odd behavior

This topic contains 30 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  ridermom 1 year, 5 months ago.

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  • ridermom Original Poster
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 4

    I have a 12 yo OTTB mare that is boarded. We have only owned her for about a year. We have had anxiety issues with her under saddle but her ground manners have always been amazing. Recently, she became impossible for the barn staff to handle once she gets to her field in the morning. She’s okay until she gets close to the gate but suddenly looses all regard for the human that she is with and tries to bolt into the field. I’ve been told that they have tried to put her in a different paddock and there is no problem at the alternate field. That makes me believe that she has a fear of that particular field/gate. I’m not sure what to do at this point. We’ve asked that she be moved to a different paddock to hopefully make the problem go away. Should we still address the issue with the other field? And if so, what type of person could help us? Thank you for any ideas.

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

    You cant have your horse avoid the problem all the time. Avoiding a problem will make a horse worry and make the problem become even more bigger, therefore, controlling your horse will be more difficult in an almost similar situation.
    When starting to take her to the gate, first try leading her through it. If she will not go through, lunger her around a few times in both directions before lunging her through the gate. If she doesn’t go through he gate when you try to lunge her through it, you put some pressure on her by tapping her butt with a stick (not whipping). If she takes a step foward stop tapping and take the pressure off and rest for about 3 seconds. Then do that all over again until she is through the gate.
    Next time you try to take her through the gate, first try to lunger her through it. If she will not take a step through the gate after tapping her, increase the tapping a little harder until she takes that step.
    If she is scared of that gate by acting kind of spooky, big eyed, nervous, then, just take her up to it slowy until she calms down. Pet her when she is smelling the gate and is not spooky and etc.
    It may take a little bit to get her there but its all worth it. I hope this helps!

    Lucky Ducky
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4

    First I would check the area surrounding the paddock gate on both sides to see if there is any kind of object that may have scared or hurt her. If nothing there try taking her towards it at several different angles to see if that helps. My sister used to have a TB that wouldn’t go on the wash rack in a certain direction but if we went the opposite direction she had no issue.

    Second ask to see if the same person has been taking her to the same paddock, if so see if having someone else takes her to see solves the problem. I dont know anything bout your barn or the people that work there but the only reason I can think of as to why their would be a problem with a certain person in a certain area is that did something in that area. Not saying thats what happened but its possible. or it may have been an accident. IE: your mare spooked at something in that area and they reacted and jerked her lead and/or beat her.

    If having someone else take her in doesn’t work try whats suggested above or another option is to use the reward system (use her favorite treat and over a period of time work your way from right before she starts to act up to where your several yards past the gate. Have her stop for a minute or two and if she doesnt “spaz out” give her the treat then move another few feet forward and repeat. Keep doing that until your able to get her to your target area. The amount of time it will take will depend on how big a stretch land and how far you want to push her each day. If your able to get her to go only a few feet past her comfort zone each day before she starts acting up at least it a few feet closer.)

    ridermom Original Poster
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 4

    Thank you for the input. That’s a good point about not avoiding the problem. I hadn’t thought of it that way. The horse does not act that way with my daughter. We’ve taken her to the field and let her graze around the gate inside and out and she was fine. That makes it difficult for us to try and work on it. Getting her through the gate is not the problem, it’s holding on to her once she gets there because she wants to bolt. She knocked down the person she was with yesterday and jumped over her to get in and away. The staff rotates taking her out and it doesn’t seem to matter who she is with. I just wonder if it’s something to do with the situation, not the people. I’m thinking that’s why she doesn’t do it with my daughter – because she’s working with her in the evening, not in the morning during normal turnout time. I also thought it may have to do with the other horses. But I’m told they all seem to get along well during the day. However, I know in the past when we’ve brought her back to the field after a ride and all the other horses are standing around the gate, she gets a bit nervous while you’re trying to get her halter off amongst all the other horses gathered around. So even if the other horses aren’t there, maybe she’s anticipating. I’m baffled.

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

    If she is ok with going through the gate then, what you said about her wanting to bolt, I would try to get her to go through it slowly. By getting her attention. Backing her up and making her think that she doesn’t have to be fast. You can’t let her run over you because if she keeps running over you she will not respect you space and one of you might get hurt.
    The way it sounds, I think she anticipates going to the field. We have a horse that anticipates, he was turned in a pen outside almost all day the other day, when I caught him to take him to his stall he wanted to run in the barn. This is when he was a New horse and we were still getting to know him. so, we used getting his attention, backing him up, not letting him run past us and slowly going to the stall.

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

    If the bolting is after she is through the gate, I would ask if another horse in the field is or has been bullying her. If that is the case, putting her in first should solve it easily. One of my mares would bolt when I first got her (so she could go to her best pal), and I used the stand and wait for a treat method. Worked within days – haven’t ever had an issue with her since. You may need the cooperation of one of the people who does regularly turn her out – have that person with you, bring the mare through the gate and turn her to face it (give a treat when she does this). Require her to stand that way while you remove the lead or halter, whichever you take off – give a treat. Progress so that she will eventually stand and wait for her treat until you (or the other person) are on the other side of the gate and it is closed. If she is off the track, tell her to “hold back” – she should know what that means.

    It is never the horse's fault

    ridermom Original Poster
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 4

    Thanks Joe-Joe. I’ve been thinking it may be another horse as well. However, we have been trying it in the evening and she has been anxious even with my daughter. She’ll walk calmly. We have the gate wide open and as soon as she gets to the opening, you can tell she’s on high alert. She’s been doing better with my daughter. She walks her in, makes her calmly turn around and gives her a treat. She has her stand while she takes off her halter and then she gets another treat. She’ll do it for my daughter but you can tell she’s on the edge. We’ve been doing that in the evenings when there are no other horses around and she’s still on edge. Hopefully she’ll continue to make progress and eventually relax. However last night, after working with the gate and letting her graze near it we took her back in. One the walk back she got upset and circled my daughter. My daughter said she thought the mare was mad because we didn’t let her loose in the field. We’ve been doing that the last few days. I don’t know about this mare.

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

    It sounds to me as if something happened to scare her at some time when you were not there to see what it was. Be patient, and keep working with her – she should get over it eventually. One important thing would be to get the other people who work with her to do things the same way that you do. Consistency is key in everything.

    It is never the horse's fault

    jsmith2005
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 11

    We have had my gelding for 8 years. His ground manners and under saddle manners are excellent. We moved to a new barn 4 years ago and all of a sudden he had problems being lead back to the barn. It is almost always a problem that is caused by people. I worked with the barn people on how to lead him in and out. No results so I observed, unnoticed, what happened when they brought him in. What was happening was that the barn workers were allowing the gate to bang shut on his hindquarters which caused him to bolt going in or out of the pastures. I shared this with the workers. They really didn’t want to hear about it and would not change their behavior. There were many things being done incompetently at that barn and so we found a new barn and moved two years ago. There has never been a problem since we moved to the new barn. I would suggest that you observe what happens when your horse is being led to the pasture and from the pasture. It may be something as simple as the gate slamming shut on their hindquarters. Hope this helps.

    jsmith2005
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 11

    It may also be a problem of your horse being bullied by other horses. We were at a really bad barn a while ago and my horse River didn’t want to go out to pasture. I spend a lot of time at the barn and observed what was going on. When I would go out to get him he would not come to me when I called him. This had never been a problem. He also would stand at the very back of the pasture away from the majority of horses. He would come in all beat up. I observed the horses and saw that they were beating the snot out of him. He was afraid to walk past these horses even when being led in. I also observed that when being led in or out of the barn that the barn worker was bringing in 8-9 horses at a time. This just doesn’t work. We were at that barn for about 4 months and left. We are now at a barn with enough trained workers and both my horses are very happy.

    Cheval Noir Cheval Noir
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 10

    Is there electric fencing around that paddock? I have had problems when the electric fence is routed under the gate that the insulation around the wire is insufficient — the horse can feel the shock underfoot and lets you know by behaving in a way similar to your mare’s behavior.

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    I once had a young ASB who was so eager to join his friends in the field that he’d take off with me the second I started to close the gate. The next time, I fed him a carrot on his way to the gate. Another carrot before I opened the gate. Another carrot (baby carrots fit nicely in your pocket) the instant we were both inside. Another carrot after I closed the gate. Another carrot before I slid his halter off. Horses love routines, and it only took him three or four days to figure out that if he hung around after I removed his halter, he’d get–another carrot!

    As Joe-Joe mentioned, consistency is the key–along with kindness and patience. Good luck to you.

    ridermom Original Poster
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 4

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts. If nothing else, it’s nice to know we’re not the only ones that have had this issue. I’m happy to say that she seems to be doing fine, at least for now. My daughter continued to work with her using the same method you suggest, Joan. It would take about 3 times in and out and the mare would be fine. She has been moved to a new paddock with a new herd of mares and the barn manager reports she’s doing just fine. Now we just have to get her over the carrot habit that she developed with the gate training. : )

    We seemed to have a bit of a break from the issues under saddle. We didn’t push her but over all she seemed more relaxed under saddle while they were having gate issues. Now that the gate issues seem to be gone, the anxiety under saddle is back.

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

    ridermom – there is no need to get her over the carrot habit. Habit is very important to horses, and carrots do her no harm, unless they become bribes. Mine get treats at specific times for specific reasons, and only one begs (he was a pickpocket when he was in training).

    Anxiety under saddle can be addressed in a number of ways. With two of mine (Arabians), I vary what we do, so they never know if we are going to just WTC, work on laterals or just amble around bareback. It has helped with them. Of course, one is still afraid of the dragons, and the other is afraid of eggs and small children.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    I agree with Joe-Joe–again. As habits go, a carrot habit is benign, especially when you consider other habits that you don’t even want to think about. My Morgan mare gets a carrot as a reward for doing something correctly.

    Joe-Joe, was this a test to see if we’re reading closely? Your horse is afraid of EGGS???

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