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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Coming in with my tail tucked between my legs, so be nice, please! I just moved in with my partner who has an Amish throw away horse in the pasture. He's had nothing done with him, he's yard art, and he hates my guts. Partner wants to find him a new home, but I want this horse so bad I can't see straight. I know nothing, I'm about half intimidated by him, and I need dirt basic advise. Never had a horse, haven't ridden since I was a kid, and I'm, (ehem), aged now.

He's a 12 year old thoroughbred, healthy, semi calm, I just don't know how to handle him at all. When I go to the fence, his ears go back, he blows, throws his head and walks away...unless I have apples in tow, then he lets me touch him for about 30 seconds.

I WANT this horse, even if I end up getting my guts stomped out.
 

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Hi, don't worry, we don't ALL bite! ;)

Please stay on opposite side of fence from horse till you have a mentor there with you. Safety is your #1 concern, & this horse sounds left-brain (blows you off unless you've got treats, rather than a nervous type).

Sometimes, a neophyte can progress via a good horsemanship book, like "True Horsemanship Through Feel" by master horseman Bill Dorrance, or a good home study program like Parelli, IF the horse is more of a schoolmaster horse (the horse "fills in" for your errors, & teaches you patiently). This tb ain't one of those, so I feel better saying that you need someone there when you're with the horse, till it's safe for you to handle by yourself.

Awesome that you feel such desire to get involved with horses, & do update us on what's happening!
 

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Well, Dilly, welcome to the forum. You'll have your work cut out for you but if you keep an open mind, commit to learning methods and commit to diligently applying them you will succeed.

First off, I would suggest you immerse yourself in reading up on the subject of horsemanship and horse husbandry. There are many good books online or at local bookstores that will give introductory information for the newbie horseowner.

Second, if it's possible, you might be able to find a local person with experience who can mentor you through the initial stages; with any luck there's a local horse club in your area that you could join. Start with your neighbours who have horses and see if they would give you a few pointers or can point you in the direction of someone else. You could ask at places like feed stores, vet clinics to see if they could recommend someone on a more professional level or know of any clubs.

Finally, keep in touch with the forum - there's always helpful hints and tidbits that will be useful to you as well as people to act as a sounding board for you.
 

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This is going to sound mean, but I'll explain later. You ARE going to get your guts stomped out.


This animal hasn't been handled in a very long time, and he has already learned that he can intimidate you easily. It isn't your fault or his fault but the two of you are a terrible match right now. Horses are herd animals, and they do one of two things when someone is too afraid OR inexperienced to be their leader. They either decide that THEY will be the leader and you end up with an aggressive, biting, lunging, ordering you around type animal, or they see that the leadership position is unfilled and they panic because they NEED a leader, and they become very reactive, scared of everything, etc., I have one of each.

You can BECOME a leader, but if you're already intimidated by him and haven't been around horses in a long time, this is not the horse to begin with. He is bound to make mistakes because he has been out of work for a long time. You're bound to make mistakes because you're new at this. Neither things are necessary BAD, they're just part of the training process. But together they ARE bad because you will both quickly become confused, and you won't know how to read each others body language.

If you want to get into horses still, either 1. Sell this guy and get into lessons. When you're more experienced, try leasing a horse, then buying one that has 'been there done that' to learn on. Or 2. Send this horse to a trainer for at least a few months (we're talking thousands of dollars here) so that an experienced horseman can determine how well trained he is, teach him anything he may have forgotten or not learned, and make him dependable... and you need to take lessons in the meantime with an instructor. Then take weekly (or better, biweekly) lessons on this horse with an instructor. That's the only way to safely do this.
 

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I WANT this horse, even if I end up getting my guts stomped out.
Simple question: WHY? Why in blazes would you be so determined to have a horse that you already perceive (rightly so) as a danger to you? He's going to cost as least as much as any other horse to keep and be worlds more work. He may be a gentleman to someone who has more experience, but not likely for you. At least not anytime soon.

He doesn't "hate your guts." He is controlling the situations. Someone has to and since you aren't, he is. He weighs somewhere between 4 and 10 times what you do. The physics aren't in your favour. It's all about mind control and he's controlling yours.

How has the horse been cared for in the past? How long has he been there? If no one has worked with him, you will have issues with his hoof care right off the bat - how bad will be seen once he comes under control.

Is he a gelding or a stallion? If he's a stallion, re-home him if you can.

If he is a gelding and you're bound and determined to keep him, go get some experience with another horse. That will also enable you to meet some people in the area that can help you with this horse. Read as much as you can from books and magazines. Be very discriminating when choosing information from the internet. There are a million of us "horse experts" out there - problem is that if you know basically nothing, you can easily be led down the wrong path by someone who knows just enough to be dangerous, knows nothing but thinks they do, knows only one way of doing things, etc. etc.

Your first steps with him would be groundwork, but you have to learn it first so you can teach him and know what to watch for in his behavior.

Honestly, if your partner can find a home for him, both the horse and you would be better off for it.
 

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You have sensible advice here, but if you're dead-set on this.. go get yourself lessons and find someone willing to deal with the horse in the mean time. When you get lessons, ask specifically for ground work lessons, not for time in the saddle until later. This will introduce you to having a horse respect your space, making the horse move, and will teach you how to get up in their face if you need to.

I strongly agree with getting this horse to a trainer to handle getting him conditioned to following a human as a leader again, as you are in no Way, Shape, or Form, capable of safely doing it with your current level of experience. I don't mean to sound mean, but I do mean to sound practical. A facility that offers lessons as well as training may be best, because as your horse learns under that trainer, the trainer can teach you their horse handling methods and there will be no confusion later in your relationship. As he progresses and gets better, you should ask to start working with him and the trainer so that you can be mentored, spotted (like folks do during workouts) and as safe as possible.

The key to this succeeding is to get experience with horses. Lessons are your number one and safest way to go - which is why I'm advocating them as much as I am. Reading books and watching clips on training is good to a point, but do Not make up for hands-on experience. Clinton Anderson and Warwick Schiller (on YouTube) would be good places for you to start looking for some bit of education.

Honestly though, selling may be the best option for you both.
 

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OP, howdy and welcome to the forum.

For the most part, I agree with Endiku and NorthernMama, you and this horse are a terrible fit right now and I really suggest you avoid trying to handle him in any way without an experienced person right there with you. Truthfully, it would probably be best for both of you to part ways so that you could eventually lease or buy a horse more suited to your ability. BUT, if you're dead set on having this horse, then you need some professional help to keep you from getting hurt.

Where I think you should start is with some lessons from a good instructor. They'll often have good natured school horses for you to learn the basics with (horses who are unlikely to injure you in any way unless they accidentally step on your toe :wink:). After some time spent there where you can learn how to handle a horse properly and you gain some confidence in your ability to handle one, then you should talk with your instructor about working with the horse and then with you and the horse together.

If this horse hasn't been touched for years, then he'll need a training tune-up before you do anything with him anyway. Though it really all depends on what quality of training he had in the first place. IME, with Amish horses, it's rather hit and miss; some are really great and others....not so much. Depending on his training, it may take more time and $$ than it's worth to get him to the point where he's suitable for you. Or, he may never be suitable or safe for you to handle without experienced help present.


Another thing to consider is that Amish horses don't get loved on. They aren't petted and scratched and pampered. They are tractors and cars that get caught, they go to work, they get turned loose and fed, then tomorrow they do it all over again. They are work horses, not pets, so he may have never had anyone who wanted to love on him before and he's probably not sure how to take it. He may never like it. Some horses don't, regardless of how much time is spent with them or how much training they get, some just don't like being touched. They have an attitude of "Let's just go to work, let me do my job, and leave me alone".
 

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Scared is good! makes you less likely to jump in and do something dangerous...like just about anything at this point.
An Amish throw-away horse? As in he was too hot for buggy work, or any work? Or some serious soundness issues? Just thinking of the horse, he probably needs his feet trimmed and needs to be current on vaccinations as well as having his teeth checked. How is his weight?
Now for you...Chevaux suggested one contact for info would be a vet clinic. Make sure they do large animals. They very likely could recommend a local trainer for you to talk to. Plus they could do a farm call to check the horse out, but you do need to be able to catch him first. It would be best if you could have the horse spend at least a couple of months getting his brain cells adjusted by a trainer and in the meantime get you started learning basic horse handling skills. It would be good if the trainer could make a "house call" and give you an evaluation of this guy and what might be needed to get him manageable. Also keep in mind that a confident trainer may walk in and have none of the issues you are seeing.
I believe it is always best to start with a horse that is of good disposition and well trained under saddle. A horse like this makes it so much easier for a beginner to gain knowledge and confidence with far less risk of the gut stomping thing. But if you are determined to do this please get professional help. And it will cost some dollars so be prepared.
You have a lot to think about here.
 
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Professional help is right! If you're dead set on having this horse DO NOT move forward alone. You WILL get hurt. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.

Look around and see if you can find a trainer to come to your farm. Let the trainer handle everything, explain everything to you as they're doing it. Let the trainer turn the horse into a gentleman on the ground and THEN you can start working with the horse - in the trainer's presence, of course. Seriously - a lot of us learn by ourselves from nothing. I am one of those people (impulse bought a horse when I knew as much as you do now!) The difference is the horse your'e facing is unhandled and dangerous, and the horse I was facing was rideable and for the most part pleasant for me.

We can only help you so much without being there. I strongly, strongly advise finding someone to help you learn how to be the herd leader of this horse. If he's been alone he needs to re-learn his herd manners, whether it be with a human or another horse. How is your partner with handling the horse?
 

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Definitely all of the advice here is sound...Especially Endiku's.

I worry for your safety with this one. Some horses will require an assertive, experienced handler. If he is already showing you these signs, then there is a problem. Some horses are just grumpy, others will escalate into dangerous behaviors, and if you are inexperienced you will not know the signs that will tell you when that is about to happen.
 

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What you have in your favor:

1. You SOUND like you're on the up and up - meaning we have been approached by some fakes lately.

2. You sound like you could hold your own in a bar fight, even if you're Five Foot Nuthin' and Aged.

That means somewhere in there is the courage to conquer. However this is no doubt a "used and abused" buggy horse we're talking about.

The Amish are notorious for abusing their buggy horses but treat the plow horses like half the gold at Fort Knox.

Normally I would tell someone that can only spell the word "horse" to run as fast as they can away from a horse such as you describe.

I'm still not sure that I shouldn't be saying that but:

1. First and most important: What gender is this horse? You refer to it as a "he" but is it really? If it's a stallion, meaning it still has BOTH testicles, sorry but run don't walk away from this horse. You also say the horse blows at you which might be another indicator it's a stallion or a proud cut horse - either way not good, not good:(

2. If it's a gelding, a stallion that has had its testicles removed, given the Amish are notorious for doing their own version of gelding which is a/k/a "proud cut" and they didn't get everything, run and don't walk away from this horse is still the better part of valor.

3. If it's a cranky mare (it has a pair of boobs instead of testicles), you stand a chance but she's a dominant mare and you would have to quickly establish the alpha dominance over her, when you are in her presence.

Honestly things aren't looking too good to keep the horse and even more honestly but the sad truth is the horse may very well be destined for the auction unless your friend can find someone that is excellent at rehabbing a horse such as this.

Were it not an ex Amish buggy horse and it's a mare or gelding, I'd say with your grit, hang in there. BUT, I started breaking/training horses when I was 12 and I had a real penchant for re-schooling widowmakers and finding them good homes.

I wouldn't have thought twice about this horse when I was in my 20's but even when I was in my 40's with all that experience, I probably would have passed unless I knew it had some exceptional ability to become either a great trail horse or do something noteworthy in the show ring.

That was pretty much a "yes I guess not" answer that leans toward "find the horse another home".

That being said, if you just can't walk away, you have to tell us the gender, and whatever history you can find out about the horse and we will try to help:?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Aha! That one worked!

Okay, answers: Yes, he was a buggy horse, he's gelded, vet is here twice a year, and my other half does his hooves. He's very well cared for, just not worked.

There's something about his face; there's good stuff in there. That's why I'm hell bent. I have no interest in jumping on him or getting crazy, I just know he has to be miserably bored. I want him happy and I want to be able to at least socialize and interact with him.

The grump I live with would be a wealth of help BUT:evil:, he's an old rodeo rider that's ****ed he gave it up, and he was severely injured at work over the summer. He gets aggravated when I ask and just throws the lead ropes and harnesses at me.

I was afraid I'd get some of these answers. :/ I just know he'd be great. I guess I need to rethink my stubbornness if he'll be happier elsewhere.

I didn't know what to expect here, and I'm super appreciative of all the knowledgeable replies. Just didn't feel right to ditch him simply because I don't know my a** from a hole in the ground. But it looks like it might be best.

And yes, I'm a whole buck twenty, so the ground is gonna hurt! lol

Oh, and thank you for the couple of emails I was unable to reply to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
And that proud cut thing? Gawd, I won't be able to sleep for a week pondering that one!

Ugggh, hate this. :cry:
 

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And that proud cut thing? Gawd, I won't be able to sleep for a week pondering that one!

Ugggh, hate this. :cry:
proud cut isn't nearly as common as people think, don't worry. it seems that any time a gelding acts studdy he must be 'proud cut' when really, any gelding can and will act studdy even if they're gelded perfectly. Heck.. My MARE acts studdy sometimes! (I.E. the "blowing" example being given as a sign of being proud cut - seen plenty of horses blow at each other, including mares!)

Being an Amish throwaway does raise the chances, but still, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
 

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Well you have to remember that the ultimate decision is yours Dilly; a lot of us are just trying to keep you around to see a few more summers and inform you on why it isn't the wisest decision for a person in your position with a sincere but severe lack of knowledge that would do this horse any good. Considering the fact that he used to be a buggy horse, there's a good chance that he's been driven nuts by the lack of activity. Take any hard working citizen, give them a few consecutive years off, and sure they'll enjoy it. But some will go insane after xamount of time.

If you decide that you truly want this horse, you've gotten the advice you need to stay on course and keep him. It's simply summed up to: find yourself a good trainer, get yourself hands on-and-off experience elsewhere, and leave him space until you're both in a better position to deal with each other. You most certainly wouldn't be the first person hell-bent on seeing a positive change in a damaged/unruly horse, and I know for a fact that you won't be the last. The difference is learning your limits before you get involved with a horse, especially one that's already displaying the "I control you therefore, get lost" behavior that you're describing.

You need a confident, assertive trainer with a wealth of experience specifically related to what your horse is displaying that'd be willing to take him on. Which is a pricey, pricey thing depending on your situation, your horse's personality and problems, and of course how much you're going to be charged for the trainer's time. If you find the horse is worth it, then that's your choice.. you seem to have a good head on your shoulders. Take the decision seriously.

What do you want to DO with this horse in the long run? If you want a pasture ornament, I'm not confident he's the horse for you. He's already suffering for it.
What can you Provide for this horse to get him where you want him to be? You Need to provide the training if you plan on keeping him.
What are you capable of doing for this horse, presently and in the future? From providing feed and the like to training and a safe home, you need to determine if you're a good fit for him as much as vice versa.
How much money are you willing to put into him? Give yourself a figure.
Who supports you in this endeavor? Will they keep that support rolling? Are you alone in this desire? (From the sounds of it, your partner certainly doesn't feel the same.) If you get involved with this horse are you going it alone or not?
How will you determine you need to cut your losses? When is enough enough for you? When he physically hurts you? Drains your pockets? Gets booted out of the trainer's?
Is it practical for you to keep him? Yes or no is your ultimate decision.

Just some questions for you to consider.
 

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Well, you are right in saying that the "grump you live with" would be a lot of help. Seems like you have two grumps...one with two feet and one with four.
The horse can be handled at least for the vet and having his feet trimmed.

At this point I'd get the evaluation of a pro and go from there.
You know, we all started somewhere. We just didn't pop out into this world with horse smarts. We can give advice but we aren't there to see the situation. And even if we could be we may all have a little different slant on it.

Good luck. Keep us posted, pleeze!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well, you are right in saying that the "grump you live with" would be a lot of help. Seems like you have two grumps...one with two feet and one with four.
The horse can be handled at least for the vet and having his feet trimmed.

At this point I'd get the evaluation of a pro and go from there.
You know, we all started somewhere. We just didn't pop out into this world with horse smarts. We can give advice but we aren't there to see the situation. And even if we could be we may all have a little different slant on it.

Good luck. Keep us posted, pleeze!
You are dead on! :) There's more horse knowledge in his pinky than I could ever acquire, and I have to sneak onto a forum and scour the internet for every last tidbit. Maddening, really.

Prodded some more last night and I got, "He's a thoroughbred. He's schizo. He'll always be like a mare before her season. You wanna mess with him? Tie him up and mess with him." Then he went back to being sweet as pie! lol Grrrrr

Yes, he's good for the vet and getting his feet done. He's not entirely crazy. He doesn't know what to do, and I don't know what to do!
 

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I would get help, if you want to help him.

A horse won't be miserable if left with food and water, but is he on his own, or does he have a companion? Horses are herd animals, and most (99.99%) do not do well on their own.

If he can be left in the field, do so. Have you got a local barn you can go and take lessons at? Explain your situation. Some lesson barns will hand you a horse that is tacked up. Explain you want to learn ground up; how to move around the horse, how to pick up behaviours, groom, basic care, basic first aid etc.

Going gung ho at this stage is going to end up very badly, to the point where you may never want to go near a horse again.

Get educated first, then apply that to him. You may be able to take a trainer that you learn with on other horses with you to help out when you are ready.
 
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