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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a common problem and I'm about to ask a solution hundreds of others ask for :? Anyways, I ride a horse who is quite a little turd. She's fine to catch her in the pasture and leading but once the grooming starts it all goes down hill. She's fine being curried and sometimes when I go to her belly she'll pin her ears back. I've been very gentle and I've also rubbed with a bit more pressure to make sure I wasn't tickling her. She has no physical problems. So I'll warn her with a low growl saying her name. Then comes the hoof picking. She will not give me her hoof. I ask her to give, then tell, then demand. Once at the last stage she'll lift it up but usually once she's bored she'll put her hoof back down. And with her back hoofs she'll kick out. I usually yell at her or smack her on her rump and she'll behave.
Also the girth. She will nip and lift her leg to kick. I smack her and yell and she still doesn't stop. And I'm very gentle. I know I'm not doing anything wrong. Now the bit. I always fight for her to take it. And I was told to trick her with a treat but now she knows not to fall for it. And she'll also step on my foot which is hard to avoid. And lastly riding. She is better when riding but she will go when I don't tell her too. She doesn't like hardly any contact and throws her head when I pull back to have her slow or stop. Once again I am not doing anything wrong. I've done pull and release on her and still she throws her head, but eventually comes to a stop.. I'm always stuck riding this horse becuase apparently we look nice together but I do not like her! She does have amazing gaits and jumping skills. Please what should I do next time? How should I react to her behavior?
 

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How old is this horse? She's a lesson horse?
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I wouldn't yell at her and smack her until you have ruled out pain.

Many of the "naughty" things that she is doing are indications of pain due to ulcers.

First priority, have a vet out and scope her for ulcers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes she is a lesson pony, I'm not sure how old she is. I know she's not young but she's not old.

I don't yell and smack right away. What I usually do is she starts lifting her foot and I'll say he name lowly and stop tightening the girth. She'll put it down and I'll continue and if she does it again I'll tell her to knock it off. And lastly if she continues I'll smack her rump.
And no she doesn't have ulcers, I'm pretty sure. I don't own her so I'm not positive but the people that own her are very good with keeping up on the horses' health

 

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I was also going to suggest ulcers.

Barrel Horse News just had a great article about where you can palpate for ulcers. Two of those places are where the girth will land, and under the belly.

As far as the bit acceptance and the head throwing, has she had her teeth examined recently? She could have a dental issue that is causing pain.

The foot picking up problem is probably just a lack of respect, as is the fact that she walks off when riding, without you asking.

It's very possible she could just be a cranky horse that doesn't want to listen. But I would absolutely ask the owners if she has been checked for ulcers and teeth issues, and not just ASSUME that she has. Would you feel bad if you smacked her when she was just trying to tell you that she hurts?
 

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Ulcers can be missed quite easily. I'd still have her scoped. Until you see what's going on inside...You can never be absolutely sure that she does or does not have them. They can also be Hind-Gut ulcers which are hard to detect and even harder to treat.

1 of two things is going on here...

A) She is in pain and trying to tell you she is in the only way she knows how...
B) She is taking advantage of you...

And until you can permanently rule out pain, you cannot be certain that she is just being a "brat"...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Very true. I'm hesitant to smack her because I'm afraid she's in pain. But honestly I don't think she is (and yes I will double check to see if everything is fine with her.) Since she's not acting in pain when I'm riding her. And I think the owner rode her once and of course she was a doll because she knew that she wasn't in charge. I'm very sure that she is just disrespectful. And how can I show her that I'm boss?
 

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This horse has gotten away with this behavior for too long. It has set in as habit. It has worked for her before too many times. She should not be used as a lesson horse until her behavior has been corrected. Every time that someone backs away from her when she does her antics reinforces her behavior (why she shouldn't be used as a lesson horse and because she is a liability where someone WILL get hurt).

I hope you are getting a deal for your lessons having to deal with her and trying to correct her behavior.

IMO, she needs a serious "come to Jesus" meeting and some respect put back in her. Even if you try to correct her, anyone else that deals with her and lets her get away with it will undermine anything you accomplish. Personally, I would request a different horse or find another place to take lessons.
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I wouldn't yell at her and smack her at all. I get why you're doing it but chances are if you yell at her and smack her every time you do something she's associating your responses with girthing, grooming, hoof picking not because of her bad mood. Yelling and smacking doesn't train - it disciplines but it doesn't show her how to do things differently. You're not applying pressure that she can release by doing the right thing. Maybe a yell or smack is useful if a horse tries something that isn't a habit - but once it's a habitual behaviour it's not going to train it out.

When girthing I'd just ignore her, standing clear of legs. If she reaches around to bite you let her face hit your elbow but pretend you don't notice. Do it in small stages. Do it up loose, pick up a foot and clean it, then tighten, then do something else. If she's a lesson horse a lot of girthiness is from people cranking the saddles tight straight away - and poorly fitting saddles.

With feet, hold it until she stops pulling it away then put it down. Make the right behaviour easy.

Grooming - some horses just don't like to be curried in their sensitive places.

Just a thought though - if she is a school horse ridden by many others, regardless of what you do she's not going to get better because other people will be doing other things with her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks guys =) I'm just a bit worried since I don't want the instructor to think I'm being a sissy. And I hate loosing a battles, especially against a bratty mare. :-| I'm just being insecure about this situation.
But are there any last tips? Like lets say you had never ridden this horse and you're tacking it and it starts to be rude, how would you react?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I wouldn't yell at her and smack her at all. I get why you're doing it but chances are if you yell at her and smack her every time you do something she's associating your responses with girthing, grooming, hoof picking not because of her bad mood. Yelling and smacking doesn't train - it disciplines but it doesn't show her how to do things differently. You're not applying pressure that she can release by doing the right thing. Maybe a yell or smack is useful if a horse tries something that isn't a habit - but once it's a habitual behaviour it's not going to train it out.

When girthing I'd just ignore her, standing clear of legs. If she reaches around to bite you let her face hit your elbow but pretend you don't notice. Do it in small stages. Do it up loose, pick up a foot and clean it, then tighten, then do something else. If she's a lesson horse a lot of girthiness is from people cranking the saddles tight straight away - and poorly fitting saddles.

With feet, hold it until she stops pulling it away then put it down. Make the right behaviour easy.

Grooming - some horses just don't like to be curried in their sensitive places.

Just a thought though - if she is a school horse ridden by many others, regardless of what you do she's not going to get better because other people will be doing other things with her.
Thank you I will try that
 

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Thanks guys =) I'm just a bit worried since I don't want the instructor to think I'm being a sissy. And I hate loosing a battles, especially against a bratty mare. :-| I'm just being insecure about this situation.
But are there any last tips? Like lets say you had never ridden this horse and you're tacking it and it starts to be rude, how would you react?
It is one thing for a horse to test a person. This horse is not testing. She's throwing her weight around. She needs a serious workover in the respect department.

You shouldn't worry about them thinking you are a sissy. You are paying them to learn. NOT retrain their horse.
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Part of learning to ride (a big part) is learning how to handle and work around different horses. Not every horse will be cooperative . Many older horses size up a handler or a rider in a few seconds or minutes at the most.

I think it is time for you to have a CTJ pow-wow with your instructor and not your lesson horse. Explain to her that you want to learn more than just how to sit up on a horse a look good. Tell her you want her to help you be an 'effective' handler on the ground. Tell her you want her to show you how to quickly get things done and how to safely and effectively handle adverse situations. If you continue to ride, not every horse you handle is going to automatically volunteer to do the right thing even if you do things the right way. It is your instructor's job and not our job to tell you how to get things done with a half spoiled old lesson horse.

Slapping and yelling at a horse comes under the heading of 'nagging and pecking'. It is not an effective way, to get a horse to quietly comply with your requests. Learn better techniques.

Just like the article I wrote that is at the top of the page, every handler and every rider IS a trainer every time you interact with any horse. It is very important that you learn how to do it all if your riding experience is going to be a good one.

Remember, you do not know how to ride until you can make 'Dobbin' go north when he wants to go south. You don't know how to handle a horse until you can handle a horse that does not want to do what you are asking him to do. This IS NOT actual training. Training is teaching a horse how to do something. An old lesson horse knows how to do it. This is simply learning to get the most out of a horse that knows what to do and wants to make you prove that you also know what to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Part of learning to ride (a big part) is learning how to handle and work around different horses. Not every horse will be cooperative . Many older horses size up a handler or a rider in a few seconds or minutes at the most.

I think it is time for you to have a CTJ pow-wow with your instructor and not your lesson horse. Explain to her that you want to learn more than just how to sit up on a horse a look good. Tell her you want her to help you be an 'effective' handler on the ground. Tell her you want her to show you how to quickly get things done and how to safely and effectively handle adverse situations. If you continue to ride, not every horse you handle is going to automatically volunteer to do the right thing even if you do things the right way. It is your instructor's job and not our job to tell you how to get things done with a half spoiled old lesson horse.

Slapping and yelling at a horse comes under the heading of 'nagging and pecking'. It is not an effective way, to get a horse to quietly comply with your requests. Learn better techniques.

Just like the article I wrote that is at the top of the page, every handler and every rider IS a trainer every time you interact with any horse. It is very important that you learn how to do it all if your riding experience is going to be a good one.

Remember, you do not know how to ride until you can make 'Dobbin' go north when he wants to go south. You don't know how to handle a horse until you can handle a horse that does not want to do what you are asking him to do. This IS NOT actual training. Training is teaching a horse how to do something. An old lesson horse knows how to do it. This is simply learning to get the most out of a horse that knows what to do and wants to make you prove that you also know what to do.
Thank you. This is exactly what I've been thinking. I was just kinda thrown on the horse and never told anything about handling and I don't want to do anything wrong.


Thank you so much guys! I feel a bit more confident now.
 

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What I usually do is she starts lifting her foot and I'll say he name lowly and stop tightening the girth.

This is the problem. You stop tightening the girth when she threatens to kick you. You release the pressure when she does something to scare you or stop you. This has taught her that "if I threaten to kick, the girthing will stop."

Horses learn to do whatever they were doing right before the pressure stopped. The pressure in this case is you tightening, not yelling at her or hitting her.

You need to find a way to SAFELY continue what you are doing in grooming and tacking, no matter what she does. For example, with tightening the girth, stand at a 45 degree angle to her shoulder, closer to her head than her hind, and pull the girth. She cannot kick you there if the girth strap is long enough. If she threatens, pull more and keep pulling until she stops threatening. When she stops threatening, you stop pulling and let her rest for 5 seconds. Repeat this sequence.

Of course, Cherie is absolutely right. This is exactly what your instructor should be teaching you! Every interaction with the horse is the opportunity for learning, for both you and the horse. And these lessons about respect? Well, they are the most important of all! You cannot be a good rider if you don't know how to manage a horse on the ground. It is a great place to learn about timing, pressure & release, and what a horse is "saying."

Everything you are telling me about your interactions with this horse tells me that she does not respect you, especially stepping on your feet. And you also say that when her owner rides her, she doesn't do that stuff, so she totally knows better!

You need your instructor to teach you all of this; then you will not only have a nicer time grooming and tacking, you will also get much more out of her under saddle.
 

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Time to haul out the lunge line, halter and lunge whip which I hope you have. Move her into an area with lots of room to lunge her. Pick up a hoof and it she grabs it away, chase her out to lunge her with murder in your eyes. Make her trot briskly for three circles, no more and no less then bring her back and position her how she was when your started. Each time she yanks her hoof, repeat the lunging. It may take three times. She is learning that she can either stand and allow you to clean her hoof or she gets to work. Now, horses are big on conserving energy and that's why this works. She won't catch on at first so stick with it even if it takes a fourth time. Haven't seen one ever that needed a fifth. Do the same with the hind. With the cinching what I like to do is wear the horse down ie I'll pull on the cinch, not do it up, wait for the reaction, then when it stops I'll release it a bit then pull it snug again, over and over until the horse gives up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
This is the problem. You stop tightening the girth when she threatens to kick you. You release the pressure when she does something to scare you or stop you. This has taught her that "if I threaten to kick, the girthing will stop."

Horses learn to do whatever they were doing right before the pressure stopped. The pressure in this case is you tightening, not yelling at her or hitting her.

You need to find a way to SAFELY continue what you are doing in grooming and tacking, no matter what she does. For example, with tightening the girth, stand at a 45 degree angle to her shoulder, closer to her head than her hind, and pull the girth. She cannot kick you there if the girth strap is long enough. If she threatens, pull more and keep pulling until she stops threatening. When she stops threatening, you stop pulling and let her rest for 5 seconds. Repeat this sequence.

Of course, Cherie is absolutely right. This is exactly what your instructor should be teaching you! Every interaction with the horse is the opportunity for learning, for both you and the horse. And these lessons about respect? Well, they are the most important of all! You cannot be a good rider if you don't know how to manage a horse on the ground. It is a great place to learn about timing, pressure & release, and what a horse is "saying."

Everything you are telling me about your interactions with this horse tells me that she does not respect you, especially stepping on your feet. And you also say that when her owner rides her, she doesn't do that stuff, so she totally knows better!

You need your instructor to teach you all of this; then you will not only have a nicer time grooming and tacking, you will also get much more out of her under saddle.

When she lifts her foot and I continue tightening, should I say nothing or should I yell at her while tightening?
 

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I would just keep tightening. If you feel the need to be vocal you could try saying "Hey" but draw out the "e" sound or maybe make a low growling sound while continuing to tighten the girth and giving her a break when she stops threatening you, but I personally wouldn't do much more than that vocally.
 

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I wouldn't tighten it more. Just hold it until she relaxes and then let it loose for a few seconds as a reward and repeat until you have her cinched properly.
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^ That's what I meant lol :) Finals week has me not thinking through my wording, sorry for that (possibly) confusing part in my post ;)
 
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