November 16, 2015 at 7:54 am
I have a six year old Anglo-Arabian mare. She often gets very worked up if I try to canter or even trot. She will take off jumping into the air all feet of the ground, bucking and rearing(she also does this in the pasture and on the lunge). I ride in fields and on trails through a swamp so I often lunge her in a large circle while I walk to try to get her calm. She is very fit so it doesn’t work very well.
I bought her as an untrained two year old,I was not aware of what I was getting into. But when I realized she was so high strung and tried to get some trainers help they told me she was crazy and would never be any good.
As far as diet she is on 24/7 turnout with three other horses, 24/7 grass hay, which is placed all around her hilly pasture so she moves a lot.
She has been vet checked, her teeth done. I also should mention I ride with a variety of tack, western, English, and bareback saddles. Plain snaffle bit or just a riding halter. She is very soft on her reins and to my legs making her a joy to ride until off she goes!
I appreciate you time.November 16, 2015 at 1:23 pm
The silver lining is that you don’t have to use spurs! Good for you that you are unwilling to give up on her, and believe in her. I hope your faith will be rewarded.
I have pasos that are on the hot side and I don’t lunge before riding. I use lunging for training and exercise only. If I get them going by lunging before I get on, they want to fly for the rest of the day. Have you tried starting with a walking warm up when you first get on? Also, I use liniment and/or massage before I tack up -if my mount is a bit nervous, and really take my time grooming. If still high-headed, I use ground training techniques to get the focus on me, things like ‘sending’ or flexing that I can reward and start off with positive energy and understanding. The first thing my horses get is a treat for standing still as I mount and adjust positions in my saddle. They don’t move until I tell them to go. It sets the tone.
Buck Brannaman says that the best horse you’ve got will buck you in September. I take that to mean sometimes the cooler air and the pretty weather just brings out the need to sow oats, and I’ve got one that will give a buck if I try to rein him in sometimes on the cool days, I just laugh at him and he quits, it’s a rare thing so no need to make it bigger by letting him get a rise out of me, and all things considered I’d rather have a horse that wants to go, over one that has to be constantly urged, kicked or squeezed. You squeeze one of mine and you’re going somewhere PDQ.
Can you get a friend to ride transitions with you? This might help reinforce your requests for trot/walk walk/trot with your mare’s attention somewhat diverted by the other horse.
One other bit of advice comes from Alois Podhajsky: when your horse is high energy you have to be low low energy – keep the sum of both energies at 10. If she is a 9, you are a 1, if she calms down you increase your energy. When a horse has an undesirable behavior, the rider very often yields to human nature with a nervousness or a sense of dread, and unconsciously we raise our energy, have shorter breaths and tenser muscles. I sometimes do this on my gelding who hates dark pavement (he fell once) when we have to ride on it. I have to tell myself to calm down, and stop feeding his desire to panic – that’s how he fell the first time – although I was not the rider I was there and I saw him go down in a panic. Awful. I have to concentrate on relaxing and even-breathing, and the effect is remarkable.
How this relates is when you ask for speed, do you tense up expecting mischief? It may be contributing? If so it is a very human response. Just some thoughts from those much smarter than me. Hope it helps.
Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...November 16, 2015 at 6:52 pm
I think you’ve spelled out the problem. I have been thrown from her many times even spent time in the hospital. We have a pretty good relation ship and have great times just hanging out. But when I feel her getting ready to explode I get worked up, I’m ok if she’s on the lunge its only when I’m riding it scares me.
I do use essential oils, they help a great deal.November 16, 2015 at 7:54 pm
I feel for you! I have two Arabians, and at times I am seriously afraid to ride them. Energy is just a breed trait. I never longe either of mine, because it makes them even more energetic (one is very forward and the other is very sideways). For my mare, I have found that Mare Magic is helpful, but the best thing that works for me is to just walk. If it takes an hour, we walk until she is quiet, then perhaps trot, and maybe never canter at all. Both of them can be very odd (no other word will do) – one when coming in and the other when going out. I make them stop, stand, and then give a peppermint. I am not saying that you should do this, but redirecting her attention and energy may be helpful. Bucking and rearing are really bad habits – you might need to enlist a helper (trainer with experience in dealing with Arabians) to rearrange that behavior. She may be the loveliest horse in the world, but you don’t want her to kill you. Good manners are essential with high energy horses. Joe Joe is afraid of dragons, and Selena is afraid of eggs, feathers and dirt that is different from other dirt. So they say, anyway.
Can or do you ride with company? That can also be a big help, particularly if the other horse is quiet and would not mind if yours cannons into his or her back end (I have a friend with such a horse – he doesn’t even mind Joe Joe cantering sideways into him when he is suddenly frightened of the field in which he lives).
It is never the horse's faultNovember 17, 2015 at 7:12 am
Sometimes it seems riding alone is better other times it doesn’t go so well. I do ride with my sisters although they get frustrated because when my horse won’t settle down.
Yesterday I tried just riding bareback in the pasture just walking around with the herd, she got very relaxed.
I have another question. As I mentioned earlier she bucks very severely. On the lunge I make her go faster and faster until she stops, but when I ride her I use a one rein stop. I’ve been told I should just ride it out. I do if it’s not to hard, but usually she would throw me if I didn’t halt her.November 17, 2015 at 11:27 am
This is a safety question. Always err on the side of your own personal safety. Stop her if you can’t ride it out. I ride out Mr. Mischief because he does a soft buck, easy to ride, he has never hard bucked me. I pull the head sharply to the side and I land in the saddle as fluid and as heavily as I can. It isn’t something that remains fun for him. The trouble is when you come off and stay off – it’s like a lesson for her on how to end work early. Then it becomes a habit. But if you are hurt, you have no choice. Take care of yourself first.
I don’t have conflicts like this with Mischief anymore, but in the beginning we did a lot of riding facing against fences and sidepassing along them. I used the Clinton Anderson methods here. My solution was to get his mind on his job and work the crap out of him and going sideways is a tough maneuver to make into a buck. We also did small serpentines keeping him bent as much as possible. If he had lots of juice for fighting he had lots of juice for working so I put him up very very tired and not one minute before on days he was mr. smarty pants. On good days he had 20 min rides. Didn’t take long to figure out that bad days were loooong and good days were short and fun. We still have the occasional short fun day when he is mr. awesome (I hate to end it early but he so deserves it). I think you can get there with your mare, but it will take some techniques to direct her energy and also that prohibits her dangerous vices. (check out Clinton Anderson) Sidepassing and exercises yielding the hindquarters are good for this. Horses take the path of least resistance – it’s easier for her to buck you off than keep riding. This has to change. Does the lunging make it worse? Maybe you should suspend that for a bit and see if it helps.
A couple other thoughts – saddle fit and saddle pad. I know you said you ride with a variety – what if none of it fits? Arabs are shorter smaller horses (like my pasos) and need a saddle that doesn’t extend too far down her back. (Riding bareback can be painful to the back too, because the function of the saddle is to even out the rider’s weight rather than have it centered in one spot). A thin pad is better for small horses than a thick one in my experience. I bought a new pad for Carmagirl last year and she grew so depressed on our first ride with it, I thought she was ill. When I changed back to the ten year old one, she was happy again. Go figure.
I have a tucker endurance saddle for Mischief (he bucks like a maniac in his paso show saddle). Not only is his tucker comfortable for him, but it has a higher cantle for me so I can sit deeply if he spooks or bucks. I would not eliminate saddle fit as a prompter for the buck, some horses have a hair trigger for a sensitive spot near their rump. The wrong saddle will make horses frantic to remove the rider.
Again, it is awesome that you are working to correct rather than pass on a problem horse. I don’t think you’ve hit on the right trainer as a good one could really help you. I sure hope some of this helps and that you stay safe. Finding a way to redirect her energy sounds like the best way to address it. Good luck.
Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...November 17, 2015 at 12:03 pm
Riding alone on a horse that rears and bucks is extremely dangerous. My best advice is don’t do it. Is she like this with anyone who gets on her, or only with you? Is there some really competent rider with whom you could trust her? Just for some schooling.
It is never the horse's faultNovember 18, 2015 at 6:10 pm
I am really the only one who ever rode her. I try to ride with others but as I said she’s kind of annoying for other riders who don’t understand why I can’t just go galloping.
Mapale suggested some of Clinton Anderson’s training, so I was watching some videos on youtube, she acts exactly like the horse on Change for a Bucking Problem.
My sister reminded me that a year ago (before I was injured), I was riding and doing a lot of respect exercises she didn’t act this way(she would even ride her that would never happen now).
I really appreciate the help nearly everyone in my area ride quarter horses so, as soon as they hear I have a hot blood they tell me to sell her and get a sensible horse. Thanks Joe-Joe and Mapale.November 18, 2015 at 7:27 pm
I wish you as much joy with her as I have with mine. It isn’t that they are not sensible, they just are looking at the world from a different perspective. I actually prefer my horses to be a little hot, as I have no push left in me! One thing for certain – they are never boring. Post updates for us.
It is never the horse's faultNovember 19, 2015 at 9:21 amG & STopics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253
Both Arabians & TB are very aware of their riders body language. Horses are also herd animals who have a long history of taking their cues from the head horse, with “head horse” status passing to the rider for horses being ridden. This means that on a more highly strung horse, it is critical that the rider be able to control the amount of tension is his/her body. Any increase in tension tension will tend to be interpreted by the horse that the “head horse/rider” has seen or perceived some threat which is the more concerning to the horse being ridden because he can not determine what the “head horse/rider” is concerned about, and therefore the horse does not know from which direction the threat is coming. It never occurs to the horse that it is his/her actions which are making the rider tense. This will not be easy to learn, and it might be easier to try it out on a friends less sensitive horse until you get the hang of it. The horse was probably more relaxes when riding in the field because you were able to relax. Particularly check for tension through your heavy back muscles, and in the muscles from your fingers to your shoulders.November 23, 2015 at 9:03 pm
Ok, here’s an update. I went back to the basics yielding to pressure on the ground, sidepassing and emotional control(she’s very reactive). At first she put up a fuss but calmed down. I’m trying instead of letting her use energy to buck she can spin and sidepass.
Anyway it’s a start, hopefully we can continue to make progress. She is such an athletic horse, I think she has a lot of potential if I find a way to get through to her.(or rather through to me I think nearly every horse problem is really a rider problem, or a least in our case).November 24, 2015 at 2:19 am
Once she has mastered the sidepass, it isn’t necessary to keep doing it – now she is ready for the challenge of the half pass. Also do other dressage things with her, such as shoulder in, then haunches (in and out, for which there are words the spelling of which escapes me just now) and other things that make her think. Do spirals, serpentines, figure 8s, small circles around assorted things or in various places. Cavaletti are also good, if you can rig them up, and a square of poles on the ground over which she must cross in various directions. Even if dressage is not your ultimate goal, it is the best foundation for every discipline and it makes her think and concentrate on what she is being asked to do, rather than looking around for some dragons lurking in the bushes. If both of you are focusing on what you are trying to do, she will have less opportunity to find something that amuses her (such as leaving you on the ground). If you are cantering, do a lot of lead changes as well as changes of direction (I’m not there yet with mine). Set up a “trail” course with a piece of carpet on which she must stand, or a wooden bridge, a mailbox from which you remove something and put it back while she stands – nothing you might ever do on a real trail, but more interesting things than just plain riding. If there are endurance rides in your area, consider getting her fit for them – with her breeding she should be good at that. Another thing I sometimes resort to is riding (in a ring or some other fenced area) bareback and just meandering around for a short time to confuse them. When they think they know what you are gong to do, they get bored and throw in something that interests them, regardless of how you feel about it.
It is never the horse's faultNovember 24, 2015 at 11:49 am
PLP, kudos on your excellent report! I have no doubt that you have the courage and persistence you need, but don’t be hard on yourself for the natural reactions you’ve had over being hurt. We’ve all had the same struggle at one time or another, those feelings are not a mark against your equestrian skills! You sound like an excellent horsewoman to me handling that mare! She, being a mare, must have her ‘say’ in things. Obviously that sensitivity comes from being smart (the arabs are notoriously intelligent), and if you are determined to make it work, she will figure it out. You have a winning combination.
Joe-Joe gives great advice, I’m not a dressage rider, so I can’t give you that kind of advice, but I caution you on throwing too much at your horse at once. I use sidepassing as a regular correction/attention grabber. When your mare is upset stick to basics she knows, a routine of flexing or sidepassing or practiced movements so that she is comfortable in the drill. Sometimes their confusion leads to upset and frustration, so on that always have your step 1 to go back to. Confidence is built with success, and always giving her successes will build on your relationship and break up the negative energy. (And here’s where the balance comes in, avoid boredom caused by asking for the same things too often, and that’s where Joe-Joe’s advice comes in). There is a fine balance between routine and boredom, horses love routine but hate boredom. That is where your knowledge of her will pay off. Clinton Anderson’s methods worked to a degree for me, but he works with QHs and at some point we get off that with arabs or pasos, because flexing 457 times is not fun for anybody. But he has a great method for corrections that applies across the board, and that’s the phase where you are. Reward the smallest thing – even if you can see she is just ‘thinking’ about it right – reward it.
My mare is a saint for me but has given some hairy rides to others (I’ve seen it). When I bought her she had had several owners, passed around almost yearly until she was 7. For whatever reason, we clicked, and she makes up her mind to be my pal every time I get in the saddle. It is a decision – a choice she makes. I think your devotion to your mare will get you there. Thanks for keeping us posted – keep up the good work and the faith.
Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...December 3, 2015 at 2:37 pmKathy DTopics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4
We own/show Arabians and Half Arabians, and I don’t have 1 in my barn that would ever act that way…… It is an deal breaker if they rear….. I heard this while at a clinic with Ray LaCroix years ago…. He said, and I quote “If you have a horse that has figured out that they can rear with you on top of them, you have a BIG problem”.. He followed up with, PLEASE hire a professional to fix the problem if you plan on keeping them…. That was years ago, and I can still hear his words in my ears…… Smart horses will put you to the test…… She figured out the first time when you fell, that she could get you off.. If you want to do it yourself, start her back at ground zero…… Or maybe you can find someone close to you that can come to your place and ride it out of her… This is of course if she is in no pain that would cause her attitude…. Just my 2 cents… Good Luck and stay safe…December 3, 2015 at 2:59 pm
Years ago, I read an old wives’ tale that recommended cracking an uncooked egg on a horse’s head if it reared. Supposedly, said horse will think it has broken its head and will never rear again. I have no idea if it is true, and I’m not sure how easy it would be to ride while carrying an egg waiting for something to happen. But, rearing is (my opinion) one of the absolute worst things a horse can do.
Re what I said earlier about sidepassing – if you are in the woods, you don’t want your horse to start crunching you against trees! As for the other ideas, obviously you would start with just one of them, and gradually add others. Some may work well for you, others not so well. Another thing that makes Joe Joe concentrate is to carry an MP3 player with an external speaker. He likes music (favorite song is “Another One Bites the Dust”), and he pays more attention to what he is supposed to be doing when he has it. Selena doesn’t seem to care.
As for the bucking, can you make her just stand still until she settles herself? Also, have you had your vet or someone check the saddle fit? If the saddle does not fit properly, it will cause discomfort and even the quietest horse will object.
It is never the horse's fault
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