Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Horse Who Does Not Behave

I have a problem with a 15 year old horse. Whenever he is in his box and he sees a person near him , he flattens his ears and tries to bite, but when a person stands about 2 meters away from him, he looks normal and sometimes kicks his stall door as if he wanted to get out. And when he is groomed or saddled he flattens his ears and tries to bite and sometimes starts walking around in his box.

It is as if he doesn't want to have anything to do with training or people. When people saddle him and have one leg in the stirrup he starts walking and wont stop until they have somehow mounted him and made him stop. Also when riding, he often doesn't turn where the person riding wanted him to turn and rarely stops when they need him to stop. He just keeps going in the direction he chooses and at the pace he chooses, no matter what they do.It seems like soft commands don't work on that horse. And when they try to ride him at gallop in the field away from the stalls, he doesn't gallop but trots, and when he has had enough, he stops suddenly and makes a turn on his back legs and starts galloping at full speed towards the stables, and they can barely turn him enough so that he wouldn't run over other people or hit the fences, even when the rider changes his seat position.The horse doesn't obey the reins at all, and completely ignores any leg commands. And while he is galloping towards the stables he makes sudden stops and turns, so people often loose their stirrups.

They rarely use a whip on him, because he starts acting up. He doesn't start running around crazily because just because he is scared, he just wants to stop the training. While he is running he sometimes starts wheezing but still doesn't stop.
Sometimes at the beginning of the lesson he acts normally, but that's only until he has to move faster. The lessons are not longer than 1.5 hours, and the riders who ride him have been horse back riding for 3 years or more.

Please help. S

Hello S,

This poor horse has some problems, obviously. Thank you for caring enough to write in. Since he is 15, I am assuming that at some point he had had fairly correct training.You do not say how long you have had him, or if this behavior happened gradually.

It is behavioral problems, obviously, and he is laying back his ears and does not want anything to do with people because even with the best intentions, people have caused him discomfort and pain. He is a prey animal, and flight or fight are his only defenses and we have taken away flight most of the time.

Have a veterinarian come and maybe also a chiropractor and determine if he is in pain.Is his back sore? Does the saddle fit? How are his teeth? Are you using a bit? Maybe you should switch to a Bitless bridle. No galloping and no whips! You need to re-school him and it has to start from the ground. Work in an enclosed area. Study the methods of Linda Tellington Jones. Be careful of "natural horsemanship" trainers. As this movement has gained in popularity, so have the number of people who say they do it well and actually approach horses in a cookie-cutter manner...same methods for every horse.

Three years riding experience is not enough time to deal with a troubled horse like this. Read Dr. Temple Grandin's chapters on horses in her books. Go to his stall and do not expect anything from him. Keep your energy low and accepting. Offer him treats. He needs some time just to have people come to him and stroke him and grass feed him on a line and feed him treats and not ask anything else from him until it is determined if he is in pain. Think about when you have intense pain..even a bad toothache. That is all you can think about.

Be careful of people who put labels on horses, i.e. stupid, mean, etc. It is YOUR responsibility or the responsibility of the trainer to find out how to HELP him... not force him.

I again recommend the T.E.A.M. method, starting with leading exercises. Check out my web site, I have some articles, and feel free to write again. Think of this as an opportunity to learn and to help out a horse.