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Discussion Starter #1
So I went from working with a horse that was so dull sided it is insane to my new appy mare who is so sensitive that she goes into a bucking spree when you put pressure on her sides. I think it has a lot to do with this trainer that was abusive to her and gave her the trust issues and probably used spurs on her a lot. Sooo, how do you make a horse that is super sensitive and scared of any pressure on her sides less sensitive? My only thought is to lunge her with a saddle on so the stirrups do rub on her sides and she will hopefully eventually know that it doesn't have to be scary. I dunno...
 

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IMO I think a super sensitive horse is great. I love my guys to be super sensitive. It makes it alot easier to turn and to do alot of neat things.
For the bucking spree, are you just maybe putting too much pressure on her sides? Your sensitive mare might just need a simple you turning your body in the direction that you want to go. Turning your belly button to the direction and looking where you want to go will automatically put some pressure on her sides and maybe that is all she needs ;)
 

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That works. But the problem might not be having her sides touched but rather having a rider how is touching her sides.

I'd work a lot with trust, show her you don't mean her any harm, spend a little extra time grooming her, take her out to hand graze for a few minutes. And no, I don't mean stop riding her, just do all this as well.

Also, if you are able to ride out her bucks without getting unraveled or dropped, just keep riding very, very softly. Use your breathing a lot. And instead of using your legs, use your seat. For example, take a deep breath in and as you exhale, tighten your back and seat and tummy muscles, close your fingers, and try to restrict the movement of the horse underneath you. The goal here is to stop. Then when you take your next deep breathe in, relax all those muscles you just tightened, the goal being for her to walk on.

Good luck! Whens she comes around, she'll be a great mount!
 

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To go along with the breathing, humming or singing to yourself can help both you and the horse...lol. I had an old horse that if you hummed or whistled he would almost immediately relax. His old owner had whistled to him quite a bit on trails. It reminds you to breathe.

I also agree with ride out the bucks if you can, and if you can't I would ask someone else that can to ride her for a litle while. If you get off she will learn relatively quickly that bucking= done.
 

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my mare is the same. i let my sturrips dangle and just ride, and I stop her somewere and gently brush her sides a little with my legs, and as she is calm and isnt as responsive, over time I move my legs a little more, bigger and faster. It could take weeks or months. You just kind of brush the horses sides with your legs, you dont ask for forward movement, you want the horse to understand the weight of your legs vs leg pressure. It take time. When I first asked my mare for a turn cue, she just went faster. So you also have to "perfect" the art of body position and body pressure, not just leg or hand cues.
 

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I have a 16 year old mare that is the same way about her sides. Super sensitive. I am not sure what will help you out besides maybe not wearing spurs but taking them and pressing on her sides rubbing them on her at first until she doesn't react to them then slowly adding more pressure. I would do this from the ground not on top of her.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well yesterday when she went into the bucking spree I was getting ready to dismount, she went into a bucking spree and I came off and dislocated my hip so I will not be riding for a bit. I guess I should have said that in my original post, I am looking for ways to work on this problem from the ground.
 

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This is an u/s training issue. its about leg cues more then ticklish sides. maybe get a friend to ride her while you lunge. but since shes injuring you this bad you best bet is a professional trainer you know/trust or a new home with a more experienced rider. My mare can get out of control but shes never bucked me off, never injured me or anyone.
 

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Is she really sensitive when you groom her? Like, does she try to sidestep away when you brush her sides? Maybe you could do some desensitize/sensitize work with her. Rub her sides to condition her to the feeling, but be sure to go back and do "I touch here and you move" exercises to balance it out. If you do all desentitizing, you'll lose that lovely "yes Ma'am" response to your cues, but if you do all sensitizing, you'll end up with a basket case. It's kind of hard to explain in words... I hope that made some sense.

Hope that your hip feels better soon! That just sounded painful reading it!:shock:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
This is an u/s training issue. its about leg cues more then ticklish sides. maybe get a friend to ride her while you lunge. but since shes injuring you this bad you best bet is a professional trainer you know/trust or a new home with a more experienced rider. My mare can get out of control but shes never bucked me off, never injured me or anyone.

I am not ready to give up on her yet, I think she will be a very nice mare with some work, just needs to learn that pressure does not mean it is going to hurt right away.

She does okay with saddling and grooming, won't try to get away from me, but is very "twitchy."
 

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She does okay with saddling and grooming, won't try to get away from me, but is very "twitchy."
I'll bet some of the desensitizing would help her. That twitching while grooming is probably escalating to a "HOLY COW YOUR LEG'S ON ME!!!" reaction under saddle. Clinton Anderson has a good description of the general approach and retreat technique, far better than I can give, along with many other trainers, NH and otherwise.


Instead of swinging the stick, rub her sides until she relaxes with no twitching and stands calmly, then praise her. Eventually, her first reaction to the pressure will be "to fall asleep." There's the importance of sensitizing, reminding her that there are some kinds of pressure that ask her to move with energy.
 

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Well yesterday when she went into the bucking spree I was getting ready to dismount, she went into a bucking spree and I came off and dislocated my hip so I will not be riding for a bit. I guess I should have said that in my original post, I am looking for ways to work on this problem from the ground.

On the ground you could push on her sides and get her to move her feet and give to pressure. If yo were not injured I would suggest that you teach her to flex her head around. I never get on a green horse without pulling thier head around toward me so they can't buck or rear and if they walk off they turn under me. Once on I make them yield thier hindquarters both ways with thier head still flexed. then I flex it the other way and do the same thing. If I think they might still buck then I walk them around in a small circle untill they loosen up. Getting on a horse with his head straight is a recipe for trouble as you have apperantly found out.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I actually had asked her to flex both directions when I first got on and then again right before I started to get off. I had also been very careful not to touch her sides the whole ride. I think as I started to get off and took my feet out of the stirrups I put pressure on her sides and it started the bucking spree.
 

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Keep her flexed WHILE you get on and off and she can't blow up and buck. I wouldn't want to realy desensitize her to your legs as much as teach her to move off the pressure from the ground. I rode a percheron gelding last year that was close to 18 hands tall and probably 1500lbs (skinny). He had the same problem with bucking when I put a little leg on him. He bucked me off four times the same day before my brain kicked in and I decided I couldn't ride him and I had to solve the problem. I started laying him down before I got on to ride. I have discussed this approach on this forum before and some people don't agree with it and it really isn't for everyone. You need to find someone with a lot of horse TRAINING experience to help you if you decide that it's something you want to try. It would help if they had done it before but it's not critical.

 

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^^ he dosent get ligature marks from the rope? Id also be worried about the pressure on the tendonds/ ligaments from the rope. How does laying a horse down help when it comes to riding them?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I understand the concept about the rope, if your horse gets stuck in a fence you want it to not panic and hurt itself further but I too don't really understand the reason behind laying a horse down.
 

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^^ he dosent get ligature marks from the rope? Id also be worried about the pressure on the tendonds/ ligaments from the rope. How does laying a horse down help when it comes to riding them?
When I do it I use a hobble and tie the lariet to it but I have never seen a horse get injured from the rope. I had the same concern so I use the hobble. When you lay them down it takes a lot of the fight out of them. You are taking away every defensive weapon they have but you aren't hurting them. I have used it a few times and it has never failed to work. Lastr month a horse was really agitated and managed to buck me off pretty hard. After I laid him down he was much more relaxed and went much better. I am still riding him and he hasn't even tried to buck. The only thing I did different in the training was lay him down.
 

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Basic rule - For an overly sensitive horse, do more. For an overly dull horse, do less.

She doesn't like pressure on her sides? Do it more, more, and more. On the ground, in the saddle, whenever you are around her. Keep it up until she stops twitching, then stop and let her think. Rinse and repeat, a LOT of times.
 

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You Could try playing the Friendly Game with her. Where you just take in the arena and rub her all over with a carrot stick and then your hand when she is comfortable. This I think would help her out alot. I can't remember if someone said this already but perhaps lunging her with the irons down could help her get used to the banging on the sides. I would just keep her going if she started bucking and eventually she will learn to tolerate it. Perhaps this will help you? I hope this does.
 
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