Working Down PLEASE HELP

Discussion in 'Problem Horses' started by Phoebepony, Apr 29, 2011.

  1. Phoebepony

    Phoebepony Well-known Member

    So have recently purchased the 'perfect' bargain horse. He is everything I've been after- beautifully put together, work stunningly, good history in competition, a lovely natured boy, floats beautifully ETC ETC ETC ETC!!


    As his old owner truthfully told us, he needs working down at shows. I've got no problem with what he actually does, just runs backwards and jacks up a bit- nothing I can't deal with.
    I've only taken him out once so far (had him for about 2 weeks), where he did exactly that. I then put him in the round yard as I was struggling to work through it and hadn't (stupidly) brought a lunge rope. He then proceeded to work himself for about an hour and a quarter. Trotting in a perfect circle, changing directions occasionally. On and on and on. Tried to stop him a few times but simply went backwards when I tried to get on. When he'd eventually sorted himself out I hopped on and he was brilliant in our lesson and Sharon was very impressed with him- "bargain of the century".

    Apparently he used to be lunged to death at shows (when he was owned by a big time hackie over east). So what do people do to solve this kind of issue? Any advice?
    I'm worried. I love riding him and he's so quiet hes near asleep when we're at home or some where hes been before.

    PLEASE HELP! :D thank you in advance.
  2. Go the Distance

    Go the Distance Well-known Member

    He is obviously a horse that needs a routine to go through before concentrating on work. Change his routine to being worked on a twelve foot rope and do ground work with him. Do this at home religiously before you get on him for ten mintues each time you go to ride. Make him do some changes of direction, back up, come forward, yield etc. Then ride him.

    When you go to your show repeat this process so that you get his head in order. This has nothing to do with him physically it is all about in his head. I know I am the same I need a cup of coffee and a read of Horse Deals for ten minutes in the tea room before my one of my horrendous shifts start. I am feeling his pain:D.
  3. Cornflower

    Cornflower Well-known Member

    I'd say he's extremely fit! Lol. This is what you get when you have a horse who is "lunged to death at shows". You get an exceptionally fit horse who's a mental case! Poor thing.
    Instead of dealing with the anxiety and fear and excitement, people run their horses around until they're too tired to be scared anymore. Does it work? No. But it's a simple quick fix, which we all love! (sarcasm intended on last comment).

    This is not your fault, and i sound like something that will take a long time to get him out of, if it's even possible. He's used to it by now. It's a routine, and he knows what's coming when he goes out. It's probably also become his own way of dealing with anything he might be feeling when going out.

    I don't honestly know, but i would go right back to basics, and start again.
    Feed firstly. Decrease sugar, starch and carbos, and increase fiber. Meaning, lots of hay, nothing coated in molassas or feeds full or pollard. Might be best to limit grains for the time being. Stuff like Speedibeat is great.
    Using oil instead of grain and sugar for energy.
    I would also maybe start to dial back his fitness a little, so he's got less 'energy to burn', so to speak.
    I say this without knowing whether you compete on him or not, you may need a very fit horse, i dunno.

    Then i'd start with groundwork, and building a relationship, trust. Yep, when i said 'back to basics', i meant it. Especially since you say you've only just got him.
    You need to show him you're not like the rest and you can guide him through any negative feelings he might be having without resorting to running him around.
    Which, by the way, is actually not good for their joints, muscles etc. Horse running around on the end of a rope in a small circle (or in a lunge yard) is not quality exercise and only serves to make them sore and tired.

    I think he would benefit from some ongoing body work too. Massage, bowen, chiro, whatever. Multiple sessions.

    I also think you need some help from a trainer that will work with you. You need someone there in the moment to help.
    When you take him somewhere, just go there without wanting to do anything with him. Go there and just walk him around, and do some groundwork, and that's it.
    He needs to start thinking out going out as pleasant, as fun.
    This is why i say a trainer. So they can come with you on these outings, and help you through.

    As to whether you can solve it or not...i dunno. It depends on how bad he is, how long it's been going on for, and how committed both you and he are.
  4. NiccyLovesK

    NiccyLovesK Well-known Member

    Basically what Cornflower said, very well put **)

    Possibly look into a trainer, or somebody who can possibly help you a little even in the beginning to ease this. But he is used to it now, so I would probably ease off on comps for a bit, build a bond with him properly, and like GTD said, develop a routine you never move out of, so he might start to realise this is what is expected of him at shows, if you have another horse to compete with, take him along, just ride him in the routine, and hopefully build up to actually competing.

    You may say it is nothing you can't deal with but who knows where it might lead. At least the owner is truthful.

    All the best of luck, sounds a bit tricky!
  5. jodie

    jodie Well-known Member

    Take him to shows, friends place etc. Give him a feed, hand walk him around then go home again. Do this as much as you need until he is relaxed. Then sometimes hop on and have a walk around fir 5-10min then home again. Once he is settled start aiming to compete. This may take 6-12months but will be well worth the effort!
  6. Cassy Horse

    Cassy Horse Well-known Member

    From the sounds of it, if he just took himself off into his own little world and lunged himself for over an hour, he obviously thinks that's his little routine and is used to it. However doing this consistently at every show will be like Cornflower said, he'll be bloody fit!! My old galloway that I bought from East had had exactly the same treatment and was so set in her ways that we just did what we were told and lunged her - unfortunately though she was very fit and just switched off, so when it came to riding time, she was still a little firecracker!! You really do need to get inside the horse's head, make them focus on you instead of being carried away in the show environment. Groundwork like Steve Brady definitely helps. A lot of TB's however do run on nervous tension so what Steve recommended for mine was a lot of changes of direction etc etc to kick the brain back in. Definitely easier said than done :)

    PS I'm no expert though, hopefully you asked your instructor what she thought about the lungeing part and how to fix it!
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2011
  7. Leon

    Leon Well-known Member

    Exactly what I would do Jodie**)
  8. Freestyle

    Freestyle Well-known Member

    i agree with the others- you need to give him a new routine and that might take a while and lots of patience. I would establish a warm up that you can do everytime you ride. 10 mins ground work then an exercise that gets your horse thinking. One i have used with a similar horse is 10 m circle, change the rein then 10m circle and continue so you have a long line of circles. Remember to stay off his mouth, only using the inside rein for direction as required, then give. This exercise can be done in walk and trot and encourage him to lower his head.

    Whatever exercises you choose just remember that repetition is the key.
  9. Sallie

    Sallie Well-known Member

    I am sure your "Bargin Horse" was a bargin due to his issue he has about being worked down for so long when out and will be pretty much the same for the rest of his life or he would not have been a bargin to buy.

    Good luck
  10. Que Sera Sera

    Que Sera Sera Well-known Member

    I never have gotten the whole lunge the horse if it's being silly. I always thought it was just to tire them out, not to get them actually listening to you.

    I do 5 minutes of ground work before riding and it's amazing how quickly we get into constructive work if I do it, otherwise it takes a good 15 minutes under saddle if I dont do groundwork first.

    It's just simple stuff, back up, turn on the forehand, yielding, and forward then halt on both sides. It gets his head into listening to me.
    Last edited: May 1, 2011
  11. wattle6180

    wattle6180 Gold Member

    One does wonder why a "top Hackie from Overeast" would sell their horse at a bargain price to WA :}

    I'm glad at least that the old Owners can sleep well at night knowing they were 'honest'
  12. GoneRama

    GoneRama Gold Member

    Yeah I don't get the whole lunging thing either. It just makes them fitter so gradually, as the season goes on, the horse gets fitter and fitter and fitter and your working down times get longer and longer and longer until eventually you're riding the horse the 50kms to the show venue for 5 minutes in the ring!

    For me I wouldn't be doing endless circles but doing something to snap his attention back to you. With endless lunging he can tune out and just trot trot trot around (getting fitter!). If you do something such as asking him to disengage his hind quarters on the ground to bring his attention back to you when he's starting to be a prat THEN you might get somewhere. Pretty much what QSS said.
  13. Que Sera Sera

    Que Sera Sera Well-known Member

    Oops missed a word. Meant to say when I DON'T do groundwork it takes 15 under saddle.

    It doesn't stop him from being a complete twat. When the float comes out we have a tough time. If he could give me the one finger salute the, he would LOL. His attention is certainly on me, but not the submissive attention! But under saddle he is a doddle to bring his attention back.
  14. Cassy Horse

    Cassy Horse Well-known Member

    I think more likely case scenario, top hackie sold horse to WA for $$$$ and then old owners may have realised getting to a show v early to lunge the horse was too much hard work

    If it really is embedded in the horses brain, might be an idea to get a trainer to take him to a few shows, that way your emotions won't get in the way and the trainer will be able to assess and help you out with solutions ';'
    Last edited: May 1, 2011
  15. needanswers

    needanswers Well-known Member

    I also own a hack who needs some down time out at shows. I've found that taking him for a nice big walk around the place on the ground looking at anything a bit scary etc... and then a 10 min lunge just before riding has worked a treat (5min each way). I do a lot of transitions rather than just let him gallop around for 10 minutes at the end of a rope. I'll ask him to halt, walk, halt, trot a circle, halt etc.. It has helped.

    It sounds like this horse has his own schedule by now and you might not be able to do anything about it but I think it's always a good idea to experiment and hope to find something more humane for him.

    Best of luck.
  16. Diana

    Diana Gold Member

    I just love how everyone starts judging the OP once a couple of people have given some useful ideas...

    There's helping...then there's little bitey comments.
  17. needanswers

    needanswers Well-known Member

    I don't see this problem as a 'show stopper' mind the pun. If he needs this time so be it. I'd rather deal with this problem then a horse who has the vice of biting, bucking, kicking, won't float, can't stand to be washed or plaited etc....
  18. cobbie

    cobbie Gold Member

    Totally agree, I know the original poster personally and I can tell you some of those with not so helpful comments are way off track ;)

    Good luck with him E, i'm sure you'll work through it in time :D
  19. Go the Distance

    Go the Distance Well-known Member

    Give him a go guys with a new routine and some great supportive TLC from the OP as far as reassuring him and encouraging him to relax, he will settle and improve. It will just take time and patience that is all. Changing an ingrained habit is very difficult for a horse and they need compassion to do so. Good on you Phoebepony for giving him a chance.
  20. Phoebepony

    Phoebepony Well-known Member

    Thanks guys...

    I guess it will just take time time time! And big doses of patience. I think I'll do some S Brady type ground work clinics with him and lots of little outings. I wonder what it is that makes them go a little troppo *#)*#)*#)... the travel, the other horses, the landscape, everything! I suppose its individual for each horse.

    Once we got into the lesson we were doing lots of yielding, lots of 10m circles, lots of changes of direction to get his brain working a bit harder. I was also riding better in the lesson (as you do ! )

    Aaaand ps.

    Cassy & Tara are quite correct. He was sold for serious money over here but then his old owner wanted something to hop on and ride at shows, which he isn't. Her situation forced her to get rid of him. He's a beautifully educated fellow, obviously just has some issues with being out and about (and was in true paddock condition).

    Thank you :D

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