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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!

We recently moved to our acreage and brought home my mare, then 2 geldings to keep her company. I run an equine assisted learning business with these 3.
One gelding (Smoke) is an old man who is basically the unicorn everyone wants. He's a sweetheart, totally sound, and retains his training just fine. He's just super old (nearing 30 I think) so he's basically retired.

Mika is my girl - she endured some abuse in a past home and at 13 I retired her from riding. She has a lot of skeletal issues that prevent her from comfortably carrying a rider and the job we do together doesn't require her to carry a rider so we get a long fine. I did a lot of work with her when we first met to rehab her to where we're at now and she's comfortable being a horse and doing ground work.

Skat is my other guy - he's 12 and I got him 2 weeks ago. I knew he had issues similar to Mika when I got him. you can see the lameness in his hindend and he has a limp on his shoulder. A trainer friend of mine is the one who told me about him and she's known him his whole life and saved him when his abuser wanted to put him down. My vet was out yesterday for a Chiro adjustment on Mika and Skat and said he's seen Skat before and was saddened to see what happed to him over the years. His back is almost in an S shape so we doubt he'll ever be able to wear a saddle again. Thats OK because again, my job doesn't require the horses to be ridden. The shoulder is a soft tissue injury from either an accident on the trail (A lady was riding Skat up until he came to my house. poor guy). or from trying to crawl under his dry lot fence to get to the grass. Vet says with time it'll heal. Its not a foot issue and he can feel its a soft tissue problem like under his shoulder blade almost

ALL THAT TO ASK

Because of the shoulder issue I can't really do circles with Skat. Mika and I did a lot of bonding and rehab in the round pen when I first got her and now, I don't have a round pen at my place and Skat shouldn't be doing circles anyway until that shoulder heals.

Any ideas of what we can do together? He's very bonded with Mika and Smoke already, mostly Mika. He gets worried when he can't see the other horse and loses focus. He does have manners while leading and if he forgets them a stick with a flag (Buck Brannaman style) is an effective reminder for him.

Thanks all :)
 

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Heaps of circle work is not great for any horse, so I wouldn't be doing a lot of it regardless of body issues generally. You can work on yielding to different cues/pressure in different ways, & you can ground drive, if you need to work on training & 'manners'. You can go for walks with him, go exploring, do obstacles, teach tricks, for the sake of 'bonding' & seeing where he's at mentally. & just doing nice stuff with him. You can do hillwork & ground driving, for fitness...
 

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I'm not familiar with in-hand bridle work like Apuesto mentioned but it seems to be common in the Dressage world.
When I first started working colts we did a lot of ground driving(as loose said) and not in circles, we rarely used a round pen. I think both in hand and ground driving could be beneficial. I imagine you could get creative with the exercises to keep him engaged as he heals.
 

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Ground driving is great. You don't have to do it in an arena, or in circles.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks all! I forgot I bought a ground driving set from a girl when I had a unbroken mare for a bit (no longer have her) so I can bust that out for Skat. Mika and I really used the round pen as a smaller area for us to work together in, and she had been taught to run from people so I spent a lot of time in there just sitting and letting her realize that she can relax around me.
Skat doesn't have that problem. He always comes up to the fence looking for treats and loves - mostly treats, lol

I'll do some walks with him. We're on a dead end road which is nice for a lack of traffic. Over the winter I hope to get some trail obstacles built which will be fun in spring.

Thanks all :)
 

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I second ground driving. I don't have a round pen, and although I did work on lungeing for training my mare, we did a lot of in-hand stuff too. In addition to the ground driving, I took her for tons of in-hand walks. Up & down the road as well as in the field and up & down hills (great exercise for the handler too!)

I also worked on yielding - so moving her shoulders and hind quarters and just generally working around her so she was comfortable (like jumping up & down beside her and putting ropes, etc across her haunches and around her legs).

There are barns around me that do obstacle days - so I would take her to those and just do the obstacles in-hand. (walking through tires, over tarps and bridges and through pool noodles, etc).

I think you had mentioned your other horses weren't ridden, but I also ponied her from my other horse. No circles, just walking/trotting through the fields and up the road. I still do this if I don't have time to exercise them both.

So there are tons of things you and your new boy can do together!!
 
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