Napping Nightmare

John is a Recommended Associate of the Intelligent Horsemanship Association, and can help you communicate better with your horse
pukkapony
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Napping Nightmare

Postby pukkapony » Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:16 pm

John

I have a lovely rescue pony. She was badly underweight when I got her, now she’s in good health i’ve began schooling with her.

I don’t know her history but she’s got some nasty scars and is very head shy, she won’t have a bit – this reduces her to a trembling wreck, so I have her in a Scawbrig bridle instead, this is no problem as I like the natural horsemanship. I ride her in a treeless saddle that fits her well. When I first got her she would not let anyone touch her legs/feet we have since overcome this and she is now quite a trusting little pony.

The problem I am having with her is she will not go forward without help, I have ruled out all options of pain – saddle fits well, she is sound in all four legs, there is no rubbing or sores anywhere I can see, girth is positioned well and does not irritate her. When lunging she will walk a few turns then come into the centre, I don’t call a break or touch her at this point, I simply send her back out getting firmer with my instruction the more she does it, sometimes brushing her on the rump with the lunge line to get her attention back. When asked to trot she is very very unpredictable, sometimes she will go, sometimes you have to chase but she goes, other times she will ignore me (no matter how persistent I get) and equally often she will just stop dead and look at me. I have established the words with her and she knows what is expected, she has proven this many times.

When it comes to any form of ridden schooling she is very strange, sometimes she will plant all fours and not move no matter what I ask. Other times she will back up or buck. Even with another horse direct infront of her she wont go. I have used a crop thinking she was just being naughty, this had no effect – I gave her a fair smack on the rump and on the shoulder with no reaction whatsoever. I have not tried her in spurs as I don’t agree with these and she is very sensitive to touch in that area – yet not to a squeeze or even a kick! I have tried just voice, voice and leg, just leg, crop... and now I have run out of ideas. Yet when she feels happy to go she will go – perfectly. If someone leads her on foot she’s perfect, as soon as the lead rope is gone, even if the leader is still there, she stops and no amount of persuasion will get her to go.

We go out hacking with my partner and our other horse, and she has to be ‘stared’ by someone leading her, then we go ok for a while just at a walk, sometimes she will even take the lead and go for a trot – visibly enjoying it. Then, the other horse stops for a poo and thats it, she’s frozen to the spot, even if the other horse goes again. I tried asking my partner to carry on hoping she would want to follow, he went 100 yards, then out of sight and she just stood there, feet planted. I asked her to walk on and she began to buck... I can’t understand this as sometimes she’s perfectly normal and others its like she is an un-broken horse!

Any advise would be lovely, I have had her medically looked at and OK’d. I can’t see any form of pattern to this or circumstances that may bring on this behaviour?

HELP!

Thanks

Sarah

Expert_JohnJones
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Re: Napping Nightmare

Postby Expert_JohnJones » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:09 am

Hi Sarah,
Apologies for not replying sooner to your post.
Firstly that is great that you rescued your pony, you don’t say how long you have had her but I suggest you look at how far you have progressed with her and gained her trust and confidence in you.
It sounds like she doesn’t understand ridden aids and her way of communicating this is to stop and then if you apply too much pressure she then feels the need to buck. Being ridden in the past has probably been a really traumatic event hence her being head shy etc. You really need to help her understand what you are asking and perhaps break it down into smaller asks.
When riding out with friends try riding from the back to the front and practicing exercises that will help her understand going forwards and ridden aids more clearly. Long lining may help you but do make sure she is accustomed to the long lines first and practice in a safe area. You say she is sound and that your tack fits well which is great. Have you had her checked over by an equine physiotherapist, as they will be able to help ensure she has no tight muscles and enable you to eliminate any sources of pain or discomfort? This is the website for to find a fully qualified physiotherapist in your area:
http://www.acpat.org/index.php?option=c ... &Itemid=87

Also since she doesn’t like the bit I would suggest getting either a equine vet or equine dentist (one you trust) to check her teeth as if they are sharp they could cut into her cheeks causing a bit or bitless bridle to be uncomfortable.
To me it sounds like there are parts of her foundation missing so with more work on her understanding your ridden aids you should see improvements. Try and be patient with her and see it from her point of view.
Make it more fun for her by riding out with a friend and then getting off her in a quiet place and hand grazing her so she sees more of a point in going out.
Bitless is good for horses like her as the bit can cause more confusion, just be careful with the scrawbrig that you are not giving her conflicting signals. There are so many bitless bridles on the market and I am not sure what yours is like but often they apply pressure to the poll or around the jaw which can be confusing for the horse. You have to be careful how much contact you are using as you may be asking the horse to stop and go at the same time without realising. A sidepull bridle is often better for youngsters as the signal is clearer (you could use a Dually halter as a sidepull to ride in for more information on these halters visit this website http://www.intelligenthorsemanship.co.uk
When she goes well are you more relaxed and happy? Be aware she will pick up on your frustration which won’t help you. If you visit the Intelligent Horsemanship website http://www.intelligenthorsemanship.co.uk you will find a list of Recommended Associates and one in your area who can come and help you with your mares progress for example helping you start to longline her to help her understand ridden aids better.
With more information about her I can help you further, you are welcome to phone me on 01981 510 269 to talk in more detail or post more questions here.
Remember to really reward her when she gets things right, feel her slightest try and smallest change.
I look forward to hearing how you get on.
Best Wishes
John
john@horselistener.co.uk
http://www.horselistener.co.uk

pukkapony
Posts: 336
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:38 pm
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Re: Napping Nightmare

Postby pukkapony » Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:04 pm

Just thought I would post a message on here, I have finally found the solution to all my problems I have been having with this little lady. I managed to track down one of her former owners, who kindly informed me she has never been broken or schooled in any way shape or form!!! She has been nothing but a brood mare all her life – I feel almost slightly guilty knowing that I assumed she was a riding pony (that was what she was sold to me as admittedly!) and expected her to just go for it!!!!

The dilemma I have now however is, do I continue with her and try to break a 17 year old horse to saddle? Do I let her have one more foal (is she too old now?) or do I just pay for her upkeep and retire her to grass?!

Expert_JohnJones
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Re: Napping Nightmare

Postby Expert_JohnJones » Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:42 pm

Hi Sarah, Thank you for the update, well that explains her uncertainty when being ridden and also shows her brilliant kind nature to try her best even though she didn’t really understand. Try not to feel guilty, unfortunatly people often don't tell the whole truth when selling horses! at least you know more about her now.
As for where you go from here that is really down to you and what you feel would suit her. My only concern is that in this current economic climate horses are really struggling to find homes and the majority of the sanctuaries are full and not taking in any more rescues. Visit www.equinemarketwatch.org.uk and www.swhp.co.uk for more information on the situation. I would suggest only breeding if you can guarantee the foal a home for life.
Without seeing her I can only make suggestions, feel free to phone me 01981 510 269 or post on here more detail about how far you got with her hacking out. Did you enjoy working with her? If so continue with her at her pace, only do what you feel safe doing. You could ask an Intelligent Horsemanship Recommended Associate to come out and assess her for you, visit www.intelligenthorsemanship.co.uk for contact details of Ras near you.
This could help you to decide what would suit her and the best way to continue your progress together.
I look forward to hearing more
Best Wishes
John
john@horselistener.co.uk
www.horselistener.co.uk


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