Lee asked in PetsHorses · 6 months ago

Breaking in/Training a stubborn horse (turning/schooling)?

Okay so I bought my 3 year old in December. I backed him on February and he s been a pleasure. I ve got to the point where I can hack him out with other horses and he s obviously still learning but he s good as gold for his age. He s just about to turn 4, so I ve started taking him into an arena for him to get used to the surroundings. He s generally a bit spooky in the arena, but nothing unusual. The problem ive been having with him is he s so bloody stubborn. Mainly when it comes for me asking him to turn left or right. I ride him bitless at the moment but because of this behaviour I introduced him to a fulmur snaffle bit which helps a bit but he s still resisting a fair bit and I don t want to rip his mouth out. If I ask him to turn left or right he will throw his head up all the way, maybe pull his head in the opposite direction and stand or he ll throw his head straight down to the floor and again refuse to move. I hate pulling on him, but most horses I ve broken in myself have never had issues like this or have got over them with practise and patience. He s been doing this for months now and even though I m very patient and persistent he s just not improving. He s up to date with everything so it s nothing medical, he s just a very stubborn pony! Any friendly advice or ideas would be appreciated :)

3 Answers

  • Amber
    Lv 5
    6 months ago

    Hi, I've seen this before a LOT in youngsters and it's not pain but confusion. He sounds to me like he's not sure what he's supposed to do.

    I would put him back in the bitless

    Another thing I would do is put him out front in the hacking company. Does he still refuse left and right turns then? (If you hack him out alone and he'll turn left and right just fine then skip this step) All I want to see if: Does he understand that you want him to turn left or right or is he just following the other horses? Is this behaviour just in the arena?

    If in company he wont turn left and right in lead then you're answer is: he's confused as to what is expected of him. If he will then it's a problem in the arena.

    To fix the “he doesn't get it problem” - simply begin my long-reining him with someone at his head to guide him. Timing is critical. Apply pressure to the rein and the moment he turns his head release and praise him. To fix the “just in the arena problem”. He maybe getting bored and this encourages him to play up, he probably doesn't respect you as a leader and is trying it on with you. In this case just keep the pressure on with reins and your legs and don't give in under he takes a step in the right direction.

    It's very hard for anyone to suggest the exact problem or solution without seeing the horse and yourself perform. But it's more than often a people problem not a horse problem. Hope this helped.

    • Lee5 months agoReport

      He won't lead during a hack. He plants and refuses to move. I'm talking full on, refusal. You can have somebody on the ground to help and it does nothing. I can ask for 20 minutes and nothing. He's very stubborn. When in the middle of a hack, he will turn when I ask no prob, he knows what I'm asking

  • 6 months ago

    First off, it takes two to pull...... think about that..... You likely do not think you are but you must be.... It is not the horses fault.

    You want to establish a soft give in your horse. So, you have to offer that. I would practice something Clinton Anderson calls a "hot potato give". Look it up on YouTube. The concept is to from the ground with no saddle on -- flex your horse to the side with one rein by drawing the rein toward the hip. Hold your horses face in a deep give to the side. They should almost be touching their girth line. Hold there and what you are waiting for is for the horse to remove the tension from the rein by giving more and putting slack in the rein. The instant he gives you a give - you give it all back in a full and total release. Drop the rein as if it was a hot potato. Remember to do one side and then go the other . Right. left. right. left is correct. Not right. right. left. left.

    Next, practice positioning the horses head about 45 degrees to the side using the faintest amount of pressure from the bit. Start with the rein with a loop in it and just the thought in your head "here is where I want your head". Then tighten the rein with the barest pressure for the count of three, then increase the pressure each few seconds until you get what you want. The instant you get the position or reaction you want..... hot potato give. Drop the rein with a full and instant release. And, pause a moment to give the horse a break and something called "soak time" or "thinking time". Remember you are training a good habit and you want the horse to realize he is getting it and doing the right thing. Let him feel successful for a minute. Once you get it from the ground, proceed to mounted work at the halt, then the walk. The full-bend give maneuver when mounted is also called a one-rein stop. You can practice it from the walk or any gait. As soon as your horse stops and stays halted, release fully (I mean hold the buckle and give the horse the entire rein length).

    Release is reward. Leaving the horse alone in a full release for a half minute is the best reward. It sounds like your horse is shutting you out and shutting down. Open up the communication by being full of praise, fun, and small exercises your horse can achieve. A four year old is really just a baby with a lot to learn.

  • Anonymous
    6 months ago

    Lee, If this were my horse, the first thing I'd do before attempting to go any further with his training is to have the vet and equine DENTIST come and thoroughly examine him. Particularly the dentist, because this horse is at the age when serious dental issues often arise. The most common issue faced by horses of this age is impacted wolf teeth in the lower jaw, right next to where the bit rests. Wolf teeth in horses are like wisdom teeth in people- they are vestigial teeth from an earlier period in the horse's evolution, and they often come in crooked. In some horses, they never erupt above the gum line at all, but remain buried under it, just below the surface. If something like a bit HITS these teeth, it can cause the horse severe PAIN, resulting in head tossing and evasive behaviors like the kind you have seen with your horse.

    All young horses between 2 and 5 years of age should be examined and checked for wolf teeth prior to any training under saddle or in harness. If wolf teeth are found, they should be removed to prevent the horse from experiencing severe pain during training.

    • Lee6 months agoReport

      As mentioned in the text I've had him checked for everything, it's a behaviour issue rather than a health issue. My pony is genuinely my baby and I spare no expense when it comes to vet or medical treatment. Also he was doing this and still is when I ride him bitless

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