Tag Archives: problem horse

Young filly busts through fences to get to lead mare

Question from New Zealand: I have been working through your site for answers to a lot of questions  :-)  and have found it invaluable as I work with my wild caught mare who is now 7 yrs old.  She was only broken in at 5 and then we just got her home and a couple of months later she broke her foot.  So after a year out with that I’m starting her all over again. She was trained by Trisha Wren who’s methods are similar to your own.

BUT the issue is with her little paddock mate.  A warmblood 3yr old, almost 4yr filly (Pipsqueak) who each time I take Charity away from her gallops and bucks around her paddock.  The last time she wasn’t even out of site but took off around her paddock and chest crashed a gate twice.  The 3rd time she knocked it off it’s hinges.  Very luck for us she didn’t cut herself but it must have bruised. Many times I thought she was going to jump the gate. Now she hasn’t always been like this.
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My Horse Changes Direction With NO Warning!

Question: Hi April, I have a quarter horse that is 7 years old (gelding) that walks, trots and canters. Turns on the forehand, sidepasses.  For the last 4 weeks he has been doing the strangest direction change at a canter.  He will all of sudden decides he doesn’t want to go that way and will change without any notice.  Only tends to do it in one direction.  He also has started around the same time running into the corners of the arena. We have no idea why he is doing this.  I have started lunging him more then usual since this began and he is fine when I do it. I walk with him up and down the center of the arena when lunging and he doesn’t do the sudden change at all. But as soon as I ride him he does it.  I have tried putting alot of leg on him at the same point in the arena and pulled on the rein but he manages somehow to do it anyway.  There is no other reasons we can think of why he has started this. He does it with our trainer as well.  I was wondering if there is anything else we can do to control this sudden turns and running into the corner. Thank you.

Answer from April Reeves: Hi Cindy, That is one of the strangest things I have ever heard, but I may have an explanation.
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My horse throws his shoulder: How can I fix this?

Question: My horse keeps throwing her shoulder and I was wondering if there was some thing I can do to prevent it and because she does this it makes it hard to get her to turn easily without trying to go the other way.

Answer from April Reeves: Getting the shoulder from dropping is a task that requires a great deal of sensitivity and timing. I will walk you through it and you can take it as you feel comfortable.

As with any gait problems we’ll start at the walk:

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Arabian gelding has serious anxiety issues

Question: I have a 10 year old arab that I’ve switched from the Arab circuit to eventing. I bought him as a 5 yr old and did Arab shows for a couple years. He’s a gorgeous horse and an amazing mover, but has a really hard time keeping himself under control. He is always a happy horse, with ears pinned forward. My problem with him is when we get to shows he gets so excited that he literally can’t contain himself. He ends up rearing/jumping/bucking nonstop. I’ve had a chiropractor out, a vet out, and he has no issues with back or saddle fitting. If I take him to school at a place, he’s a pretty good boy. He just really feeds off the commotion of the show. Eventing has been better, he loves to jump and does great on cross country and stadium. But dressage is the first phase and he usually rears and leaps through our test. I’ve tried lunging him for an hour before, and he just gets more excited. We generally get there the night before and that hasn’t made a difference either.
If you have any suggestions on how to get him to calm down, please let me know!!!! He has amazing talent, but he is just like a child with ADHD.
Thanks! Stefanie

Answer from April Reeves: Arabians are one of my favorite breeds: they are highly sensitive and intelligent, and learn fast. And they’re just incredibly beautiful as well.

They also can get a little out of control, which always brings me back to groundwork. An Arabian can never have enough groundwork. It’s great for their minds and they catch on to it faster than many breeds.

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Horse Rescue: What it really means

I was asked to help rescue a horse and her foal yesterday. I don’t usually do this as I hate having to fix my trailer afterward, but something compelled me to do this one.

We drove to this large farm and a rolling field with 11 mares: most with foals and back in foal. The stallion ran wild with them: a no-so-great quarter horse with a nasty chunk of hide off his back leg (exposed and proud fleshed) with nice side profile but on the weedy side. No papers (as usual) and breeding mares of almost every breed other than quarter horse.

Also, as usual, a group of drug addicted men were there to shout and scream to get the horses to “obey”. This is why I don’t usually do this: just want to tie them all up and duct tape their mouths. I soon discovered, all the horses were completely wild: I don’t imagine many of them had been handled in over a decade, and most never touched by a human at all. Their feet were unbelievable.

My friend was after an Arabian cross mare and her colt. After a closer look, once we “softly” moved them into a smaller corral, I noticed the Arabian cross was broken down in the back pastern area, and my friend wanted her to pleasure ride into the hills for several days. Not a good choice.

There were 2 big mares: dark bays with 4 white legs. One had foaled that previous night, and her placenta was not fully discarded. The owners of these horses (son of the father) didn’t seem to understand the consequences of this. I suggested to my friend to get to like bays really quick, because the one mare not yet foaled was stunning. It was later revealed she was half hackney.

We tried to connect with the Arabian cross: this mare and colt were completely wild, and any movement too fast would have sent her over a fence. Since we had to use a chute to move them into the trailer, I didn’t want any part of this, so we abandoned this mare. My friend decided to work with the hackney mare and her unborn foal. She was lovely: ate a few apples from our hands and softly moved towards the trailer and hopped on.

It’s a sign: this mare was meant to be. She free hauled home with no sweating or screaming. I have always said: the right thing is often the easiest. We are not meant to struggle: it’s the Universe’s way of saying we are on the right path. I use this motto in all my training as well.

Today though, I am paying the price of horse rescue: my heart can’t handle this well. As I write this, the other mares and their babies are going to slaughter in a huge truck to Saskatchewan. The bigger hackney mom will likely not survive the trip: her placenta will infect and eventually kill her, and it’s quick. Her newborn will not survive the trip. The other new foals will be crushed in travel.

Why do we do this to horses? Why do we neglect and treat them this way? These are questions I will likely never answer: I often lose faith in mankind. The two words: man and kind do not always blend well on this planet.

When you receive this post in your email, those horses will have their fates sealed. Take a moment in silence and say goodbye. One of them is alive and well, and galloping with 2 other very special mares. She was worth rescuing.

I would do it again.

Is there hope for a 3-year-old mare with her flighty nature and inability to learn?

Question: Hello, I have been training horses since I was 12. I’m no expert by any means and have lots to learn.

But as of right now I am currently working with a 3 year old quarter horse. She is the most nervous insecure horse I have ever worked with. Her previous owner told me they had started her under the saddle already and she had accepted it, which I found through further training was a lie. I have been constantly working with her since October and am hardly moving forward. I started right from scratch with basic halter training. Now, I have ridden her only because I was pushed into it by her owner. I stopped because I felt she was not ready, every time I sack her out its like its all new to her. I have used many objects such as a bag on a whip, a cowboy hat, a blanket, just a plain stick, and she still flips each time I bring out an object. Even if it was an object she has previously seen! She is having major difficulties with switching eye to eye. And frankly I am running out of ideas. I’m not sure if I should just move on and ride her in hopes I can work it out of her on her back.
Answer from April Reeves: I have run across a mare like this. You may have to back off from using objects to desensitize her as it makes them worse.

Where this problem originated was back in her history somewhere. Owners never tell you the whole story. It’s up to you to assume the worst and work from there. People can really ruin a young horse.

This mare will take a great deal of consistent gentle handling. Get rid of bags on the end of whips and other cool toys that work on other horses. With this mare, you will be doing basic work. But it’s not the work you are doing, it is HOW you will carry out this work.
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My well-trained hunter has suddenly taken to bucking fits and aggressive behavior and is becoming dangerous.

Question: I have a 7 year old Appendix, who is in full show hunter training, and he is a fantastic hunter, but he has one major issue. He is a fairly dominant gelding and when another horse, no matter gender or size, passes him or gets too close (in either direction, although the same direction is worse) he bucks. I don’t mean like a baby or one time buck. It is a full bucking fit around the arena. The last time he bucked, it was because a pony passed him and he took 5 minutes of pure 4 feet of the ground bucking, and a run in with the fence to stop. He did NOT do this when I first bought and showed him. It started in June 2008 and that was 6 full months after I purchased him. My trainer and I have exhausted all of our options, and cannot find an answer as to why this started nor can we find a solution. We also thought it was me for a while, but I have been evaluated by a mental coach and my nerves are not the cause, they are a reaction to his bucking fits. Can you help?

Answer from April Reeves: I need a bit more information. What are the options you have exhausted? That way I won’t need to go over them again. Have you done any groundwork and if so what did you do? This is an easy fix but it will require time and probably someone with a different skill set. I will wait for your reply before suggesting a solution.

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