Green Pony Help

Liz is a Recommended Associate of the Intelligent Horsemanship Association, and can help with behavioural issues
BornToJump
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Green Pony Help

Postby BornToJump » Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:46 pm

Hi Liz,

I have previously been riding a green 11-12 yo pony Flora. She is a gorgeous horse but she is proving a tricky ride. She does not belong to me and i do not loan her but i am getting my courage to get on her again. I took a break from her as i was just loosing confidence and nerve and going downhill in my learning. I am only 12 years old and have very little strength so any ground work would have to be basic. My age does not affect my learning ability at all as i can:
~Hack confidently (and on beach rides)
~Ride a 16.3hh schoolmaster
~Moves like, shoulder in, turn on the haunches/forehand, traverse, leg yield, rein back, counter canter.
~Walk, trot, canter, gallop - all in control.
~Jump 85-90 metres
~compete in Dressage & SJ competitions.
~Participate in private basic lessons
~Ride a variety of horses.

Everyone that rides this horse is having problems with control. Flora was a driving pony before coming to this stable but has been broken in. She walks and trots and I was the one to have broken her into canter work. But we face these difficulties with her:
~Flora will cow-kick EVERY time you kick her or get her to move forwards.
~She is very nappy and head-butty on the ground.
~In lessons she gets bored near the end and refuses to go forward.
~She cheekily dips her head down throwing the rider forward onto her neck.
~Fidgets when i try to groom her.

She is an ace wee pony and could go so far but as i said, I am 12 years old and she's not mine and my stable instructor is doing very little work with her. I want to be the one to get her bad habits away as she is a little cutie. Please help me with some training i could do with her.


Regards,
Olivia Anderson
:)

Expert_LizPitman
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Re: Green Pony Help

Postby Expert_LizPitman » Wed Jul 04, 2012 3:08 pm

Hi Olivia,

Thanks for your question. Don't worry, I'm not going to question your horsemanship in any way - you sound more than competentU

It would be really interesting to know more about Flora's background, but it may be that neither you or the stables know that much. It'd be interesting why she was not kept as a driving pony, for example.

My guess from the symptoms you list is that Flora has pain somewhere. Top on my list of guesses is gastric ulcers. That would make it painful for her when you put your leg on or when you groom her. It would explain why she finds it hard to go forwards and why she tries to get her rider off. It would also explain why she is difficult to work with on the ground, as all her associations with work and grooming might make her want nothing to do with what she sees to be leading up to it.

Before anything else, I'd want to deal in some way (or ways) to make sure her management is as good as possible if she does have ulcers, and to work towards a diagnosis. The best thing really would be for her owner to consult the vet. I would recommend that she has a scope - so that the pass a camera down into her stomach to see exactly what is going on.

If that is clear, then I'd still say there is pain somewhere. It may be ulcers lower down in the digestive system where the scope cannot reach, or it might be something else.

Whatever it is, I think she should not be ridden or worked until the vet has been. I'd also be very careful grooming her. There are even points around the shoulders and girth area that can become very sensitive in these cases.

There are a couple of supplements that people have good experiences with but I'm reluctant to advise them, a) because it's best left to a vet and b) because she's not your pony. The other thing is that she needs constant access to forage and avoidance of stress. As being ridden is stressful for her, again it would be best for her to just be rested until the vet has been.

Just to make it clear, I'm not diagnosing anything. I clearly couldn't do that without having seen her, and all I could do then would be give you my personal opinion based on experience of similar behaviour problems.

Can you let me know if this is followed up with the vet? Based on what they find, I might have some suggestions for work afterwards. A proper physical diagnosis and appropriate treatement do need to happen first, though.

Liz

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Re: Green Pony Help

Postby Kaliska » Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:04 pm

As usual, Liz's advice has hit the nail on the head. Do let us know how you get on.

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Re: Green Pony Help

Postby BornToJump » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:54 pm

Hi,

Great advice, but there is nothing medically wrong, we've tried a different saddle, same results. She is very nappy and still throws in her usual tricks. It is just her bad behaviour. :)

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Re: Green Pony Help

Postby Expert_LizPitman » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:40 am

Hi Olivia,

Has she been scoped for ulcers, then? If so, and if she is clear, I would still consider the possiblity of ulceration lower down in the digestive tract. Failing that, it could be a trapped nerve, kissing spines, EPSM, migrating worms, or one of many other conditions. From my experience, horses who present with the range of symptoms that Flora shows usually have an underlying physical problem. It can sometimes take a long time to find out what that is but 90% of the time, if not more, if you dig deep enough you'll find it.

Assuming that there isn't a physical issue, there is still something Flora is trying to say, some reason that she finds work hard, would rather not have a rider on her back, doesn't like being touched and in fact would rather not have anyone around her. It's not simply bad behaviour, it's behaviour she believes is the right response to the way she feels about what is being asked of her. We may see that as "bad", she is only doing what she knows to do.

If there is something other than a physical issue causing this, then it's a question of playing detective to find it and eliminate it, then to teach her that the things she thought would harm her won't, and to teach her that she can in fact do those things willingly. In her case, that probably means stripping everything back and starting again.

I would look at longlining her off a Dually or normal headcollar - not a bit. Not only would a bit make it uncomfortable if she hit any pressure, it might also be part of the problem. Watch carefully how she moves, look at what she's completely happy with and in particular look for any areas where she even starts to show concern. "Completely happy" means relaxed, moving forwards comfortably, head in a relaxed position, and attentive to your requests. Watch her in straight lines, on bends and on circles, on both reins. Then, not on the lines, pop a rider on. Watch for differences in her behaviour. See where she starts to say "uh oh!" Then ask yourself what you have done, what the rider has done, that caused that reaction. That will help you see what she might be feeling at the time. If it is leg on, then try her with a pair of expletive legs and see if you can desensitise her to leg aids.

If that goes ok and you do find that she is settling, then I would say she will need to be ridden very lightly to start off with. Your original post says she cow kicks "every time you kick her". You shouldn't be kicking. Leg aids should be subtle, a squeeze, never anything like a kick.

Is she a riding school pony? If so, she may well also be saying she doesn't like the way she's being ridden.

I would, though, still strongly suggest exploring the physical further. If possible, I would also get an IH Recommended Associate out to see this pony. They will be able to give proper assessment based on facts on the ground.

BornToJump
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Re: Green Pony Help

Postby BornToJump » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:40 pm

Firstly, i do not try to or aim to come across as arrogant however i do not like how you say "You shouldn't be kicking. Leg aids should be subtle, a squeeze, never anything like a kick." I have been brought up with a very experienced, registered BHS instructor who would take the opportunity to laugh at that, don't you see top Equestrian riders kicking their horses? I informed my riding instructor just to be sure and she said word by work "Kicking does no such harm in horses, if you are assertive, there is a bigger chance the horse will listen after a kick rather than a squeeze, if you give a squeeze there's a bigger chance they will not listen to your aids. Flora is just a cheeky, moody pony who needs help adjusting to terms with having a rider on her back..." And i couldn't agree more with my riding instructor.

She is moody and stubborn, and we make her limited lessons interesting and we keep her feet moving. Lessons couldn't get shorter or more interesting.

And as i said previously there is nothing physically wrong with her, i have had 3 different vets costing me many pounds, checking her, monitoring her etc,i even got her to check out your answer and they all said it is a good answer but very much off of correct and very unrealistic for Flora's benefits. All of the vets came to the same conclusion = she is a mare. she is moody, stubborn, and clearly is taking a while to adjust to life with someone on top of her.
I do think that Flora needs time and patience and a confident, firm, rider. In which i am not so i shall leave this to the experts. But i have big hopes for this stubborn mare.

And i said above and i'll say it again, i couldn't agree more with my riding instructor. 1, because she has met the pony and observed her. 2, because you haven't met her or spent any time around her. 3, i have great trust in someone who has has a stupendous past in horse riding not just behaviour. She knows her stuff.

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Re: Green Pony Help

Postby Expert_LizPitman » Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:39 am

Hi Olivia,

I'm sorry you don't like what I've written. As it sounds that you agree with your riding instructor and that she is giving you advice, and, as you say, she has seen your pony and I haven't, it's probably best for me to leave it there.

Liz

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Re: Green Pony Help

Postby BornToJump » Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:59 am

Thank you for all your knowledgeable help. Your info may not have helped me with Flora but i will definitely look out for these things in other horses.

Thanks again for your help and time.

Olivia
:)


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