Gah! I am getting really frustrated....

Discussion in 'Training Horses' started by Jemima, Nov 26, 2013.

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  1. Jemima

    Jemima Active Member

    My TB mare has started propping and today she did it then stuck her head up and got me in the face (nice fat lip now :dry:) - she thought she was going to gallop up a hill - I had other thoughts.
    It's my fault. She has no brakes so I was using a kimblewick for a while and she started doing it then. Sometimes I have to really put the handbrake on because I will ask, ask, ask and she just ignores, ignores, ignores until I have to take such a firm hold to get her to wake up (my farrier describes her as "like a ship" - once she starts moving it takes a long time to stop her) So then she props and jams on her brakes because she really feels it and I have nearly come off several times. Usually her head shoots up too but today is the first time she's got me with it. She is a very unresponsive horse - she doesn't pay much attention to me on the ground or in the saddle and she often has a withdrawn look in her eyes when I am trying to work with her. Very frustrating!

    How can I help the propping issue? I have gone back to a loose ring double jointed snaffle and no noseband, just a plain bridle. I do one rein stops and back her when she gets rushy but it doesn't help - she just goes back to rushy. I have tried small circles to rebalance and slow her but she just rushes around those and then carries on!! GAHHH :confused: (I started a thread a long time ago about pretty much the same issue and was given these very helpfull ideas....but they don't seem to sink into this mares head!)

    Why do we persevere with horses we don't get along with?! I guess this is mostly just a big long rant because it was such an awful ride today :(
    Would like to stop the propping though!
  2. I would only persevere with a horse I get along with and I like. :D
    You horse by the sounds of it needs to be re mouthed. Send it to someone who knows what they are doing, don't risk your life any more. There is only one of you.:hug:
  3. GoneRama

    GoneRama Gold Member

    Ok so what would I do?!

    Rightio I would go right back to square one on the ground getting her to keep her attention on you. Make yourself more interesting than whatever else it is she's looking at. When she's not looking at you give her a reason to look at you, go after her hindquarters and yield them or just simply put a feel on her head to bring her attention back on you. If you're walking along and she's looking off to the right then make a turn to the left or chase her hind quarters again until she's looking at you then continue on.

    In regards to brakes....... does she soften to a contact on a snaffle at halt? Scrap that, can you put a finger on each ring on the bit on the ground, apply pressure and have her give to that? If not, work on that until she does soften and give (this will also get her attention on you) before you move onto other things. What is her back up like? Soft and gives at the poll when she backs up or throws her head in the air? Well she won't throw her head in the air if you've done the previous step well which is getting her to soften on that contact ;)

    Next I'd teach her the one rein stop on the ground until it's 110% shmicko and soft in both halter and bridle. Then I'd hop on and make all my stops a one rein stop, both ways, can never do enough of them. Then move into trot and circle her down into a stop. Then go into a canter and circle her down into a stop. If she starts rushing at a trot then just keep picking up that inside rein until she settles and then let her go on again, she starts to rush, pick up that rein. If you've done the previous step properly (as in circling her down into a complete one rein stop where all 4 feet are planted and she's soft on the bridle before continuing) then she'll know what picking up one rein means. From here the horse should be starting to respond to your seat however if that's not the case and you want to teach her to stop on two reins (not something I'd do personally but each to their own) then incorporate a two reined slow down aid and if she doesn't respond to that then go through the one rein process but always go back to asking with the two reins first.

    The big thing for the one rein stop to be effective is to make sure you do all parts of it. Make sure you quit riding/block with your seat and relax your cheeks (all of them!) before you pick up the contact on one rein before you bring that rein around before you go looking for the horse to soften. She will soon learn that you not going with the movement comes before the contact which comes before that rein being shortened. Also make sure none of your body signals are saying go. If your legs are on the one rein stop won't work, if your butt is saying go but your hands saying whoa the one rein stop won't work.

    I realise you said you've tried the one rein stop but please humour me and try it for a bit longer. Consistency is the key. You may not entirely solve this in one session but if you're consistent in your approach you may all of a sudden hop on her one day and go 'hold on, we don't have that problem any more' and not even realise that she has been improving along the way.

    That's just how I'd go about working it out (rough description of it anyway, to fully explain it would take a lot more than this one post) others may have different ideas.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
  4. GoneRama

    GoneRama Gold Member

    And for the part about picking up the one rein when she starts rushing....... this shows it better.

  5. Little Bean

    Little Bean Well-known Member

    hmmm... I'm going to say that your mare is probably very attached to her natural flight response or in other terms her threshold for pressure is quite low.

    I have two mares like this and to be honest the stronger bits and one rein stops just compound the way they feel. On the other hand I have another one who's threshold is very high and can be pushed considerably before she will break and when she does it's a fight response not a flight response.

    I would suggest some light reading (have PM'd you) and just think outside the square for a little bit. Be willing to take a break from riding and take the time your horse needs it to take ;)

    Good Luck!
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
  6. Blackbat

    Blackbat Well-known Member

    How depressing for you. Also dangerous. But like GR explains in detail, you can't do much about the propping until you can change everything you describe in the first 3 quotes. I wouldn't even attempt to get on a horse i thought that about, it would be as good as kamikaze death wish. You must be braver than me.

    I'd forget about techniques to stop the propping and worry about the other things (especially the withdrawn bit, id be going 'why why why?') Then the propping will likely go away by itself.
  7. Little Bean

    Little Bean Well-known Member

    And ask yourself is she:

    Withdrawn - bored and not finding any purpose to what you are asking (is she getting anything out of it) or
    Withdrawn - too busy looking for the next thing that's gonna come eat her.

    Might sound silly but being bored and being on the lookout can both seem withdrawn but both need very different approaches.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  8. retroremedy

    retroremedy Well-known Member

    One rein stops only compound issues when they have no foundation, you actually have to train the response. Great post GR! I am the opposite and would not worry about the horse being withdrawn at this stage at all.....get the horse understanding what is expected of it and focused on you by good training and handling and they end up a lot more relaxed about life!
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
  9. Jemima

    Jemima Active Member

    Wow - Thanks everyone :)

    I'll start at the top -

    Coliban - I have thought about having her remouthed but I haven't got the finances or ability to travel her anywhere to get someone else to do it - I was thinking of buying John Oleary's remouthing dvd set and doing it myself (I think I have the experience to be able to do work it out) Has anyone else viewed it and found it a good method?

    GoneRama - Thankyou for your awesome post - no one has ever explained a one rein stop to me like that and the video was very usefull as well - I think maybe I am trying to shut her down too much by doing a complete one rein stop instead of just circling until she calms and then carrying on. I get what he says about the horse coming back to him mentally when he circles - mine is the same - you can feel her go "oh ok you're there thats right!" when I do the o.r.s. Not that that lasts!
    She does soften when I take up a contact. Her back up is pretty bad - her head goes up and she gets sort of stuck so it's not a nice smooth movement. She can do lovely work occasionally!

    Little Bean - I will pm you back :)

    Blackbat - maybe I have a death wish! The thing is that sometimes she will give me an absolutely fantastic ride and I just love her but then that is few and far between! She isn't dirty either, just dumb and all the rushing endangers her by the fact that she doesn't think about her feet! I have only the farm or the road to ride on so I usually do any schooling in the big paddocks and it's not great footing all the time. I would love to have a massive arena to ride in :)

    I think she is "withdrawn" in the way that she isn't bored, she is just distracted and always worrying about home and her companion horse.

    I feel like I have just written down a list of excuses.

    I feel abit of a failure with this mare because I have never had a horse that has challenged me like her. I do love her though - just don't like her....does that make sense!?
    My other mare I get along terrific with and she is so easy (she loves to have a good buck though!)

    I don't want to give up - I think that if I can crack this then it will be a huge learning opportunity for me and will add so many more tools to my arsenal for future horses.
  10. Jemima

    Jemima Active Member

    An interesting observation thisafternoon, I took her into the paddock with a 12ft line and did some groundwork. When I was circling her to the right and asked her to yield her hind and face me she would do this propping thing then and start hopping backwards with her head in the air! So perhaps it's not all my fault! She did get much better by the end of the session, once she did one good yield I would go on to another exercise and come back to it again and each one improved. I tried to be more assertive and I think it helped - she was definitely watching me more. She is the lead mare so maybe I am just being to submissive without realizing it.

    I wonder could it be pain on the right lead too - she was fine on the left. I do get the chiro out to her regularly, he is due again now.

    Sorry for the ramble.....thinking out loud :)
  11. GoneRama

    GoneRama Gold Member

    That is fabulous! :)* Horses will be one sided as well. Buckskin mare I recently did some float loading with refused to yield her quarters away from me when I was on the off side but on the near side no worries. Probably similar thing to what's happening here, not necessarily muscular, just mental.

    Ground work is really really good because what you do on the ground can be carried into the saddle as well **)
  12. Little Bean

    Little Bean Well-known Member

    That's awesome **) so good to hear. Got your PM too have a good read of the LBE (ignore that read my next post :p ) because from what you've said even just in that last post I think she fits in there quite well... I have two of these! :p

    The key with them is to repeat, repeat, repeat but slow, slow, slow so they become calm and connected once you've got that the rest will seem so easy.

    Also agree that horses are left or right handed so a good side and a not so good side. Give it a few more sessions and just observe her before you worry about treatments.

    Have fun!
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
  13. Blackbat

    Blackbat Well-known Member

    It's good to think out loud, often find out that you knew the answer all along.

    It is good to do good work in the saddle, but if a horse is withdrawn and you don't know why, could you potentially be exacerbating a problem? Ie: is the withdrawal a form of mentally shutting you out to focus on other horses, is the horse sore and quietly trying to protect itself from pain, is the horse confused or intimidated by your actions and hiding in its shell trying to pretend you aren't there, is it a pressure cooker about to explode from too much conflicting information, does it think your ideas are pretty poor and is standing its ground cooking up its own agenda hoping it can out-persist you into frustration...?

    Little Bean, I'd have thought more LBI, with tendency to RBE when stressed ;)
  14. Little Bean

    Little Bean Well-known Member

    Oh dear... I have dyslexic fingers *#) that was supposed to say RBE cheers Blackbat for making me reread my post :D clearly my LBI rules my world! Thank god I only have one!

    Not sure this mare goes there maybe RBE/RBI? My LBI is very, very dominant and when there's nothing in it for her she well and truly takes over, will bite, charge, rear... great fun! Always having to be quicker than her and doing the opposite of what she expects me to do gets the most awesome "what the heck!?" looks from her.

    The two RBE's I have need slow repetition and time to process so the flight response then doesn't become the first thing they go to.
  15. retroremedy

    retroremedy Well-known Member

    I am not really a fan of horsenality, as I think it puts the blame of the response on the horse when really all they are doing is reflecting their training and OUR handling of them. Years ago I had a horse I would have labelled as a right brain extrovert until I discovered he was actually a lovely quiet gelding that I had put on edge by creeping around him and then had further done his head in by giving mixed signals to him over who was the leader...I was inconsistent, a nagger and didn't comprehend how horses learn things. Horsenalities are just a reflection of yourself, and after watching a talk by Linda Parelli this is what I gathered from the presentation...she had a great line in it, where she was talking about if someone that was having lots of trouble with a horse was to swap their horse with one of Pat Parellis well trained horses, in a week the problem horse would start to resemble one of Pats horses and the well trained horse would have started to deteriorate to resemble a problem horse.

    Personally I find it a relief that it is me, my skills and my knowledge of horses, time and patience that are key to working with a particular horse and actually not much at all to do with the horse.
  16. Jemima

    Jemima Active Member

    Interesting. I am sure I have contributed to the problems I am having currently, but it's curious that I have my other horse who is brilliant and I have not caused the same problems in her as I have with the horse of this thread. I did retrain her from the track though (SB pacer) so she didn't come to me with any previous "riding" baggage/issues whereas the problem horse I bought after her previous owner had a bad fall and was too scared to ride her anymore. Whether that makes a difference I'm not sure?
  17. retroremedy

    retroremedy Well-known Member

    It makes a big difference :). It is all about what a horse has learnt about working with humans, if they have learnt something negative you have to know how to untrain that response!
  18. Caroline

    Caroline Well-known Member

    As the old saying goes " it takes 3 minutes to create a problem in a horse and 3 months to correct it "!! Virtually all evasions, problems and behavioural issues in horses are human created.........:eek:
  19. widgelli

    widgelli Well-known Member

    Propping is a sign of bit avoidance, if it is done when you are in the saddle and by what I have read, this is just what she is doing for just a start. She doesn't trust you, and one of the main things that is needed when you are working with any horse, is trust.
    You said that she is an alpha horse, so she is not trusting you to be the alpha in her life and this is one way of letting you know this.
    When you are riding, don't use the reins as such to turn and stop her, but just firm the reins and use you legs and seat.
    In the stop, drop your weight into you saddle, and just firm you reins, not pull on them, and watch what happens. You will actually be driving your horse up onto the bit, which will make her stop, without the pull that a lot give their horses.
    To turn, lightly firm the rein on the side that you wish your horse to turn to, then, place you leg into her side and squeeze it in, while pushing with your seat.
    I hope you understand what I am trying to say with the last instruction, as I can tell you when I am standing there with you, but am finding it a bit harder to tell you on here, what I mean.
    In training any animal, trust is the main thing that they will respond to.
  20. Little Bean

    Little Bean Well-known Member

    I wouldn't say that horsenality puts the blame of the response on the horse. It does IMO help to understand why one horse will react to the same stimuli one way and another horse another way. Granted the way we handle them and the way different people raise them as youngsters all impacts on the ongoing product.

    However just like people have personality types horses do too, as do dogs, cats etc... I don't think anyone can deny that and horsenality just helps us (well at least me) give each horse a category and therefore make them easier to understand, read and work with. If I treated my RBE like I can my LBI I'd have nothing but a puff of dust where a horse once was.
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