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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was directed here from my first post in the Horse Talk forum. I would love some advice here - reading the Horse Talk post will help you see where I am coming from a bit better.

Horse in question is a four year old Tennessee Walking Horse (he'll be five in March) that I bought from an extremely reputable online* seller that I've bought two older horses from in the past, both of whom are excellent horses. However they are just that: older horses. I believe they were both 10 when I bought them.

(*I know. Internet buying is not a good idea but I've had such good experience in the past with this seller that I did it again.)

The gentleman I have bought from often sells younger Walkers (ages 3 and up) that he buys from individual homes and keeps to trail ride and train at his place for a while before selling. He is, as I said, very reputable to my knowledge and experience.

Well, I was looking for a family horse and was assured that this horse, Reb, was plenty gentle and content to just walk on a loose rein and go on trails etc. (Reb was not a cheap horse either.) He arrived a week ago and, while I am not about to put any newbies on him for reasons in the link above, I have this oddly strong innate feeling that I should not give up on him yet as my friend suggested.

This morning I took him for an hour long walk with my flag just to see how he would respond to respecting my space and watching me to stop when I stop, to yield his hindquarters, etc. and he picked up on it extremely well. By the time we were finished and had played around quite a bit, he was the most relaxed I've him seen so far.

Now I am NOT a professional horse trainer. I have done some training work on some of my older horses with the direction of a very experience trainer and I did have a 3 year old Tennessee Walking Horse who was well trained for his age when I bought him but needed to continue on with training (he ended up being a very beloved horse); I consulted books and horse friends to do so.

At the moment I am just going to focus on ground work and loving on this new horse because he doesn't have a "leader" in this new place. The seller told me to just take my time with him and see if we can bond; if not, we'll figure something else out.

I have to admit that I am nervous about riding him after what happened with my friend. However that's not going to be until after I really get to know him on the ground and I am going to use my well-proven tack and NOT do what my friend did when she mounted (which was essentially be angry at the horse out of fear). Ideally I will have someone else with me, hopefully my trainer friend, when I try riding again. I think I will relax about this more as I spend more time with the horse... but does anyone have any words of encouragement or thoughts of how I should go about it when I DO eventually saddle him up?

If anyone has any thoughts about this entire thing (after reading the post from the Horse Talk forum especially), I'd LOVE to hear them. Anything from ground work exercises and bonding to more thoughts on what happened that first day when apparently my "Common Horse Sense" button was switched to "OFF" :oops: would be great.

Thank you,
Jenny
 

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Jenny, don't beat yourself up too much over it. It doesn't sound like he's got any lasting anxiety about that whole deal and you learned something.

Personally, I've always had better luck in the saddle than I ever did on the ground. I suspect it's just because I'm too lazy to spend much time on my own two feet :lol:.

If you've got a saddle that fits him, I would go ahead and start doing groundwork with the saddle on. The stuff you've been doing with him sounds pretty darn good, especially if it's getting good results which it sounds like you are. Now that he knows you a bit, he'll likely be more willing to accept the saddle.

Do you know how to ground drive a horse? That's always something good to work on because that gets them ready to be ridden about as well as anything. If you've got a bit/bridle for him, you can also work on suppling exercises and getting him to really bend that neck when you lightly pick up on one rein. That alone will give you more control in the saddle than 2 reins can.

When you eventually work up to getting in the saddle, give it a go first in the roundpen and keep the reins loose...but keep that inside rein short enough that you can pick up on it easily. On a green or nervous horse, tiny circles are your friend because they will often keep the horse from getting out of hand, though I strongly suspect you won't have much, if any, trouble with Reb once you've spent some time with him and done all your prep work.

If you are really nervous about getting on him, is there an experienced friend who can snub you up to ride him? What I mean is another rider and horse who can wrap his lead around the horn. Like that, it's virtually impossible for the young horse to misbehave bad enough to get the rider off. One thing on snubbing a horse, the shorter the lead rope, the better. Notice how this guy has that colt's head almost right up in his lap? That's the correct way to do it.

In this video, just one of the many mistakes is that the rope is way too long. The other big mistake is that he's dragging the colt. HUGE no-no.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for your reassurance, smrobs! I actually did saddle him up today with my usual saddle... until I found the girth was too long and I didn't have a shorter one or a hole punch so I just went ahead and did our little session without it. However he didn't dance or paw when I saddled him and messed with the girth so that's a great sign!

I have seen ground driving but haven't done it myself - where I board, the trainer does have equipment for it and I'd love to try it (with her supervision).

Thank you for the videos!! :D I really appreciate them and the advice!!
 

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I 2nd the snubbing, ground driving and then when you're both ready, being ponied out for the first several rides.

On the ground I like to do the 7 Parelli games. I am not a Parelli-ite but I LOVE those games. It really can help you build a relationship and as long as you move on past them, they're a great beginning. The Seven Games

You don't need any special equipment, a lunge whip and even regular nylon halter will work fine. For that matter, I sometimes do them with nothing more than the tail of the lead rope to swing.
 
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