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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I purchased an amish mare who was said to be broke to drive from a kill pen, she is 13. The farrier said you can tell she was used for work (bigger hocks and left over nails in her hooves). She has the best ground manners I have ever seen but she is a tad spooky. Well I decided yesterday I would try to ground drive her and see how she would do since we FINALLY got her comfortable with us and I have been able to harness her with no issues for a week. I am green so if this horse wanted to push me around she could have. I am taking horsemanship classes to improve.

Upon running the lines through she spooked bad! I asked her to walk on and once the line on my right barely touched her rump she freaked. She was trying to be good but was COMPLETELY bothered. She took the bit like a champ, stood for surcingale etc. Now that I think of it when I do ground work she will do everything to not let me on her right. Hooves were just seen and vet check went great. I am at a loss. I also saddled her up just to see. She was completely fine but when someone got on she completely tightened up and you could tell she was confused on what to do just like the pen said. So she isn't riding broke that's for sure.
 

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Sadly there are reasons horses end up in kill pens and most often it isn't something that is going to be worked through in a short time if at all. Your best bet is to find someone with driving experience to help you out.
 

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So I purchased an amish mare who was said to be broke to drive from a kill pen, she is 13. The farrier said you can tell she was used for work (bigger hocks and left over nails in her hooves). She has the best ground manners I have ever seen but she is a tad spooky. Well I decided yesterday I would try to ground drive her and see how she would do since we FINALLY got her comfortable with us and I have been able to harness her with no issues for a week. I am green so if this horse wanted to push me around she could have. I am taking horsemanship classes to improve.

Upon running the lines through she spooked bad! I asked her to walk on and once the line on my right barely touched her rump she freaked. She was trying to be good but was COMPLETELY bothered. She took the bit like a champ, stood for surcingale etc. Now that I think of it when I do ground work she will do everything to not let me on her right. Hooves were just seen and vet check went great. I am at a loss. I also saddled her up just to see. She was completely fine but when someone got on she completely tightened up and you could tell she was confused on what to do just like the pen said. So she isn't riding broke that's for sure.
The Amish use their horses for work and depend on them as much as we depend on our cars and other tools. I can't imagine any reason an Amish person would let a 13 year old horse end up in a kill pen, unless the horse was unusable. She's almost certainly been in use for them for years (assuming the killpen was truthful when they said she came from the Amish).

My bet is that the horse is/was very well broke and knows her stuff, and there is something wrong with her. I'd have her checked over by a vet very thoroughly and not get on her again until you figure out what's going on and whether or not it can be fixed.
 

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It would seem very odd to me that a horse that was used by the Amish would spook at having a harness put on. I strongly suggest you enlist the help of someone very experienced at driving to evaluate her, even if you have to pay them. A spooking horse under harness is a very dangerous situation and you could get seriously hurt, as could the horse, if you're in the middle of harnessing her and she spooks with the harness half on, scaring her even more.

There is something wrong with this picture. I don't think horsemanship classes will fix it at this point (though it's great that you're doing that!). Get help sooner rather than later so you have an idea of what you're dealing with and what solutions may be available to you.
 

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Welcome to the Forum....

You have quite the issue it seems....

Kill-pen horses are only known about what the seller, then the buyer who became your seller wish you to know...
Do you truly think all the horse is or was has been disclosed to you?

You've found the horse knows harness work but not astride riding...✔
The horse is accepting of you placing the harness and is quiet till you used your reins against their flank....
So, to me that tells me the issue is she has some sort of problem to that region of her body she fears your touch their........

I would get your vet out and get a comprehensive exam to find what and if that problem is and why, how to heal the problem and....indeed I would be paying someone who is a expert in driving animals for them to teach me what you don't know.
i would have to know and rule out the reaction was nothing more than you just don't swat a driving horse with reins on its flank....

I have limited experience and time ground driving a Percheron team.
Rarely did their reins ever slide off their butt ground driving them forget actually driving them.
Their reins were never used to swat at their flanks but rode the flat top of their hind-end as I walked behind them moving them from location to location not pulling something.
In actuality, I never flicked the reins ever...the horses I dealt with were voice and sound "activated" to move. A kiss, a word spoken....
Who owned the horses was warned to not flick the reins or they will take-off with a start and hard gallop by the trainer unless you wished for that speed {I never did thank-you, no!}
I occasionally after a day using the team would climb the harness to their collar and hames and sit right behind it and ride home, but these horses were not saddle broke either but understood enough to climb up astride and not be afraid of being killed either...

Is it possible she was part of a team?
She may never have had harness "touch" her right side such as a rein flick if she was left side horse.....
And if she is Amish, sadly many of them are involved with automobile incidents and she really could be reacting from something terrifying and hurtful...
A 13 year old horse is in their prime for many years of use and not just sent to auction for no reason....

Her reaction is out of character for the Amish horses who are used so often, so much and exposed to a great deal.
Some digging needs to be done by vet for ruling out of and you truly need experienced hands, eyes and one to teach you to harness and drive.
This animal came from experienced handlers, then to have the tentativeness of a newbie working them you could also be the catalyst setting the animal off...
I think you need to start with a vet visit, exam and probably some diagnostics to rule out and open the why to being discovered.
At the same time finding someone who is expert in driving horses, teams and working in harness and will teach and work with you.

I love driving and driving horses....what fun.
Please let us know how your discovery goes of the horses past and what may have occurred and how to proceed to get past this goes for you.
Some pictures shared of your partner would be lovely and possibly could shed some light and answers seen by some of our members who do drive and use the drafts not just fine harness horses....experienced eyes can see much more than a cute horsey.;)
🐴.... jmo...
 

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You probably should get a trainer to come and evaluate the horse. Find out what it knows and doesn't know. If the horse had shoes on it was probably used for someone whether ridden or driven I cannot say. Because this horse came from a kill pen, I would not believe anything you have been told. These people are salesman and they don't know or don't care about the horses story, just that you are willing to buy it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sorry I am making a blanket statement since many seem to be hitting the same point or asking the same questions. I believe she was turned over to auction since she suffers from laminitis and foundered. Farrier had to remove lots of bruising. She is not showing lameness now but according to vets and farrier we need to watch her every spring when new grass grows. I contacted our drivers association and have someones number local to me to check her out to see if I am doing something wrong. She is VERY sturdy and muscular like she was used for something. She has a bridal mohawk. I tried to get more info on her but they dont have much other than she is from Ohio. She has the best ground manners. Even the 23 year old lesson horse I used this weekend tested me the second I harnessed him(repeatedly), she did it once then never again once I made her back up.
Horse Sky Working animal Liver Cloud
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This is also my other horse from the same KP. We are getting some good groceries on him. He is 20+years and he tests the crap out of me. He is broke broke but I honestly feel safer around her since she has more respect for space.
Horse Working animal Liver Wood Tree

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Are you sure the horses are testing you versus you may be asking them things they don't understand or know how to do?

A red flag to me would be that a horse supposedly used as a harness horse seems spooky. A driving horse must be less spooky than a riding horse, because there is more danger involved: more equipment, further away from the horse, less available aids. Driving wrecks are absolutely terrible.

If she was driven, the spooking is new, which would suggest a physical problem. It could be vision, EPM, ulcers, or some other nerological issue. Regardless, I would not try more than simple ground driving or training to ride unless you have the horse thoroughly checked by a good vet.
If it isn't physical, she may have been through a traumatic accident as others have said.
 

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Not a draft. So buggy horse used singly. If not worked due to a founder episode then not in working condition. I see pasture fit not working fit. So take care when bringing back into work. As to having the issues you are describing it still sounds like something wrong and could well have been some type of accident causing the issues with spooking. Is she in blinders in harness?
 

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I know many "Amish" use standardbreds for their carriage horses....

Is this horse resembling anything to do with standardbred in breed characteristics?
The horse just standing grazing looks more quarter horse to me than standy....
Seen standing in the back of the chestnuts picture...even from a distance makes me wonder why such a nice animal was thrown away as happened if he came through a auction and true killpen situation.. :unsure:
🐴....
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Is this horse resembling anything to do with standardbred in breed characteristics?
The horse just standing grazing looks more quarter horse to me than standy....
Seen standing in the back of the chestnuts picture...even from a distance makes me wonder why such a nice animal was thrown away as happened if he came through a auction and true killpen situation.. :unsure:
🐴....
[/QUOTE]
Her mouth is shaped different than my quarter horse. Like a standard bred. But she has thick legs like my quarter gelding. I actually do wonder if that pen is a true kill pen. I have kept an eye on their page and they actually seem like horse traders that play as potential kill pens, does that make sense? Like they picked the horses up at an auction or somewhere cheap then advertised as kill pens. None of the horses in the pen looked sick or injured. Some needed groceries but were otherwise well behaved and sound. The farrier said mocha hoof is fine now and if she appears sore just don't work her otherwise she looks perfectly fine.

We have a trainer I contacted to help me work with her specifically. I am taking riding lessons etc. But I wanted a trainer to actually show me the other side. She is coming to see if we are a good fit for her and her style in a couple of weeks.
 
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