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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently starting leasing a Paint mare to help get my seat back in time for the arrival of my new "green" horse and I have run in to some weird problems that I have never encountered in any horse I have worked with before. She has the most AWFUL, rough, stompy canter/lope, I don't think the horse even knows what she is doing. She often tries to break into it on her own without my asking so at first I thought the horse was lame because as I was jogging her she'd flip her front foot out weird then totally collapse under her shoulder.

I talked to her owner (who is an older, wiser, very reputable trainer in our region) who gave me a little more of the "skivy" on poor Katie. Apparently she was leased last summer to a gentleman who wanted to show her Western Pleasure. Unfortunately Katie's nature was more of a nice canter than a western pleasure lope. So he put all sorts of equipment on her to try to FORCE her into what he wanted. After months of fighting with her he said the horse was incapable of doing it and he gave up on her.

I think what I am getting is the result of this, and I think she is very confused regarding what she is supposed to do when loping. After finding out this info I tried asking her to a canter, giving her plenty of rein and trying to encourage her to stretch out but instead all I got is a humped back, and sort of a crowhoppy, rattlesnake stomp, offbalance falling into the shoulders sort of thing. She doesn't snort, put her ears back or act in any way agitated or nervous while doing this. I am really at a loss as to how to help her to relax and go with what is natural for her.

I was told she was also very good at flexing years ago, and yet she now turns like a giant bus. I have been trying flexing exercises with her and she is fine on the ground, but once on her she is straight as a board with no turn of the head and neck at all. I think this guy really messed up not only her lope/canter but also her balance.

I'm currently riding with a simple D ring snaffle and using a bareback pad..and I really don't think any of the tack is causing pain.

Any suggestions?
 

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It sounds to me like she's really heavy on the forehand. She seems like she's been told to slow down and put her head down but wasn't taught to move from the rear. It also sounds like she may be stiff. I'd go back to the basics for a while. Just get her moving forward and then go back to collection. She sounds like a sloppy mess right now. Do you have pix?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I don't have any photos or video of my riding right now as I have only been on her 2 times. I am hoping to get my fiance' to come video some time this week so I can put it up here. I am inserting some photos that show her current condition but not good for confirmation, again I will be getting more. She is really FAT and chunky looking from being in from last August until a week ago when I started leasing her. In the photos her hooves are long, don't worry she was trimmed before I started riding her.

And yes, she feels like a BIG MESS. Katie's owner is hoping to be able to let her grandchildren ride her again when I am done. They were able to before she was leased to this person but now they have a really hard time with her.







So I am getting ideas of what is wrong, I just really don't know how to fix it, sigh.
 

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The first thing I'd do is have the chiropractor out. A horse that used to bend, but no longer bends, and is acting that weird at the canter after someone used a bunch of weird gadgets on her and can't figure out how to canter correctly sounds out of whack, and is probably out of whack in many places.
 

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If it's not a physical problem, she's probably just needs to find her balance. Maybe work her on a lunge line for awhile, so she can find her feet again without having to compensate for a rider on her back at the same time. Once she's got 3 good gaits back, try it under sadde.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I may call out a chiropractor this week. The funny thing is, when she is in the fields running with her buddies she gallops smooth as silk and turns with the herd. I've also seen her sail smoothly over small logs and the such on the ground like a sweet lil hunter jumper should...no signs of anything wrong. It's all purely when I am on her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
The vet has been out and an ultrasound has been done on all 4 legs, she was pronounced 100% sound. The vet could find absolutely nothing wrong with Katie and says that he thinks that it's all "upstairs." We also had the farrier out so that we could make sure all of her angles were correct. She has smoothed out a little, but it's very very little.

Let's see if I can get these to embed correctly. I've got some video of her in the round pen going both directions. In the round pen she seems relatively smooth and relaxed. I also have some video of me riding her which I know is HORRIBLE. But it's all I can get right now. I know my seat is really awful..I am still trying to get it back after not riding for over 10 years. This horse also take a LOT of squeeze to keep her going. She likes to break into the lope on her own so I don't think it's because she is sore...she just wants it to be HER idea. Also, she is tough to steer while loping/cantering. It seems like as soon as she goes into that gait she immediately become anxious and nervous and therefore is paying so much attention to what she is doing with her feet (and I think fear of getting popped or something is she does something wrong), that nothing else exists in her little horsey world.

I video'd left, right, behind, and coming head on. Again I know it's a crappy video but maybe you can see what I mean that she's doing.

My big question is...how the heck do I get her to relax and stretch back out into what is natural for her?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The more I think about it, the more that video of her under saddle just really sucks. But going off of the one of her in the round pen, does anyone see anything that I'm missing. She isn't really seeming to bend in the round pen either. But when I am on her I can now get her to bend her nose to my foot on both sides and can get a little bend when taking her in hand but when I neck rein her like she is supposed to do I get no bend at all even with leg cues. The other horses that I am taking care of at this farm are bending very nicely including one that the owner says never bends well...so I am really confused with Katie
 

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It appears as thought she's built downhill, so she's going to be heavy on the forehand. Her canter looked like a typical, downhill canter. Nothing strange. It looks like she needs to learn how to collect and bring her butt under her and use it; she's simply running on her forehead at the moment.

I've never seen a horse bend on its own while lungng in the roundpen unless it had extensive dressage training, but perhaps she just needs a tune-up lesson on how to bend under saddle (assuming it's nothing the vet or chiro can fix.)

Good luck, have fun! ;D
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you fourtwentyam and Seahorseys. I think I am going to start working on half halts with her this week which is where the idiot who tried to get her to collect with draw reins should have begun...poor horsey. When I was riding yesterday after reading some of these posts, I started paying attention to where her center of gravity seemed to be, where her balance was and yes it is indeed forward...in fact it seems like it is more on the fore than is natural for her...which I am a guessing is the result of someone who doesn't know what they are doing, throwing a "draw reins" on her and cinching her up as tight as he can to make her collect into that western pleasure lope he wanted. Funny because if he hadn't given up and actually put her in the show ring like that, I really doubt he would have place because the judges would have seen it in an instant, unlike me.

After the week of half halts I will try to get more video so we can see if it is helping...and maybe I can actually get someone to hold the camera this time besides the arena post ha ha
 

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I mean, it doesn't look *that* bad, just a little confused.

I would stop cantering an go back to the walk. If you are looking for bending practice, throw her in a snaffle and work on direct reining and bending around your leg at the walk. When she gets really good at bending around your leg, and driving off of your legs and seat, then move to the trot. Don't let her break into lope all the time, bring her back to the trot or walk or whichever it was you asked for. You won't get anywhere just loping around in circles if the horse doesn't get it at the walk and the trot.

Do lots of bending and suppling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
SeWHC thank you so much. Yes my plan was to go all the way back to the walk, do my half halts and bending and slowly work back up. She is currently working in a loose ring snaffle which is what her owner prefers all of her leased horses be ridden in, I guess it's so that the more novice and beginner lessees don't mess up the mouths too bad. I can also use a hackamore but I am sure that will actually make the issues worse at the moment I am also going to forget about the neck reining for now and wait until she is more balanced as I think it may go easier once the abc's are all done with.
 

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It looks to me like a training issue. From the appearance, someone worked on her lope to get her head down and get it slow instead of getting it balanced. It looks to me like she got some poor training in either western or english pleasure.
 

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Someone really messed with her head thats for sure. In the round pen she was happy in the trot and then seemed really confused when you had her loping.

I had a horse that couldnt collect and just string out and her legs were everywhere but under her. I did lots of pole work in the walk and trot and lots of turns and tons of backing. Making her turn on her hips. She was neck reined i had to take her back to direct rein. Lots of circles, walking, and trottig should help her. And let her know that your not going to punish her if she isnt perfect.

I do have to say she is BEAUTIFUL i would love to take her home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well, we've been working at half halts...I don't think anyone EVER worked on them with her because it took about a week for her to figure out what I wanted. We half halt at the walk, jog and trot and she is starting to relax and has stopped spontaneously trying to lope. I think she has finally figured out that I am not going to make her lope for hours on end like that guy did. I added serpentines this week at a posting trot.

Worked a bit on her bending too with a LOT of circles. She seems a lot more in balance. I might wait another week and then re-introduce the lope and see what we have. I'm also thinking of just putting a sidepull or mild hackamore on her too when I bring the lope back in. She still seems to have a lot of bit anxiety even though I have been dropping the reins and using leg and seat pressures only. She's currently in a D-Ring snaffle. I have a lot going on with prepping Cinny to move him in this weekend but I will try to get some new vid of Katie so you can critique the progress.
 
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