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Hot, nervous horse afraid of leg

4072 Views 14 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Kaifyre
My rescue Paso Fino has a few issues under saddle. His groundwork has improved immensely. His saddle work, not so much.

He stands relaxed for mounting, but the moment you get in the seat he is ready to take off. He whoas for about 2 seconds. Usually I just let him go, as he is difficult to hold and I would rather that energy go somewhere. He will trot very rapidly in circles. He literally does not stop moving the entire ride.

I've been experimenting with riding on a loose rein instead of constantly trying to rate him. This usually results in an extended trot. He has not broken into the canter, although I do rate him if it feels like he might.

He will whoa if I pull pretty hard back. I've been using a one rein stop with slightly better results. He circles to a stop, but again does not want to hold it. The minute you release he wants to move forward. Which means I have to keep repeating the one rein stop.

Forget about adding leg. You can't even touch his sides. My attempts at even adding a turning aid, result in him spinning around in a circle. Now he is fine with dangling stirrups on the lunge and hand pressure on his side's. But with a rider up, no way!

I finally got a good whoa at the end of our ride tonight which I used as a good ending point. Of course, by that time he was covered in sweat and getting tired.

He does listen to voice somewhat, and he rates sometimes. He turns really well based on rein alone. But he has a long way to go.

I'm tempted to have someone bring out a bucket of grain and hand feed him while I sit up there. Something to build trust, as right now he is ready to jump out of his skin. He feels like a keg of dynamite.

I will say he really doesn't do anything bad. His attitude is pretty good. He does get annoyed with the one rein stop, but ears go up as soon as we move forward again.

He does not gait. He does a trot without the suspension.
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When they are nervous, some horses tend to “freeze” and not want to move. Others tend to think they can “run” from their anxiety and try to keep moving. When dealing with this second kind of horse, it is best to avoid getting into “fights”. A number of techniques help avoid confrontations. Of course, you always want to rule out physical issues first. I would also suggest using a well fitted snaffle bit for training.

As an alternative to trying to stop this horse or “just let him go”, try calmly turning him. When changing direction, a horse must think about maintaining his balance, so turning can help mitigate speed issues. Also, be sure your body is relaxed. When relaxed and balanced, you can depend on gravity to keep you on the horse so you don’t need to feel you must hold on with your legs. Tension in your body will tend to make your horse tense. For now, think of calmly applying a leading rein to get the turn since leg pressure results in increased anxiety in the horse.

To stop, you can initially employ one leading rein to turn him into the fence or wall – pull toward the fence or wall, not back. Once he stops, let him feel as if you are getting ready to dismount. A horse will normally stand still for that. It sometime helps to use the mental image of taking a car out of gear after stopping.

When your horse stops, be sure to release any rein pressure as a thank you to let him know he did what he was supposed to do. But don’t “throw away” the reins. You want to be ready to re-apply pressure by simply squeezing your hand or hands. If the reins are too slack, riders have a tendency to pull the reins too fast and too far, jerking with too much pressure – thus making the horse more anxious.

If the horse still tries to move off after stopping, say, “Walk,” before he takes the first step. In this way, he will be doing what you tell him.

Continue trying to help your horse relax as he walks. Release any tension in your own muscles. Do deep breathing exercises, talk softly, hum, or even sing quietly to your horse. Continue to work calmly on the stops trying to get them softer and softer.

Finally, don’t forget to praise your horse when he does what you ask. And when you get that first calm stop and stay stopped, get off. This will give your horse something good to think about until you work with him again.
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