The Horse Forum banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,461 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I bought an Appy from a good friend a couple of years ago as a barely started 6 year old. He's awesome. Exactly what I needed - safe and more whoa than go in most scenarios. But he's also very different from any other horse I've ever dealt with - which were mostly Arabs and Quarter Horses. Appys are a whole other story! He's clever, affectionate, goofy, but also, a tad bit stubborn. I know you other Appy owners know what I'm talking about. So how do you deal with this aspect of the breed? It's like they have a whole other side to them. Where QH and Arabs are either submissive, compliant or flighty, my Rusty is sensitive, has a sense of humour, and is very opinionated. So far, I have dealt with this with calm determination. I find that he will always give in eventually, and it's best not to go batpoop crazy on him if he doesn't want to do something because then you pick a fight that will go on for a long time. Also, I really like his personality and do not want to turn him into a shut-down horse, but when I ride him or even when we do ground work, I often wonder whether I should stop before he has a meltdown or push him through it (obviously, if he has a meltdown or a tantrum, we do push through it because I can't stop in the middle of one or he'll be learning that he's won).

For example, when I, or someone else, rides him in the riding ring, we can go for about 15-25 minutes and then he's just had it. He's different on a trail, mind you - he can go on for hours on trails! But in the ring, he gets bored. Should I stop before he throws a fit or ride him until he accepts that we're done when I say we're done? I have done both, but am unsure which will provide better long-term results. By throwing a fit, I mean he doesn't want to trot or canter anymore, and will give little bucks when I tap him with a crop. We have worked through this a number of times, and he eventually gives up and gives me a trot or canter, but he is clearly cranky about it. On the other hand, I play a lot of games with him which he seems to enjoy. For example, we play a game where I get up on the mounting block, and he comes up to it at liberty (not even a halter on), and I hop on his back. He walks to the edge of the paddock until I ask him to stop, I slide off, and pull some good grass from the other side of the fence as a reward for him. All this time, our other horse is loose in the paddock and the gate to the pasture is wide open so Rusty chooses to be with me. This is the connection I don't want to lose. On the other hand, I'd love to do a bit of dressage work with him, but he doesn't have the interest or attention span for it right now.

Thoughts from other Appy owners who share my love for this breed but also recognize the stubborn streak as a challenge? How do you deal with it without losing the Appy personality?

Photo of us snuggling just because.
 

Attachments

·
Banned
Joined
·
29 Posts
I have not owned an Appaloosa, but I have worked with horses with similar personalities.

It is about finding a balance, a compromise, between what you want and what the horse wants. Some horses, no matter with how much training, will never enjoy the arena as much as trails - and that's okay. On the flip side, you can have an Olympic dressage horse lose its mind on the trails or if you drop the reins and ride in "neutral."

Training wise, I want a well-rounded horse, meaning they go well in the arena or on the trails. They do not have to like it, but for safety reasons, this aspect of training cannot be lopsided. My horse is like yours; she prefers the trails rather than the arena. You may have heard that the horse is a reflection of its handler. I do not know if my horse genuinely prefers the trails over the arena or is she is just going off my attitude (I prefer the trails over the arena.) I do not know if that really matters, honestly, because she is a happy, forward hacker.

How you ride in the arena matters. Horses, especially the smart or independent ones, can get bored very easily in the arena. Who wouldn't? "Trot here. Stop there. Cricle to the left." For these types of horses, is it important to vary their "job" and keep their mind busy. The good thing about dressage is that it is so versatile. Instead of jumping where it is, you know, about jumping, simplified, dressage is about training, obedience, connection, and balance. Technically, you should ride "dressage" every time you ride, be it in the arena or on the trails. I do not know what kind of trails you have but do dressage on the trails. Side pass a log, collect the canter in a meadow, extend the trot through a creek, square the halt, et cetera.

Have you tried tack-less riding with positive reinforcement? My horse likes that, even if it is in the arena.

I tend to have a philosophy about quitting before the horse quits (and gradually increase the time) and making it enjoyable for them. I do not want them to simply feel like they are "working the clock on the job." Although, if I have to tell a horse to work, I will, but I do not go on long rides specifically looking to work out the "tantrums."
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,033 Posts
Daughter had a good one. A mare.

Gypsy liked cow work and traveling long distances. Daughter lent Gypsy to a girl in town to show in some fun classes. Between the young girl's lack experience and natural timidity, and Gypsy's tenancy to get bored going in circles, they had some rough spots.

Daughter encouraged (made) the pair work through them.

As she said, "It's not going to kill Gypsy to be bored. If something happens to me, Gypsy might HAVE to do arena work. It's good for (the girl) to learn to demand something of a horse. This is easy. What if next time it's a serious situation?"

Gypsy had an opinion on many things. And would actually roll her eyes at times. But she knew cattle well and sometimes it seemed she and my daughter communicated telepathically.

She had a distinct dislike for boy scouts (long story) and my oldest daughter (I don't know why).

All that to say "I would make your appy do the drills, or practice the skills, that you want."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
882 Posts
your horse is cute! :)



The only tip I can give you is: any living organism that gets bored starts to behave unwanted. :p Goes for kids, goes for dogs, goes for horses... I would just try to give the horse a job he loves and challenge him... If you want to teach him to push through difficult moments I would intentionally set up some now and then where he gets a big reward or aha moment in the end. This way you can train him to do as you ask so when you're ever in a difficult situation and he needs to obey he will (???)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,173 Posts
I have had two appaloosas the first was a 14.2 appy/arab gelding belonging to a friend. This was the spookiest horse I ever knew and lightening fast when he spooked. He had dumped so many riders and my friend was seriously thinking of having him put down as she was concerned that he could injure/kill someone.
I suggested that I take him for 3 months to see how we got along. I put a lot of time into him and didn't seem to be getting anywhere with him, I took him to a show and he behaved so badly that I began to think my friend was right, he could kill someone, and guess who that might be, I was his only rider.
then at the 3 month mark he just seemed to give up and say OK we do it your way.
To make this story a little shorter we made so much progress and I had a room full of trophies and ribbons that we won. My niece started jumping him and this little horse could win open jumper classes against huge big horses. He won many year end awards english and western. I could do a reining pattern or jump a course with just a string around his neck.

The second horse I got, in his previous home he was ridden by a heavy handed teenaged boy who just raced him around the property with a mechanical hackamore. This horse had the worst head tossing problem I have ever seen and just wanted to take off with you. To make this story shorter, i worked with him and he won for me five year end awards at a fairly high level dressage show. This was my personal best showing at that level. Very proud of him.

so as far as I am concerned Appaloosas are great horses, sometimes tought to deal with but if you click you have a great horse.

Enjoy Rusty he is also a winner.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,461 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have had two appaloosas the first was a 14.2 appy/arab gelding belonging to a friend. This was the spookiest horse I ever knew and lightening fast when he spooked. He had dumped so many riders and my friend was seriously thinking of having him put down as she was concerned that he could injure/kill someone.
I suggested that I take him for 3 months to see how we got along. I put a lot of time into him and didn't seem to be getting anywhere with him, I took him to a show and he behaved so badly that I began to think my friend was right, he could kill someone, and guess who that might be, I was his only rider.
then at the 3 month mark he just seemed to give up and say OK we do it your way.
To make this story a little shorter we made so much progress and I had a room full of trophies and ribbons that we won. My niece started jumping him and this little horse could win open jumper classes against huge big horses. He won many year end awards english and western. I could do a reining pattern or jump a course with just a string around his neck.

The second horse I got, in his previous home he was ridden by a heavy handed teenaged boy who just raced him around the property with a mechanical hackamore. This horse had the worst head tossing problem I have ever seen and just wanted to take off with you. To make this story shorter, i worked with him and he won for me five year end awards at a fairly high level dressage show. This was my personal best showing at that level. Very proud of him.

so as far as I am concerned Appaloosas are great horses, sometimes tought to deal with but if you click you have a great horse.

Enjoy Rusty he is also a winner.
How'd you like to come train him? :)

Kidding. But thanks for those stories!!! That makes me really hopeful. I'm not hoping for a bunch of ribbons (not even planning to show him), just to get him to cooperate when I ask him to do do arena work for more than 15 minutes. It sounds like just being persistent and patient is the right approach. Rusty always gives in eventually so I know he will comply if I just keep asking, I just wonder sometimes whether this is the right approach because it doesn't always seem like we are making progress.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,461 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
@hobbyh , yes, I think we are on the same page. I agree - Rusty needs to have basic skills and these include arena work. I have also taught him to lunge, even though he thinks that's the most boring thing ever. Not that I think horses need to be lunged all the time, but because I think it is an essential skill. There are times when a vet needs to see your horse move, or when you want to put a new rider on a horse but still be in control. He's accepted it, but it took a lot of patience and time on my part. A few rewards too.

I don't mind puttering around on him without a bridle or saddle, but to actually ride effectively I think would be difficult. And on a trail, he has actually taken off on me a few times so I feel I still need a saddle and bridle for my own safety. He gets excited and easily distracted, and will just accelerate. I've learned that I need to keep him focused on me, and if need be, do some transitions on trails so he remembers to listen. That has led to some much more pleasurable rides. Your suggestions for incorporating dressage on the trail are excellent! I will try that. Thanks for your reply.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,173 Posts
One thought, the appy that I could ride on a string, I would never even think of doing this on a trail as he could spook and lightening fast. Usually you have a nano second warning of a spook but this boy none of that by the time he thought of it, he was landing 15 feet over there so it would be hazardous to try no bridle out on the trails.

I would suggest when you are schooling Rusty have a clear goal in your mind what you are going to do, if it is a serpentine focus very clearly on that and try to think forward, forward and pass your energy and determination on doing it and hopefully Rusty will get this forward focused idea and respond to it. I don't know how to explain this correctly but that is what i do. And I try to keep it interesting by lots of direction changes, transitions, circles when unexpected to keep my horse thinking and focused on me for what may be coming next.

It takes time but when the horse is working with you it is a great feeling.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,425 Posts
so as far as I am concerned Appaloosas are great horses, sometimes tough to deal with but if you click you have a great horse.
I couldn't agree more. I have owned 9 appaloosas in my lifetime and every one of them was amazing. I agree, they can be very stubborn, but all the good things other people have described also. Plus their crazy fun markings always are a joy to look at. Icing on the cake.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,638 Posts
I have owned Appies most of my life and can remember when a lot of registered Appaloosas were HUGE horses and not really built like the quarter horse. I currently have 1 appaloosa. I hate to define a horse by its breed because most of the breeds have had so much influence from other breeds they are not really pure any more.

Rusty sounds a lot like my gelding Steve - Steve easily lost interest. When it was something Steve wanted to do the ride was a lot of fun. When it was not Steve's idea the ride could go south quickly or it just didn't go.

I think Rusty is adorable and am glad you found a good partner
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,461 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks @knightrider and @carshon - it's reassuring to hear that Rusty's not the only one like this. I am still figuring out where his limits are, and trying to stay within them, but sometimes I get too demanding and he falls apart. I always end on a good note, but make sure I get him to follow through with my request, even if it's just to say he's done it, but I sometimes wonder if I'm doing this right. I'm no trainer. That said, I think that when I work with him, I can get a good feel for how he's doing. My daughter gets really frustrated with him because she expects him to be like Harley, but Rusty is an entirely different horse! And since my goals are just to enjoy him, I figure slow, steady progress is better than rushing it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
154 Posts
I judge the entire breed by two Appaloosas I've owned and one I was acquainted with at the lesson farm. All were stubborn, reactive, and quirky. Our first horse, an Appaloosa mare, is still here and will be for life although she is largely retired. When we got her she would flat out refuse to go forward at times. We learned to turn her around and back her in the direction she didn't want to go. I guess in her mind it was ok that she was looking in the direction she wanted to go but backing in the direction we wanted to go. We took this horse two hours away on a trail ride with my daughter, her friend, and the friend's dad. The girls picked the horses they wanted to ride and the dad was left with the Appaloosa. The guy lasted about 20 minutes as the mare knew he didn't have much experience and totally abused him. We played musical horses and my 12 year old daughter ended up on the Appaloosa who was as good as gold the rest of the day. This is also a horse we don't tie anywhere but at our cross ties at home. We never know when something might set her off and she would violently pull back. I've fought many battles with this horse but tying is not one of them I want to tackle.



Our second was a beautiful leopard Appaloosa gelding who was my son's horse. This was an in your pocket horse who loved people and was always first to the fence to great you. His problem was that when he got tired of whatever he was doing he would buck. He might buck several days in a row or go weeks without bucking. He's bucked off novices and experienced riders alike. We gave him away to a lady who was an experienced rider. She loved him until he learned to rear with her so she brought him back. Upon return he decided to pick on my gelding, a horse he had lived peacefully with for over a year. With full disclosure we found him yet another home but this time I didn't offer to take him back. Buying a second Appaloosa is a mistake my wife still reminds me about years later.



The mare has turned into a fairly solid horse citizen for us and has become our beginner mount. She loves trail rides and tolerates ring work. If you must have an Appaloosa be patient and go slow with the training. Always be fair but firm. I know now why my old horse vet had a new Appaloosa joke each time he came to the farm.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Yes, have been riding Appaloosas for 35 years, had a quarter mare who could buck better than the rodeo horses so didn't keep her long.They are stubborn as they come and opinionated, but loving, quirky, steady, first to greet and last to leave, prefer people to other horses. I learned to ask and not demand and we have gotten along great. Never do anything routine for more than fifteen minutes or they start thinking about what they would rather do. There are odd items in the arena to insure that the walk jog lope circles get changed up with going over poles, around barrels, rollback at the rail, backing in Ls - anything to break up the boring tasks. I have also found they prefer the trails, but not if I just meander down the river bottom, also need to break it up and go up the sides or find objects to walk over. Current one is a few spot so have let the camp use her for grooming and the kids love to paint her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,461 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yes, have been riding Appaloosas for 35 years, had a quarter mare who could buck better than the rodeo horses so didn't keep her long.They are stubborn as they come and opinionated, but loving, quirky, steady, first to greet and last to leave, prefer people to other horses. I learned to ask and not demand and we have gotten along great. Never do anything routine for more than fifteen minutes or they start thinking about what they would rather do. There are odd items in the arena to insure that the walk jog lope circles get changed up with going over poles, around barrels, rollback at the rail, backing in Ls - anything to break up the boring tasks. I have also found they prefer the trails, but not if I just meander down the river bottom, also need to break it up and go up the sides or find objects to walk over. Current one is a few spot so have let the camp use her for grooming and the kids love to paint her.
Sounds like Rusty alright! Honestly, I'd be happy to just do trails, but DD does dressage so I keep her company in the ring. But there are also times when trail riding isn't possible because of our climate, and I still want to ride. I will work on doing some more varied work in the arena! Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,054 Posts
Both my horse and I get bored in arena very quickly. Things that help us:

1. Have a very small goal, accomplish it and quit. Canter depart on left lead. Half pass from A to B. Whatever. Then head out on the real ride!

2. Work with obstacles. Back into a square made of cavaletti, turn around inside the square and back out. Trot over poles. Front feet on a platform, turn on forequarters a full circle without taking front feet off the platform. Open and close a gate from horseback. This kind of stuff requires a horse to think carefully and work with you. It holds interest better than trotting in circles.

3. Break it up with something silly and fun. For Brooke, it was getting to boss around a horse soccer ball. See if we could get it through some goal posts.

In any case, I don't think drilling a horse in an arena does anyone any good, really. There are horses who mentally tolerate it well, but I doubt a lot of learning takes place after fifteen minutes or so anyway.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,461 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Both my horse and I get bored in arena very quickly. Things that help us:

1. Have a very small goal, accomplish it and quit. Canter depart on left lead. Half pass from A to B. Whatever. Then head out on the real ride!

2. Work with obstacles. Back into a square made of cavaletti, turn around inside the square and back out. Trot over poles. Front feet on a platform, turn on forequarters a full circle without taking front feet off the platform. Open and close a gate from horseback. This kind of stuff requires a horse to think carefully and work with you. It holds interest better than trotting in circles.

3. Break it up with something silly and fun. For Brooke, it was getting to boss around a horse soccer ball. See if we could get it through some goal posts.

In any case, I don't think drilling a horse in an arena does anyone any good, really. There are horses who mentally tolerate it well, but I doubt a lot of learning takes place after fifteen minutes or so anyway.
Great ideas in here. The main reason I don't put a lot of obstacles in the ring is that my daughter is practicing her dressage tests these days so I try to stay out of her way. It's also the reason that I do more arena work than I'd like - I figure if I have to watch my daughter ride (just for her own safety), then I might as well be on a horse as well. But maybe I could set up some poles and do a bit of obstacle work while my daughter warms up, and finish before my daughter rides. Our ring isn't that big though, so I'd have to take out the obstacles for her to do her dressage test properly. She needs the whole ring for that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
I'll admit I don't know much about Appaloosa horses, other than the pony I got lessons on as a child was great but could have his moments 😂

I'm going through something quite similar with a 4yr old thoroughbred gelding we got earlier this year. He's a good boy but after a little while he gets a tiny bit fed up. Dad has broken many many horses throughout his life and apparently this is a common thing at that age, just like small children having a short attention span.
Normally taking them somewhere different helps, like hiring an arena, but I appreciate this might be difficult with Covid.
Another thing to try is polework, random changes in direction, anything to take his mind off of thinking about acting up. I think keeping it short and sweet is better than drilling them into the ground, but at the end of the day he is being cared for like a prince, he only has to do a little for you in return
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,173 Posts
Sis's five year old granddaughter wants an appaloosa pony and she gets on the computer and checks the horses for sale ads, looking for her pony. There aren't a lot of ads for her dream horse but she keeps looking.

Why an appy I don't know.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,054 Posts
Sis's five year old granddaughter wants an appaloosa pony and she gets on the computer and checks the horses for sale ads, looking for her pony. There aren't a lot of ads for her dream horse but she keeps looking.

Why an appy I don't know.
Because spots.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49,418 Posts
I think there's no more devoted fan club than Appy people. Maybe they are as determined and willful as their horses.

The one I rode for 5 years was the fastest spook spinner. Did the stop, drop and spin without any warning. Got me off 5 times. But he was stoic and had stamina in spades.

By the way, I never "tap" a horse with a crop. I either hold it quietly where they can see it, or it smacks them sharply. No tapping. Waste of time, and creates disdain for its power.
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top