Missouri 7 year old Tennessee Walker with Professional Training. Ridden in halter/bridle combo with a mild port curb bit and western in round pen by intermediate beginner.
 

Question: This will be long. For that, I am apologize. I bought my TWH in March. For four weeks, he was the perfect trail horse. He did anything I asked. I rode him everyday for almost 3 weeks, usually with the same people and horses. One Saturday, we went out with the usual crowd, plus two horses that were trailered in. Everything started out fine, that day. My gelding was good, as usual. Somewhere on the trail, he got separated from the horses he knew and behind the strange horses. After that, he just had to keep up. I should say that the ride got to be fast paced. Not my idea but I couldn't get the leader to slow down. When we were almost home, my horse tripped and almost went down. He
caught himself but I ended up hanging onto his neck. The only thing I could do was bail off because the leader showed no sign of slowing up. 

I did catch my horse and calmed him down. But instead of walking back to the barn, the leader of our group took off at a fast gait and all I could do was keep my horse from running. Two days later, I went out again on a short ride. All my horse wanted to do was keep up with the other horse. The next time we went out, I made my horse take the lead, hoping to slow him down. He did just fine until we came to the woods then he bucked. I kept his head up but, I think in doing so, pulled to much on his mouth and he reared. Ever since, I have been trying to figure out what to do next. I haven't been on him except for in the round pen and not on trails since May. I don't think there is anything really wrong with him. I know he's barn/buddy sour also part of the problem was me. Also, he and I didn't
have a chance to really get to trust each other. My friend that I ride with says to sell him but I really think that this can be fixed. I just don't know how. I can't afford a trainer so I have to do this myself. 

A little history on him. He was bred to be a show horse in Tennessee. His training started at the age of two but because of inconsistencies, he was never shown. The reason being he bucked and reared before settling down to work. He was sold at age four. I've not been able to find out anything else about him.

I handle him every chance I get. He's got a sweet disposition, very people oriented and friendly. There were several times with me that he could have reared under protest but didn't. Can you help me and Cash? 



From Panelist Steve

This is a very common story. You are to be commended for trying to find a solution. Cash is fortunate to have you as an owner.

First, some background. TWH show horses are rarely trained in any commonly  understood meaning of the word. As long as the horse tolerates the rider and can go around a ring, that is all the time and effort most TWH show people are interested in investing. Their focus is on performance, not manners 

What is happening with Cash is that this lack of foundational training is now becoming apparent when he is with other horses. Up until this time, riding alone, you were his "herd" and he went along with the flow. Walkers are notorious for doing this...fooling the owner into thinking they are dead broke. Actually, all they are doing is going along with the flow. Something eventually comes along...a cow, another horse, a car, a big fly on their butt, and the truth becomes apparent. 

Since you can't afford to have the horse restarted, I suggest you do it yourself by applying Pat Parelli or John Lyons training when not with the other horses. Also, keep riding him as often as you can, by himself and with other horses. He probably has never ridden with other horses. The more you ride with them, the more the novelty of it will wear off.

I don't like horses that rear but I doubt it will be a chronic problem with Cash if you do as I suggest. 

Stephen B. Chasko



From Panelist Liz

Hi,

This sounds like a horse that may have gone back to an old habit that he used to do when he lost trust , confidence or felt pain.

This could take a lot of time to fix as do many horse problems. It seems in most cases it takes longer to fix than make them. It sounds like it can be fixed, but only if from the fixing point on the horse is ridden by someone that can handle him and instill confidence to
respect and listen to commands and signals given, not give it to an old survival action.
I still recommend that you get a person to help you with this. You may just have to pay someone that is knowledgeable to do it.  I would also stay with the right crown while riding. Know where you are and who you are with and their riding habits.

Elizabeth



From Panelist Bob

Sounds to me like you have a combination of problems. Mainly a horse that has never been taught to be rated, and VERY inconsiderate riding companions! The horse can be retrained to work at a consistent speed in the round pen. He also can be taught "doubling", (a simple 1 reined reversal of direction for a few steps) in the round pen as well. Doubling  gets their mind off of what they were doing and back on you. We were sent a very herd bound/barn sour horse a while back. We took him out by himself and when he got a little way away and wanted to return I turnsd him back a step and immediatly turned him back in the direction I wanted to go. No yelling, no whipping, no spurring, I just talked quietly to him and kept turning him back in the direction I wanted him to go. He soon figured out that it was easier to leave the barn than it was to spend time turning, and turning, and turning. 

My "secret" to horse training is to make the desired behavior easy and the undesired 
behavior more difficult. I have found that many gaited horses don't work well in halter/bridle combos that have snaps. The snaps rattle and bang on the bit and tend to stop the headshake.  I have a mare that if you put reins with snaps on her she will shake her head violently side to side, root and pull on the bit, and generally be a total pain to ride. Remove the snaps and she is happy again. She does nearly the same thing if I try to use a chain curb strap on her and goes right back to normal with a wide soft leather curb strap. If you want to try this on yourself at home take a round metal object (like a tire guage) 
and while holding it lightly in your mouth, like a bit, tap on it lightly with a nail!

I have never found a good way to retrain inconsiderate people!
Bob Blackwell
 
 
 
 

Back to main page
Ask a Trainer