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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, my horse is the kind that people have always given up on. He’s been passed around and clashed with previous owners. He’s a hard horse to ride. Lots of horse. Very sensitive racing bred (hot)

The thing is, he’s really athletic, gorgeous stride etc I have gotten him very far. Further than anyone has in the past. We’ve worked through buddy soreness, nervousness, insecurity, being out of balance.... all sorts of things. Him and i have actually done well together though it’s had to go slow.

Here’s the issue. When I first got him he’d pin his ears and swish his tail when I’d ask him to work hard for anything. For example if he was side passing too lazily and I picked him up and pushed him over he’d do it, if I wanted him to do roll backs more snappy and pushed him he’d do it, if I wanted him to collect up more and use his body more he did it. Now it’s much better but can still come out at a lesser level when something is hard for him. He’s just not very willing and let’s you know when he’s ****ed.

Well until now, I’ve kind of ignored it bc it’s gotten so much better and it’s never turned into something bigger.

Well yesterday it did, I was at a competition and he started to hump up and get attitudey, I went to push him through it (I don’t wear spurs, use a whip and I was not pulling on his face at all in this moment) he decided to jump and lurch forward, then jump and kick and basically rag dolled the crap out of me. I couldn’t get him to stop and eventually got me off. Probably the worst fall I’ve had and I’ve been riding since I was 5, I’m 31 now.

So here is my plan moving forward and I’d love input. Put him on a consistent 6 day a week schedule, do arena every other day and do outside field riding and training the other days. Dedicate each arena day to some different goal and then when i get the attitude I stop doing what we’re doing and start doing something really hard for 5 minutes then take him back to what we were doing and see if the tude comes back if not, do the maneuver once without attitude, then stop and praise the crap out of him. Thoughts? Additions? I’ve never been a natural horsemanship person but maybe some of that would be good for ground stuff? Any other ideas?

Ps he has been fully vet checked by a lameness professional and had his teeth done. Gets his feet done every 6 weeks. Only thing i thought I should check is scoping for ulcers....
 

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Does he get time out on pasture? Time to completely let down and just do nothing? If he were mine I'd give him a few days off, and not just in a stall.
It sounds like you have accomplished a lot with him but horses can reach a burn-out point,
 
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There is a reason he becomes resentful, learning what it is can be difficult.

Personally I would forget about arena work, let him have some fun and easy times. Ride him out and about and after a few days (a week say) start asking him to domthe schooling exercises out on the trails.

All to often horses become sick of the arena.

You seem to have done more than anyone before so well done you. As I said, there is a reason behind his resentment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the feedback! He definitely gets lots of variety. His current schedule is about 5 days a week of riding. 3 in the arena 2 to 3 out in the pasture/trail, swimming (we have a lake) He’s also a pasture horse. He lives outside. He’d be awful if I stalled him.

He isn’t sour, he comes when i call him from the back of the pasture. He’s pleasant and fine when we just tool around. It’s when I actually ask him to try for me he gets cranky. Like he’s been this way so long it’s really hard to get rid of.

This has been a pretty inconsistent summer for me with other work and family distraction and I feel like that could be making the issue worse and why it escalated to what it did yesterday.
 

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It sounds like you know what you're doing, but you didn't mention this so.... saddle fit? Have you had it evaluated by a professional?
 
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I know you said you had him checked by a vet but it might be worth it to try a chiropractor. When my horses get out of place they usually start getting resistant when asking for certain things under saddle.
 

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Thank you Avna :)

Honestly it's hard for me to say because horse behavior can be from a number of reasons that without knowing the individual horse or seeing video or pictures is really hard for me to pin point what is the problem or say what direction to try. And truthfully even video and pictures can be wrong. I really think when it comes to these kind of horses, a lot of the times you have to handle and sit on them to really "get" it because what you "see" isnt always what is and it's a lot of problem solving. Is it a body pain issue? Is it the saddle? Is it ulcers? Is it diet? Is it health related? Is it behavioral? Is it training? Are they not happy? Etc.

I can say with my horse and he has been interesting. I did a lot of ground work as well as in hand. He does spanish walk, leg yield, shoulder in, haunches in, etc in hand. I also did some ground driving. I felt it was very good for him to really understand body language and subtle cues, as well as how to respect a handler/rider and ACCEPT a person having that much influence over his body. He really didnt like the idea of letting a rider in, he'd block out mentally and imo went into survival and fight mode, I dont think he trusted people. He was the type to push into pressure, out think and over power. Not scared by much, I use to ask him to back off and he'd run over the top of me and use his shoulders to push me into the wall. And I helped raise babies, been a stallion handler with some rank stallions, worked as a handler at wb inspections, etc. Also worked at one point for/with natural horsemanship and driving trainer, so got quite a few ground lessons. I found it very useful in learning to read the horse's energy and transfer energy to the horse. My horse is unconventional but I found it really helped and I had to teach him how to back away from pressure and manually how to move around my body because he'd just use his shoulders and push into me. A lot of energy pushing him out and respecting me. Back up without approaching him, touching what I point to, etc and making ground cues and body language clear. He likes the games and mental work, it helps get him a little less tense. If he's thinking and working hard, he relaxes.

I dont think this is the whole problem with my guy but something to consider that might be part of your guys problem (I am not diagnosing, it's a suggestion). My guy ended up needing surgery on his spermatic cords and having quite a bit of tissue removed. The scar tissue was restricting the range of motion in his hind end. My vet (we are in DK) said he's known horses that all their "weird" and "naughty" behaviors stopped after the surgery because they no longer felt discomfort from work. Wonder (my horse) is in work again and my trainer says he sees a difference and I feel a difference. Today was a lot of passage-trot and piaffe type work. He also had clean x rays from poll to feet, ultrasound and had been treated for ulcers, PRP to both stifles and SI injection. Teeth twice a year. Regular chiropractic, stretched everyday. Stifles and legs on ice on days off with a full body massage once or twice a week. Also trying a heated blanket for when it gets cold.

I think with these unconventional, tricky horses it takes a lot of patience and time and careful work. Sometimes facing the problems head on and it getting ugly and having faith it will work out. Sometimes being patience and gentle, whatever the horse needs.

My guy a year ago was a 2hrs a day, 6 days a week horse and he was turned out 14hrs a day in a big open green field. Low starch/low sugar grain. I had to ride him an hour before I had a lesson otherwise it was just running into a wall over and over again or him pulling so hard on me he tore out my core and back muscles and pulled me with belly button onto his neck. He doesnt do that now. This year, we ride about 30min to an hour usually and 4 or 5 days a week. We hack for warm up and cool out almost daily weather permitting. Took a long time to be safe hacking, one hack he crashed through a fence and nearly lost his life. So I was quite scared to hack for a while. He's still a ferrari but I dont feel like my life is in danger anymore and he sort of stops when he gallops now or at least steers which is pretty nice. It used to be like a madness consumed him and he'd completely shut everything and everyone out and just gallops like a man fleeing the mad house.

Maybe the answer is hacking out? Maybe he has kissing spine? Maybe it's chiropractic? Maybe it's the spermatic cord? Maybe he needs his teeth done twice a year? Or who knows. Maybe he is testing? Maybe it is from lack of consistency. I think right brained horses thrive in consistency and can become a bit difficult or revert back to old behavior if the work isnt consistent enough. Some need more mental work, others physical, some need more laid back days. It really depends on the horse's individual needs.

I also have another I ride who will rear, bolt, buck, and throw huge fits if she feels the rider is unfair or is too strong with her. If it is fair and she understands, no problem. She's never been naughty with me but Ive seen it with other riders. And what I see is they dont have the right mind set. You cannot master her, just ask and explain and let her do it. She's very nervous and isnt very self confident, have to give her that and then she will do ANYTHING for her rider. Not saying this is your guy but an example. It depends on the horse.

Another thing and I do this without shame, I always carry treats in my pocket and when I ask my horse something difficult and he does it well, I halt and give him treats. And also figuring out what he enjoys and what motivates him and makes him feel special. My guy is quite work motivated. So I'll work and I'll ask quite a lot and then walk break. I dont want to push past their comfort, some days I push past comfort and do harder things and other days it's fairly light and not putting pressure in him, just hacking and light arena work. Might ask for some half pass, shoulder in, and haunches in but it's more for suppleness than to improve it. If that makes sense?

Not sure if any of this is helpful or not.
 

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^ GREAT stuff there, about being diplomatic with a difficult horse.



I have hardly any personal experience with a difficult horse. The hrose I ride, is, however, often sullen about being asked to trot out when he thinks he'd rather not. He will trot out, but he displays a bad attitude, by gnashing his teeth, swinging his head side to side, and trying to come behind the bit. My trainer has suggested to me that I work to increase his energy less by pushing with my legs, which causes him to sull up more, but by raising my own body energy, by mabye slapping my leg to make a bit of noise, or swinging the tail of the reins back and forth over his withers real short and quick, to make a small 'commotion'. Or, slapping his sides with my whole leg, and looking way out ahead and really trying to focus outward, and get HIM to be focussing out ward, and not on ME, but what is out there! (like picking a spot in the distance and thinking about getting there as fast as possible, ).


I then watch his head and look for the slightest change in his attitude. When his ears go forward, and he reaches his nose forward, and lets go of backward thinking (sulling up and coming behind the leg), then I stop doing anything. I let him coast along with out any control of his speed. He can coast to a stop, if he likes. The idea is that he learns that going out with energy is where FREEDOM is, and when he gets there, I don't bother him any more.


If you ask for more from him, and he gives that, and all you do is take that and want more, There is nothing in it for him to offer you more. The reward comes from him getting to the place where he lets go of his resentment., You don't try to keep him in that place, or get even more. If he falls back down to a walk, you just ask again, always giving him total freedom as soon as he chooses to go forward without resentment.


That's about all I know on that subject.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you so much! I really appreciate your input. I have had some advice that i should just sell him and get one that is more fun. That sort of thing really bums me out because I'm not one to give up. Anddd The thing is, he is fun! I think we've just gotten to a point now where I need to figure out this issue to move closer to my goals. Like we've come as far as we can and now it's time to unpack this. I think this is a wall. I want to be positive about it and just look at it as something I need to get really disciplined about and move through. Thank you, you made me feel more positive.
 

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Well, it IS something to consider if you are looking for a quick horse, and he is not that horse. Kind of like getting a horse with a big, open trot , that wants to move our and cover ground, and you INSIST that he is going to be your best Western Pleasure horse, because YOU think WP is fun. But, does he? Does he like trying to be the square peg shoved into a round hole?


I mean, it's one thing to not allow a horse to stay in a place where he is crabby and bad tempered about being asked to move out spritely like now and then. But, if you are trying to create a barrel racer out of a lazy but steady trail horse type (not saying you are), you might be mismatched, and best to sell and switch horses.

So hard to say what is right. only you really know. But, asking for some new thoughts on things cannot but help. Let us know how things are going.
 

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Keeper16 - you could be me in my youth! I always found the problematic ones the best fun. It is so satisfying when you do get a total understanding of them and reap the rewards.

Horses like this, when fully understood, will generally give their all to please you.

As Dante and I have bothered said, it is a matter of understanding what they are saying.

When younwork him and achieve a sound try, stop doing whatever it is and reared by letting him have a couple of minutes fun, it might be a fast canter or popping a rail, then go back to asking again.

Some horses are difficult because they have tried and not been given relief, they learn to resent, this can lead to a rider becoming far harder with their demands and building up the resentment.

Some that resist need a darn good whack and a heard boot to make them realise you mean business, others need the firm, fair softly softly trouch with the bad behaviour, basically not allowing it but ignoring it.

It is down tomyou to learn to understand what he is trying to tell you.

Good luck to you both, bet you get there!
 

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he has been fully vet checked by a lameness professional and had his teeth done.



Only thing i thought I should check is scoping for ulcers....

If he tends to be a hot/anxious horse, he could very well have ulcers. It's worth checking for and/or treating for (sometimes you might as well just treat, when you compare the cost of the treatment vs scoping).


Ditto to another question: Does your saddle fit?


Have you had him checked by a chiro?


Would you be opposed to a second opinion vet? Yes, it sounds like this horse has had quite the history and could very well be behavioral, but I would personally want to triple-check that there wasn't something that was making him uncomfortable and causing the attitude.



Very sensitive racing bred (hot)



Here’s the issue. When I first got him he’d pin his ears and swish his tail when I’d ask him to work hard for anything.



He’s just not very willing and let’s you know when he’s ****ed.

You also have to keep in mind that the hot-type horses will NOT tolerate repeated drills of things. If you ask them to do something, and they do it well the first time, DON'T ask them to do it again. You can't "pick on" these types of horses or they will get very ****y with you. Move on to something else instead.



So make sure that you aren't creating some of the attitude by asking him to do the same thing too many times. Some horses just cannot tolerate that.
 

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I'm making another post because I didn't realize you were BARREL RACING with this horse, and that you had just turned the 3rd barrel and he bucked you off as you were running home. I know you left those details out here, but I think they are really really important details, being a barrel racer myself.

Could he be a bleeder?

Has he ever done this on the barrel pattern at a race like this before?

You said he's 11. How long have you had him? How long has he been trained on the barrels (or is he not finished)?

Is it possible he just does not like barrel racing?

I have lots more questions now....
 

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Do you want to change his attitude, help him become willing, or do you just want him to 'behave' & do as he's told without argument? Big difference in approach.

So, my horse is the kind that people have always given up on. He’s been passed around and clashed with previous owners. He’s a hard horse to ride. Lots of horse. Very sensitive racing bred (hot)
Sounds like previous people have done him no favours, so no surprise he isn't 'willing' & has an 'attitude' about work. And the way many people train & 'work' many horses, it's no surprise most aren't willing.

Now it’s much better but can still come out at a lesser level when something is hard for him. He’s just not very willing and let’s you know when he’s upset.
Sounds like he gets frustrated & upset that he is doing something & you keep pressuring him(to do it better). You just need to ensure you remove the pressure at the first try of doing 'better' - to let him know that's what's needed, and I'd be rewarding him for stuff he does for you, so it's in his interest - there's Good Stuff, not just lack of bad stuff for 'working' for you. How willing would you be, to do some tedious, drudge job if you weren't paid for it??

Well yesterday it did, I was at a competition and he started to hump up and get attitudey, I went to push him through it (I don’t wear spurs, use a whip and I was not pulling on his face at all in this moment) he decided to jump and lurch forward, then jump and kick
That sounds like a reaction, not just 'attitude' - well, the 'attitude' may be due to him hurting or some such. What have you done to rule out/treat any physical discomfort he might have?

Put him on a consistent 6 day a week schedule, do arena every other day and do outside field riding and training the other days.
*Assuming* he is not hurting, nervous, confused... that still seems to be a lot of drudge & 'work' to me. If you want him to lose the 'attitude' and 'unwillingness' you need to give him reason to enjoy & want to do what you want of him. It's not WHAT you do, so much as how you do it, but so saying, I'd minimise 'work' and maximise 'play'.

Dedicate each arena day to some different goal and then when i get the attitude I stop doing what we’re doing and start doing something really hard for 5 minutes
Instead of 'dedicating days', I'd work with the horse you have at the time, what 'level' he's at, how is he progressing at enjoying what you're asking, on any given day or time.

When he gives you 'attitude', (assuming I'd ruled out pain etc) I certainly wouldn't stop what I'm asking - he is telling you he's grumpy & doesn't want you to do whatever, so if you stop doing it, his behaviour has worked for him & he will do it again/more.

Remember, horses need *instant* feedback to learn. If he does something you don't want & you stop what you're doing & do something else(if the 'else' is intended as punishment), then it's going to be too late for him to associate it with the original behaviour. And if you punish a horse for 5 seconds after a behaviour it's too long for the horse to understand, let alone 5 minutes.

And aside from the above, if you're wanting him to become willing, quit hating 'work', then making 'work' more difficult & unpleasant for him - for 5 seconds or 5 minutes or 5 hours... - then that's not likely to have the desired effect. IF you were to effectively punish his (outward display of) 'attitude', he may quit *showing* you that particular 'sign' of his unhappiness, but that won't make him happy.

Ps he has been fully vet checked by a lameness professional and had his teeth done. Gets his feet done every 6 weeks. Only thing i thought I should check is scoping for ulcers....
Good you've done that. I would still get a good bodyworker (chiropractic vet or such), as specialists often know better than vets on that note. Saddle fit and yes, ulcers are 2 more things to look at.
 
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