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Linda Lashley
Member
Username: Lhenning

Post Number: 135
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 9, 2006 - 12:48 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

My 5 yr old QH gelding has been increasingly excitable over the last six to eight months. At first, it seemed like a respect issue so I began working through Clinton Anderson's "Respect" series. My horse seemed to pick up the lessons quite easily and it did improve his manners. I spend a lot of time on ground work with him. I am comfortable there and we have a good bond.

Last winter, I had some episodes while riding him in the indoor arena where he became very spooky of nearly anything out of place. He spooked from other horses getting near him. He made me feel afraid because he was out of my control, and at first I panicked. Gradually, I have tried to learn proper ways of handling this behavior such as one-rein stops, disengaging the hindquarters, and putting him to work when he gets distracted. I have also worked on reducing my own fearfulness and becoming more confident. Yet, his anxiety level is still "up", just as it was last winter. For example, last month in the outdoor arena, we practiced staying relaxed, did many walk/ halt transitions, then walk/ trot transitions, all while staying very relaxed. Then he walked close to a ground pole, which he has seen all his life, and stepped on it which caused it to fall on his flank. He spooked and I panicked as I started losing my balance. I grabbed the reins and he threw his head up, and I was on the ground. Yes, I know that was the WRONG thing to do. So I got back on, and he started twisting around purposely figuring he could get me off. This time, I stayed calm and grabbed the saddle with one hand, and did a one-rein stop with the other. I rode through his little fit and we both calmed down and resumed our ride. I even ended that ride feeling pretty good that I had "won".

However, after that incident, he was more spooky than ever. He spooked when I took his saddle off, and was terrified of being tied. So I went back to the ground work. I taught him to ground tie, then did a lot of desensitizing with the saddle blanket and saddle. Gradually, he let me saddle him while being ground tied.

Then last night, he was in this spooky, jumpy way and after I lunged him I thought he had calmed down. Not so I guess. I got on him and he walked away, which I have taught him not to do, so I used the one-rein stop. The moment I let up on the reins, he took one look ahead and decided to get the heck out of there, and took off full-bolt straight through a vinyl fence! I did not pull on the reins, I grabbed the saddle and tried to get him to stop, but no way. As he plowed through the fence, he twisted around and I flew off. I am sore today, but worse, I am now very afraid to ride him. I love him to pieces and have put years of work into him, but I keep thinking I must be in over my head.

Why does he seem so spooky all the time? I look at all the other horses and riders in the stable and they seem so calm and good natured. Assuming I can get over my own fear, how can I get him to stop doing this? It kills me to think of selling him, because I truly believe he is a good horse. He never used to be so excitable, could this be caused by something external? Is it his age? What course of action would you take, if this were your horse?
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Fran C
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Username: Canter

Post Number: 584
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 9, 2006 - 1:07 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda,
I have one thought and I don't know if it has any merit, but have you had his eyes checked? I'm wondering if a vision problem isn't leading to the spookiness.

Actually, I have a few other thoughts - have you put anyone else on him? I wonder how he'd react to another rider. He's likely picking up on your tension, even when you are unaware of it. Do you have a trainer you can work with that can observe what you are doing together? How about saddle fit? Have you checked to make sure there is nothing protruding from the bottom of the saddle that is causing him discomfort. Have you had a vet out to do a full exam to make sure he isn't sore somewhere?

Having ruled all this out and if he continues to be so reactive, you may have to face the fact that he's not the horse for you. It would be a terribly difficult decision, but please consider your own safety and that of your horse. It would be so sad if either of you got hurt or if this horse destroyed your confidence.

Please be careful!
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Diane Edmonds
Member
Username: Scooter

Post Number: 369
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 9, 2006 - 2:08 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Linda, I feel your pain, my now 9yr. old gelding was like that up until he was 6. My trainer always told me it was me, not him. (I didn't agree). Well to be truthful NOW it was 99% me. That horse could terrify me and he KNEW it. I would tense when ever he seemed distracted. I love this horse to pieces, raised him from a baby. He had impecable ground manners, but to ride him... Our turning point when he was 6 was when I decided it was him or me, but one of us was going to (win) this battle. After a few go arounds and quite a few A$$ whippings, he decided I WAS the boss. I HAVE to ride him with confidence and leadership or he will revert. He was not spooky, he just knew he could shake my confidence and scare me, when he did do his spooking and bolting. (not anymore) and all the bad behaviour has left. If it is not physical, I highly suggest you get a good trainer to help you work thru the confidence issue, it really helps. I am just a trail rider, but I had a trainer help me for 2 mos. and my what a difference. You must ride him, not the trainer. I always tried to get my trainer to ride him and he said NO, YOU have the problem with him, not ME. Which was true the trainer could make that horse do anything and he never fussed at all. This horse of mine taught me so much about riding I am now grateful for his earlier antics (believe it or not). Good luck and get yourself a good trainer, it is worth every penny. Also wanted to add are you grabbing his mouth out of nervousness? That was one of my big mistakes, the more I pulled the worse he got. I started riding him in a sidepull until I felt comfortable enough to bit him and not hang on his mouth. That made him improve 80% by itself.
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Aileen
Member
Username: Sunny66

Post Number: 1378
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 9, 2006 - 3:47 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Sounds like my horse! His issue was/is definitely pain.

After checking all the things that Fran suggested, check his diet... if he gets sweet feed you may want to take him off it. Some horses can't tolerate it... also, could he be muscle sore? How much are you working him? Increased work lately?

You may also consider ulcer medication, (I know of quite a few horses that came around once on ulcer medication)

and if that doesn't help either, go with Diane's suggestion :-)

Just my two cents and please take it as such!
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Angie
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 670
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 9, 2006 - 5:04 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

You might consider searching for the post: "need help training timid horse." I posted asking for help with similiar issues.

I have a 4 year old that sounds like your horse. Only I haven't rode him yet. Between his silliness, and the fact that I don't really have a saddle that fits him as well as I would like, I have put him up for sale.

I've put more time in him than my other 3 combined, and we just are not progressing. Don't know if it's him or me, but we are not clicking.

I just got a new saddle that fits another 4 year old I am starting, and 2nd day we are walking, trotting and stopping under saddle.

The point is, are you enjoying the challenge this guy is presenting you with?

Definately check out the pain issues, vision, and teeth. And have some one else ride him also and then decide what you want to do with him.

And consider maybe he is just overwhelmed; have you been asking many new things of him? Or one new thing after another? Can you ride him at just a walk? Just walk and relax for the next as many days as it takes. Don't get worried about any thing he looks at??

Rereading your post, I am thinking his mouth may be sore. He seems to really want to avoid having you on him, and a horse will run away from pain.

Can you ride him with the halter and do one rein stops?

Does he lunge o.k., respecting the halter?
What if he lunge him, with the line directly on the bit on yourside? (going the left, connect the line to the left D or ring of snaffle) Is he good then? Or trying to run away, a sign of mouth pain. You might want to use another line on his halter also, in case he really freaks out. Don't want him running away and now stepping on the line connected to the bit.

Lots of things off the top of my head......take what you will.

And: STAY SAFE!!!
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Sara Tardanico
Member
Username: Starda01

Post Number: 14
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 9, 2006 - 7:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Linda,
My horse is 16yrs old and he does some of what you describe. In fact, its probably the reason I have him, as he had been bought as a school horse and promptly did his shying and dumped some of the students. The students didn't have the experience to stay calm and handle it. That I could stay calm is probably a tribute to all the times a horse got away and dumped me. Even now, he still spooks, but I'm right there and he knows he's not going to get away. In fact, I think on some days, if he's bored, he'll invent something to spook over.

I think that riding is a reciprocal experience for horse and rider. Every time you ride, your horse learns something about you, and you about him. I think your horse may have got your number. I have known of some horse and rider combinations that were like that.

Having said all that, physical pain or discomfort should not be put out of the question. Eliminating those causes will help you narrow it down. I think sometimes my horse has poorer eyesight on his left side, for example, bc that is the side on which he's most likely to be startled.

You may want to keep track of time of day, wind conditions, and so forth, and see if you can link any of it to his behavior. Lead him up to things that spook him, and let him have a good look. Above all, show him that you aren't afraid. Let him act like an idiot but don't let him get away from the object, until he calms down. When you are riding, and he spooks, sit deep and turn his head so all he can do is turn in a circle. Use your leg pressure to hold him steady until he calms down. Don't say "'Good boy" when you get past that scarey object, just keep on going, as if nothing happened, and there is nothing more to be made of it. Keep his mind on his business. He's waiting for and responding to signals from you, so if you tense up when he starts to spook, its telling him that there is indeed something to be afraid of.

Nowadays, I have found that there are certain things that my horse will just not be comfortable around. Where we were stabled there was a field across the street that had some cows in it, and we could never get near that side of the property that he didn't find something to shy about. I could ride him through there a hundred times, and a hundred times he'd find something to shy about. Nevertheless, I did not shrink from making him go by those cows. I just sat and held him there until he calmed down and went forward. Even if I had to get off and walk him through it.

You'll know you have his respect and attention when he goes past something that frightens him bc you are asking him to go.

In the meantime, wear your helmet!
Sara
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Sara Tardanico
Member
Username: Starda01

Post Number: 15
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 9, 2006 - 7:21 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Something else someone mentioned and I'd like to second the notion, is to look at his diet. Is he getting a lot of sweetfeed, or other higher energy foods? It can make a difference.
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Kthorse
Member
Username: Kthorse

Post Number: 590
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 9, 2006 - 8:57 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Is he spooky everywhere?
Some horses are just naturaly that way. Some great advise given to me was to sing, stop and give a snack that would get his mind off the scary thing. deep breathing, work him in circles around the scary thing back up everytime he acted scared. I even took a tape recorder hooked to my saddle blasting music. A horse that spooks is scary. Especially if they bolt. I think a spooky horse is the hardest to ride. Even if you get most of it out of him he probably will always spook the trick is to get him to spook in place.
The thing you said was he never used to be like this. Makes me wonder. Is something hurting him? Horses look to us to be the leader. Maybe because you are nervous now he doesnt know if he can trust you from the scary thing. There could be so many reasons. Pain ,naughtiness, fear, trust issues too much feed (energy). I agree with everyone. It is dangerous and please be safe. I hope you find the answer.
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Debbie Green
Member
Username: Green007

Post Number: 256
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 9:05 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Linda,

Don't forget to consider obvious things, too. I once had a horse under my care that spooked and bolted dangerously with her 14 year old owner. The girl had been successfully riding the horse for months until one fateful day. The horse continued to bolt with her on an increasingly regular basis, so we pulled her off the horse until I could ride it (I couldn't do it at the time as I was 5 months pregnant and didn't want to take the risk).

When I finally did ride the horse, she was fine. I racked my brains trying to think of why the horse had spooked and bolted so badly with this girl who was actually quite a soft and talented rider. I finally found out one rainy day when the horse did it with me. There was nothing I could do to stop the horse. I had to run her head first into a wall at the end of a very long, fast and furious run back to the barn so I could do a safe emergency dismount. No pulley rein, circle, voice, leaning back, half halting, nothing but nothing was going to stop this horse.

It turned out that this horse did not like the "swishy" sound that my raincoat had made. Thats all it ever was. When I thought back to the first time the horse had bolted with the girl, sure enough, it was the first truly cold day of winter and the girl had her winter coat on. When the girl moved, the coat swished, the horse bolted. The faster the horse bolted, the more noise the coat made. It always ended badly!

I tried sacking the mare out to swishy things, tried longing her with coats and crinkly paper tied to the saddle. She never, ever got over it. By then, the girl was too afraid of the horse so we found her a new one to ride that she adored. We sold the horse to someone with full disclosure of the anxiety disorder, and that horse went on to be an excellent upper level event horse for someone who knew not to wear anything krinkly while riding her. It actually helped her get over some of the more scarey cross country jumps because if you tilted "just so" while approaching a jump, the cross country pinney would flap and spook her right on up and over!

Try to see what kinds of things set your horse off, and then put a trainer on the horse and see if those things still set your horse off. That way you can see if it is the horse, or you.

If it turns out to be you, your choices are to take a lot of riding lessons in hopes that it will get better, or to sell the horse and get one that is more in touch with you.

Horse/human relationships are about chemistry, just like a good marriage. Most folks that are more experienced get along with a greater variety of horses simply because they have that experience. However, even experienced riders can be totally humbled by a horse. I personally get along with most horses, but have found plenty of horses out there that I have never, ever been able to get along with. Some of these horses go on to do wonderful things with riders that are less experienced than I am, but those horses just didn't click with me. It happens!

The short answer is, do everything you can to work it out with this horse, but put a realistic time limit on it. If it doesn't work out and you have to sell him to someone who he clicks with better while you find yourself a new dancing partner, it is not the end of the world. It happens to everyone. You are in good company!
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Angie
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 672
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 9:24 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Very well said Debbie.
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Erika L
Member
Username: Erika

Post Number: 344
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 9:25 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda,
1. Kill the sweet feed. I know you board, but ask if is diet can be all hay for now.

2. Your new problems are not all under saddle from what I am reading so it tends to make me want to rule out saddle discomfort (check it out anyway, to be sure).

3. Consider the horse's lifestyle. Is he stalled a majority of the time? Do you ever ride outside the ring? I ask because some horses can get absolutely stir crazy with their controlled, mostly indoor lives.

I have one horse that can be spooky if I only ride her on the familiar loop around home, but take her to a new trail and she concentrates and does less "goofing around spooks." So with her, I know she is looking for something to spook at just to keep things interesting. Boredom is bad.

As for riding all this out and showing who is in charge--I think it depends. How well do you know this horse's reactions? If I know a horse's parameters of behavior when it is upset I can do that, but if you don't know the extent he will go to, I would be very careful without the guidance of a good trainer.

Going through the fence with you is pretty scarey! I'm not sure I would ride again, either, without professional help. If he is showing a lack of self-preservation, he is not going to be concerned about keeping you safe.

He is young. How long have you had him? How long after you got him did things start? Is he getting enough consistent work to keep him sharp? It sounds like you are a good rider, but we sometimes communicate things to the horse that we are unaware of.

I vote for a trainer to help you for a while an to evaluate the situation before you get yourself hurt.
Good luck,
Erika
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Catherine McCourt
Member
Username: Kstud

Post Number: 26
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 10:06 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Linda,
I agree with Erika, I think that once a horse is prepared to crash through a fence with no regard for his or your safety then he cannot be trusted. Unless something obvious turns up that you can fix I would advise not riding the horse again as I do not think that you will be able to relax on him and trust him and he will pick up on that. A similar thing happened to me this year, I bought a lovely young horse who was a gentleman to hack out and never spooked no matter what and would ride in company first or last happily, however he would tense up in a school. For months I worked mostly in the fields or on the roads and only rode in the school once or twice a week and whilst he was not very forward in the school he gave me no reason to worry. One day out of the blue he bolted with me in the school and I could not stop him, I am a very experienced rider and have been bolted with before but this was different, it only ended when he crashed into the fence and catapulted me over leaving me black and blue. He continued to be fine ridden elsewhere but like your horse began to become very nervous about being bridled and saddled. I had all the usual checks done, saddle was perfect, teeth fine, bit gentle, 100% sound to vet and chiropractor, just no apparent reason. I thought he may have had a bad experience in a previous home but a friend of mine had broken and owned him first and swore he had been easy and there was no problems. I believed him, by the way, as he is very gentle with horses and this horse was otherwise so calm. My husband, who is a trainer thought the horse might be picking up something from me so he rode him ( normally horses go way better for him, hate that!) but he bolted with him too, husband being stronger got him into a canter circle and I thought the horse was settling when without warning he did exactly what Lindas horse did and galloped straight through 6ft arena fencing. Husband was badly thrown and broke 6 ribs and horse was only cut a little. After that the horse got progressively difficult to ride everywhere so at great expense I sent him to a specialist in difficult horses. After 3 months he said that he was ok again on the roads and fields but could not be ridden in a school. I did not want to ride him again, neither did my husband and I would not sell him in case someone got hurt and so I had him put down even though he was only 5. I did a post mortem out of curiosity and he had a brain lesion. It was unclear whether it was a tumour or whether he had had a brain haemorrhage and the lesion had become hardened over time on gross PM but I did not send it for histopath. as it was irrelevant. The horse was never going to be right and he could have killed someone, there was no way of diagnosing it beforehand but I was glad I had put him down. It was a difficult decision to do to a healthy horse and I rationalised it at the time by balancing what might happen to someone else or the bad homes he might end up in. Sorry if this sounds pessimistic but I truly believe that when a horse crosses the self protection boundary then there is something MAJOR wrong.
Catherine
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Kthorse
Member
Username: Kthorse

Post Number: 594
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 10:25 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I agree If you dont know when or why this happens and if you cant stop it. Dont ride him
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Sharon
Member
Username: Shanson

Post Number: 34
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 11:44 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

If I were you, I would stop riding this horse and get some help from a professional trainer who can assess you and this horse. A good trainer can advise you on feeding changes, tack fit, but more importantly, on your horse's temperament and training and your ability to effectively address these issues. A good trainer will be cheaper than hospital bills when this guy really hurts you. Sorry to be so blunt, but I've been in your position and the only way forward was to get experienced help.
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Melissa Boschwitz
Member
Username: Amara

Post Number: 163
Registered: 7-2000
Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 1:30 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

i have a horse who was actually very similar to this, from what i've been told of his history.. he was rideable as a youngster and did fairly well.. over time he started to get worse and worse-like yours, becoming difficult to manage on the ground-very spooky- and eventually nearly unmanageanle and completely unrideable... his last trainer woke up 3 days later after he got done with her...
what it simply came down to was a complete lack of pressure tolerance... it was mentioned before, but with horses like this you have to go past what we think are obvious factors in getting him "to relax" anad get a whole lot deeper into his mindset... he is probably on overdrive all the time.. as mentioned, you should definately cut all grain out of his diet, even if he drops a few pounds...
in my experience this is not a simple fix if you want to get it right... it will involve lots of work understanding his central nervous system, and eliciting sympathetic and parasympathetic responses... he needs to learn to come down in a total body experience, not just in certain situations... while it may seem like there are certain things that he is doing well, or doing better with again, he's not... he's coping, but the explosion is there... he obviously doesnt know how to cope well, and once he goes down this route, teaching him coping mechanisms is not the way to go...
definately a whole lot of time and energy need to get put into this horse... to me they are actually the best type...

btw-my horse that was unmanageable and unrideable-will now follow me without a rope/halter at walk or trot (i cant run fast enough to keep up with his canter), doesnt spook, and is one of the best horses i've ever ridden.. so soft, so relaxed, i ride him on loose rein with halter and lead rope, or bridle if i choose... he was one step away from dog food and had been labeled rogue/killer... he was a complete loony when i got him and it took 5 hrs the first time just to get next to him...
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Linda Lashley
Member
Username: Lhenning

Post Number: 136
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 3:09 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you everyone for your great responses. This whole thing has me so upset and it helps to have feedback from people with experience.

The diet issue did come up at the boarding stable and they are going to change his feed from sweet feed to Dynasty. They are also going to greatly reduce the amount. Personally, I wanted them to stop the grain/ concentrate entirely since he is on excellent pasture all day. He is in very fit condition (a 6 on Dr. O's scale), and does not need supplementation. However, they tell me you can't quit all the grain so suddenly.

I plan on having the vet check his eyes. I did some reading in the articles and my gut feeling is there isn't any sort of eye disease happening, but I will look into it.

My saddle is 1 1/2 years old, a Tucker, and sits beautifully on him. I see no signs of uneven sweat stains, no areas that are being rubbed, and nothing pokes out of it. He has been ridden in this saddle since I got it without any problems before. He has grown a bit and broadened in his shoulders, but if anything the saddle seems to sit better.

His workload . . . I ride him twice a week after work for about an hour. That is riding time, I also do groundwork each time before riding and with grooming probably spend 2 hours with him. Lately, it has been unbearably hot so I only lunged him for 2 weeks. Then I went out last week and rode him in the indoor and that went well. The day he bolted was our first time back in the outdoor arena in three weeks. (It was also the first cool day in weeks.) Does he seem overwhelmed? Maybe HE thinks so, but I know many of you spend a whole lot more time working your horses than that. His life is pretty cushy, if you ask me.

Last winter, when many of these issues began I was taking beginner dressage lessons. Previously, I had always used natural horsemanship training with him. Something about holding his head that way, it just didn't sit well. I just don't think he was ready for it, nor was I educated enough to teach him it. I ended the lessons, but started teaching him to drop his head using the NH methods, and he really seemed to take to it. That's the thing with this guy, he is smart and he learns well. Maybe too well. I think Sara hit it when she said he's got my number. He has figured out he can get me off and is trying every trick to do just that.

Our biggest problem, I am afraid to say, is that we are both greenies. He is my first horse, and I got him three years ago green broke after 30 days in saddle. Before that, I took lessons and leased a horse, but I have no experience with a youngster. Worst of all, I am a pretty passive person by nature and find it hard to be assertive with him. After thinking back on the bolting incident, I realized there was one moment before he ran, where I knew something was getting out of control. Rather than use my knowledge of what to do, I think "Uh Oh", and that moment of hesitation is all he needs.

I have given much thought to selling him, and this is not an easy idea for me. I always adopt animals for life. I don't give up easily either, but I have to think of safety. However, the market right now in this area is terrible for selling, and I would like to give the change in diet a chance. I also think I'd like to try finding a good trainer to work with him. I'm not sure if I will be able to overcome my fear, and that is a huge issue. It would be good for both of us to have a change, so I will look into renting a horse for myself to help me gain confidence. For Cutter, I will see if a friend at the boarding stable will give him a go for awhile. She has a lot more experience than I.

In the meantime, I am not giving up on him either. I will continue to do ground work and try to regain some of his trust. I will take things slow and see where we get.

You people are so good to turn to in a crisis. You have helped me see the truth and see the direction I need to take. I have never been a risk-taking type of person. After the day I was thrown, I drove home and saw someone in a Microlight plane above my head. My first thought was "who would want to do that???", and then I laughed because I knew. He loves flying just like I love riding horses. The love is stronger than the fear.

Happy trails,
Linda
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Christos Axis
Member
Username: Christos

Post Number: 1283
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 4:02 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well, Linda, you have made a healthy, energetic horse with good, playful spirit. Congratulations, honestly.

Now we need to find a way to put his talents to good use. If we don't, he'll be using them as he pleases to exercise himself whether you're on his back or not, he'll be teaching himself his own lessons and develop a head of his own about things, which is not what we want. Not because horses are evil and they will plan our destruction, they don't do that, but because judging and deciding on their own will frequently bring them in a totally confusing situation, where they eventually panic and freak out completely.

The first thing we teach a horse is to put his head down, relax and concentrate on the rider. It's the "shut up and relax" cue.

Have a look on this thread, it describes how:
http://www.horseadvice.com/horse/messages/7/76063.html

Whenever he brings his head up for whatever reason, insist that he puts it down immediately.

One important note : We work in trot. Only!

We do not work in walk. Walk, for now, is to relax. Do not work in halt. Halt, for now, means end of work or a break of 30 sec minimum in order to re-adjust things. Of course, we will walk and we will halt. But we will not work within these gaits. From halt, the horse should only move calmly into walk. We do not prepare him for the transition, we do not put him on the bit in halt, we do not hone his reflexes from halt. Same with walking. We only walk calmly and energetically forward on a loose rein. We do not walk on the bit, we do not prepare the horse for a crisp transition into trot, we do not ask for any heightened reflexes in walk.

Working on correct, crisp transitions sharpens a horse's reflexes. You do not want to do that right now. Make the transitions very smooth and gradual and far between. Continuous transitions from one gait to the other do not allow the horse enough time to relax. They make him tense in anticipation of yet another transition and they may get on his nerves. And they teach him that you like this transition thing very much, that you want him to be on high alert all the time. So that's what he does.

In trot, insist that he moves with a low head in the exact tempo you dictate. The idea is that he can spook, he can veer off the track, but he should not bring his head up and stiffen his back, neither should he slow down or speed up. Tempo!

Once tempo is established, you must, of course, teach him that he must go exactly where you tell him. By leg pressure, that is. If he veers off the desired track, apply leg to bring him back. Do not allow him to speed up from unilateral leg, and do not turn him towards the desired track by means of the reins. Insist that he yields to your leg. Teach him to go to the wall from your inside leg while his tempo remains unchanged.

This is the foundation of all training. Steady tempo and respect to your leg in trot. It is simple, it is easy and should be absolutely perfected before one attempts anything else. All other exercises and activities, correct contact, transitions, collection, roping, horse archery, vaulting, swimming, horsebackgammon, trail riding or whatever else you like to do later on depends on this. One should not confuse the horse with other exercises until the basics are rock solid.
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Christos Axis
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Username: Christos

Post Number: 1284
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 4:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

On more note, if it was his first day outside after three weeks in the closed arena and this coincided with the first cool day in weeks, you should have known to turn him out for a half hour before climbing aboard, you should have smelled the bucks in the air, so to say.

Keeping a level head in a day like this may be a bit much to ask from a healthy 5yo.
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Fran C
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Username: Canter

Post Number: 589
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Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 4:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda, many people above suggested you find a trainer for help. Please allow me to make one more suggestion: watch several trainers in action first before you choose one. You need to find someone that is sensitive enough to your fears without belittling you or embarrassing you. Yet, you need someone who will push you, ever so gently, slightly out of your comfort zone so that you regain your confidence and grow your skills. I've seen a few trainers verbally abuse their students...I can't imagine why anyone would put up with/pay for that

Right now your are probably very frustrated and sad about this situation - you love the horse but he's making things difficult. The last thing you need is a trainer that makes things more difficult/stressful for you & your horse. That sets you both up for a potential disaster. Talk to other adult riders (many of us recognize our mortality much more than kids & share many of the same concerns) for some recommendations.

Good luck!
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Debbie Green
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Username: Green007

Post Number: 257
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Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 4:25 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Christos,

Horsebackgammon?!?!?!?

I love it! Can we play that at Brushy Creek? What are the rules?!?!? I envision a cross between the living chess scene in the Harry Potter movie and Broomstick Polo. All while holding a glass of tawny port.

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Diane Edmonds
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Username: Scooter

Post Number: 370
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Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 5:29 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda I have to agree with christos about the trotting and even tempo. Horses like rythmic movements. It helped my evil one quite a bit. When my horse is looking a little too happy, before we go out on trail we do alot of trotting in the arena. It seems to get his brain working and focused. I also have to agree with Fran as far as trainers. The one I used was a 3 day event trainer (I work for him) he gives many clinics around the country, He told me it is hard for him, and alot of trainers to give lessons to fearful beginners, because he forgot what it was like to feel that way. They get impatient and don't understand why we are scared. There is another trainer and friend I know and if I had taken lessons from him that horse woulda killed me. I had my horse so worked up that he was starting to rear, I went to my (boss)trainer in tears and said I couldn't take it anymore. He knew I loved that horse + he said he didn't want me hurt cuz' I ran the barn for him hehehe. As Christos said the foundation of our training was trot and bend. The trainer said I need to keep his mind busy and RELAX MY HIP AND SOFTEN. Those words still resound thru me when evil boy gets a little goofy. It took me a good long time to believe relax my hip and soften would help anything. Evil boy steadily got better (once I did) but still has that personality, which I love NOW. I am not a good rider per se, but he and I understand each other. Along the way I became the leader. The trainer once told me which still sticks in my head, I HAVE to trust him (the horse). Don't punish for what he might do. Write him a book and have him read it. Don't let him write it. My friends still can't believe he is the same horse from years ago. No one I know will ride him. That's how bad he WAS. Only my trainer and I have rode him in 9 yrs. hehhe. Sorry for the book, just wanted you to know it may be possible, but it takes alot of dedication, frustration, and sweat for the horses with this personality types. I rode him 6 days a week, rain or shine. He can now sit all winter and be pretty good come spring. As for diet evil one gets 3OZ of safechoice pellets and grass hay, which helps also. Good Luck.
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Christos Axis
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Username: Christos

Post Number: 1285
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Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 5:33 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I didn't realise I wrote that before it was actually too late.

It is a joke for mounted games. Our trainer had an obsession with raising patterns on the horse's quarters. One day he brought a sheet with a backgammon pattern for the "team" to use in a demonstration for a visiting school.

We reluctantly did as instructed, then glued some backgammon pieces on his horse's quarters. He didn't appreciate our sense of humour as they proved very difficult to remove, but the term horsebackgammon stayed for mounted games.

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Erika L
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Username: Erika

Post Number: 346
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 6:24 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Christos and Diane,
Am I missing something? This horse just took her through a fence and has the wits scared out of her. And you want her to get on and establish tempo?

This is a green horse and green rider combo. Not so easy to keep your cool in that kind of situation.

Linda, I say don't get on until you have professional help to at least evaluate the situation. People have been killed by out of control horses.
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Christos Axis
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Username: Christos

Post Number: 1286
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Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 7:32 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

No, Erika, I do not want Linda to get back on and establish tempo. But I want her to understand what the situation is and be better prepared the next time she rides this or any other horse.

The horse is young, but not a 3yo. Linda has been riding him for quite some time and she is rightfully pleased. This horse, for his age and condition, is an absolute gentleman.

He apparently presented no problem as a 3yo, then some "specialists" suggested "dressage" and the horse's trust and development went down the drain along with Linda's trust and development as a rider.

I can't suggest selling this horse, I can't suggest quitting on him, I can only suggest going back to what they were already doing before the application of "dressage".

I do not even suggest cutting back on food. If he is not fat, cutting back on food will only make him ill tempered and very reluctant to work. Hungry horses do not work well.
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Erika L
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Username: Erika

Post Number: 348
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Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 8:18 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Christos, Just to clarify my suggestions:
I am under the impression that Linda did go back to what they were doing before the dressage lessons. And he was still getting worse according to Linda. A horse that is constantly trying to get the rider off is not "an absolute gentleman."

Linda admits to being a green rider with not a lot of confidence. She had a scarey situation that could have been disastrous.

I didn't say to cut back on food, I said change his food to all hay (Linda says he is also on good pasture and is a 6 on the weight scale--I don't believe he needs all that sweet feed for the amount of work he is getting).

I am not saying quit the horse, not saying sell the horse. But I still say don't get on him until you have really good professional help.

Respectfully,
Erika
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Diane Edmonds
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Username: Scooter

Post Number: 371
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Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 10:46 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Erika, that is what my 2 posts were all about getting a GOOD trainer. I could not have done it without one.
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Erika L
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Username: Erika

Post Number: 349
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 - 11:39 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Yes, Diane, I see. I skimmed the posts and missed a little.Sorry.

And Christos, please notice that I signed my last post "respectfully", because I know that you know your stuff! But I also know that not everyone is as comfortable on a horse, or as in tune as you are.

I have ridden all my life. But I tried skiing for the first time as an adult. I was terrified, and I know that no amount of lessons will make me as comfortable on skis as I am on the back of a horse.

Linda learned to ride as an adult. I bet she feels like I do on skis.

To paraphrase Debbie, it is supposed to be fun! If Linda is intimidated, she needs help to find her way with this horse, or she should feel free to seek a new relationship with a different horse.

I dated a lot of frogs before I met my prince of a husband. Should human/horse relationships be any different?

VERY respectfully, and humbly,
Erika
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Christos Axis
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Username: Christos

Post Number: 1287
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 7:04 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Many times a green rider/green horse combination is helpless and disastrous, I agree. But is this the case here? I doubt it.

Linda reports that whenever she teaches this horse something they both understand, the horse responds very well, better than expected.

She also responds that they had some time when none of them understood the lessons, where, of course, he did not respond well at all. Otherwise they wouldn't have quit those lessons.

Now Linda is trying to apply things she does not understand, like transitions. Without realising, she is continuing the frustrating lessons by trying to build on a very unstable foundation. The horse is getting increasingly confused, perhaps also quite scared. Much like Linda herself.

Do they need to kiss each other goodbye and look for better partners? I do not think so. They just need to work on things they both understand, be friends again, and so on.
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jojo
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Username: Jojo15

Post Number: 803
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 7:52 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda,
such good advice given above. I've been exactly where you are now, too. After you have checked out the physical aspects and are sure its not a pain issue, tack issue, feed issue etc.. Then you might need to make a few hard decisions.

A few things i learned after ownning a horse just like you describe.

in hindsight it was a great learning experience and grateful i have it, but i should have sold the horse as soon as it started to get dangerous.too time consuming, expensive, and started to dread riding her. Instead i spent 8 years trying to solve it.

There are no problem horses, only problem riders. If a horse has a problem, its NOT the horse, its the rider who has the problem.

A green horse and a green rider DO NOT MIX. (and i have been riding since i was a kid, but green to highly intelligent,athletic horse)

The communication to the trainer is everything, and if the trainer doesn't understand what you are wanting, it won't help. And even then i went thru 3 trainers. I also know that the horse will learn faster than you. No matter how hard you try, it will get bored while you are still trying to perfect your seat, or hands, or a move,etc. he is wondering why aren't we onto something else already? And it frustrates the animal making it act out in weird ways. And it will escalate.

If the horse doesn't respect you, its hard to regain it. Or if the horse had respect for you and now doesn't, I'm not sure you'll ever get it back. That bond is something special, if you don't have it, its a dangerous situation because the horse is looking out for himself only.

If the horse is high maintenance it will always be high maintenance. His personality is not going to change, maybe mellow a bit with age and experience, but at 5 you have about 9 years to go.

Having the confidence in groundwork is not always translatable in the saddle.

There are always people that can and will handle horses that are too much for me. Let them. It took me a long time to realize what i wanted and what i had were not the same. admiting mistakes is more admirable than sidestepping it or trying to solve it only to make it worse.

good intentions do not always make for good outcomes.

if you are a timid rider, the horse no matter what kind will pick up on that. and act accordingly. Some will help you along. some won't and feed off that timidity. OR worse, fear. That is a horse smarter than its rider. getting a trainer to train that out of him, might not work. A horse needs to be trained with its assets in mind.

are you riding for enjoyment? or for the challenge? they can be intertwined on small scales, but once it becomes more about the challenge and less about the enjoyment its for the wrong reasons. (some trainers/owners love that aspect only of horses and they are successful and that is great, but most of us and our LOVE of the horse encompass different aspects). Figure out where you sit on the scale.

Off the cuff musings while drinking my coffee and reminiscing about the most beautiful TB i ever saw, rode like butter, had to buy, trained for years, and now is gone because i probably didn't do some or all of the things above.
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Diane Edmonds
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Username: Scooter

Post Number: 372
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 8:47 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Christos is so right about making the horse do things it's not ready for. Once I got a little confidence with my horse I started a little dressage and some jumping at home. I told my trainer what I was doing, (I was very proud of myself) and he said QUIT IT NOW! Go out and trail ride and just enjoy him, until you know what you are doing.. We can jump and do a little dressage now. (5 yrs. later).
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Linda Lashley
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Username: Lhenning

Post Number: 137
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 10:46 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Oh, please don't have a row amongst you over me! The funny thing, is all of you are right. Christos, Cutter and I did do well together, and have had many good days. Far more good days than bad. When Cutter is relaxed, he is a joy. In fact, I think we were following much of your instruction in the first post, without really knowing it was right or wrong. It just felt right.

However, Erika is also correct. I am afraid now, and my fears have steadily increased to the point that he does not trust me, nor I trust him. Some of that goes back to the dressage lesson, but his spookiness and excitability ( and my anxiety) were happening before that.

I went out to pasture last night to visit him, first time since the accident. I brought an apple and held it out to him. He sniffed it, then jumped backward as if it were poison. He did that three times before eating it. I never moved, just held out my hand, and when he came up to me and took it without jumping, I turned and walked slowly away. I want to continue to build his confidence in me, and I see it will take time.

As far as training goes, I have some limitations. I live in a very rural area and there are only a few people that do this. Right now, I want to get Cutter to the point where another person can sit on him and he behaves himself. I don't think it will take a lot for him to get to that point, with the right person on him. He needs someone with confidence and experience that can work through his resistance.

As far as me riding him, I am not sure. I think jojo is very truthful and I need to give this some clear thought. I see where my own fears have caused Cutter's progress to decline. I believe my strong point is through good skills at communicating to him. Where I lack, well - Christos, you have a line in your first post, "In trot, insist that he moves with a low head in the exact tempo you dictate." It's that word "insist", that I have trouble with. How? What does one do to "insist", that does not end up with one's a$$ on the ground? And, do I really have it in me to "insist" at all? (Even as a Mom, I am a pushover!!). So these are issues I need to give some serious thought to. I also seem to have a thick skull when it comes to figuring out when is a safe time to mount, and when not to. Is what I am living now "the school of hard knocks"? Literally. How badly do I need to get knocked around before I get the picture?

I do appreciate all your help through this. I am so emotional about it right now, I keep tearing up when I read your posts. So many people have been down this road, it gives me some comfort to know there is a light at the end.

Linda
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Holly Wood
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Username: Hwood

Post Number: 1327
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Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 11:29 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda, we can each only speak confidently out of our own experience . . . and I trust that you will follow your heart on this. You have already gotten lots of counsel and ideas, and your action last night, of taking an apple to Cutter and patiently staying (how awful for you to have been rejected by him those first three times; I've been there and it brings tears to my eyes) and walking quietly away once you got what you asked for (and you were NOT a pushover in that instance; a "pushover" would have crumpled up and been consumed with guilt and self-pity, dropped the apple and run fron the pasture crying . . . which would have left the poor horse more confused) show that you have the love and understanding and courage to do what is right for you and for the horse.

It seems that there was a glitch somewhere . . . and it doesn't matter where or when it entered the relationship. What does matter is: First, make a decision whether to continue or end the relationship; Second, if you choose to continue, start fresh. Horses are more forgiving than we know . . . sensitive horses don't FORGET, but they CAN learn to trust again . . . it just takes longer with them, but it sticks better afterwards, too. Third, if you decide to start fresh, I can't help but recommend starting from scratch with a steady progression of Clinton Anderson's methods. I am sure that there are other, less well-known trainers who have the same success with horse/human communication/performance as does Clinton, but his methods are there for you to watch (on DVD/video) in progression, and you can always back up a step if necessary. You can rebuild a solid foundation for the relationship . . . and I believe it can be better than ever, because both you and Cutter will be going deeper and will be more aware of one another. A word of caution: Don't hold his past antics against him. When I say, "Start fresh," I mean that YOU will have to trust him to do the right thing, too, but it is very important to start again with the basics . . . confidence building exercises for the both of you . . . exercises that will build trust between you and into you . . . and DON'T take any short cuts . . . and, as in human/human relationships, NEVER ASSUME that the partner knows what YOU are thinking and NEVER ASSUME that you know what the partner is thinking . . . Go for simple, solid communication. If nothing else, it will make Cutter a better horse, and will give you a deeper experience in horse language and in coming up with solid responses to whatever Cutter throws your way . . . and that will help you with every other horse you meet throughout your life.
Best of everything to you and to Cutter. Can you send us some pictures of the two of you? I, for one, understand your emotional and physical predicament . . . and support whatever you decide is best for you and for Cutter.
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Erika L
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Username: Erika

Post Number: 350
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Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 11:38 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Don't worry, Linda, it's not a row, just a lively discussion!
I respect the experience and opinions of so many people on this site.

Many of us have been in your situation (including me) and there are different ways out of it.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do with Cutter. He does sound like a smart and sensitive horse so he will no doubt be the right horse for someone--maybe even you!

Erika
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Debbie Green
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Username: Green007

Post Number: 258
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 11:56 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Linda,

As Erika says, don't worry about some of us more "opinionated" folks here on HA! We are always up for a lively debate and appreciate each other's opinions in the end, even if we don't always agree with one another. The debates can be lively indeed, but isn't that exactly what keeps us all tuned in to this board? I know I can't wait to read what others have to say, whether I agree with them or not.

After all, if you had been looking for only one solution, you would have asked only one person.

Best of luck in whatever you decide!
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Christos Axis
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Username: Christos

Post Number: 1289
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 12:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Horsepeople. Whispering to horses, shouting to each other. Go figure.
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Debbie Green
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Username: Green007

Post Number: 259
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 1:35 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Yep. Horse people. Two people, three opinions. Thats just the way it is.
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Aileen
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Username: Sunny66

Post Number: 1382
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 2:04 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda, maybe try buting him for a couple of days, see what happens...ask your vet if he thinks that would be ok... feel all over for any heat, and palpate. Cutter jumping when offered an apple goes way over my realm - makes absolutely no sense to me when you both had such a nice relationship ... so I'm going to go back to the pain issue... again, this is my issue with my horse, but maybe just rule it out?

Best of luck to you, it IS heartbreaking...You'll do the right thing!

psst ... you guys, it's called being passionate about a beautiful animal and wanting the best for our fellow horse people :-)
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Dawn Winans
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Username: Dwinans

Post Number: 67
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 2:21 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda,

I have watched a couple of circumstances similar to yours at the barn where I board which is managed very well by a respected hunter/jumper trainer. The barn feeds alfalfa pellets. There was an extremely hot OTT that was tense and spooked and bolted very frequently with both his owner and a professional rider. The trainer took him completely off the pellets and put him on grass hay. He completely quieted down. Admittedly he lost weight but they have been able to gradually increase his pellets; stopping when he seems to become hot again. He will never be a quiet horse but at least now he will listen to the rider.

Another situation was a warmblood who would spook for no reason. It turned out all he needed was to be worked every day. Even on his days off he gets out of his stall.

I firmly believe that sweet feed can turn some horses into something they really are not. It's almost a Jekyl and Hyde thing. They do something naughty and you can almost see them thinking "What did I do that for???".

These two situations were not nearly as severe as yours but it might be worth it to discontinue his sweet feed (and possibly decrease his protein) intake and increase his work load.

If I worked my horse for only two hours per week he would send me into orbit...

Just my two cents...
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Dennis Taylor
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Username: Dtranch

Post Number: 232
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 2:27 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Aileen ..
I understand the "passion" thing.
I'm just concerned that you all are so willing to let us "trainers" get hurt.
Just kiddin' ....
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Dennis Taylor
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Username: Dtranch

Post Number: 233
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 2:45 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda ...
Don't let your fears get the best of you. I do this every day, and there are still times, and certain horses, when I am not too thrilled about climbing up there. Fear is healthy if you listen to it. I always tell my clients if you are not sure about mounting yet, "do not" do it. If you are not committed with being up there, you usually don't stay there long as both you and the horse know it.
My experience with these horses, is go back to ground work basics and work through all aspects before mounting. Many times you hit on something you missed before, if not, this is a great way to reestablish the confidence and respect issues for both horse and rider.
But eventually, somebody's got to get up on this guy and basically "ride him out". On this issue, my vote goes for the "idiotic" trainer as well.
DT
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Angie
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Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 674
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 3:56 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

hmmm.....late getting online today and I see I missed "idiotic trainers" "horse whisperers" and "people shouters" in this discussion!

Linda,

It is not unusual for the horse to jump like he did for you when you offered the apple. My silly goose has done that too for days after an "incident" that scared him. So I just ignore him and visit with everyone else and pretty soon his curiosity gets the best of him.

I forgot to say that when I took my horses off of sweet feed and went to Safe Choice, it did make a difference, most noticeable in my overly sensitive problem child.

You may have to spend weeks, or months, just grooming, feeding and getting a relationship re-established here.

Just remember, he's just being a horse and it's our job to figure out what is making him act and react the way he does.

Perhaps just spending some time watching him? Maybe you will notice something that will give you a clue as to what it wrong.

What if you try scratching him in his favorite spots? Like under his jaw, along his withers, his chest, etc. I have horses that will move to park themselves so I scratch the right place!!! Then you can't get rid of them!

If he leaves, let him go. Just like with walking away with the apple, let his curiosity get to him, and his fear will go down.

And like Holly said, Clinton Anderson, back to square one. This is Mr. Sensitive, who is very much tuned in to your fears, or even slight hesitation.

Dennis,

Would love to have you climb on my problem guy and "ride him out"!!!
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Dennis Taylor
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Username: Dtranch

Post Number: 234
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 4:12 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Angie ..
Send him on down. A good trainer may be just the ticket. If I can't find one, I'll do it.
DT
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Sara Tardanico
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Username: Starda01

Post Number: 16
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Friday, Aug 11, 2006 - 7:26 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

All the talk about offering an apple reminds me of one thing. As with children, with horses, bribery does work! I think its good advice about stepping back and rebuilding your relationship. Because even if you ultimately decide you don't want to ride him again and do decide to sell, the better he behaves and more trusting he seems the better home he will probably go to. And you will have the knowledge that you've done the best you can for him.

Sara
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Linda Lashley
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Username: Lhenning

Post Number: 138
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Saturday, Aug 12, 2006 - 10:11 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I will try stepping back. I've used Clinton's methods with him before and that seems a good place to start. I know much of his early training came about while I was reading and learning myself. It is very possible steps were missed and that has grown into bigger problems.

I've given a lot of thought to why he bolted through the fence. As others have said, his own self-preservation should have prevented him from doing that. At the first moment he took that lunge forward, I knew he was going to go through the fence. Maybe I psyched him into it, just by thinking it, but I seriously don't think he can read my mind. I saw where he was looking and he was intent on getting back into the pasture. Why? Because he was flighty to begin with and I was pressuring him to do what I wanted. I feel this was based from resistance and his desire to get away from work. Once he actually crashed through the fence, it became a very scarey thing for him. Since I was there, he has decided I am the cause of scary things, and is very wary of me. The night it happened, a girl brought him back from the pasture (he was still tacked up), and I tried to remove his bridle. He would have nothing to do with it, and was obviously very scared and spooked. It took another person and some food to get his mind off things long enough to untack him.

I am very confident with him on the ground. I love training and working with him, and I am patient. We will get past the spooky episode, that I feel sure of. I think I will just take things slow and see where we get to. I sure would like to be able to keep him. I believe he will be a wonderful horse when he is older and more mature. I also hope the change in feed will help. Thanks to all of you for your advice and comfort through all of this.

Here is a picture of Cutter and I, taken on a much better day.

Linda and Cutter
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Aileen
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Username: Sunny66

Post Number: 1384
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Posted on Saturday, Aug 12, 2006 - 10:34 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Wow, Linda, you guys look great!!!! You'll figure it out...:-)

I must lead a pretty sheltered horse life, or I've just been lucky that all the horses I've come across, be they stallions, mares, colts, filly's, blm mustangs, or geldings, as soon as my body language changes they calm down within minutes not days....knocking on wood here cause if I don't I'll be wishing I did when I come across something like this :-) I learn something new everyday on this site!

Dennis, I certainly do NOT think trainers are idiots :-)
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Angie
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Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 677
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Posted on Saturday, Aug 12, 2006 - 5:31 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda,

Ya know, I was wondering if he might be a "red" horse!!! Just like my freakazoid. My Friesian mix has a Qtr horse dam, name unknown. Maybe yours and mine are brothers,

You 2 do look good together.

Just to share with you, last night, mine was a totally CALM (that's unusual) horse. We reviewed ground skills, and I decided to take him for a walk, ground driving, down our woods trail. Would you believe he got stung in the nose by a bee??

You don't want to know the details; but, it wasn't pretty dealing with a 16+H tall, 1500(?) pound horse freaking out with 30' ropes all wrapped around his legs while I tried to keep him from racing home.

At any rate, take your time. He looks like he's worth working with just be prepared for 3 steps forward, 5 back sometimes!

I just checked your profile....I've been through your area many times. And we both are learning from the same tv shows I see. We both have a German Shephard, and Jack Russell Terrier also!!

Just remember experience is the best teacher, and don't worry if you think you skipped a few steps. Just go back, and see what happens.

Dennis, o.k., just check for bees first, wouldn't want you getting hurt, or stung.
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Christos Axis
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Username: Christos

Post Number: 1299
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Posted on Sunday, Aug 13, 2006 - 9:03 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda, there are many horses who hate arena work. This is because we often demand discipline, discipline and then some more discipline when they're in the arena, forgetting to make it a bit fun for the horse.

More often than not, the horse that will have a nervous breakdown in the arena is the one that tries really hard. We must never forget that a good worker deserves a break too, actually more breaks than the lazy, uninterested one.

Otherwise he will come to hate his working environment and literally escape into a break. This can be expressed in many ways. From purposely ridding himself of the rider (rare), to running a bit around without listening at all (common), to shutting down completely and not moving (common), to taking himself and the rider over the fence, out of this horrible place (common).

I believe Cutter tried to jump the fence to get himself out of the arena. You felt he'll go through it because you felt him "lock on", as if the fence was pulling him. That's the feeling on determined jumpers, you really feel the horse homing in dead steady, no wiggling and hesitation, and you know he'll do it. The wiggle you felt when going through the fence was an unsuccessful attempt to balance and clear the fence, not shaking his back to dump you.

You need to take pressure off this horse, Linda.

An honest horse will see everything as work. You tie him to groom him and he's trying to be as good as he can. You lead him and he tries to be as nice as possible. You ride him and he tries his best. Then the pressure he willingly puts himself into adds up to an enormous load and he has a nervous break down.

Try to make his being with you in the arena more relaxing. It is not easy with a horse that is too serious, but try to find silly things he likes.

For a few weeks I'd quit riding and just turn him out in the arena. Let him run and roll, then groom him a bit unhaltered, then halter him and go for a big grazing walk in the pasture. Turn him loose in the pasture for 20min, then catch him and lead him to a handful of grain or carrots. And so on.

After trust is established on the ground, the process is much the same under saddle. He'll be very worried when you climb aboard again for the first time. So, you just mount, walk a few steps, dismount again, walk in hand for 5 minutes. Mount again, walk a few steps, dismount, take the saddle off, go for a grazing walk. Put the saddle back on, walk a bit, dismount, take the saddle off, turn him loose. And so on. You want him to think that tacking up and mounting is just a silly thing you do sometimes, not hard discipline.

And I wouldn't lunge him at all any more, especially before riding. I bet he is very good at it, and that's exactly the reason to quit it. Lungeing can be too much pressure, too much discipline for a horse that takes his job too seriously. You need to add fun to his program, not discipline. If you want him to blow some steam off and exercise a bit, turn him loose in the arena and chase him playfully instead of lungeing.

Also, I would pay a visit to the stable where he was broken to saddle and see what their method is for starting young horses. Don't ask questions, just watch. I have a feeling that he has been reprimanded very strongly for doing the wrong thing. This would explain your not having problems in the beginning (he was too scared to do anything incorrect) but also the accumulation of pressure and nervous breakdown later on.
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Kthorse
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Posted on Sunday, Aug 13, 2006 - 9:33 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Excellent advise Christos. Love it
Katrina
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Lori
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Username: Maggienm

Post Number: 199
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Posted on Sunday, Aug 13, 2006 - 9:48 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Great advice Christos,

Have you ever considered a second career as a horse counselor?
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Angie
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Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 678
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Posted on Sunday, Aug 13, 2006 - 9:55 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Christos,

Your advise makes so much sense. Glad Linda started this post, I am learning so much to apply to my horse also.
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Angie
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Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 679
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Posted on Sunday, Aug 13, 2006 - 10:00 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I got this email today and thought it might fit in with this discussion.

From: http://equihorse.com





EquiTale #5 Does my horse have a Bad Attitude?

The other day while I was waiting for one of my lesson students to arrive, I couldn't help but notice someone riding in the indoor. The horse didn't look very happy and the rider was equally frustrated. Apparently, the rider was trying to get the horse to walk forward but the horse wouldn't move. The rider turned to me and said: 'This horse has a lousy attitude. Don't you agree?'

'Well', I said. 'I think riders often assume that if the horse doesn't respond to their request, the horse has a bad attitude. Lots of times horses show resistance but is it because of a bad attitude or is it because the horse is actually in pain? Keep in mind that pain can create a bad attitude.'

The rider thought for a moment and then said. 'You know I never thought of it that way. Maybe he IS hurting somewhere because he used to be such a pleasure to ride. How can I tell if he's in pain or just doesn't want to be ridden?'

This was my answer:
It can be hard to get to the root of the problem but you need to rule out pain first. If there's no obvious lameness, you may want to have a veterinarian check the horse. Make sure to check the mouth and teeth as sharp edges can cause pain with or without a bit in the horse's mouth. Maybe the saddle and/or bridle don't fit properly. These are all things that should be ruled out first.

The method I use to determine the difference between pain and attitude is based on the horse's response when asked to perform a very simple exercise. Here's what I mean.

Say your horse flattens his ears, wrings his tail, or throws his head around when asked to do something simple like walk forward under saddle. This should be an easy exercise for the horse but he's obviously telling you by his actions that he has a physical or an attitude problem. So how do I tell which it is?

I continue to ask the simple exercise of the horse and see if his reaction gets better or worse. If the problem continues or worsens, then it's most likely a physical problem; i.e., the horse is in pain. If the horse improves after consistently being asked to perform the same simple exercise, then it is most likely an attitude problem.

But pain isn't the only cause of a bad attitude. When horses get frustrated by the rider (and believe me they do!) this will often cause them to have a bad attitude. How does the rider confuse and frustrate the horse? Here are the most commons ways I've seen.

** Not being consistent with the cues (aids) **
Example: You want the horse to bend to the left so you take more contact on the left rein while your whole upper body is turned to the right and the horse turns to the right. Even though you have pressure on the left rein, your body is telling the horse to turn right because that's where you're looking.

** Over facing the horse or asking for too much **
Example: Your horse has never crossed a small stream or walked through a puddle and you ask him to cross a large stream. Or your horse has never even walked over poles on the ground and you ask him to jump a 2 foot fence.

** Asking, and then not letting the horse perform the request ***
Example: You ask the horse to bend to the left but you hold the right rein so tightly that he can't bend. Or, you ask the horse to go forward with the leg, but you hold so much with the hands that he can't go forward.

** Not rewarding the horse for the correct answer **
Example: You put pressure on the left rein to ask the horse to bend left. The horse bends his head and neck to the left but you keep the pressure on the left rein rather than giving a release of the pressure to let the horse know that he gave the correct answer.

** Changing the question **
Example: You are trying to circle left and the horse is resistant so you change your mind and try circling to the right.

** Asking another question
BEFORE getting the correct answer to the first one **
Example: You are walking and you put leg pressure on to ask the horse to trot and when he doesn't you bring him to a halt instead.
________________________________________________________________

So now you know how to determine if your horse has a bad attitude.

1. Rule out a source of pain first.

2. Then make sure you aren't FRUSTRATING the horse BY:

*** Giving two conflicting cues to the horse.
*** Asking too much too soon.
*** Over facing the horse.
*** Asking for a response and then prevent the horse from responding.
*** Continuing to ask for a response that he just gave you.
*** Changing the question before the horse can answer it.

In other words, treat the horse as you would want to be treated if you were a horse.

Hope this gives you a better understanding of the attitude problem.

Till next time,
Bob

EquiHorse Communications
P.O. Box 533
Mendon, NY 14506
Toll Free (877) 434-1031
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Imogen Bertin
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Username: Imogen

Post Number: 810
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Sunday, Aug 13, 2006 - 10:31 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I still didn't get a clear idea of what Linda is doing with this horse. It sounds as though Cutter is in a stable most of the time, but with some turnout (she was in the pasture with the apple), but is only ridden twice a week. When it's hot the horse is lunged.

That's not enough exercise for the horse unless I have misunderstood, so I am not surprised he's getting spooky never mind the diet.

Linda, can you give us more detail on the horse's routine? Can you get someone else to ride him eg the boarding staff if you can't ride more regularly?

Thanks

Imogen
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Linda Lashley
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Username: Lhenning

Post Number: 139
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Posted on Sunday, Aug 13, 2006 - 10:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Christos, I think you are totally correct in your assumptions. I especially agree that I left his back because he reacted to the fence and not because he was trying to get me off. I truly don't think he even "saw" the fence, at least his brain did not see it, so he was very surprised when he hit it.

I have been afraid to take him out on trails because I did not feel I was in control of him. He also gets nervous and jiggy if we try leaving the barn area, and that adds to my anxiety. My hope has been to help myself become more confident and able to handle "emergency" situations in a safer environment, then begin working toward trail riding. I see now that I am only adding to the problem by keeping him inside all the time. The problem seems to perpetuate itself, since he is bored so he resists, the more he resists, the less I demand of him, so the more bored he becomes. I see this now.

Imogene, his daily life (before the accident), began with grain (sweet feed) in the AM, then pasture time all day, then he was brought in at evening for another graining. Then he goes into a paddock for the night. Now, his diet has been changed and he does not get two grain feedings. The pasture is 8 or 9 acres, so there is ample room for him to get exercise, but I am sure he spends most of his time grazing. I intend on having a trainer work with him, but I cannot afford to hire someone from the barn to ride him regularly. If I need to work him more, I will ride him more. Ultimately, it would be wonderful to take him trail riding as this would allow him plenty of exercise in a more interesting environment for both of us. So the ideas Christos has given seem a good place to start toward this goal.

Angie, I don't think these issues are the problem here. What Christos says about me lunging him too much is true. Cutter is VERY good at lunging. Also, the discipline issue sounds dead on. Since he's become so unruly, I've stepped up my discipline thinking it was a lack of respect. I see now where I've pressured him nearly all the time I am with him. Poor guy. Much to think about.

Thanks,
Linda
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Dennis Taylor
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Username: Dtranch

Post Number: 235
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 8:23 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda
I agree with the idea of too much boring and demanding arena work. If you are not able, or ready to get out of the arena, do you have a buddy you can work with in the arena. What I will often do when the arena is the only place I can work for whatever reason, is incorporate another horse or two and play some games. We play follow the leader with lots of turns and transitions. We will use one horse as the calf and the other as a cutter and try to escape. These are not only great exercises for the horses, but also a great opportunity to improve riding skills. You probably all know from my posts, that I am very keen on keeping training fun for both horse and rider. You can just see the change in attitude when the horse has something fun to concentrate on for a change.
I am also a proponent for getting out of arena as much as possible. As far as trail work goes, don't forget about the possibility of ponying if you have a pardner with a good pony horse.
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Dove2
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Username: Dove2

Post Number: 64
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 9:01 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

DT,
Can you expound on your games, please? (I really need to get some ideas on playing with my horse. He gets bored easily.) Are the "horse or two" that you play with being ridden or are they just loose in the arena? Any other games which your horses like? (Sorry, I hope I'm not hijacking this thread...)
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Diane Edmonds
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Username: Scooter

Post Number: 374
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Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 9:39 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda, my horse also got very bored with arena work. altho when he was at his "evil" stage the trainer thought it would not be safe for me to go out until I had more control.

What he suggested was keep him busy and change things up. We put up cones I had to zig zag thru, barrels I had to go around, trots pole I had to trot, figure 8's and serpentines.

It helped the horse and I to relax. I had to concentrate more on what I was doing, rather than worrying about him.
If you have a friend that can be there and tell you to go around poles now or go around the cones etc.(all at trot)that way you are wondering what next and it keeps your mind focused on the tasks ahead.

I never lounged this horse he got very bored with it. We do play the parelli games and he is now a level 2.

When we started out on trail, the trainer said when I or the horse get nervous, do the arena work on the trail. Go around bushes, leg yield, do serpentines, and quit looking at his head (I was notorious for this) focus where you want to go.

As I said it all worked out, but I had some very scarey moments, it took me 3 yrs. before I felt comfortable. It is alot of hard work, and as the trainer said "baby steps" don't rush anything. Get one thing under control before you start something else.

Confusion can make for a scary horse, be firm in every action. As they say, make the right thing easy and the bad things hard. The horse almost always chooses easy. Good Luck
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Dennis Taylor
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Username: Dtranch

Post Number: 236
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Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 9:43 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dove
Best with other riders on trained horses, but I will also just turn a couple of horses in the arena and have at it.
With other riders, we will ride side by side and I have to imitate every move on my "horse in training". If the other horse turns, I turn, if he backs, I back, and so on. Then we switch and I lead. Then follow the leader through figure 8's, walk trot lope, rollbacks, etc. The most fun is cutting. I ride the "calf" horse and my brother rides the "cutter". It is my job to get away, and his job to keep me on the rail. Lots of turns and transitions. I am working on leg cues, neck reining, and all sorts of training issues and the horse doesn't even realize he is working. You can be creative and come up with whatever works for you and your horses. We put cones and tarps out, barrels, ground poles, or whatever. It really is a lot of fun for us and the horses.
If no one is available, I will bring a couple of horses in with me and herd them on the rail, follow them around, try to cut them off the rail, etc. I can saddle 2 or three and switch horses off and on so they all get to play. I use a single rein that swivel snaps on, so the loose horses do not have reins hanging down. I just take my reins with me when I switch horses. I swear the horses enjoy this as much as we do. Plus, you can get a really good workout for several horses in about 30 minutes. Horse training doesn't have to be 100% serious 100% of the time.
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Dove2
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Username: Dove2

Post Number: 65
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Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 10:29 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

What great fun, DT! I was trying to think of any safety issues when bringing in additional loose horses into the riding ring (ours is outdoors with fencing that is "not the best" in places). I think you've addressed the most important one, the reins. I like the idea of littering the ring with all sorts of obstacles, too.

Linda, Do you have Clinton Anderson's Riding With Confidence series? I, too, saw great improvement in my ability to communicate with my horse using the Lunging For Respect exercises. They did help once I started riding him, however, my young horse could sure tell I lacked a lot of confidence when in the saddle, so he'd mess with me to see what I'd do.

The RWC series sets up the horse for success, breaking things down into easy to understand steps for the horse (and rider too). By throwing away the reins, my horse started to learn to be responsible for his own actions. And, the funny thing is, he really liked and appreciated that! It shows him a lot of trust, and he picked up on that immediately. But, everything is done a step at a time so that you stay safe and the horse easily learns what's expected of him. I'll be happy to outline the program if you can't get the DVD. There's plenty in the first set to work on for quite awhile, so you shouldn't feel like you need to buy the entire series.

As a late-comer to horses and riding, I had, and still have, to deal with confidence issues. I realize how much horses' reactions originate from and mirror ourselves, so I look upon horsetraining more as people-training. I was always boggled by the question of who (the horse or me) was going to trust whom first. Funny, as soon as I trusted him, he trusted me right back! I also realized that the more sensitive the horse is, the more that horse needs a leader. But a sensitive horse has so much to offer, so it's important to find the comfort zone for that horse between "tough love" and dignity. Man, these are amazing animals!
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Dennis Taylor
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Username: Dtranch

Post Number: 237
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Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 11:19 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dove ..
Absolutely keep safety first. Most of the work is at a trot, which is the best "working" gait. We don't just run around "helter skelter" ... there is some method to the madness. My area is also outside with 5' round pen panels about 60' wide by 100' + long. You are right however, it is great fun. We spent all weekend with 3 riders at a time and worked 8 different horses altogether, then took my helper on his first ever trail ride out of the arena. It started with me working a paint filly by herself, and she was getting bored and defiant ... not wanting to move, tossing head, etc. So I called on my brother and my helper and we saddled up and had some fun. This little filly was ready for some fun, and by the time we finished, she had her head down in a nice position and an absolute pleasure to be around. I then groomed, watered, and fed her some treats and just hung out for a while.
We all enjoyed it so much we did it again on Sunday. I first worked the filly by herself again, and she seemed all refreshed and ready to learn.
My young helper also learned to ride the lope for the first time as well. Now that was fun too.
DT
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Angie
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Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 681
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 12:46 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dennis,

Wonderful ideas!!

I do however have one concern: What about one horse kicking the other one(s), or me, while doing these games? Of course respect is important here, and control of all parts of the horse, but.....

(the worst I've ever been hurt around horses was being kicked by our lead mare while riding a young horse by behind her, I am lucky my knee cap didn't get shattered)

I've never really worked anywheres enclosed with another horse or rider around, but I would love to try this with my daughter and two of our horses.

Linda,

Are you sure none of the *** items under number 2 above don't apply in your case? He don't have a "bad" attitude, but there are some glitches in the training apparently.

This horse training stuff is a never ending adventure; enjoy, and be safe.
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Holly Wood
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Username: Hwood

Post Number: 1334
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Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 12:56 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dennis, like Angie, I always wonder about getting kicked when there are a few horses around, too. I know that if we are focused on our horse and keeping him safe and a good distance from the other horses . . . and keeping everyone busy, that it will reduce the chances, but . . . it's still a concern.
Also, just want to say, "Good for you, Dennis," as I read about your training and your focus on fun and learning for your "helper" (a 4-H kid?) and your horses. You are modeling the best kind of horsemanship that I know.
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Dove2
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Post Number: 66
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Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 1:12 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks, DT! I learn a lot from you!
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Dennis Taylor
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Username: Dtranch

Post Number: 238
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 2:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Probably wasn't clear, but I generally only have one "green" horse in area at a time. The Other horses are my more trusted and experienced horses. They like to have fun too. And yes, we keep safe distance from kicks and bites.
I find that a busy horse doesn't think about kicking initially, and after these sessions, they become used to working around other horses and are not threatened by them ... thus not so ready to kick. This is great preparation for trail and arena work later when they will be around other horses all the time.
Thanks again for kind words. I don't claim to be an expert, but I know what seems to work for me.
I hope this is not deviating from original post as I think it applies.
DT
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Christos Axis
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Username: Christos

Post Number: 1307
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 5:48 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dennis' suggestions are 100% serious training, have no doubt. Extremely fun and unbelievably productive for horse and rider alike.

Safety greatly depends on the one or two reliable horses who "start" a youngster. Remember, it takes two to fight.

An experienced horse will not perceive the youngster's awkwardness as threat, he will forgive his clumsiness, he will not answer with full blows to a silly attack. He can also read very well what the greenie is about to do and will get himself out of harm's way faster than you can blink your eyes.

But even if a fully trained horse is not available, you just maintain safe distance until you're absolutely confident.

Mounted games build an extremely athletic, unbelievably responsive, totally obedient, 100% bombproof horse.
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Christos Axis
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Username: Christos

Post Number: 1308
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 6:03 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

And one thing I can guarantee, if you've never played with a horse, the first day you try it you'll dismount feeling 20 years younger. At least!
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Catherine McCourt
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Username: Kstud

Post Number: 32
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 6:10 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi,
I just want to add to the original post, I hope I do not offend anyone but I am very concerned for Lindas safety. Just because a horse is young does not mean that it cannot have a good attitude. I do not believe it is normal for a horse to crash through a fence unless under genuine provocation ie lions or tigers. 95% of horses are long suffering animals that could easily harm us but don't, they switch off or refuse to move, or buck or pull like a train or jog annoyingly but they do not put themselves at risk. What Lindas horse has showed is his underlying temperament and regardless as to whether he is in pain or just confused of stressed this base line reaction is his and will always be there if the right trigger occurs again. That means that he will never be a horse for a nervous or novice rider as they will both stress each other out. Linda is losing riding time here and should be hacking happily on a suitable animal, after all riding should be fun. Her horse looks lovely but of the millions of similar stories and we have all had horses that did not suit us, there are only a tiny fraction who overcome serious issues like this successfully on a long term basis.Otherwise the usual course is a lot of money spent, years of trying, very little riding and a permanently freaked out horse and rider. Cristos and Angie, your advice is fantastic but I feel will only work with the more "normal" evasions if the rider is a pleasure rider not a professional. This horse needs professional help and even then the chances are that he will revert to previous behaviour once back with his owner. There are a lot of patient less sensitive horses out there looking for good homes, and I am sure Linda just wants fun, so my advice would be to sell him. There is no loss of dignity in this as we are pleasure riders and reschooling is a professionals job. I would suggest a more made horse next time as youngsters can change so much in the first few years. The bottom line though is when pushed all horses have their way of saying NO. Your horse has a very dangerous way and nobody can ever remove that, do you want to ride your horse knowing that! What happens if he gets spooked on a trail and does the same.
Catherine
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Diane Edmonds
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Username: Scooter

Post Number: 375
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 6:53 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Catherine may very well be right here, with linda being green and the horse being green and reactive.

When I was getting help with my "quirky" horse I also owned 2 others that were well broke and could ride.

I love my evil horse now...but if I had to do it again I WOULDN"T. Very scarey and time consuming, and he will never be a novice horse. Well maybe when he's 25. Alot of things to consider and I wish you the best of luck.
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Christos Axis
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Username: Christos

Post Number: 1309
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 7:22 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Do you really believe a horse is crazy, evil and downright dangerous because he tried to jump a flimsy looking 2 board fence?

Do you really believe a bucking or obstinate horse is safer?

Do note that while many horses run through fences, especially low or thin ones, we don't see horses run into walls. Why?

I would measure the height of the fence all around. It wouldn't surprise me to find that he tried to jump the absolutely lowest part of the side that leads to the pasture.
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Catherine McCourt
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Username: Kstud

Post Number: 33
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 7:37 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Sorry Christos but Lindas exact words were that the horse BOLTED STRAIGHT THROUGH the fence when she released the rein pressure. NOT jumped, or even attempted to jump. I am not paraphrasing Linda, I am taking what she has said at face value and neither attributing virtues or vices to her horse. None of us can ever truly know her situation but neither should we project our skills onto her. Linda cannot do as you do Christos because you are obviously light years ahead of us in skill and ability. For us mere mortals, well as I said it should be fun. Many of us do not find it easy to regain our courage once it is shattered, and for us discretion is the better part of valour. I do not believe running through any fence comes within the range of normal behaviour, Christos that is extreme. A cheeky horse may well try it on when ridden, or even a scared one, but usually they settle and are quiet once the rider is off, but not Cutter. My persoonal belief is that Linda is overhorsed here and out of her depth and that it is dangerous to offer palliative advice at a distance as someone could get hurt.
Linda if you read this, please get someone you consider a good rider to ride your horse daily for a few weeks. If the horse is n angel and then you are hapy to ride him again then I am happy to be wrong and delighted you have the old cutter back. BUT if your rider has problems or says he no longer would suit you then save yourself a lot of heartache, expense and possibly injury and move on. I hope that I do not sound too bossy or pessimistic but I have seen this many times before and I only wish for your safety and happiness,
Catherine
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Catherine McCourt
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Username: Kstud

Post Number: 34
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 8:01 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

ps Christos I have seen horses run straight into walls, and straight into trucks on the road and they all had run through fences before that. One horse killed itself and the other two(one was mine) ended up being put down. Mine as I mentioned had a brain lesion and the other apparently had a long standing undiagnosed fracture of the dorsal process on one of the dorsal vertebrae which had been pulled by the nuchal ligament and caused the fractured piece to erode into the next vertebra. Apparently the pain only happened when the horse flexed its spine and despite extensive investigations was not discovered while horse was alive. The common denominator with these horses was that their behaviour had become dangerous Christos and they would bolt and go through or into anything in their path. I have had a lot of horses go through my hands both in my role as a vet and also as my husband was Chef D'Equip of the Irish Show Jumping Team and we own and run a large stud farm and sales yard. I am not trying to pull rank here as I would rather not mention these things and I can tell Christos that you obviously are deeply immersed in the horse business too. Just because you have never seen a horse run into a wall does not mean it does not happen, in fact even as I write this I can think of many more instances, I remember one German 5 yo ran straight into a 12ft cast iron decorative gate and ended up with a spike through his head and his rider with a broken arm and it had always been difficult too. I saw a showjumper refuse a fence at Cavan show and bolt with its rider head first into the 10ft high concrete wall around the arena, its rider was ok but he was a professional show jumper and was powerless to stop him.That horse never got any easier and just disappeared from the scene not long after. I would hate Linda to be added to the list.
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Christos Axis
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Username: Christos

Post Number: 1310
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 8:26 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well, I would very much like to be light years ahead, Catherine, but unfortunately, I am not. A year or two, perhaps, at best.

And I am not projecting my supposed abilities or even my taste of things in my suggestions.

If you want to know what I'd really do if this was my horse, I'd work him over cavaletti and start jumping him since he likes the challenge.

When I say I'd do this or that, I mean if I was in Linda's shoes. I know how scared Linda is, but I also know she's gone patiently through a few similar stages in bringing this baby up. And here she is, on the final stage of making this horse a truly magnificent partner. Should she quit now?

I am only trying to help Linda work with what she has. Of course, if she can find a horse she likes better, a safer arena, a good instructor etc, things would be much easier and safer.

But can she? Is it realistic? Wouldn't she have done it in the first place if it was that easy? Schoolmasters are few and far between and don't come cheap. Safe arenas and good instructors even more scarce, even more expensive.

And changing the horse will present her with a whole set of different problems. At least now the horse is healthy, willing and learning easily. And Linda knows him well and has no problems on the ground. These are not little things, one should think twice before discarding them lightheartedly in pursuit of a better partner.
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Kthorse
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Username: Kthorse

Post Number: 611
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 8:33 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

wow what a post. Very interesting thoughts. Great advise from everyone. Better than any magazine I ever read. Christos and Dennis where were you when I was growing up. But then again I was those fearless types. really did not need you then I do now. I am not fearless any more.:-) I think the advise given is some of the best I have ever heard should I say read. I think Linda is the only one who can say in her own heart what she should do. You know in your heart if you can or cant do this. If and if you can I would follow the advise given. If not that's OK too Riding should be fun, sometimes its scary and a challenge but conquering that can be one of the best feelings you will ever have in your life time. At first I thought maybe he is too much for you, but I don't know, you know though in your gut, follow that. It could be fun. He actually sounds like he really is not a bad horse. Most horses are horses they are flight animals. No horse is 100% predictable thats why I love to ride. Its exciting otherwise I would ride a motor bike.
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Christos Axis
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Username: Christos

Post Number: 1311
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 8:38 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I agree with you, Catherine, there are dangerous horses. From horses in a lot of undiagnosed pain to downright crazy.

And I have seen them do all kinds of funny things, from running into walls to jumping off cliffs, from killing their foals to killing their owners. I've quit one or two horses myself and I have seen seasoned professionals run for their life.

I just do not think this is such a case.
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jojo
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Username: Jojo15

Post Number: 808
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 8:49 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Catherine your first post was right on target i think. There is "normal evasive" then there is other kinds that can truly put a person in danger. Small warning signs ignored probably on the examples you gave, too. And i know first hand what you mean by stressing each other out. This took me 7 long years to reconcile with my one mare.

I have had/ridden horses that NEVER acted out. they might spook in place. or be "bad" or try to be evasive, problem was never something to be fearful over. Stop. Think. Ride thru it. Etc... My mare bran has put herself in jeapordy to keep me on her back. I've felt that movement where the horse would have been much better off if she tossed me, yet instead worked thru it helping me stay on. Or one time, instead of running from a pack of dogs which probably would have killed us both, trusted me enough to make the decisions for the both of us. we got them to run. A TEAM...A coercive effort from both entities. She trusted me. and i trusted her. There are so many great wonderful mounts like this. And most importantly horses that instinctively understand self preservation.

Some do not. Someone once told me my TB mare just wasn't a self preservationist. She just didn't know how to turn it off. If she spooked it was a doozy. when she reared it was epic. When she stressed she could lose 200lbs by pacing. I saw all the little signs, chalked them up to my inexperience hired trainers to help me thru them. Which they did. Which would come back and bite me later. The horse at that point had my number. Like i said earlier, smarter than me... but as an animal lover i just couldn't see myself selling her. For years i fought it.

Linda, i hope that all these passionate posts don't scare you, they are getting a bit off target in what you should, would, could, etc...(even mine :-) bottomline only you know your horse, and your level. It very well could get better. But it could get worse. And that is where i never got off the fence. I just couldn't understand that a horse wouldn't come around with good work, loving owner, great trainers, the best of everything i did.

I never followed this advice i am going to give now... grin..no actually sad. but give yourself a time frame, 4 months, 6, or a year. And keep a journal. And put down some goals you would like to achieve. "i want to be trail riding by next May", I want to jump by december", etc. And stick with it. I tried but didn't have the hindsight i do now, to see that i was always going 3 steps forward, and then 5 steps back. I forgot the bad, was guilted by the good. And i turned around and it was 7 years later. and i was the same person all that time. Still afraid to ride this particular horse. Not other horses. just this one...It is possible for a person to lose trust in the horse. I just didn't trust that she wouldn't kill me one day.


(i've written about her on many occasions here on HA, if you have the inclination, look up Amanda (not the poster, the horse) on the discussion search engine..)
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Erika L
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Username: Erika

Post Number: 356
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 9:09 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Catherine, Jojo, I agree that sometimes self preservation is absent! I had a wonderful horse--wonderful because like the "little girl with the curl", when he was good he was very, very good; but when he was bad, he was horrid! I risked my life and limb too many times before we parted company. That horse was willing to jump off a cliff with the least notice.

It is nice to romanticize and think that there is good in all horses, but sometimes there is just a screw loose.

All this talk about "quitting" the horse...what is so darn terrible about letting the horse have a more suitable owner, and Linda getting a horse she doesn't have to be afraid of? Is that so bad an option?

Linda, by no means am I telling you what to do. But don't let anyone make you think you are failing this horse if you don't want to deal with his problems. There are a lot of real gems out there that you can relax and enjoy.

(Darn...I swore I was just going to read...and stay out of this!)
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Diane Edmonds
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Username: Scooter

Post Number: 376
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 9:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Christos, I think the point is the horse is green and she is green. Horses that back over cliffs and run into walls, don't have to be crazy or evil.

If the rider is over their head with the horse it can be driven to it. My horse almost backed me off a cliff, and I had no idea how to stop him. Why? because I had no right riding a horse with that kind of personality at the time.

He is not evil, he really don't have a mean bone in his body. I could do anything on the ground with him. I was just in over my head.

I can now do the things Christos suggests to Linda, but back then forget it I didn't have the skill, timing, or knowledge, to be on such a horse.

I made that horse dangerous!

I don't know Linda, but it is possible she can get the horse to come around, I did, but I'm lucky I wasn't killed along the way (really)!

From what I have seen with green riders and green horses, especially with THAT personality type is the horse getting frustrated and dangerous. Some horses are more forgiving than others to our mistakes, to this day my horse has to be rode correctly and with leadership, or he reverts immediately. Call it high strung, sensitive, smart, dumb, whatever, they can be dangerous.

I have a feeling from Lindas post that her next struggle with this horse would be barn sour, which is another BIG challenge for the novice rider.

If she is up to the challenge, I say go for it you'll learn alot along the way. Just stay safe and get some help. The fear runs from the reins directly to the horse and they know it.
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Erika L
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Username: Erika

Post Number: 357
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 9:26 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda, one more thing--add up all the board you will be paying while the horse is learning to relax in the pasture...then while the trainer is working with him...while others are riding him to see if he's safe....then while you gingerly find out if the two of you can get along. Then add in the professional trainers, fee...Add all that $ to the price you paid for the horse and ask yourself if you would buy him now if offered at that price?

I'll bet you would keep shopping.
Erika
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jojo
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Username: Jojo15

Post Number: 809
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 9:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Oh erika... so funny... when we used to compete one of the judges wrote that exact thing on amandas card. I just died when you wrote that.... when she WASSSS good she was really really good, but when she was bad....
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Linda Lashley
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Username: Lhenning

Post Number: 140
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Monday, Aug 14, 2006 - 11:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I don't believe Cutter is crazy or evil. I think he is very confused and frustrated. All the questions I have, did I work him too hard, did I not work him enough? Is it the food? Is it something physical? Is it the way he is or did I make him that way? No easy answers. I have to try and make some assumptions because I can't ask him. My first one is that I do think boredom had a lot to do with his reaction. No Christos, he did not even attempt to jump the fence, he broke both rails and I flew sideways off him. In fact, he hates ground poles and does not show the slightest interest in jumping anything. He did not see the fence because he was not focusing there. He was looking at the pasture. (If you look at the picture I posted, the fence is behind me.)

Frankly, before last winter he was a rather lazy fellow. That is why I bought him, because he seemed like the sort of horse that would in his older years just plod along contentedly. He was not a fiery type of horse, never was nervous before. I had no ambition to show and at my age, we seemed like a good fit. However, when I first bought him he was underweight and it took a good year to get him in good health. Now he is in great condition and does not need all the food he is getting. I do have some hope that the feed change will help.

However, I still have the problem of whether I can ride him again. I can't decide that right now; I need time. In fact, I think both Cutter and I need a vacation from each other for awhile. He needs some time to just be a horse and I need time to recuperate both physically and emotionally. Then I will take Christos suggestions and spend some time just playing with him. I've been thinking of clicker training. I use it with my dogs and they love it. Cutter has always loved to pick up the cones in the arena and swing them. Everyone laughs when he does that and he loves the attention. It would be fun to teach him "touch it" and some of the other clicker games.

He has always put forth a lot of effort to please me. I see now that sometimes I have asked too much, too soon, and sometimes demanded rather than asked. There is a fine line and I think I crossed over.

I am learning so much from your posts. This is a real problem and it is wonderful to have so many good people share their experiences and ideas. Whatever happens going forward, I will be better off for having all this knowledge.

Better days are ahead.
Linda
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Christos Axis
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Username: Christos

Post Number: 1314
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 15, 2006 - 3:47 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Alright, then, off with the thoughts for a jumping career.... But he can still have a future as a pleasure or game horse.

Riding him now is, I believe, pointless. Since he runs from you on the ground, he'll run from you under saddle too.

You can have a strong rider teach him that there's no point in running from the rider. You can take lessons to learn how to sit a strong canter or handle a good gallop and teach him this yourself.

But this is not the point, this will not make him trust people in general and his rider in particular. It is the long way around to your goal and the result is a broken horse that will do things only if he absolutely has to (testing everything from time to time just to make sure), not a willing partner. Not a pleasant horse to ride.

Regaining his trust on the ground is the way to go. If you can be friends on the ground, you'll be friends under saddle too.

And I totally disagree with the cost of doing this yourself being pointless. Time and money spent in learning to (re)gain a horse's trust is time and money well spent. Even if you decide to sell him, finally, do invest a bit in learning something from him before he goes.

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Dennis Taylor
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Username: Dtranch

Post Number: 239
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 15, 2006 - 8:55 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Let me be clear here. The original post asked "what would you do if this was your horse?" My responses addressed that issue. I never advised Linda that "she" should do things things, only that these things could be done. I have always said that "green" rider and "green" horse is not a good situation, and I believe I recommended a trainer.
Having never met Linda, nor riding the horse, I certainly can't tell her what she should do with this horse.
In the exercises I have described, no reason Linda could not be on the "trained" horse, allowing her to get more riding experience while she is involved in Cutter's training. And by all means, she can be involved in ground work building a bond with her horse, sometimes just hanging out and discovering each other.
As for the time and expense to develop this horse, this has always been an issue to me, and this is "not" meant to insult anyone. If you don't want to invest time and money, DO NOT BUY A YOUNG GREEN UNTRAINED HORSE. I get clients who think they bring a young horse for 30 day training, and they are off to the trails or to the show with Mr. Wonderful. It just doesn't work that way.
Linda obviously loves this horse, and I have heard nothing to make me think this is an "evil" or "crazy" animal. I have had "greenies" jump over my 5' round pen, roll over my 5' round pen, and crash through my 5' round pen, and bolt with me across a 50 acre field, as well as head down a hill sideways because they just didn't know what to do with a rider on their back. These horses I described are all now handling nicely with some showing in 4H the last two years with 13 and 14 year old riders. I also had one 4yo I worked with for 90 days and recommended the owner sell her to an experienced horseperson and buy a more suitable mount.
I often travel on airlines but I don't test fly the planes. I leave that to the experts. My only advice to Linda is to let an experienced horse person work through these issues while she continues to build on her own horsemanship .. and stay involved in the training and learn what is going on and how to handle these situations.
One other thing, I have trained 2 other horses named Cutter ... one was a "Spook Freak" and the other was just plain ornery. Change his name and start all over.
DT
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cp
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Username: Cpacer

Post Number: 205
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 15, 2006 - 8:58 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I’m way behind on HA and late on this post, but want to share a success story to a similar situation. I got my first horse less than 2 years ago in my adult years, and rather than getting that old reliable quarter horse, I fell in love with a young green Arabian with a lot of spirit.

We spent the first month or so terrified of each other, both jumping out of our skin at any motion. Everyone at the barn was VERY worried! I took things really slow, hand-walking and sometimes only riding for 5 minutes so we could try and always end on a good note. All was going O.K. until one day I got brave and decided to go out trail riding by myself, boy did he take me for a ride! Made me realize what little control (none) I really had. After that the little confidence I had built up was completely gone. Deciding we both deserved better than that (and a strong desire to prove everyone wrong) I was able to hook-up with the perfect trainer for us. She introduced us to the world of horsemanship and taught me the importance of gaining my horses respect, whereas before I thought we could just be friends. We have come a very long way now thanks to her and the many partnership type of clinics we have done. My horse is a dream (most of the time), and he forgives me for all my sloppiness. I wouldn’t trade the experience of learning together for anything! Of course we have a long way to go, but I try to take every challenge as an opportunity to learn. If I got that old bombproof guy (is there really such a thing?) then I wouldn’t know how to deal with upsets. I think having a false sense of security could be worse.

After all that I guess my point is to not try and fix it on your own. Find a good trainer with a common philosophy on horses that can give you a good reality check on your relationship. Have the trainer evaluate the horse so you know what's you and what's the horse and go from there.
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Erika L
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Username: Erika

Post Number: 360
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 15, 2006 - 9:18 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Oh hahaha! Dennis, that's so true about the names! My challenging horse came with the name "Mongo's Flight". Shoulda known better...
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Angie
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Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 684
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 15, 2006 - 9:34 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Wow. Some passionate responses here. Everyone is really concerned about a fellow member it is obvious.

Dennis, wonderful thoughts, to the point. I think Linda and Cutter would benefit from the training program you shared with me when I asked about training schedules.

If you didn't see that Linda, do a search for "need training schedule for 4 horses"....Dennis's program has been a great help to me. You can see where the holes are and decide where YOU and the HORSE are at. And don't try step 19 before 1-18 are complete. I think this would be a great help to you.

Linda,

You know in your heart if this is a dangerous, crazy horse. I think that by stepping back, you will be o.k. Sometimes we just need to start over and then be very, very subtle in what we are asking. We forget that these 1000 pound animals can feel a fly land on them, and we get on them, start bouncing on their backs, doing things with our legs, and pulling on their mouths. I am not saying you ride like that, so please don't take offense. I just find that when I am having trouble, it is either because I missed a step, or 2, or because I am over asking and the horse doesn't understand. Depending on the personality of the horse, I get a complete stand still won't move, or evasive running away, or bucking.

The advice for a time line though is wonderful. Set a goal, and then keep track of what you do from day to day. Ask if you are making progress? Write down any thoughts you have from day to day. Did you feel intimidated today? Proud? Confused? Frustrated? Did you call Cutter an angel today, or an idiot? Did you sense he was afraid, or just not focused?

Since I started doing this, I am amazed at some things. With one horse, I have put more time on him than the other 3 combined. Not good.

And I see big gaps between training days...like when it was too hot and humid to do anything.

These things all matter. Not all horses can be left to pasture for 6 months and rode without a problem. Some are just high maintenance animals, and fall apart if you don't do something, anything, with them daily.

If Cutter is high maintenance, you have to ask if you want a horse that requires so much time and riding.

Unless you feel fear of this animal, I wouldn't be so concerned about the being "green" with a green horse. You will learn from each other, you will make mistakes, and that, imo, is all part of the process.

An old trainer once told me he "ruined" many horses, and sent them to the "glue factory" before he became a good trainer/rider. Experience is the best teacher.
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Angie
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Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 685
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 15, 2006 - 9:38 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Funny,

My troubled adolescent is called Tango....and yea, we do tango alot!!
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Holly Wood
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Username: Hwood

Post Number: 1340
Registered: 3-2001
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 15, 2006 - 9:48 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Gosh, guys . . . this is kinda like a mini-series on TV . . . can't wait for the next installment . . . I think we've had a few of these "cliff-hangers" over the years . . . Sure makes breakfast interesting, humm?

Dennis, your sense of humor is priceless . . . and has to be one of the reasons you are able to train horses (and work with other people's kids) the way you do. I'm not sure Shakespeare would agree with you about the name, but wouldn't it be nice if it was that easy? Change the name; change the personality. I DO believe that if we have, in our minds, bad connotations connected with a particular name, then we, even subconsciously, react to someone in a more defensive way . . . so changing Cutter's name may certainly help from Linda's perspective . . . Maybe Angie's "angel" name is worth a try.

Linda, follow your gut. No matter what, you have already learned and will continue to learn from whatever decision you make . . . It is clear that you have been doing much soul-searching on your own, and I still maintain the utmost confidence in you to choose what is best for you and for the horse . . . aside from all the chatter and banter here on HA.
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Sharon
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Username: Shanson

Post Number: 35
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 15, 2006 - 12:39 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The horse I think about when I read this thread was named "Snapper's Bomber." Oh my...if I had only paid attention to that name when I bought that nut job! I was only too glad to pass him on (i.e., give him away) to an experienced trainer and move on to a horse that I could have fun on and be reasonably safe.

Linda, please let us know how things go with you and Cutter. A lot of good advice here...clearly many (if not most) of us have been in your position and struggled with the same decisions.
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Catherine McCourt
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Username: Kstud

Post Number: 37
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 15, 2006 - 8:11 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi, Now you guys have me worried, my new 4yo is called Rebel, hope it is not a portent of things to come. I should apologise as I have probably taken this a bit personally and think that my last mail was waaaaaay to strong (was sent in the early hours of morning when brain not really working but mouth is!).After my last horse (the one who did the same thing) my confidence is not what it was and so I really feel for Linda as I did not want to get back on the horse either. I did all the things suggested ie get a good relationship on the ground, small steps etc, in fact I spent one week just tootling around the paddocks getting on and off, grazing, counting sheep etc but he still nearly killed me again. I spent 6 months and nothing changed except at a cosmetic level. I think no-one can really know this situation other than Linda and getting professional help is the best idea and then we will all hope and pray that Cutter and Linda regain their partnership. I have never thought that Cutter was crazy or bad, I just think his sensitivity levels are set way too high or he has a pain issue which means in either case he is not happy hacking material. Think of police horses, or riding school horses, or the ponies the kids keep in their gardens in Dublin. You cannot spook them by asking for a transition when they are not ready, or stress them by normal riding stuff. Cutter sound a bit like the classic sweetie when poor and ill-fed and dynamo when in good health. He may well be a wonderful horse but unless he agrees to lower the setting on that dynamo he may just not be what Linda wants. I think she should be congratulated for turning him into a fit and well done horse and bringing him to this level of his training.
Please forgive me for sounding so pompous.
Catherine
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Holly Wood
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Username: Hwood

Post Number: 1346
Registered: 3-2001
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 15, 2006 - 8:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

In NO way did you sound pompous. It is obvious that you speak out of love for people and for their horses, and you also have had some pretty incredible experiences (both yours and those of others) from which to speak with wisdom. Thank you for your input.
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LLV
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Username: Hally

Post Number: 12
Registered: 7-2006
Posted on Tuesday, Aug 15, 2006 - 10:47 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Wow what a post! All I can say is SELL HIM as soon as you can. This is supposed to be fun and by the sound of this it is anything but that! I have been in the same place as you years ago with a huge warmblood gelding (17.3 hh). I had had him since a weanling , had him started by a trainer and continued to do dressage on him. At 5yrs of age the "issues" started. I shipped him off again to a well know trainer, he came back but it did not take long before the antics started again. I struggled with him another 4 yrs and all the time was stuck in this love/hate relationship with him. I eventually decided I had had enough and sold him to a gal in Texas who loves him to death because he doesnt have to work hard for her. Sometimes I think the match between rider and horse are just no good and dont work... much like any other relationship. There are lots of wonderful horses out there that you can trust, love and enjoy. Try it.. you might be surprised. Leave the difficult horses to the experts. }}
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Christos Axis
Member
Username: Christos

Post Number: 1321
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 16, 2006 - 4:00 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

No, Catherine, absolutely nothing pompous or wrong in your posts.
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Linda Lashley
Member
Username: Lhenning

Post Number: 141
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 16, 2006 - 10:25 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Catherine, I appreciate your frankness and that you are sharing your experiences with me. If anyone was "sugar coating" this and not be honest, it would completely defeat the purpose. I believe making a good decision comes from having ALL the facts and knowledge one can obtain, so feel free to say what you think.

A week has gone by and I feel myself getting a better focus on this. The bruises are turning a pretty shade of purple, but each day I feel better. So now I am looking forward and trying to get a picture on where to go from here.

I know my fear issue is a biggie. When I think back, I realize this has been increasingly getting worse over the past year. Yet, I also see that is when I began putting more pressure on Cutter too. There are a lot of variables here.

If I do sell him, someone will be getting a wonderful horse. I have taught him many things others at my barn never take time to teach their horses. When I bought him, he was downright homely to look at. Yes, he was a baby, but even for his age he looked like an ugly duckling. Now he gets compliments all the time from people that saw him then. They can't believe the difference. It never mattered to me about his looks, but now I see he has become the beautiful swan too. I've given him a lot of attention and he has blossomed because of it.

I do want to try working with him and see where it gets us. Like I said before, I am not ready to give up on him yet. However, I am listening to all your advice and giving it serious thought. Such as, the time and frustration keeping him will involve, my inexperience working with a "difficult" horse, the cost of working with him when I could be spending less money enjoying a horse more suited to me. On the flip side, a change in feed, changing the way I work with him, and getting professional help could make all the difference too.

Next week I will ride a different, and much calmer horse. I need to get my confidence back. I will also begin doing ground work with Cutter again. Just take things one day at a time.

Linda
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Linda Lashley
Member
Username: Lhenning

Post Number: 142
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 16, 2006 - 11:24 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dennis,

I am looking at your Training Program which you posted on Angie's thread. In Stage II, you mention "work all pressure points". What does that mean?

I am looking for what I may have missed in training him. I think Cutter and I are at Stage VII, Intermediate Training but there are some gaps. It will be fun to go back and do some of these things over, things we haven't done in a couple years.

Linda
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cindy O'DELL
Member
Username: Zarr

Post Number: 38
Registered: 6-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 16, 2006 - 11:50 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda, this will seem like it is coming from left field but it is from one of Mark Rashid"s books.He told a story about a horse with much the same problems as yours and as a trainer he approached it as Dennis and Christos have suggested but nothing seemed to work completely ..horse still spooked with his owner ?? The solution was in the ladies perfume!!?? She had changed her scent and the horse reacted to the new smell as he would to the scent of a bear!The horse never got use to it but the woman gave up her perfume and after a small HI it's really me again period they are fine! Cindy
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Linda Lashley
Member
Username: Lhenning

Post Number: 143
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 16, 2006 - 3:49 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Cindy, that is so funny. Probably not the problem here, my husband thinks I don't smell so good after riding, but Cutter has never indicated it's a problem. I am sure I smell more like a horse than a perfumed lady!
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cindy O'DELL
Member
Username: Zarr

Post Number: 39
Registered: 6-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 16, 2006 - 4:45 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thought it would bring a laugh but its a true story and I've been careful ever since I read it!If you have not read Mark's books his first 3 are wonderful and give a lot of insight to horses that most don't see.By the way speaking of scents my mustang LOVES clorox kinda of like catnip for him ?? Linda I wish you all the best with Cutter! My arab saw dragons behind every tree when we got him 9 nine years ago not so much now but he will always watch for them and I accept that.He quite literally saved my life one day and I his because no one would deal with him so if your heart says yes grab that apple and go have fun with Cutter!! Cindy
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Catherine McCourt
Member
Username: Kstud

Post Number: 39
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 16, 2006 - 5:55 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Linda,
First of all thanks everyone for your kind words. I have another suggestion Linda that you could think about. I am not recommending this per se but it can have a place in shifting problem patterns between horse and rider, especially where confidence in one or both parties is an issue. We had a trainer based in our yard for a few years, I will not give his name as he has competed Internationally for many years and would be well known. He used to get a lot of odd-balls to school and he had an unfailing system for them. 20mins before he would ride them he would give them a quarter of a cc of ACP, then when he rode them he actually did as Christos suggested. He would ride them in a set routine just concentrating on rhythm and cadence. He would start in walk with changes of direction and a little shoulder in sometimes (even on 4yos, but that is optional) then he would trot and then back to walk. The whole routine took 20m mins but was done every day. He did not jump the horse or leave the arena. The purpose was to take the anxiety from the horse and let it realise that it could handle walk and trot easily and that nothing would change. It often took a few weeks but it did always work, the die was weighted towards the rider and if you are nervous it is comforting to know that the horse has been dulled a bit. However though ACP is safe there are a few provisos, never use anything else, the likes of Fluphenazine that may be suggested can leave a horse psychologically damaged or even dead. You only need a tiny dose of ACP otherwise the horse will be a danger to be ridden. If you cannot inject then 3 x 25 mg ACP tablets is a good dose for an average horse. You should consult your vet to get the horse checked out first and to get the prescription but to be honest a lot of yards have people who use it anyway. You cannot compete with ACP but I do not think that this is an issue here. As I said I am not recommending it but it may be the answer. We would all love to be purists and reschool by training but we cannot all be gifted at it, and sometimes staying safe is the pressing concern rather than classical techniques.
Catherine
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Dennis Taylor
Member
Username: Dtranch

Post Number: 242
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 16, 2006 - 9:06 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda ..
Terminology may not be accurate, but basically it is getting the horse to respond to pressure at various points of the body. Pressing on the hip til he releases his hind quarters pressing at the shoulder til he moves away, pressing at the poll to lower head, and so on. Its good to get your horse to respect your space and be more attentive to you. Eventually, they will move without you actually touching them, but reading your body language.
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Suzanne Reed
Member
Username: Sureed

Post Number: 52
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 16, 2006 - 10:01 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Catherine,

Just a caution on the ACP, which was used on my OTT TB so I could ride him on a particularly chilly and windy day and it worked out great - but, some horses react adversely to ACP and can become hyper active or alert as a reaction to it rather than calm, the opposite of what you expect. This is kind of like benadryl with children. Best to know how you horse reacts in an experiment before using it for a schooling.

Suzanne
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Terri
Member
Username: Terrilyn

Post Number: 407
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Thursday, Aug 17, 2006 - 9:10 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Linda--
Since Cindy recommended Mark Rashid (which I heartily agree with), let me add two more to the mix. These aren't "how to" books, but are excellent reads both; they are deeply insightful about horse/human psychology. They are by Buck Brannaman. "The Faraway Horses" tells his personal story, and "Believe," the second, would be particularly good for you as it is a collection of essays by men and women who were dealing with "issues" in their equine relationships, and how Buck helped them through them. There are several about fear and trying to make the right decision about a horse.

They're easy and inspirational reads, perfect for summer, and they are great for helping you reflect on your own relationship with your horse. (You kind of have to get past the worshipful language as it regards Buck in "Believe," but these people really do feel that level of gratitude and awe towards him.) I can't put into words how much I enjoyed them. EVERY horse person should have these in their library. I ordered both through alibris.com (fabulous online book source!!) used, and paid peanuts.
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Tina Ware
New Member
Username: Tinaw40

Post Number: 4
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Monday, Aug 21, 2006 - 3:05 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Linda,
I am new to this site and fairly new to horses. I have ridden almost all of my life but have only had horses on my property for the past 5 years. My first horse was a dream, absolutely. A big 16h QH that was a baby. My husband's horse, which was our 2nd, was at the time, a 20 year old 14h grey Arab, sold to us as a beginner horse. Yeah right! Had we not been beginners, we would have known better. We've had Beau, the Arab, for 5 years now. I want to share an experience I had with Beau with you.
A couple of months after we got Beau, I was feeding one day and Beau charged the stall bars towards my horse Dancer. I was in Dancer's stall and reached through the bars to "push" Beau's side so he would stop. Beau charged at me with ears back and mouth open...ready to take off my head. If the stall bars were not between us, I would have been seriously injured. And, he knew it was me he was charging at. Of course, being new, I was intimidated. From that point, I couldn't get near Beau without his ears going back and nose pointing forward. If I walked into his stall or by him, he would try to kick me. My husband worked out of town and came home every other weekend. I didn't know what to do and swore to my husband that I was going to find him a new forever, loving home. I thought for sure that this horse was going to seriously hurt me. But, my husband loved him so much and he loved my husband too so I never had the heart to find him a new home. After 4 very long and scary months, I finally got mad. I walked right up to him while in pasture and took him by the fly mask and looked right into his eye (yes, I could see his eye) and told him how it was going to be. I know he didn't understand me but it made me feel better telling him off. ha ha! I was no longer scared, I was mad and he knew it. I was angry that I was scared of him and that my life was so difficult trying to care for him. At that point, I no longer tolerated his behavior. I always went for Beau first went stalling the horses and I always went into his stall to tempt him to kick. If he did, the fight was on and I would win. 5 years later, Beau is now the king of our barn. He adores me and I adore him. I am about the only one that can ride him as he takes full advantage of fear or intimidation. He will rear or buck with an inexperienced rider but once he knows that you are "head of herd" all is well and he behaves. He was never a "beginner horse" and we should never have bought him at that time. But, we have learned a lot from Beau and I wouldn't change a thing. I am the rider I am today because of him and his "attitude".
I'm not sure if my story applies to your situation with Cutter or if it helps any. But, it does sound like Cutter has your number just like Beau had mine.
Good luck and stay safe,
Tina
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cindy O'DELL
Member
Username: Zarr

Post Number: 41
Registered: 6-2000
Posted on Monday, Aug 21, 2006 - 11:51 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Tina, think I have Beau's twin! When we got him a lady standing off to the side whispered "be careful,he has a bit of an attitude",so he did! He could look every bit the arab stallion he wasn't and scared anybody who was at the end of his line! Now he and all my horses understand the command MANNERS and I think Beau understood you completly GOOD JOB! Linda if you are still pondering Cutter hope you find a comfortable solution. Cindy
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Linda Lashley
Member
Username: Lhenning

Post Number: 144
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Thursday, Sep 14, 2006 - 10:11 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

It has been over a month since Cutter ran through the vinyl fence, and after all the wonderful responses, I thought I would post an update.

I have hired a trainer that sat down with me on the first day to give me some idea of how she will approach our problem. First, she wants to work with Cutter and I on improving our groundwork with the purpose of tiring him out more before I get on him. She wants to teach him to jump from a lunge line. She also wants to work with me on improving my riding skills and balance by letting me ride her schoolmaster. She also mentioned ponying Cutter on trails then having one of the young guys at the ranch ride him out to get him more comfortable with leaving the farm. She told me I need to work with him at least four times per week. Also, when I am ready to ride Cutter again, we will do so first from a lunge line. Then she will work with us both in saddle.

During this past month, Cutter has been extremely skittish and afraid. So have I. We completely lost the bond and the trust we've developed for years. At first he would not let me catch or halter him and I went through a series of mistakes until I figured out how to work through that. Now we seem to be making progress, though slowly, at least we are becoming comfortable with each other again.

I have ridden two horses since then. The first time I was awful. So nervous and afraid I could barely get on him and almost chickened out twice, but I did it. The second time went much better as I was riding the trainers schoolmaster and he was perfect for me. Very calm, very slow, very patient. By the time I dismounted I was feeling excited about riding again.

I also started spending a lot of time just hanging out in the pasture with all the horses. At first, I was so afraid of them I could barely stand out there, especially if they came running toward me. The first day I ducked between the fence and fled! Gradually, I have learned about how they interact with each other and now I try to imitate their behavior, so I have calmed down considerably.

I still have many questions regarding Cutter and our future together, but I want to give us both the opportunity we need to overcome this, if possible. We are becoming friends again and that is a good start, but I understand that once I get on him I need to be confident and relaxed. Not sure yet if I can accomplish that, but I want to give it a try.

Thanks again for all the good advice. I have thought back on it many times in the past month.

Linda
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: Mrose

Post Number: 1682
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Thursday, Sep 14, 2006 - 10:27 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

It sounds like your off to a good start and have a sensible trainer. I think you'll do great. The idea of spending time in the pasture and just hanging out with the horses is a great idea. You'll learn a lot just watching them, as you say. I predict that you're going gain your confidence and be an excellent rider. Good for you for not giving up!
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Catherine McCourt
Member
Username: Kstud

Post Number: 54
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, Sep 14, 2006 - 6:33 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Linda, sounds like you have found the perfect trainer and I think you will be fine too. Isn't it great to have the schoolmaster to practice on, sometimes I think that we lose that fun feeling and a horse like that can help us remember what it was like before everything started getting complicated. Take all the time you need before you ride Cutter again not all the time you think! If you know what I mean. Best of luck,
Catherine
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Erika L
Member
Username: Erika

Post Number: 444
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, Sep 14, 2006 - 7:51 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Good luck Linda. Hope you find the fun again!
Erika
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