View Full Version : Napping
14th Jan 2002, 09:43 AM
I recently posted a thread about my mare who was getting her tongue above the bit when out hacking. This has now progressed into a very bad napping problem. She has only been behaving like this since we moved to our new yard - 3 months ago.
When we get half way down the road outside the farm she starts to play up and starts walking backwards and trying to turn round to go home. I am trying my hardest with her but it's really starting to test my nerve.
I have had her teeth and back checked. I tried her in a flash and a martingale yesterday with a new bit but this made no difference.
I have had her since April and hacked her out no problems before we moved. She is behaving like this when in company and alone.
Could someone offer some advice please.
14th Jan 2002, 12:04 PM
She may just be feeling insecure from the move, my mare went through a period of napping when I first got her.
The technique that worked for me was to wait her out. We found a nice route that didn't involve any busy roads (difficult to do it seems) and we left the yard. My mare wouldn't do it in any particular spot, we'd just get so far and she'd plant herself and try to spin around for home. Any urging on, with voice, legs or crop resulted in us going backwards at high speed so that was ruled out pretty quickly. So I just sat there. The trick seemed to be to not let her turn around, or if she did manage to spin to make sure she ended up facing the same direction as before. And then sit there and sit there until she decided that was boring and she may aswell go forwards. Grazing her on grass verges just before I felt she was going to try to head for home seemed to help to, it gave her a chance to relax (low head and chewing naturally calm the horse) and also for me to sort myself out but never do that after they've actually napped as it can give them an excuse (long reins) to dash for home. I kept a contact on the reins at all times but tried to stay relaxed and avoid pulling on her mouth. Some days we sat there for half an hour, other days for 5 minutes, it depended on her particular mood. The waiting periods gradually got shorter as she twigged onto what was easiest.
It took about a month of doing this but eventually we were able to complete a proper hack without any napping at all. We stuck to short ones at first, doing the same route until she became more sure of herself and then trying different and longer rides as she got better. She tried to start the habit back up when I moved her to the current yard but a session of sit and wait sorted that out and we happily go out on our own or in company now.
It might be best to have someone obliging come out with you at first if your horse naps in company also (mine didn't, only when she was alone) as it can be scary when they start to spin. Just make sure the person with you has plenty of time and a nice calm horse.
Best of luck
14th Jan 2002, 12:44 PM
Many times with napping the simplest solution is to take a whip with you and give a nice sharp tap with it when you first encounter any trouble. I know many people don't like using whips but you shouldn't need to do it more than once or twice.
Make sure you're pointing the way you want to go, give her a tap and try not to grab at the reins.
Just a suggestion that has worked countless times for me.
14th Jan 2002, 06:43 PM
I have used the waiting it out tactic and the tap with the whip one too. I would say it depends on the horse. Two of the ones I ride have a problem. Dinky is really nervous and doesn't like going out on his own. I tend to wait it out with him and wear him down (i nag nag nag at him). I tried a smack one but he blew a fit - now I just carry it in case of emergencies. Ginny on the other hand is as stubborn as me so waiting out doesn't work (she's happy to wait all day just as long as shes not doing any work) so with her smack and point works every time.
Read your horse. If your horse is genuinely nervous (which I expect as he has just moved home) it is probably better to wait it out as you won't do any good disciplining him for being scared. But if he is being bolshy then a quick tap should work
H & Bailey
14th Jan 2002, 07:41 PM
I agree you have to judge the horses temprement in that if you know that it is going to go back when smacked dont do it.
Have you tried taking it for a walk?Just small ones at first if you go tacked up wearing a hat ,gloves and carrying a dressage/schooling whip.If you get tired you can get on.
I have not had Bailey that long and he tended to stop and plant if I used my legs and tapped he used to try and spin..now I just talk to him and wait...and wait..eventually he takes steps forwards once he gets going you can encourage him on or let him investigate depending on the road situation.Bailey is only 3 and lacks a bit of confidence I also think that cause little kids had him he used to do what he wanted.
Now I have got him fairly forwards going I have left him off for the winter ..hopefully he will be ok when I start again in the spring.
You will have to try and work out what it sis that the horse is scared off too....With Bailey its daft things like sheep..Wheelie bins Gates hedges walls and of course Cows they are really scary especially when they moo at him cause they think he is a cow!!(he is black and white)He doesnt bat an eyelid at rain or wagons or buses which is good
14th Jan 2002, 09:06 PM
Ha ha- wheelie bins. We know them!!
The stupidist one was after a first encounter with a double decer (air brakes and all) Dinky had a complete flid at a duck!!!!!!!!!!!! I wouldn't have minded but it was just sitting there minding its own business it didnt even move.
15th Jan 2002, 01:20 PM
Thanks for all your replies.
It's nice to know that someone else has went through the same problems. I will try the sitting it out technique but she is a stubborn thing so I better make sure I have lots of free time!
I have an instructor coming up on Thursday night to assess us together so maybe she will have some more advice.
I am also going to try her in her old saddle tomorrow as she's been ridden in a new saddle for about 6 weeks.
15th Jan 2002, 02:02 PM
Best of luck. Personally, the whip thing doesn't work with my mare. The first (and only time) I tried this, she reared completely upright and then spun - I ended up stood next to her on the ground! The sitting thing does work, but you have to be pretty brave as she just keeps spinning and running home, so I have to just keep turning her back the right way and sitting it out. I keep my legs on her sides but don't apply much pressure and eventually she relents (after about 6 or 7 spins). She only does this on her own though - she's pretty good in company - but she's a cowardly thing and is scared of anything natural eg. dogs, people, birds but not plastic, lorries etc (unless they're parked, when they are obviously lying in wait to pounce on her!)
H & Bailey
15th Jan 2002, 07:33 PM
Another thing you could try is if the pony spins..if it will rein back ask it to go backwards in the direction you want. I used this technique with my TB and once i went back a bit I could spin her back round..and the scary monster that was gonna eat her had vanished!!!!
16th Jan 2002, 05:36 PM
Oh Lordy, we've got prizes for napping here! We've found driving from the ground in long reins v useful (and cross-training so he goes out in blinkers helps too). You *could* try riding out in blinkers. It looks ungainly but might help. Other than that we have helped Benny get braver by having someone walk in front then slowly slowly drifting behind. He is still a wuss but better than he was.
27th Jan 2002, 12:12 AM
It's good how everyone has recognised that there could be more than one reason for napping, but with the mare I used to risde it was mostly down to laziness. I tried all the tactics, but in the end I had to take a crop out with me and give her a smack when sje did it, and it worked really well.
20th May 2002, 08:19 PM
I see this thread has got a bit old and dusty, so I'm not sure if forlk are still interested, but I thought I'd just mention - I'm 4 weeks into riding my new mare and she sometimes naps in the menage when she just couldn't be bothered with working. If my instructor jumps on her and insists she behaves, after very little prancing, she behaves, but so far not for me. My instructor says I must not allow it to develop (it tends to start small with just a bit of ignoring the leg and drifting) because she tries it on, then takes it further. I know she is right but I have not been riding very long and I am a bit dubious about her rearing. She did it once with my instructor (only a little, not all the way up). I'm told you have to lean forward and put the leg on Mmmmmm. Well, I guess if I'm going to have a horse, I will need to bite the bullet as I know letting her develop the notion that she can take advantage of me could be much more risky than what she might do in the menage.
Fingers crossed please,
20th May 2002, 10:26 PM
Have you tried using a schooling whip to back up your voice and legs? I know it sounds unpleasant, but it needn't be.
If you ask nicely with your voice/legs once with no response, ask again a little stronger, allow a couple of strides (no more) for a response, then whack the whip across your boot and give a good growl. Have a relaxed contact and praise her as soon as she responds. If that doesn't do it give her a firm tap that makes contact also accompanyed with a growl. Again praise if she responds, and have the confidence to send her into a soft contact.
With your horse it sounds as if you need to keep her listening and not allow her attention to drift. This can be a difficult task sometimes.
As your horse will behave when ridden by your instructor, it sounds as if she's cashing in on your insecurities. One thing that may help is, a grab strap. I use a short leather belt, or baler twine. Thread it through the front D rings on your saddle, make it just long enough to act as a handle but not short enough to restrict your hands. This will help you balance without restricting the rien.
You could ask your instructor to lunge you, and help you with the timing of your aids. Or you might find a few lessons on a school horse will help you.
If you feel over faced, admit it, don't fall into the trap where you allow a horse to undermine your confidence. If you aren't ready to be firm, don't try and do it halfheartedly. Get some lessons on a willing horse and build your confidence. Do inhand work with your horse and establish your leadership and authority on the ground, and if possible have someone with experience who will ride your horse positively in the mean time.
21st May 2002, 03:01 PM
Thats helpful. I think I have let her attention drift, so I'll concentrate on that. I think I can do the tap with the schooling whip, I not sure how hard though! Vicky says she can take a good wack, but she gets exasperated with her when she misbehaves.
She does act-up for Vicky sometimes, but settles down with her firm hand - I guess that says it all!
22nd May 2002, 10:11 AM
Have you read Mike Peace's book, Think Like Your Horse? It has some excellent advice about your type of problem. I hope I would be right in saying he would advocate just waiting and giving the horse time to work things out for herself, as Bebe was saying. He also suggests that if a horse is scared of an object, getting off and leading past shows the horse that YOU are not scared, so giving an example of leadership.
23rd May 2002, 08:04 PM
if you get off and lead, I can see how it might be reasuring and demonstrate leadership, but wouldn't you be quite vulnerable on the groung with a spooking horse?
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