Starting again after horse been out on loan?

sammyantha

New Member
Jan 2, 2007
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Derbyshire
I bought my mare 4 years and 5 months ago now. She was a bit of an impulse buy if i'm honest. First time I was earning decent money etc etc. I wanted a Welsh Cob and she was advertised as a welsh cob cross. So I traveled 3 hours to the other side of Wales to meet her. Turned out the "welsh cob" cross bit was totally misleading. She was actually IDxTB Irish sports horse (papered), really just a small TB (15.1hh). Anyway I fell in love and bought her. The seller explained that although she'd been backed by a dressage rider, introduced to shows, jumped, hacked, hunted, and shown in hand; for 8 years she had done nothing but sit in a field, with the odd bit of light hacking. She was sold with the intention of someone actually *doing* something with her.

So I brought her home, full of good intentions. I started having a lesson once per week, hacking out as much as possible, and spending time just being with her. But we never really clicked. She's not really a hacker. Just gets nervous, with eyes on stalks, reluctant to walk forward, and in all honesty, more trouble than it's worth to take out. She is not naughty or dangerous (touch wood), just very sluggish and reluctant, and spooky. Schooling on the other hand she loves, but I quickly got bored with. It just felt like I had no direction, nothing to work towards, and got bored with doing the same old figure 8's and circles over and over. Added to which I was (still am) pretty unfit, so trying to get her going, then keeping it up for any length of time was so knackering.

So gradually I lost interest. For the next couple of years we just bumbled along together, the odd hack here and there, schooling once a week maybe. We went on a fun ride a couple of times with a friend from the yard, and that was great. But I don't have transport, or the company, so that didn't happen again.

At the beginning of 2010 I realized my poor horsey was totally wasted. Added to which I was having money problems, and time was short. So after much internal struggle I put her up for loan. My Y/O introduced us to a lovely lady who was looking to get back into riding after an extended break, and a match made in heaven was found. After a few months however, my perfect loaner found herself a horse of her own (she wanted something bigger and more flashy). Fortunately she stayed on the same yard and helped me out still.

A little while later, reluctantly I advertised my mare for loan again, hoping to find maybe a teenager who wanted a horse to take to shows etc, but who wouldn't get too attached. I found TWO!!!:happy: They weren't the ideal I was looking for, having only very limited riding school experience, but they proved to be brilliant. With the help of my former loaner, the y/o, and other liveries, these two have changed my horse's life (and mine!). Their enthusiasm, hard work, and sheer adoration, have resulted in one sleek, fit, happy and pampered princess of a horse:wavespin:

They have had her for almost 7 months and unfortunately can no longer keep her on. One girl is set to get another horse of her own i believe, and the other girl can't afford the loan on her own :(

So I have decided to take her back and move yards to somewhere closer to me (I moved during the loan). I'm excited at the prospect of having my horse back again, but I don't want to end up in the same situation as before, where I lose interest and have to put her back out on loan. I don't want to mess her around. I also don't want to sell her as I'm unsure where she'd end up, and I'd never forgive myself if she got into the wrong hands. But we still don't "click", I don't have much spare cash for lessons/ shows/ fun events etc, and obviously with such a long time apart (and someone else being her "mommy"), we have virtually no bond at all.

I'd love to make this work, and have a happy, fit horse, fulfilling her potential, and a happy, motivated me.

What we have going in our favour is this:
I've found a potential yard right between work and home, so I can make it there every day before and after work.
The yard is owned by a dressage rider who is actively turning it into a dressage yard and uses the dressage method ridden routine (whatever that is?)
She gives dressage lessons (and other types) for only £20 phr woohoo:D
I have fully stocked tack, feed, bedding, equiptment etc so no need to buy a single thing
The girl who would be unable to afford a loan on her own will still be coming to help us at weekends when she can. I've offered to let her take my mare to shows through the summer, and ride when she likes, in exchange for a little mucking out.
My lovely other half has offered to forcibly shove me out of bed in the mornings to muck out on those days when motivation is lacking:redface:

Actually reading that back, it's not a bad list... i've got a darn lot going for me LOL.

So even though I've had this horse four and a half years, I'm starting all over again effectively. I REALLY want to get off on the right foot. And I want this to WORK!

What I'd love is input from anyone who can empathize with this story.
How did you start the bonding process with your horse, or rebuild it?
How do you keep motivated when riding i.e. schooling?
How do you find/ prepare for/ travel to/ afford shows etc?
How do you enthuse a horse about hacking, and allay her fears? (I feel she doesn't respect me as a leader, and this is why she is afraid when hacking - she thinks she has to be on watch all the time as she can't rely on me to protect her).
How do I build some kind of fellowship between this mare and myself when it doesn't feel as though we really click at all, and we're not really each other's ideal owner/ horse? In all honesty I'd still like my Welsh cob.. something i can hack for hours, but who is equally happy to school, do some local level shows, all with enthusiasm and a bit of impulse. I can't afford another without selling mine though, and I don't want to sell, so I want to make the most of what i HAVE, as it were..

Well done for reading to the end of this long post........ :redface:
 

Libbylou

New Member
Jan 20, 2010
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Norfolk and good
Im glad you have manged to find a solution :dance:

as for your questions this is how I have been with LL, she was passed round 7 different owners in 3 years, neglected to skin and bones and left standing in a field rotting away.

What I'd love is input from anyone who can empathize with this story.
How did you start the bonding process with your horse, or rebuild it? Spending time with her, on and off the ground, having time with her in the field when poopicking and being the person that did everything for her.
How do you keep motivated when riding i.e. schooling?I have a weekly lesson and then work on things to improve on from our lesson
How do you find/ prepare for/ travel to/ afford shows etc?we dont :giggle:
How do you enthuse a horse about hacking, and allay her fears? (I feel she doesn't respect me as a leader, and this is why she is afraid when hacking - she thinks she has to be on watch all the time as she can't rely on me to protect her).We have the same problem so your not alone, I havent hacked her out for months with the weather and confidence issues. Im planning to get my instructor or fth from here to comeover and spend some time out with us, helping us both enjoy being out and about. I have realised I HAVE to get over the fear of being bolted with when I know it was half my fault and dont want to spend forever going around the school
How do I build some kind of fellowship between this mare and myself when it doesn't feel as though we really click at all, and we're not really each other's ideal owner/ horse?To be honest it doesnt sound like you have spent much time with the horse so she has no reason to want to be with you. (Dont mean to sound harsh or nasty). Once she starts to depend on you she might give more back in the relationship and you will in turn give ?? Join up and ground games made me fall in love more than the riding etc which was jus a bonus.

It just takes time, with LL its been nearly a year and sometimes I get the odd cuddle or call from the stable, if its rubbish weather she will canter and call to me but I know she only does it because she wants to come in, BUT I also know she doesnt do it to anyone else. She will even call to OH if he has feed, who can blame her though. Shes a grummpy old moo bag but I do love her but its taken time for this to grow and at one point I was going to have her PTS.
 

bitsnpieces

Active Member
Aug 22, 2007
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You may also find it easier this time as she has been active for the last few months rather than you starting her from 8 years off - if she has been doing lots you may actually find that certain things about her and her confidence has changed.

Maybe if you set yourself small and achievable goals ie. get out on a 20 min walk round a field without big spooks. Then you'll have some focus and something to work towards. It sounds like working on your confidence in each other could be a good place to start?

Slighty random point but you mention that she is sluggish but spooky - if she is being allowed to dawdle she may be spooky to "entertain" herself? I maybe totally off the mark but thought I would put it out there
 

Flipo's Mum

Heavy owner of a Heavy
Aug 17, 2009
9,616
1,493
113
Perthshire, Scotland
I belong to this club...Alot of my perception about my horse made our situation worse. It's taken a year and a half but when I look at him I see things differently now. When I was depressed about all the falls, the worry that he wasn't the one, it made him seem like the worst horse ever. Once I sorted my head out and had one good experience as little as walking him round the field without incident, it changed my perception and more good experiences followed. You should start a diary on here, it really helps you look at your progress.

Bonding - I have quite an introverted horse it would seem and its taken a long time to realise that he does bond, just very subtly. He wouldn't let me touch his head when I got him but now I can force cuddles on him and he'll endure it for about 30 seconds. Whenever there is another person around and we're standing, he'll gravitate towards me slowly. (probably angling how he can push me so we go somewhere but that's his impatient personality!) I have done a heap of reading in the field, standing talking to him, ignoring him, plaiting his mane, grooming, taking him for walks in hand and ground work. I was scared to ride him after a few falls so the ground work really helped establish our partnership - I was too scared to lead him after he got free and galloped down the road but working through it kept me motivated, seeing the improvement in trust. I had days when he'd canter away from me in the field because he sensed the fear and reflected back how I was feeling.

I had my horse sent away for retraining so when he came back I was only happy riding in the school until I'd developed a better seat and got to grips with his quirks. I did get bored and Flipo showed me I was bored by losing motivation himself, its like he reflects everything I feel myself. I found the only way was to reduce the time in the school and start doing little treks back to my field, either in hand or when I felt brave, riding.

I don't go to shows and have no plans to so sorry no advice there but perhaps a good idea would be to investigate the interdressage online as a first port of call. I'm sure your new yard will be able to give you advice. Up here in Scotland we have the magazine Scottish and Northern Equestrian which lists all the events. Is there something equivalent down your neck of the woods?

How do you enthuse a horse about hacking, and allay her fears? (I feel she doesn't respect me as a leader, and this is why she is afraid when hacking - she thinks she has to be on watch all the time as she can't rely on me to protect her). I'm still building the relationship I have with my horse to enable us to hack out alone. He still spooks at something on every ride and I've only managed a max of 30 minutes walking. I've done alot of in hand walks round the same paths so I'm more confident and know he has no reason to spook, I think BnP's point about working more actively might be a clue for me as well here, Flip is very good at daundering when we're on a solo hack, its like he's looking for something to freak at as he's not too happy at being out alone but I know it'll come. I've had people on foot walking beside me, and done a few hacks with another horse with Flip leading. Groundwork as well, all contributes to building the trust. If I can move his feet then he knows I'm in charge.

How do I build some kind of fellowship between this mare and myself when it doesn't feel as though we really click at all, and we're not really each other's ideal owner/ horse? I know its hard to do but I think if you keep thinking this way then your horse is going to see that and will react accordingly. I appreciate its difficult to snap yourself out of that and it seems like a huge challenge but as BnP says, you're definitely in a better place with someone else having worked her for the last seven months, and you'll be surprised at how quickly things can develop. Just put as many baby steps as you can between you and your goal and then you will be amazed at how quickly you achieve things.

In all honesty I'd still like my Welsh cob.. something i can hack for hours, but who is equally happy to school, do some local level shows, all with enthusiasm and a bit of impulse. I can't afford another without selling mine though, and I don't want to sell, so I want to make the most of what i HAVE, as it were.. I think we would all like this tbh, I believe now that whatever horse I had bought, I'd have to do a bit of work to get to this sort of perfect relationship (if it even exists!) Hope that doesn't sound harsh, not mean't to, just think its really difficult to find a horse that fits from the word go. Some people are lucky, but some of us have to work for it, and a 17 months down the line I'd say I prefer being somebody in the latter category. Tough it out mrs and you'll be so much more proud of yourself when you do get to your goal. The challenge is your motivation...and just think its getting lighter so you'll be choosing the best time to start your journey.

Pep talk over. :redface:
 

bitsnpieces

Active Member
Aug 22, 2007
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Just another comment - you say you would still like you're welsh cob - having two part breds myself and being a fanatic of the breed, there are enough of them that I've come across that would pose exactly the same issues you seem to be having with your girl at the moment. I would just try and carry on with the mindset you have at the moment in that you have to work with what you have and above all remember that you fell in love with her for a reason when you viewed her, having horses can be hard especially when they're testing your leadership!

I would strongly recommend starting a blog on here, and also read Flipo's Mum or Sparklie's blogs - it will make you realise that the problems you have with your girl are actually really common problems to have and that it is the working through these problems that gives you the bond.

A bond of any form does not happen easily, you're more than welcome to also read my blog - I have had the most immense handling issues with my youngster (3/4 welsh d) and it has been a tough road getting her to stop acting like a wally and in addition coping with comments from those who don't have a clue what they're talking about but feel it necessary to make unhelpful comments anyway!

NR is also a great way of getting a bit of support on those off days - there are quite a few of us on here who will sometimes just get home and rant online about why is it all going so wrong, you will get loads of support and maybe a few helpful ideas that you hadn't thought about :)

Can't wait to here how you get on!
 

diplomaticandtactful

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2003
12,901
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i have had rosie 7 years now, and we don't click or have as much of a bond as i would like. or so it would seem. though read next paragraph. Molly, i have a strong bond with, she is a neurotic highly strung mare, now retired, but i understand her, where i go molly mirrors me. she was a nice horse to hack out, if spooky, but she was willing, I miss riding her as some of the best times i had were with her.

the new horse, Sasha, who i have only had 3-4 weeks, i feel very strongly close to her, as she is more of a cuddly mare, who seems to want to be my friend.

rosie is a very independent leave me alone or i'll kill you type, she only really wants you there when she is unwell, or scared, the rest of the time she likes to be left alone. this year, she was seriously ill, at death's door, and she did permit me to comfort her, so perhaps she does bond with me more than i give her credit for, now she is feeling stronger she is back to being a bitch! when she went into hospital for tests, she was very scared, and clung to me, whinnying all the time, it was the closest i have felt to her, as she rarely lets me in.

Intuitively, this little mare i bought sight unseen, from an advert, is more my type, she is gentle, she seems to like me in her space, and being kind to her, and she seems to enjoy being talked to even though as she is foreign she hasn't a bloody clue what i am on about!

I am hoping that when we finally get ready to take the plunge and i get onboard, it will be ok, but if not, i am happy to send her to be restarted gently again, I just have a gut feeling we will be ok.

Your mare sounds as if she is a genuine little girl and you may just have to fine tune your feelings towards her and try to give her every credit for what she is good at, and work on the negative things. find someone to hack out with who has a good steady reliable horse, to give both of you confidence. if she is happy to go to shows etc, there is no reason at all why you can't be a happy hacker with her, as she clearly isn't a nervous sort if she can compete.

good luck with her.
 

sammyantha

New Member
Jan 2, 2007
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Derbyshire
To be honest it doesnt sound like you have spent much time with the horse so she has no reason to want to be with you.

You are completely right, and this is what i want to change the most. I have a clicker and some books on natural horsemanship and training so will try those methods. I don't have a round pen and the like, so would a small sectioned off part of the school work?

Slighty random point but you mention that she is sluggish but spooky - if she is being allowed to dawdle she may be spooky to "entertain" herself?

Trouble is that without keeping my leg on constantly, she would just stop. Sometimes it was easier to allow her to walk ....at....a...snails.....pace, for the sake of my legs lol. You are right however, good point.

I'd have to do a bit of work to get to this sort of perfect relationship (if it even exists!) Hope that doesn't sound harsh, not mean't to, just think its really difficult to find a horse that fits from the word go. Some people are lucky, but some of us have to work for it

Brilliant advice! I guess I didn't see it like that. It's just like any relationship.. you get out as much as you put in. This is something I actively work on in my personal (human) relationships all the time, so I'll try to put the same principles in place with my mare.

I would strongly recommend starting a blog on here, and also read Flipo's Mum or Sparklie's blogs - it will make you realise that the problems you have with your girl are actually really common problems to have and that it is the working through these problems that gives you the bond.

Yes I think I will start a blog. I've started reading yours already and it's great to know I'm not alone with these issues :D

NR is also a great way of getting a bit of support on those off days - there are quite a few of us on here who will sometimes just get home and rant online about why is it all going so wrong, you will get loads of support and maybe a few helpful ideas that you hadn't thought about :)

Funnily enough, I started posting on here when I first got her. Many of the issues I've raised above are similar to those I started out with, it's like I've come full circle :redface: In one way I guess that's a positive as it means I have another chance :D

Your mare sounds as if she is a genuine little girl and you may just have to fine tune your feelings towards her and try to give her every credit for what she is good at, and work on the negative things.

She is very genuine and lovely tempered, and although she spooks, she will do anything with a little encouragement. In fact once, my friend who has competed to high level, rode her and she went like an absolute dream. She was like a changed horse. On the bit, relaxed, forward going... my friend did not look as though she used any leg or effort at all. Afterwards she said she was "a very willing little mare". So I feel the problem lies mainly with me and my motivation. But I now have many great suggestions to work on. I'm sure with the support I've found here, I can make it work. I'm going to read all of your blogs for inspiration.

Thank you all so much for your input. You know sometimes when you kind of know what has to be done, but there's just so much you don't know where or how to begin? lol. I'll look forward to any more suggestions/ comments.
 

bitsnpieces

Active Member
Aug 22, 2007
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You are completely right, and this is what i want to change the most. I have a clicker and some books on natural horsemanship and training so will try those methods. I don't have a round pen and the like, so would a small sectioned off part of the school work?.

Yep!


Trouble is that without keeping my leg on constantly, she would just stop. Sometimes it was easier to allow her to walk ....at....a...snails.....pace, for the sake of my legs lol. You are right however, good point.

If you nag with the leg then she is likely to either just feel pressurised in a situation where she feels nervous, or she'll just ignore it. What is her walk like in the school? In addition, if you are nervous and waiting for her to spook then you are in effect giving her all the signs to go slowly (and are poss gripping with upper thighs and have a tense back) so then asking for forward movement is basically saying "I'm scared, you go first". If you find you are nervous then having someone to walk with you just for a chat will help you ease up, also, you mention that your friend rode her - take some confidence in that, it means that there is nothing systematically wrong with the horse so your goals are achievable...taking these things as positive is a significant step to building that bond. Is your friend able to sit and watch you ride every so often?


Yes I think I will start a blog. I've started reading yours already and it's great to know I'm not alone with these issues :D

Trust me you're not alone!! When I first got Puz I couldn't make her walk one single step in the school....not one! She would buck/lie down/bite my shins etc etc...within a few years we were competing successfully at Novice dressage (after a comical start!) but hey we got there! All horses put you through your paces when you first get them, they have to establish whether it is safe to trust you.


She is very genuine and lovely tempered, and although she spooks, she will do anything with a little encouragement. In fact once, my friend who has competed to high level, rode her and she went like an absolute dream. She was like a changed horse. On the bit, relaxed, forward going... my friend did not look as though she used any leg or effort at all. Afterwards she said she was "a very willing little mare". So I feel the problem lies mainly with me and my motivation. But I now have many great suggestions to work on. I'm sure with the support I've found here, I can make it work. I'm going to read all of your blogs for inspiration.

Thank you all so much for your input. You know sometimes when you kind of know what has to be done, but there's just so much you don't know where or how to begin? lol. I'll look forward to any more suggestions/ comments

You'll probably find that because you have the correct mindset - you want to do right by her and want it to do it the correct way, that you are already halfway to meeting your goals. With horses mindset and attitude is half the battle, so so many people battle on using pressure and force to get what they want and just give up when it doesn't come easily. Can't wait to hear your updates!!!! Oh and I feel we need some piccies!!!!
 

Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
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Surrey Hills
I really wish you all the best in your plans for bonding with your mare and keeping her happy and healthy.

Ziggy is quite an affectionate pony (though very dominant) but he needs a lot of work out hacking. My plan for this year is to try some of Harry Hobbs' advice given earlier on this forum about getting the perfect hacking horse - "How to train the horse for calmness and relaxation while hacking". Here's a link - it's a long thread but well worth reading:

http://www.newrider.com/forum/showthread.php?t=67557

I hope you may find some of this helpful when getting your lassie to relax and enjoy herself out hacking with you. I'd love to hear how you get on!
 

shadowfax1967

New Member
Aug 29, 2008
435
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south wales
I have had my mare for 3 years now, and can honestly say it took us a year to bond, she had been in the same home before i bought her all her life so it completely uprooted her when i bought her her life was turned upside down:cry:

she never trusted me for ages and vice versa, i worked loads on the ground as i strongly believe if she didnt trust me on the ground no way would she trust me on her back......why should she.

out hacking she would spook at everything in front of her on the side of her and behind she was a nightmare. i never gave her confidence in the saddle and again vice versa.

after a year we fully bonded and now we are totally connected and i would trust her with my life, out hacking she never spooks now if she see something she doesnt like i just put my legs on her and ride her forward as soon as i detect she sees something scary, i can read her like a book. it comes from trust and from trust comes confidence which goes hand in hand. she will do anything for me i have waded her through rivers chest high and she wouldn't go through a puddle before for me.

if im i the field she will leave the herd and follow me around like a dog i the summer i was sat in the field reading a book chilling and she just stood above me until i got up and left.......she is a superstar and i love her to bits my soul mate.:angel:

you will get there i thought i never would but it has paid off in dividends i never thought i would have such a strong bond with a horse but i have and everyday i thank my mare for giving my the privilage.

it may take weeks, months even but you will get there and when you do you will know......good luck x
 

fairlady

New Member
Jul 14, 2007
10,306
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Some excellent advice on here:wink:

I would also add, you can also take her out for walks so that you come across
things and get to know her likes and dislikes and build a trust/bond in that
way. I am also a great believer in just 'spending time' sat in the field/stable
with her, read a book, ignore her basically and let her gradually come to you and make a fuss of her. Get to know her again and build
it from there. Treat her like a 'New' Horse basically:smile: I spend HOURS with my two, (both still young but both backed now) just doing
'nothing' really but achieving lots just by being there with them.

Exciting times for you both:wink:
 

sammyantha

New Member
Jan 2, 2007
860
0
0
Derbyshire
Thank you all. Some wonderful, inspiring stories above :)

Just a bit of an update - I have given loaners 2 weeks notice that I need to know whether they'll be taking her on full loan or not, and if not, that I will be moving her closer to home at the end of Jan. Not sure which way it will go yet but I am very excited to think i'll be having her all to myself again soon :D

Been out looking at yards today and found one that is *almost* exactly what i wanted lol. I couldn't find something with facilities, lots of activity, good hacking, local shows etc, as they were out of my price range. But I found a nice local yard that has about 40 liveries, regular riding lessons, outdoor school, regular events and trips out. Only downside is that hacking is not brilliant. Safe, quiet roads but few bridlepaths/ good gallops etc. Hay is only £3.5 per bale from them woooooooo :bounce:

I've attached a pic of her being jumped over a spread for the first time by one of my loaners just today :biggrin:
 

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