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Signs of a Beaten Horse

834 Views 12 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  krisadreyer
I’m trying to figure out what is wrong with a pony. He isn’t mine, he belongs to a family friend. He was pretty underweight when they got him. At first, after getting him to a healthy weight, he was a good little pony. He was sold as a kids pony. But now he is bucking and is very hard to catch. I’m working with him in a round pen right now and if I walk up to him he is extremely jumpy and literally shivers if I put my hand out. He is very protective of his right side. If I put my hand too high he freaks out. Not like a normal spook but eyes wide and shivering. Hates being patted. Once the halter is on he seems like he’s shut down. He seems zoned out. I think who ever broke him just threw a saddle on and rode him. Skipped everything else.
I’m not saying he was abused but it seems pretty likely, to me. What do y’all think?
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Probably he hasn't been beaten, but just trained in a way that went too fast and was too rough so he still has fears about being handled. He sounds shut down, which is what happens to some horses if they are trained using a technique called flooding. That is when the horse is exposed to something until he is quiet, even if he is still terrified inside.

I agree with the others who say the horse needs slow restarting, without being flooded so he can feel fear and react to things, but then slowly learn those things won't hurt him and get over his fear. The guarding of the right side is a sign of a horse that has been barely started. It means the time hasn't been put in yet to desensitize him to handling on both sides. Regardless of what they were able to do to him physically, such as put a saddle on, he hasn't mentally accepted training yet.

Some really spooky horses can appear as if they have been beaten. One of my mares was always handled gently and no one ever mistreated her, but she was very reactive. At one place where I boarded, the owner told me my mare had been beaten, because whenever she raised the pitchfork suddenly, she would flinch and cower. This horse had never been beaten with a pitchfork or anything else, she was just very reactive and even after years of exposure to things, she'd have that reaction to anything that startled her suddenly.
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