View Full Version : Really would like a trainer's opinion....
29th Dec 2001, 05:41 PM
I've got an Arabian mare (9 years old) that I purchased in March 1998. I sent her out for 60 days to a professional trainer in the fall of 98 since she was displaying "questionable behavior" when it came to tacking up, and I wasn't about to risk my life (I worked alone).
I managed to ride her after her return with only minor behavioral problems, but since this past spring, she has been a terror! When I last rode her (May 01) she seemed excessively irritable. Our ride went okay, but when it came to the dismount, she began to tantrum (includes: wringing of tail, burying ears flat back, grinding teeth, stomping feet) and as I began to ease out of the saddle, she reared up, began to run backwards on her hind feet and squealed (classic behavior observed by her when challenging a lower horse in the pasture). When I had both feet on the ground she turned and showed signs of preparation to charge.
I had the chiropractor and a couple of vets check her over and she was given a clean bill of physical health.
This mare is a known charger in the pasture. She tantrums (see description above) when forced to stand for more than 5 minutes, when someone "bounces" (as in the action prior to mounting) next to her, when anyone climbs onto or sits on a fence rail. She also displays these tantrums when she merely SEES a saddle, saddle pad or surcingle coming in her direction (doesn't have to be going to HER, just past her), and when tacking up.
Her behavior has gotten worse as the size of the herd has grown. She used to be "center stage" but as more horses were added to the barn and attention was distributed between them all, she got more and more headstrong.
Years ago, I was taught how to pull a horse down (not OVER, down) to dominate an aggressive horse. However, I do not remember how I did it. I think this mare needs to be dominated because ignoring her tantrums hasn't worked, nor has patience, repetition and/or physical reprimand.
I would love to hear how you have pulled your horses down, if you have. If you have any other suggestions to try with this mare, I'd welcome them all!!
Thanks in advance!
30th Dec 2001, 12:25 AM
Thowing horses is something the old dealers and horse-copers used to do as a matter of course with any new animal, but that was a very long time ago. I really don't think it's something you should attempt, even if you've been shown how, as you can do an awful lot of damage unless you REALLY know what you're doing, especially if there's some underlying physical problem.
Although you've had your mare checked over, it still sounds like she genuinely has a physical problem. Horses aren't naturally aggressive animals, and wouldn't normally behave like that without very good reason. If I were in your position I'd keep searching for that reason.
(Sorry, I'm replying on false pretences here as I'm not a trainer!)
30th Dec 2001, 05:12 AM
This mare originated at a halter show barn and was taken on the local show circuit until a coming 2 year old. At that time she was sold to a novice horse owner who admitted not doing much with the mare, but showed very intense fear of her the day I went to retrieve the mare. She was afraid to lead her, let alone assist in the loading process.
This mare lived 4 years of her life as the "protector" of a blind pasturemate before I purchased her.
For 2 solid years this mare was a pleasure to handle and work with. Her minor behavioral problems were merely regarded as unique "quirks", and they gave her that "special something". Once a new colt arrived requiring constant attention for rehabilitation (he nearly died twice due to health problems he was acquired with), the mare began to "lash out". She used to be the only horse I handled. Well, after the colt recovered, we had a surgery done on another filly which resulted in complications and 2 months of constant care to overcome those problems. Again, Sassy was "pushed aside". Once the filly recovered, it became time to start training the horses. The daily routine involved attention distributed on rotation. Sassy's disposition had already gotten over the top by this point. But then the "icing on the cake" was the arrival of the newest colt. A 5 month old colt that had limited handling so he required 3+ times per day, DAILY handling and this resulted Sassy's behavior getting downright DANGEROUS!!!!!
I do not think it's a physical problem because she WAS fine before and considering the circumstances that led up to her recent hostility.
30th Dec 2001, 02:06 PM
Has the mare been checked for hormonal problems? Cystic ovaries can cause mares to behave in this way.
30th Dec 2001, 02:24 PM
question...how big is the corral...is it big enough for her to really burn some energy??..how much is she being fed(grain)?..you'd be surprised the diff this can make...let me know..
30th Dec 2001, 02:29 PM
You have a mare with severe problems, which unless you can out face her yourself, you need professional behaviourist's help.
I personally would go back to the very start, leading in hand and learning to obey the slightest command on the ground.
Start from scratch with a band around her middle, no pad, no saddle, just a band and lots of positive reward. But she does sound like a handful.
Arabs are usually MEGA sensetive to any kind of body language, make sure you are giving off the right signals. I think the hormonal situation is a good place to start, Cysts on ovaries can account for a lot! Best of luck, Don't give up though, the best horses are not necessarily the easiest to train!!
31st Dec 2001, 05:35 AM
Thanks for the replies! She will be examined for ovarian cysts. I suspected that a month ago, but have yet to find a *good* vet to trust. I have been referred to an equine hospital, but with no truck or trailer, and the hospital being an hour away, it will take some leg work to arrange (not to mention expense that is not readily available at this time).
The mare is on 10 acres of pasture and only 1.5 cups of grain daily. 12% protien commercial sweet feed.
In hand, for grooming, clipping, bathing, hoof cleaning, lunging, leading, etc., I would say this mare is kid safe. But once you ask her to "WORK" (anything more than a lunge circle, or carry anything..including a surcingle), she turns into Ivan the Terrible!!!!! Everyone that has met this mare has agreed she is definately a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde!!!!!!
31st Dec 2001, 05:10 PM
Mossy may be the person to PM here, she had a saddle phobic horse who was just plain terrified of her saddle, thanks to dodgy saddler. She has, over quite a time, re trained her mare to be a reliable riding horse again. She will be able to give you realistic goals and things to look for.
31st Dec 2001, 07:56 PM
Thanks for the recommend Wally. However I would not by any manner of means say that Connie is reliable yet. I am back on the ground again, but our overall relationship is improving all the time as is her general behaviour. It is going to be a very long slow haul but I am quietly confident. Connie's problems were not just due to a saddler. Some idiot instructor in decided they knew my horse better than I did and the poor lass finished up careering round a field, saddle under her belly and longlines between her legs. I could not get a rug on her much less a saddle.
I get the feeling there is an awful lot going on here. Please forgive me if I recap to make sure I have understood. She is a senstive Arab who is 9. She is dominant in the field and is unreliable round humans esp you and has an apparent behaviour problem when under saddle.
My thoughts for what they are worth is that her aggression is due to fear, or pain or both. I would forget about riding her, or even tacking her up and rebuild your relationship, as I firmly believe that if it does not work on the ground it will not work under saddle.
What can you achieve with her? Will she lead, be groomed, esp round her back, have her feet picked out? A horse has to trust you implicitly to allow you to pick up it's feet as you are removing it's means of flight. Has she been physically checked all over by folks you trust. How are her teeth as they can be responsible for "saddle" problems. You take up the reins, put your foot in the stirrup and the horse objects, Instant thought is saddle but that piece of metal has just made contact with sharp tooth edges so the horse objects. The saddler gives the all clear so the horse is defined as naughty and is disciplined but the problem has not been solved so the behaviour gets worse etc etc.
Make a list of what she can achieve, what you would like her to achieve, and an honest assessment of your own skills, facilites and limitations. For instance are you on your own? You have lots of help here but it is of necessity theoretical.
You are looking at a long haul here, months if not years. It will not be easy 3 steps forward and two back if you are lucky but you know what she can be like so you have that to aim for again.
Sorry if I have gone on a bit but I although I have heard of throwing as a technique and know it is still used I would explore the physical/behavioural route- Parrelli type games to restore trust and the assistance of somebody like Mark Rashid.
PS I forgot the most important bit. Make sure you have access yo a "normal" horse so you can go for a ride and recharge your own mental and physical batteries.
1st Jan 2002, 04:47 AM
First, what is your response when she tantrums at the sight of the saddle?
Next, be calm, be cool.....
Put your mare in a roundpen or corral. Pick up the saddle and walk past her and let her "tantrum" Do this until she stops freaking out. If you collapse with exaustion, start over the next day, and the next, and the next. When she is calm for walking past, carry the saddle into the pen with her, walk around her, then walk out, repeat until calm.
Keep getting closer and closer to her repeating until she gets calm, if she regresses start at the part that she is comfy with.
keep going until you can
bring the saddle to her
put the saddle over her
put the saddle on her
repeat with every thing she tantrums at.
For cinching use a lead rope and get her used to it rubbing her all over and going under her stomach, be as patient as above.
You are desensitizing her to the saddle and be forewarned that it may take awhile.
1st Jan 2002, 09:55 PM
Thje way this arab behaves I really don't think it sounds like a physical problem, though cystic ovaries are a possibility and worth checking, but my gut feeling is that really you need to start working on gaining her trust. That's going to be a long slow job and will need a lot of patience and committment. Can you ride her bareback?? or try a completely different kind of saddle?
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