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cmsavage

I Want To Do It Right This Year

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Well folks, my PMU mare Jubilee is 6 this year. I've had her since shee was 4-5 months old. I think this year I need to make a decision about whether to keep her or not. Sadly, as gorgeous as she is, if I can't trust her with other riders, I feel I should pass her on to someone who can use her.

She is beautiful and I love her. THis year I want to start out right. So far I have lunged her twice (in the past week). We worked on switching sides, worked equally on both sides, did some basic refreshing of turning on hindquarters/forequarters, giving to pressure, etc and she was fabulous. I put the saddle on her today and lunged her with it and she was perfect.

I just want to be as consistent and thorough with her as I can be.

Here's what I have done with her so far, since I got her:

Trained her to lunge w/t/c over ground poles and small jumps

Have ridden her for about 3 and a half years now (started her in the fall of her 3rd year)

She goes w/t/c under saddle perfectly. Knows whoa quite well. Have ridden her on trails many many times...she goes through anything and LOVEs the trail. Hates the ring after a few minutes of work because she gets bored.

She is about 15.2-3 hands tall now and has filled out. She's definitely got a bit of draft in her. Nice solid horse. I have lost some confidence, admittedly. She is basically unflappable most of the time. I have ridden her by traffic and she's fine most of the time. When she does get scared she will usually do a little spook thing, go back a little bit and get over it. However, last summer she threw me twice and she's never done that before, so my confidence is a bit down.

Here's her ONLY real problem for me personally. She is GREAT most of the time, things will be flapping in the wind, we'll be going next to busy traffic no problem, and then all of the sudden she will spook, or dart one direction and really throw me off course. That's the reason I can't trust her with other people. My sister and mom have ridden her and everything has been ok but they are confident riders and far from beginners.

This week I feel more confident and ready to do this right than anything else. Her headset is better than it's ever been...although it goes up a bit at the trot, so I want to work that out.

Also, she is fine for tying EXCEPT for the occasional "spook" where she pulls back and has even pulled a board off the barn. Now normally she gives to pressure on her head instantly...like 100% when she's asked. To the left or to the right, down, whatever I ask she gives. But when she spooks she does not give right away and takes a second to get it through her head.

I am thinking that miles will cure her of her spook...but I intend to have it be the right type of miles and training. Should I use side reins for her head set at the trot and canter? What about the spook? When I first started riding her, she was completely unflappable...and she never spooked...she was one sweet horse. Then when she was 4,5, and now 6 she has this little spook thing going on. I am disappointed, because I adopted a PMU draft cross so that I would hopefully have a horse to rely on for beginners, to just set people on randomly, and also have a great trail horse. I got the trail horse part down, but I'm afraid I'll never be able to use her for beginners. Some horses just aren't beginner horses, but it seems like this horse is extremely quiet enough and responsive enough to be a great beginner horse EXCEPT for the occasional spook!!

In regards to what she spooks at, I can never tell. It's completely random. Most of the time it's a noise...a door slamming, someone walking on the metal roof (lol), etc.

If you have any questions feel free to ask. I am ready to do this the right way. I feel she is worth another try. I was just going to sell her, but she is quieter this year then she's been for a while so I'm going to give her another shot.

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When I think of a good beginner's horse, I generally think not only of a horse with a sterling disposition, but in it's mid teens and up and with many years of all kinds of experiences behind them.

What you are describing is a nice horse that, in ten more years, may eventually be a trustworthy beginner's horse.

Now, I have had and know of several nice and talented young horses that were very much beginner safe, but those were very rare and generally some not very athletic horses.

Those two traits, a good moving, forward, sensitive, rather athletic horse and being a plodder that will carry a beginner without overreacting can be antagonistic, especially in young horses.

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As Merry said, good beginnner horses are born not made.

That's not to say that Jubilee will never be trustworthy for beginners to ride.

Something for you to remember, is that in times of stress, horses revert to their foundation. Stress will show all the cracks and holes in the training foundation

I would worry less about head set and work on miles and staying consistent.

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Well I don't mind waiting several years...because there's plenty of people to ride, and we currently have two horses that can be used for beginners. If I can cure her of her spook she will be perfect. Honestly she is an amazing horse...smart, talented, beautiful, well built, she is the envy of many folks around us. I don't want to pass her up if she is going to turn into a solid horse.

I don't expect her to be a beginner's horse for a few years at least. I just want to do what I can this year, and in the following years, to help form her into the best horse she can be...to help her to become the horse she can be, without forcing it. The more I work with her the more my confidence will build. We are both strong personalities...she is about second down on the totem pole...only one of our horses is stronger than her. So sometimes her and I run into eachother...but I am slowly learning how to react better and to ignore that and push through it. It's not going to help anything to yell at her and get her all riled up. The workouts we've had this week have been awesome...I have stayed focused and not let her know my confidence isn't all there. When she spooked, I just redirected her attention elsewhere and before she knew it she was unspooked lol. It's better than I've done in forever. I really have hope for this year. I know she is a fabulous horse with a lot of potential to be a great all around horse.

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Hi. I wonder if you have ever done any training to specifically address the spookiness? Desensitizing, though it has kind of become a "bad" word, works if done right.

I have a gelding that got an extra dose of spookiness, too. He is much like you described your horse... very willling and sweet, athletic, likes the trail. I got a blocker tie ring and started to teach him a different reaction to his fear. That is, to stand still. I also taught him a "calm down cue." These little things have made all the difference. He will be 7 this year. My 8 year old son now rides him, and they get along great.

Just something to think about.

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If I am understanding you correctly, mostly random noises are spooking her.

If so, can you play a recording at feed time with all kinds of noises on it?

You can also make random noises yourself.

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That's very true!

I've done a lot of desensitizing with her and she's done great. I think all she needs is miles. I rode her for the first time this spring, today, and she was great. She kept pitching hissy fits in one corner of the arena but other than that she was great. The first half of the ride she was a bit tense, confused, lazy...but at the other end of the ride, she settled down and I got a very nice headset and jog from her.

What I don't like is her ears are back (not looking angry, just bored or annoyed) when I'm riding her unless something catches her attention. On the trail her ears are forward all the time and she's happy as a clam. In the ring she just isn't as happy I guess.

I am proud of her today...she picked up all my cues, even side passing and giving to the bit, and all three gaits, no problem.

Maybe there's hope afterall. Oh yeah, and she must have grown a lot over the winter because when I got up on her, I was like WOW I'm on top of the world and I'd better pray she behaves herself cause she feels HUGE!! LOL

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Your horse sounds like an introvert to me.

Horses that are introverted will generally "seem" fine with things, show no reaction, they are not really processing and accepting the new, scary thing but ignoring it and internallizing the fear while externally remaining calm. They ARE HOPING it is not after them and try to remain invisible, hence the calm, quiet acceptance on THE OUTSIDE.

INSIDE, the stuff is killing them, they know they should run but you say no so they are torn.

I would say your horse just needs more desensitization of stuff. You can tell this type horse because when you are desensitizing them they do not put their head down and sigh when they are ignoring the feared object but, instead, remain still with head level or higher and get a blank look that can be mistaken for softness. It's not softness it's blankness from fear. So, everything looks ok but really is not. This type fools even seasoned trainers at times.

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That does sound very much like her. She is much like that. I am extremely sensitive to her and almost always know when she's going to flip out. Just not the exact moment when. That's why when I hear someone walking on the roof or kicking a tin around, even though she looks fine, I know she's going to flip out after she processes it. Everyone calls me weak and fearful because I ask them to stop but I can just tell that even though she's not freaking out this moment, she's going to...if they don't stop.

However...this year's first ride was pretty good :D and I am very very proud of her.

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DON'T ask people to stop making the noise, purposly work her when the noise is being made. If she never hears it, she will never learn that its not going to kill her. Shoot, we all scramble to work our horses when someone's working the tractor, or something similar, just to give them the experience of hearing it and knowing that nothing is trying to hurt them. I worked my horse last week while they were working on one of the cupulas on the roof, just cause he threw his head up when he heard them on the roof. Put her in those situations so she learns to process them.

A friend of mine has a team of drafts that he uses for carriage rides, weddings, etc. He bought a tape online of street sounds - horns, squeeling tires, trains, etc. He blasts that thing in the barn at feed time. When he works the horses on the streets, they never flinch.

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My purpose in having horses is so those who are under priveleged or unable to have horses get to ride, brush, and learn about horses. When I was a kid I didn't get that opportunity and now I want to pass it on to as many people as possible. We're putting down our best beginner horse this fall, which means we'll have one left. We have a boarder horse who I just barely started under saddle last year. She is basically our horse and we are able to do what we want with her. After work this year I think she will be just fine for leading kids around...she's dead quiet, no buck or rear, no vices, and she's really sweet. We have another boarder that we're allowed to use and I think he's just fine for beginners. However, as neither of them is officially our horse, I'd rather be using just my horses. In a few years, we may not have those other horses available and I don't think we'll keep Pet around too much longer either.

So yeah...if at all possible I want to be able to give other people the chance to ride and be around horses.

I will try to push through people doing stuff. Understand that my confidence is a bit low so sometimes it's easier to just stop her, and stop them, then wait till she's calmed down and then continue. But I will do what I can. I do want to do this the right way.

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