents worth. Your trainer is not helping you effectively. Whether or not your trainer is incompetent or disinterested I can’t quite tell with the information given. Either way he is not helping you fix the problem. For working on catching your horse, I agree with Avna:

Post by Avna
Look up some threads about catching horses. There are a number of methods but the one that seems to work best for me is "make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard"; bring a longe whip with you and if he doesn't stand for the halter, turn 'catching' into 'free longing'. Keep him moving until he asks to stop, with his attention on you. It's different than just tuning you out. Don't chase him, this isn't punitive. Stay cheerful and upbeat. Just keep him moving (the mare will quickly learn you aren't asking anything of her and will ignore you). Get between him and the mare, that's his comfort spot, with her. When he asks to stand still, move in with the halter. If he takes off again, do the same thing. The first time may be a long session but they'll get shorter.
With treats, give them at random times. After you have tied him up, before brushing, after brushing, after riding, and sometimes nothing. It creates a new type of problem if he expects a treat each time he is caught, so don’t create the expectation. We all love to give them treats, but they are only treats when they are not expected.

Walkinthewalk gives great advice about just ‘being’ with your horse sometimes. It gives you time to ‘know’ your horse in a different way.

When leading your horse does he respect you, or will he walk over the top of you? Will he move over when you ask, can you do his feet? When you are riding does he w/t/c when you ask it, and turn/bend/halt? This is all related and the bottom line is leadership. It is your trainers job to instruct/guide you to being that leader. You can send him to 100 trainers, and he will work like a dream and still not work for you because he is not seeing you as his leader. It IS fixable :). Your horse will still be the nice horse you bought, you just need to get on top of the problems that have developed. And just because he is a grade does not mean he is not a nice horse.

I would agree with the people here who say find a new trainer. This one has had a chance to help you and has failed. You may be reluctant to move for various reasons, maybe even feel disloyal. Don’t. Your responsibility is to yourself and your horse, and when you get over this little hiccup you will feel a sense of achievement, and be ready for the next hiccup:) - there is always something to learn with horses!! To lessen the frustrations, learn to enjoy the small achievements they are all parts to a big achievement.

As kids (teens) we used to ride a Standardbred sometimes. He would often be hard to catch, but to him it was just a game! When he had finished his ‘game’ he would walk up to us!! It really is infuriating, and you can’t ‘punish’ them for it because they then associate the punishment with being caught!! Good for learning to develop a sense of humour!!
 

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As kids (teens) we used to ride a Standardbred sometimes. He would often be hard to catch, but to him it was just a game! When he had finished his ‘game’ he would walk up to us!! It really is infuriating, and you can’t ‘punish’ them for it because they then associate the punishment with being caught!! Good for learning to develop a sense of humour!!
I have one of those. The free longeing method has never worked with him because it just feeds into his game -- or "offends" him and gives him even more reason to be a pill. With him, I literally have to remind myself not to play into his game. I have to be intentionally "boring", so that he decides it would be more interesting to find out what we'll do after he's caught.
 

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I have one of those. The free longeing method has never worked with him because it just feeds into his game -- or "offends" him and gives him even more reason to be a pill. With him, I literally have to remind myself not to play into his game. I have to be intentionally "boring", so that he decides it would be more interesting to find out what we'll do after he's caught.
Yes. We still had a lot to learn back then!! But our problem was that the horse had a clear 2 hectares so we did more running than the horse! The technique does work, but there can be exceptions.
 

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This sounds like me and my Yorkies! I know, a horse is a lot bigger, but my little Yorkies run all over me, and your new grade horse is doing the same to you! The things that might get you mad that I am reading, from you, sorry don't mean to be mean, is that you started out with a horse that you could catch, and then they decided you weren't going to. Well, when you used treats, did you use a variable ratio of reinforcement? That's the strongest pull to repeat a behavior. Offer the treat, get them to you, and don't always give the treat out. It's the way Vegas gets you with slot machines, they let you win once, and then you play because you might think you will again, but you might never.
Okay, so my take is to sell this horse, and then get a trainer to train YOU.
Ryder
 

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Surely the simple solution would be to keep him in a separate field/stable from the mare? If he is a nice horse to ride, there's no way you should sell him, if he makes you nervous and afraid that is a different story. What sort of issues are you having?
The barn owner should never have chased him with a 4x4. Why didn't he just catch the mare and bring her in first? Why are they out together if he knows you can't catch him?

How about the possibility of moving him somewhere more professional?
At the least he needs to be turned out/living in a field alone until you are confident in catching him. When he learns to behave he could go out with another horse.
 

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I'm going to toss in a completely different perspective - just for balance. You all may be exactly right, and if the 'hard to catch' is the worst problem then by all means that seems fixable. But, if there are deeper issues this was my experience.

I was in a similar situation last year. I'm 53 and bought my first horse a year ago February. She was a sweet (but a bit pushy) MFT mare. It just didn't work out... she had my number for sure. Experienced riders could manage it, but I wasn't experienced and was starting too late in life to get it all figured out. I was almost convinced it was "all me" (even though I had successfully ridden well-broke horses in the past). Then I had the chance to ride a friend's horse a few times, and I was able to manage her 'respectful' objections and occasional minor spooks just fine. That gave me some confidence back, and I realized that it wasn't "all me"... my MFT indeed had some baggage and bad manners and holes in her training, and I did not cause every problem (though I likely exacerbated some of them). So I sold her to a good home. I decided we needed to break up, and I needed a fresh start. I now have had a different horse for over 3 months - I learned a ton from the "wrong" horse that is helping me be a better owner for my new one. Things are going great, I've ridden her probably 4 x as much in the few months I've had her than I ever rode my previous horse in 9 months - because I'm not fearful of her. She's not a deadhead, and I do have to "ride" her... but she is well trained. I'm always on guard and try to stay ahead of any issues, but you know what? I haven't ruined her yet :wink: .

Anyway, just another perspective. You should definitely work with this horse as long as you are comfortable doing so and enjoy him!!!! I just remember feeling terrible when confronted by the comments and assumptions that I was doing everything wrong, when really it was that there was a chasm between what I knew how to do and what the horse needed... but was empowered when I realized there are other horses out there that could help close that gap.

Honestly, my post really isn't meant as advice - just a pat on the back and encouragement.
 

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Take him back to the trainer and have the trainer work with you and show you HIS number. And have the trainer work on his various issues, with and without you. Once you get over being a push over, then see if you still want to sell him. Secret that no one has told you, if you buy a BTDT dead broke horse but let him run you like this horse does, real quick you will be back to having the same problems. EVERY horse will test you to see who will be the leader, when you fail and the horse steps up to lead, it's not in your favor.

Do what ^^^ DreamcatcherArabians has posted. You're going to be right back where you were unless you learn how to get a handle on this. Sorry, horses can be a pita at times. Wish I were able to help you, but your trainer needs to step in.
 

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Sounds to me like you haven't really developed a bond with this horse. Horses that like their humans will leave the herd and come to them voluntarily. If every time you catch him it is to ride him, you haven't spent a whole lot of quality time with him.

It doesn't sound like he's really dangerous. You're just on the same learning curve as all beginners are. He was probably a bit young as a first horse, but you have him now so I wouldn't necessarily give up. He's probably filling in alot for you (i.e. taking care of you) so maybe he can be a good teacher for you.

Why not spend more time with him and see if you can develop a better rapport? Learn how HE communicates so you will notice things like his ears and which way his attention is focused (should be on you). I agree with finding a good instructor. Someone who can work with BOTH of you together and teach you what you need to learn so you can catch up with your horse. This should start on the ground, not under saddle.

Good luck and I hope things work out.
 

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Discussion Starter #32
UPDATE: Thanks everyone for all of your great advice. I have decided to keep him and focus on my training along with his. I had a family emergency and was out of state for 4-5 weeks, but have come back to the barn and he is doing really well. They moved the mare out of his paddock and he is so easy to catch now. I am going to the barn more often during the week and working with him on the ground. Looking for new barn/instructor but not giving up. Thanks again everyone!
 
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