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Discuss Clingy + spooky mare = disaster! Please help at the Horse Training forum - Horse Forums.

I know there are a lot of posts on this topic, which I follow, but ...
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    Question Clingy + spooky mare = disaster! Please help

    I know there are a lot of posts on this topic, which I follow, but so far all of the recommendations haven't worked for my mare. She is an OTTB that I got in September who is very rude on the ground. When I first brought her home, she'd bump you with her head, spook on top of me, and pulled back when she felt any resistance. Ironically (and I'm not sure how) she is VERY responsive under saddle. However, until I get her ground work down, I have been doing only light riding, as I know its going to translate into riding at some point.

    The good news is, I've gotten her to calm down significantly: no more pull backs, no more bonking me with her head, etc. However, I am having trouble with ground exercises. For example, trying to get her to yield her hindquarters, move out from me, or do semi-circles. It seems that anytime I ask for any movement, she immediately leaps on top of me, as if for security. I have used a nylon halter with padding as well as a rope halter. She responds better to the rope halter and has feather light responses to pressure (such as backing, leading, etc) but obviously when I'm sending her OUT pressure isn't helpful. I also use a dressage crop. The crop is not really a deterrent, though, when she's making a bee-line for my face. Unless I continue to tap her with the crop in the chest while I am working with her, she constantly moves into my shoulder when I ask for movement. She's doing a lot better yielding her hindquarters, but if I ask for half-circles around me or even a full circle, she tries to move around me with her head near my shoulder. She free lunges really well, just by pointing and voice commands, but for some reason, sending her off in hand is difficult. I want to be sure I have this foundation down as its always wise in the case of an emergency.

    I've tried holding my hand up while working her so I can bat her away, but there has to be something I'm not doing right. Any recommendations? I've been feeding her some weight builder, as she lost weight from our move due to stress, but she doesn't seem to have become hot from it. I also feed her Nutrena SafeChoice, which has beet pulp and other great fiber.

    Sorry for the 'common' thread, but I really am stumped. I've been working with horses for over 15 years, from foals to professionally trained horses, but the threshold for pressure on this mare is SO sensitive. If I do more than tap with the crop, she goes berserk and reacts like a h3llcat! Anything less and she ignores it.

    Thank you for any replies or suggestions.
    "It is a privilege to ride. It is a responsibility to ride correctly." -Cherry Hill

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    The mare sounds like she has a few things going on. First, it appears from your posts that she has some confidence issues. I would not go too much deeper into the training until her basics are solid. This lack of basics usually causes more confidence issues.

    Teaching her to ground drive does a lot to teach her independent movement (this means not leaning on you for support), and really helps with the bare bone basics:

    moving independently of a leader
    learning to steer
    learning brakes
    and you can use the lines to help teach her to move her hind end over.

    Without this foundation any riding you do is not going to address the problem. Also, dump the whip, it's not helping you or her and it's causing her to over react.

    I really think you get her to ground drive properly and to get her basics under her, the rest will work itself out.

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    Get yourself Clinton Anderson's book or DVD's on Groundwork. Not every horse responds easily to suggestion. Some horses take a more forceful cue, in the end, before they get it. You do as little as possible, always, as your first cue, then escalate that up to 'whatever it takes" to get the response you want, then DROP IT, RELAX and look away.



    [QUOTE=Outrider;7441522]In this day and age we have WAY too many people, WAY too sensitive about WAY too many things and taking something that only deserves a "ho hum" response as a slight against themselves personally. [/QUOTE]

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    Senior Member Gizimomo86's Avatar
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    The 2 trouble makers I have when I bring in do this. I back them up, then walk into them to move their shoulders away from me then walk off the other direction. Keep her mind busy. But also be prepared that when she does come into you, step aside, and put her in a few circles.

    ...if that doesnt work...a few come to jesus meetings may be in order to let her know whos boss....

    and I do agree with the ground driving. Main concern would be safety. Keep driving her forward and let her know that stopping and backing up isnt an option.
    Quote Originally Posted by manesntails View Post
    So what do you do it your gerbil misbehaves? Put him on his wheel for a good round penning?
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    Great, thanks. I bought some driving lines and have considered using them. I also do have Clinton Anderson's DVD's, but its more finding that threshold of her ignoring my cues and then overreacting to my cues. I think its going to just take repetition to get her used to everything. Thanks!
    "It is a privilege to ride. It is a responsibility to ride correctly." -Cherry Hill

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    Quote Originally Posted by Allkian View Post
    Great, thanks. I bought some driving lines and have considered using them. I also do have Clinton Anderson's DVD's, but its more finding that threshold of her ignoring my cues and then overreacting to my cues. I think its going to just take repetition to get her used to everything. Thanks!
    Yes, You have to be able to read the horse and know just how much is enough, and how much is too much. Each horse is different and it can be quite challenging learning how much to do and how quickly to shut yourself down when they START to comply.



    [QUOTE=Outrider;7441522]In this day and age we have WAY too many people, WAY too sensitive about WAY too many things and taking something that only deserves a "ho hum" response as a slight against themselves personally. [/QUOTE]

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    Full Member SabinoOvero's Avatar
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    I had the same problem with my boy. He was untouched when I got him and once I gained his trust he seemed to think he needed to be on top of me to feel safe. I tried to teach him to lunge and everytime I'd send him out he'd run me over getting back to me. So what I did was lead him in a large circle walking sort of facing him, the way you would when you lunge. I'd slowly let out a bit more line at a time, some days I didn't get more than half a leadlines length away from him, but it took lots of time. On bad days I'd have someone walk on the opposite side of him (on the outer edge of the circle) for a bit of extra security. It took a few months, but now he lunges beautifully and it takes nothing but a lifted hand toward his hindquarters to move him out. Just go slow with her and be consistent. Hope you can figure it out. Also, I agree that ground driving is a great way to teach her and build her confidence!
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    check out Parelli its a great program for any type of riding that boosts confidence in the horse and rider

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    Quote Originally Posted by SabinoOvero View Post
    I had the same problem with my boy. He was untouched when I got him and once I gained his trust he seemed to think he needed to be on top of me to feel safe. I tried to teach him to lunge and everytime I'd send him out he'd run me over getting back to me. So what I did was lead him in a large circle walking sort of facing him, the way you would when you lunge. I'd slowly let out a bit more line at a time, some days I didn't get more than half a leadlines length away from him, but it took lots of time. On bad days I'd have someone walk on the opposite side of him (on the outer edge of the circle) for a bit of extra security. It took a few months, but now he lunges beautifully and it takes nothing but a lifted hand toward his hindquarters to move him out. Just go slow with her and be consistent. Hope you can figure it out. Also, I agree that ground driving is a great way to teach her and build her confidence!

    Thanks! Interestingly enough, if I send her out to lunge, she will move out and away, its more trying to get her to yield, side pass, etc. on the ground that she gets jumpy. She lunges by vocal commands and pointing, but its getting control of her when she is on the lead and not on the lunge.

    Thanks though! I think that circles will help, regardless. =)
    "It is a privilege to ride. It is a responsibility to ride correctly." -Cherry Hill

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    Quote Originally Posted by blueyes View Post
    check out Parelli its a great program for any type of riding that boosts confidence in the horse and rider
    Thanks! I actually follow a couple of trainers including Parelli, Craig Cameron, Clinton Anderson, and even Ryan Gingerich when I'm in the mood. Anything specific that he does that I should look into?
    "It is a privilege to ride. It is a responsibility to ride correctly." -Cherry Hill

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