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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am currently breaking in my first horse with some guidance from an experienced friend. I was curious about others opinions though.

I was given this horse as an untouched 2 yr old that no one was interested in. I later found out he was actually a 3 yr old a girl had attempted to start but failed.

In general he is a friendly, playful, smart young horse. He isn't an overly spooky horse but when he does spook he is very quick. When he does freak out his first reaction is to either spin and/or buck (all out bronc, grunt with effort bucks).

When I got him he was near impossible to catch unless in a very small space. Panicked greatly with whips and saddles/ anything above his head. Would constantly disappear into his own world and not pay attention.

1. I have now got him
>Seeking me out when I enter his paddock (4 acre).
>Leads on a loose line walk/trot/canter depending on your pace.
>Lunge walk/trot/canter lightly with minimal cues.
>Does some liberty work at walk/trot.
>Flexes on both sides in a halter
>Move his hind end and forehand on both sides
>Accepts stuff on face (fly mask), rugging etc
>Easy to deal with when injured (so far)
>I can do his feet on my own

2. Things he does but I would like him to be more relaxed about
>accepting a saddle
>completely accepting whips any type any where
>being calm about something coming over him/ seeing it in his right eye e.g. person mounting
>things dragging from him e.g. ropes

This is all I can think of for the moment so not sure if I have missed something. He is generally calm and relaxed about most things, when he does explode though he is very quick. For the most part he is ok with things on list 2 but if he feels worried about something he will react worse to those things almost like they cause a flashback.

For instance I can be working with him and he may spook a little then one of the above things will cause him to go into a blind panic and just buck like mad. Like a whip I have shown him is merely an extension of my arm and if I have given him a tap it is simply a stronger aid if he ignored my first one. Occasionally something might set him off and he will act like I am going to beat the living crap out of him with my whip.

These moments are getting fewer and further between and he does seem like a smart sensible horse he just has these “flashbacks”. I hope to get him as good as possible on the ground before I try to ride because he has bucked someone off.

If worse comes to worse I will find someone who can ride out his bucks but I would like to do it myself, so want to deal with this panicky bucking as much as possible before I get on.

So anyone who has made it through this I would like opinions on things I might have missed or tips to help with this. It’s taken me 4 months to get him this far cause I am taking my time so I’m not expecting a rush or quick fixes.

Thanks :D
 

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It is absolutely counter-productive to let him buck with a saddle on. While some horses get bucking 'out of their systems' doing this, other just get practice and form a habit of bucking whenever they get scared, mad, ???? Like any other other bad habit, a habit of bucking when upset is just that --- a habit. It sound like this spoiled horse has already got a bucking habit. If you have put him in a position where he bucked, head down and grunting, you have only made it worse. Turning horse loose like this or longeing a horse with a saddle on without adequate steps taken to prevent more practice is just foolish. It only reinforces the bad habit.

Like any other thing a horse has developed a bad habit around, 2 things need to happen:

1) He needs to learn to accept a saddle under circumstances where he cannot buck with it.

2) Like with any other bad habit, bucking needs to hurt when he does try it.

If these two steps are not taken, it will be his 'go to' reaction any time things do not go his way.

This is how he can learn to accept a saddle without bucking: I never, never, NEVER let a horse buck with a saddle on. I gradually get a horse used to a girth by using a rope around its girth and then letting it stand around tied with a surcingle on. When I first put a saddle on, most horses do not do anything or even act like it has anything new on it.

If a horse is pretty 'goosey', jumpy, pushy or fearful, I will saddle him up in the morning and let him stand around tied all day, just saddled. I never girth a horse up tight when I first saddle it. I gradually tighten it more, but not real tight if I am not going to mount it. I just keep it snug and use a breast collar so it cannot turn.

Every time walk bay, I will grab the saddle horn, pull the saddle around or flop the stirrups until he accepts this and stands quietly. I may do this 2 or 3 hours or all day or several days. I won't go to the next step until he is completely OK with the saddle.

Then, for the second part, once a horse has learned to accept a saddle, it will be punished for trying to buck with it. If I am leading a horse and it 'humps up', or worse, I will jerk the lead hard and make the horse back up 20 or 30 feet before letting it take a step forward. If it still humps up, I'll repeat the backing up only will be a little rougher on it.

I prefer to pony a spoiled one rather than longe it, but either will work if you are prepared to sharply correct any attempts to buck.

Something else I do is put an 'overcheck' of some sort on every horse I start and particularly on one that has shown a propensity for wanting to buck. If I can find an old photo of one, I will post a picture.

It is completely ineffective to just check from the bit to the saddle horn. I use a 1/4 inch nylon cord (bought at Walmart in a 100 foot package). I tie one end to the right side of a snaffle bit, run it up through the top ring on the right side of a web halter (or between the two pieces of rope just above the top knot on the right side of a tied rope halter. Then, I run it behind the saddle horn (leaving 2 or 3 extra inches of cord) and between the ropes just above the knot tying the halter on. Then I take it down through the bit and tie it with a bowline knot. After getting it securely tied at the bit, I take the slack behind the saddle horn, fold it over and placing the loop made over the horn. This completely stop a horse from dropping its head to buck. Very few horses can buck effectively with their heads up. Most horses that want to buck, try hard to drop their heads and punish themselves when they hit the check rope. A win / win from every angle.

I will go through my computer and see if I have any old photos of this check used on a horse.


 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your reply it very helpful. I'm sorry if I was not clear.

He was allowed to get used to a rope around his girth and then a surcingle before I put a saddle on him. He was and is perfectly fine with both of them not worried about them at all, it was just the saddle. He also does pony and I've never had him do this while ponying.

I found out after I had started working with him that the previous girl had (among other things) grabbed him chucked a saddle on him and just let him buck until he decided to stop.

He was wary but didn't do anything the first few times a saddle was put on. He seemed to start relaxing the longer it was on. Then about a week later he bucked for the first time just after I saddled him he started going at it he was stopped. I believe he did this twice though. So next time he was saddled for most the day (under supervision) with an old saddle so he could get used to it since he seemed scared of it. After that he seemed to realise it wasn't so bad.

He has only bucked 4 times in my presence when twice that first time then once on to other occasions before he was stopped. I do believe it is something resorts to when panicked.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
^^I apologise for how hard that is to read I uploaded it then my computer died before I could edit it.
 

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I DO want to see the photo of how to tie up this check line, as I have a bit of trouble following the verbal explanation.

all in all, Apache, it sounds as if you have done a lot and are progressing well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Tiny I have a lot of people harping on at me as to why I'm not riding him yet.

It makes me feel like I'm not going fast enough but I want him as good as possible on the ground first to avoid possible problems down the road.
 
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This will be a different type of advice, but it's one that's worked for me. You don't have to be quicker than him - just see it coming earlier. Before it starts to reach that critical point, get him busy and stay busy until that pressure eases off. Don't stop until he relaxes. Keep breathing yourself too. Notice on the ground how he changes eyes from left to right, right to left as you pass through the blind spot directly behind him. If he changes quick, he's insecure looking back and seeing you. To pull him up effectively and get him stopped with one rein you have to start what you're going to do before he starts what he's going to do. Once he passes the threshold it's better to throw him away and try and gallop forward so that he finds his diagonal through forward motion. Trying to pull up after he's already bucking helps him engage so that he can gain elevation which is what will get you off. Watch the bronc riders in the rodeo - they're pulling on those halters and it's not stopping those horses bucking. So again, it's start early and redirect that thought or if you're late, hang on and ride forward. Put a night latch on your saddle and put one hand in there, the other behind your butt and hang onto the back of the saddle and send him forward (in a safe enclosure).

Edit: Martin shows an exercise here that may help a lot with those sudden surprise kinds of moments. You could (and I have) done similar things in a rope halter and snaffle bit as well - the basic technique works with different headgear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks I will need to keep forward in mind if he does start up, I will have to start paying extra close attention. I do catch him normally before he gets to that stage but he can be very quick about it sometimes.
 

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As a general rule, you know your horse is bored with something when he drops a hip. If you lift the saddle to set it gently the horse becomes suspicious, in part because the handler's attitude shifts gears to less than confident. Stand with your back to his shoulder and swing the saddle side to side to built momentum, then swing it over. Altho you may think the far stirrup will whap him it actually brushes against the horse's side. Show him the saddle, let him sniff it, then do as above. Be matter of fact about the process. The other gal may have saddled him correctly and he's picking up on your vibes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You never know he could be picking up vibes from me.

When I saddle him I just walk up let him have a quick sniff if he's curious then chuck it straight on, I like to think I'm careful but confident about it. He is actually fine with having it put on its once its there. I haven't gone straight to heavy saddles either. His first was a light treeless saddle then and light jumping saddle. He is only starting to have a slightly heavier synthetic (aussie) stock saddle.

He is slowly getting more confident with it but I find it hard to describe. Anything else I have introduced to him even when he is nervous about it, he may spook a little but otherwise slowly relaxes and is fine. For the most part its just the saddle causing problems.
 

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It doesn't sound like he's spoiled at all! He's just a young unbroke horse. punishing him will get you no where so I wouldn't go that route. tying him up for hours won't accomplish anything either but make him wonder why the hell is this happening - it's an old cowboy thing.
Sounds like you're headed in a good direction tho - check for fitting issues, could be pain coming from somewhere. Will he stand on all four feet squarely? And if so, (if it's safe with him), get behind him and look straight down his back towards his head (you will need another person to hold his head in a straight line) and see if his shoulders look even. If one is higher than the other - he needs a chiropractic adjustment most likely. Ribs could be out as well. Most horses will object to saddling and girthing up if ribs are out of whack.
 

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I'm not a young horse trainer, BUT, I can tell you that you need short sessions and do NOT move on until your colt has mastered his lessons. Also, keep them short, but train practically every day, even if it's just to push his butt over and continue to establish dominance in other ways. He NEEDS to see YOU as the herd leader so that will respect you and listen to you on the ground, always, but you can do this without being too aggressive.
You colt has Plenty of free time every day, so 5 minutes/day isn't too much training for him. Also, if you have an older mare, AND he is gelded!!!, turn him out with her and let HER do the kicking and the biting bc he won't hurt the mare, but he could hurt you playing, and he'll learn what NOT to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks he is a gelding and he has seen a chiropractor, muscle therapist etc. He was out badly in several places and he does have a dropped hip that doesn't bother him.

He is from a lady who had 3 foals from her mare that was left out with a pony stallion for a few years. My 3 yr old, a 4 yr old mare and a 6 gelding. We were told after getting the two boys that a girl had tried to break them in.

My friend broke in the mare with ease. Apparently the girl didn't like her so didn't touch her. She worked with both the boys though and mine is a bit more laid back then his brother so he isn't too bad.

My friend has the 6 yr old who is very sensitive and smart, he would be dangerous for someone inexperienced to be around. The girl worked with him the most he isn't spooky at things but he has learned to be explosive and "spooky" towards people interaction. My friend has really changed him and says he is a fantastic liberty horse but feels he is still way to explosive to ride yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Also I don't have a mare but I do have gelding who may as well be a grumpy old broodmare.
 

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Horse is having you on I think.

He isn't having flashbacks, he is testing the waters, and would bet if any of us older horse people were around, we would be seeing other things he is doing too, that we would put a stop to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The bucking isn't frequent he has only bucked about 4/5 times total. Though it is too often for my liking and he does get into trouble when he bucks.

I understand him being worried about new things but I do let him know that bucking is very much the wrong way to react.
 
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