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My sencitive (Nuts) horse

This topic contains 17 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  G & S 9 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)
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  • AlmosFrosted61 Original Poster AlmosFrosted61
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 13

    Ok, I have a 13 year old, QH mare of racing type. She’s never been on the track, at least not to my knowledge. But she is incredibly sensitive to my legs. We (my trainer and I) think that she has a little training as a barrel racer. Every time she has pressure on her sides she completely flips out and bucks me off. She is being trained as a dressage horse right now, so I am not supposed to use legs as much, but I need to be able to reflexively clamp and consciously release my hold on her before she goes insane. I am not a good enough rider to stay on my horse consistently, partly because she’s a little too hot for me, and dressage was not the field I was originally trained in, jumping was the thing I was trained in. And I was trained to use my legs a lot more than in dressage, I’m also an organist, which doesn’t always help the situation. In short, I probably use my legs a lot more than I should, and I have to be really careful.
    But back to Frosty. How can I desensitize her sides so I can clamp and relax with out her jumping out of her skin and giving me another concussion. I’m still recovering from one and I was thrown off again on Monday.
    Also, I’m terrified of lunging her.

    Do not give me baby advice, I have been riding long enough to understand things. Just not long enough to stay on a ‘out of the starting gate’ run. Which she can do quite well.

    Bit: French link snaffle
    Saddle: Collegiate dressage saddle
    No spurs
    No crop
    No whip
    Almost no leg
    Any other information required, just ask me.
    I also apologize if it was kind of strung together, I have this bad habit of repeating myself.

    Thanks for the help!

    Dressage is a dance, where horse and rider speak with silence, Where force is not necessary, and where the horse trusts his rider completely, even in the middle of the battlefield.
    -Amber Blyledge, 2016

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    You need to stop clamping your legs at all. A hard habit to break, but you can do it. Why are you terrified of putting her on a longe line? Anything else I can think of would be “baby advice”, so you probably don’t need to hear it.

    It is never the horse's fault

    AlmosFrosted61 Original Poster AlmosFrosted61
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 13

    Yea, I do realize that, and I can’t help it. I’m actually much better than I used to be about it. The baby advice I meant was “Oh, give her carrots and cooks until she loves you.” Kind of junk.

    She was a little abused before I got her. The people that had her before would lunge the horses at less than a 20m circle at a full out gallop to “teach the horse a lesson”. It’s horrible. So she kicks and runs at a gallop. When I first got her, she was really skinny and I could hold her, but she is stronger than me now. And really terrifying.
    We think the sound of the clip is triggering a memory.

    Dressage is a dance, where horse and rider speak with silence, Where force is not necessary, and where the horse trusts his rider completely, even in the middle of the battlefield.
    -Amber Blyledge, 2016

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Don’t you just hate people sometimes? My mare was also abused – can’t touch her ears, flips out if she sees a jump and is terrified of whips. Have you thought of working her in long lines? My gelding (OT Arabian) will take off like shot from a cannon if one uses heels, and needs very, very little leg, so I taught him all the words for whatever I want him to do (makes me look good, too), including figure 8, serpentine, circle, spiral, reverse, diagonal line, half pass, etc., as well as the usual WTC, halt and back, all in long lines. I wouldn’t say “make your horse love you”, but she does have to trust and respect you, and that can take a lot of time. As for yourself, you need to trust her (hard to do if she is dumping you), and relax. I found St. John’s Wort helped me with relaxing after a bad fall last summer (long story). Also, I find that I am more relaxed if I do not use a saddle, and rely on balance. Some days, all I do is hop on and walk around in the patterns, then hop off. Not only does it relax them, they don’t know what to expect, so they are less likely to anticipate and leave me in the dust somewhere. If she does start to take off, make her turn in small circles – she will stop rather than fall herself. I don’t have much experience with Quarter Horses, only Thoroughbreds and Arabians, so I can’t even guess about whether these things are breed characteristics or specific to your girl. Do you have access to a nice, steady horse you could ride to get back some confidence? Sometimes that helps as well. Some people say that longeing a hot horse will get rid of the excess energy, but with mine it only makes them hotter. I see no reason to longe as a regular thing, and the “lessons” it teaches are really not things you’d want her to learn anyway. To get her relaxed, you might try just walking her on a lead and do ground work, such as sidepassing, forward laterals, turn on the forehand/haunches, and such. She will be more likely to concentrate on the new stuff than thinking you want her to just run. 13 is young – my gelding was 22 when I restarted him, and my girl just turned 13. They can and will learn new things at any age.

    This seems very disorganized and incoherent, but I do tend to babble. Sorry.

    It is never the horse's fault

    AlmosFrosted61 Original Poster AlmosFrosted61
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 13

    She can do turning on the forehand and hind end pretty good, some of her bloodlines are cutting horses. I have also been working on ground work and manners. She loves me more now! :) And is learning to respect me.
    She lunges ok if I get to s certon point, and it really helps her stretch her back and become on the bit. Which she was afraid of before. But until then, she goes nuts.

    Also, she’s really boney in her back and she might very well freak at my legs if I do bareback. Really sensitive.
    I might try some calming mare stuff.

    Also, she is off for a QH, she has a lot of thoroughbred in her and that makes her extra hot. She’s about a 3 or 4 on a calm day, and I rode her at a state horse show at a 9 or 10. That was very uncomfortable. She was in full blown heat and absolutely insane, and she nearly ran over the judge. I’m lucky that I didn’t get disqualified, but I got a 14 out of around 30.

    She’s also not afraid of the whip. I’ve done desentsization to a lot of things. The barn banging, bags, the whip, scary buckets, the post at the end of the field, and today she freaked at a brush. Which we had to work with. String, oh my goodness the stirrup straps touching her.
    A lot of stuff.

    I’m rambling.

    Dressage is a dance, where horse and rider speak with silence, Where force is not necessary, and where the horse trusts his rider completely, even in the middle of the battlefield.
    -Amber Blyledge, 2016

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    We all ramble. It is difficult to help when one has never seen the horse, but I find Mare Magic worked wonders for my mare, and Smartpak Muscle Mass gave my gelding a topline (went from looking like a scrawny pony to pinning in conformation classes) and helped him to be a lot more flexible. It might be a good idea to call Smartpak and discuss options rather than relying on the Forum.

    When I suggested bareback, I meant for your legs to just be like limp pasta. You should be able to stay on just by balance, without using your legs at all. You longe her in a bit? Try using a cavesson instead, with side reins, longe surcingle and crupper. Different methods work for different horses, and trial and error is sometimes the only way to figure out what best suits your horse.

    Thoroughbreds are no hotter than any other breed – nor are Arabians. That would be a myth.

    It is never the horse's fault

    AlmosFrosted61 Original Poster AlmosFrosted61
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 13

    I don’t use the bit to lunge. I put the halter over the bridle and lunge with the side ring of the halter. I do use side reins, although not all the time. And I have tried letting my legs be limp, I need to do it more often. So that’s something to consider. Although not right now, because I’m still freaked out of getting on. I think the longest I’ve stayed on, since she got spooked by the garbage truck and gave me a concussion, was about 3-5 minutes. Walking is less nerve racking than standing still.

    Dressage is a dance, where horse and rider speak with silence, Where force is not necessary, and where the horse trusts his rider completely, even in the middle of the battlefield.
    -Amber Blyledge, 2016

    AlmosFrosted61 Original Poster AlmosFrosted61
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 13

    And sometimes she is really, actually not entirely sane. She has a little bit of problems caused by her being really smart, and beings stuck in a stall for 12-23 hours a day. She is currently on one acre of land with no stall, but she has a barn. She weaves and paces.

    This is why I say that she’s nuts. She requires a great amount of mental, but not necessarily physical, stimulation to keep happy.

    Dressage is a dance, where horse and rider speak with silence, Where force is not necessary, and where the horse trusts his rider completely, even in the middle of the battlefield.
    -Amber Blyledge, 2016

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Does she have a companion? Herd animals need to have some friends (more than one, else you’ll end up with two nuts because they cannot be separated). Some horses also like toys.

    It is never the horse's fault

    AlmosFrosted61 Original Poster AlmosFrosted61
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 13

    No, She doesn’t have a companion, she only has me. We’ve been thinking of getting her a goat.

    Dressage is a dance, where horse and rider speak with silence, Where force is not necessary, and where the horse trusts his rider completely, even in the middle of the battlefield.
    -Amber Blyledge, 2016

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Probably a good idea.

    It is never the horse's fault

    riding for Christ riding for Christ
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 118

    Since your horse is sensitive to your legs, I would rub your horses sides (where your feet are going to be when riding) with a crop. This will tell the horse that being touched there is no big deal.
    I do agree with you that running a horse in a circle for every wrong attitude is not right. But, some problems may need to be adjusted with that. Not this problem though. If you want your horse to lunge without blowing around in a circle, spend some time with your horse going slow in a circle.
    If there is a round pen, turn your horse in there with a halter on and act like you were to lunge her. But do it with a body language of being calm. Walk and do not chase her if you want her to go slow.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Another thing (which I should have noted before) – horses were designed by Nature to be in more or less constant motion. We put them in little boxes for our own convenience, not for their benefit. Is it possible to have her turned out almost all of the time? Or at least a lot of the time? If she could be in a field with a run-in, and preferably with company, she might become a different horse.

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 249

    I 2nd the idea of more turnout time. Horses can live 24/7 outdoors and be healthier and happier. I also 2nd the idea of a permanent companion. Goats work well, as will a pony or a mini.

    If you intend to do dressage with this horse, her sensitivity will long term be a blessing, as it will take only a very minor shift of weight or balance on your part to tell her precisely what you want her to do. However, you will need to ride this horse with a very relaxed body, and that won’t happen until you can feel confident & relaxed on her back. Horses are incredibly good at reading body language, and minute changes and shifts in rider weight. Which means you that to be successful with this horse, you will have to be able to relax on her back, which is going to be mind over matter for a while. The best suggestion I can give you is to teach your body to relax on command off the horse first. This is something you can do while watching TV, and pick a body part and relax it. Fingers are a good place to start, then arms, then shoulder muscles, then feet, the legs, and so on, until you learn how to have good control over your body. It might also help to have a good dressage rider who knows how to ride relaxed ride the horse for a while to get the horse used to the idea of a relaxed rider so she can feel confident enough to relax.

    The other problem with a rider being unable to relax muscles at will while riding is that horses, being herd animals with a head horse, from whom they take warning of possible attacks, tend to regard their human as a replacement head horse. Tension in a rider’s body is often perceived by the horse as the human/head horse stand-in being tense because they have spotted a predator or active danger, which is even scarier for the horse being ridden if they can not immediately identify the reason their human/head horse has tensed, which they cannot do as there is no threat or danger, just a tense rider who is tense because they expect the horse to do something dangerous & threatening every moment they are on the horse’s back.

    This is not the type of problem that has an easy solution, and this may simply not be the right horse for you, or perhaps the wrong rider for this horse. There are people I try to avoid because even on a good day that person will rub me the wrong way, usually without intentionally trying to do so. Some horse/human relationships have a similar problem. This done make you a less than good rider, and if you see it as more a personality conflict than bad intent on the part of you or the horse, it might make any long term decision easier.

    Bonz Bonz
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    All very good ideas. You may also ask your vet to check for ulcers and do a regimen of omeprazole. Belly sensitivity is not always about training. Because they are a thinking animal, they can think their way into an ulcer. Five days into my QH geldings treatment, he seems calmer and is not so reactive in his sides/belly. Review the stresses its been through, new training, not in a herd, stalled for long hours, riders stresses – all add up.

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