Florida 3 year old TWH with 30 days professional training ridden in sidepull w/bit - snaffle and western pleasure, condura saddle in round pen, arena, trails by intermediate rider.

Question:  We bought the horse at an auction and was told she was broke (30 days riding). At first she seemed fine, lead nicely and rode nicely (using a sidepull with a snaffle
mouthpiece). She suddenly started pulling away while being led (in a halter) and now we can't lead her anywhere. 

As soon as you start to lead her she does a small rear swings toward her right (away from you) and runs off. We have her in a round pen now. She seems to want to be friendly and
loving but won't be lead. We also think she is in heat right now. We don't have stallions but she seems to really like my gelding. Any suggestions on how to break up her pattern of
running off while being lead?  Also, I have heard a lot of good things about a Wonder Bit. We have one. Please explain how to set one up and to use it properly

From Panelist Laura

Have your vet check her teeth.  If the horse has been good & nothing else has changed in what you do with your horse, I would suspect that she either has wolf teeth coming in (usually erupt around 3 yrs of age) or she has developed a sharp edge or point on her teeth which is making her mouth hurt.  She may need to have her teeth floated (sharp edges filed down by your vet) and/or her wolf teeth removed.  


From Panelist Erica

First off, most horses that come from auctions will have been misrepresented and in such cases you will have to work the horse through these things. With your horse I would not worry about what you were told she "could" do, but rather work on what she CAN and DOES do. Another problem with auctions is that many of the horses that are sold as calm, gentle riding horses are actually drugged or have been "bled" in order to calm them down to get them sold. 

With your mare I would simply go back to basics as though she were a baby that has never been taught to lead. One especially good way to do this is build up her confidence in you as her handler and teach her to lead without a halter or lead on her in the round pen. You can teach her to look at you and eventually turn to you when asked to, and pretty soon having her following and working her way up to walking with you and stopping with you - turning backing, trotting, etc all loose and happily of her own accord. It is not all that difficult - just takes time. You can take a cue you prefer (I use a "kiss" sound from my lips in short spurts, kiss kiss kiss kiss - like snapping your fingers, snap snap snap snap) and cue her while she is loose and away from you in the round pen. Keep kissing until she glances your way. Next time kiss until she looks at you with a reason. Then ask her to look at you with BOTH eyes - this is important!  Keep asking her to look at you with both eyes consistently and constantly - so that when you kiss she immediately takes her eyes to you and you don't have to wait for her response. It is easiest for her if you start almost directly in front of her chest - but stay a safe distance away if she spooks or decides to move. Once she has that down 100%, move to one side a little ways and repeat. Do it on
both sides until you can stand almost directly behind her and she will turn and look at you with both eyes. 

Once she will turn to you to look at you, then ask again until she squares up to you when she turns. Always reward lavishly with warm and truly happy "GOOD GIRL!!"s.

 Now to work on her walking up to you - walk towards her, but not up to her. When you get about 30ft from her (or as close as she is comfortable further away than 30ft), stop turn around and walk away. Repeat. If you did everything previous this correctly you should have no problem with having her eventually follow you on your way away - even just one or two steps. You work on the rest in the same manner - kiss when you start walking or when you want to stop, turn, back or speed up - this in turn gives her a warning
that you are going to change something and so she needs to pay attention. 

Once you have her doing all of this with nothing on, it will be TONS easier with a halter and lead on - but be sure to lead her the same way you are working her every time or she will start to loose it. 

  I'm not familiar with a Wonder Bit - but I will say this, no bit, saddle, whip, hobble, halter, lead, tie, chain, spur, or gimmick will miraculously train your horse - only you can do that! While these things MAY help, they will never solve anything. Remember that sometimes the softest, quietest and near motionless cues and requests are those that the horse hears and understands best.

Many times mares/fillies will "show" to other mares and geldings as well. The most physical signs you can notice are "winking" of the vulva, more frequent urination with smaller amounts of urine, milky thicker urine with a stronger odor, bright pink and almost red tissue just inside the vulva, urinating towards the gelding and possibly backing up to him without intentions of aggression. Heat cycles last on average 21 days - with 5-7 of these days the mare is receptive (or will stand to be bred) to the stallion, however some mares will stand to be bred while not in heat as well as while pregnant but not all. Mares will also be in "diestrus" during the winter months when the days get shorter and the weather cooler, meaning they are unable to get pregnant during these months without the helps of artificial
lights and special drugs to help control their cycles. Many mares will also be "off" when they come into heat - ranging from lost attention spans to full out aggression to people and horses. Your mare may just be a moody mare when in heat and the best way to test this is to see how she is to handle when she is out of heat. 

Good luck!
Erica Frei

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