Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training/naughty mare
Hi, ive had my pony for 2 years now, when we first brought her she hadnt been ridden in 4 years due to having a foal. me and my sister brought her as a project pony and we were doing pretty well with her she was always stubbon and bucked a few times but we were getting somewhere with her. we moved yards about a year ago and we didnt ride her for a week and a half so she could settle in to the new place when we rode her she was abit naughty but not to bad. a week later she came in really really lame and was on box rest for 8 months. now that her foot is fully better we have tried to get back on her, every time someone gets on her she will buck and try to get them off. i have tried lunging her and then getting on but i would really like some advise and help.
many thanks, Leah.
You mentioned that the pony was purchased as a project for you and your sister...how much experience do you both have with disrespectful horses, and horses in general? Also, I'm wondering why the pony went 4 years without being ridden. Even if she had a foal, she is able to be ridden once that baby is weaned, unless she was being used as a broodmare for 4 years. It sounds like you will really need to work on gaining her respect again, as well as teaching her to respect you again. I would spend a lot of time re-establishing a foundation of respect with her, so that she can begin to understand that YOU are in charge, not her.
Here are some things that I have to consider....
1. Your pony had not been ridden for 4 years due to a foal. What did she do in the mean time? After about 6-7 months of pregnancy (sometimes 8 months), a mare will be off work until she's had her baby, and until that baby is weaned. If she only had the one foal, was she just sitting, or out to pasture but never ridden? I ask this because even if she's out to pasture all that time, she will have lost muscle mass because she's not using them for much. This can cause behavioral issues when you are trying to ride your pony because she's not fit enough for it.
2. I understand that with a hoof issue, a horse or pony cannot be allowed to be over zealous in turn outs (if she is allowed short turn outs), and cannot really be worked too much because she can continually re-injure that hoof. Daily walks are always useful. :) During her 8 month stall rest, was she at least taken out and walked daily to allow for some exercise?
3. When she was cleared to work again, did you take her through a period of gradual introduction to work, or did you just attempt to get back on her? 8 months on box rest is quite a bit of time for a horse to sit, and then be expected to work when she is healed. I would spend maybe 2 or 3 weeks working with her on the ground. Re-establish boundaries. Re-establish yourself as alpha in her eyes. Give her time to ease back into work.
A little story: My 14 year old gelding spent a year off of work in pasture due to his previous owner abusing him, and then abandoning him at my trainer's property. Other than being fed, receiving his vaccinations, and regular farrier sessions by my trainer, he wasn't ridden. He had no muscle. He had major insecurity issues (understandably so). He had respect issues. I spent 6 weeks just doing groundwork, teaching him boundaries, and establishing foundations with him, teaching him what is acceptable and what is not. By weeks 8 & 9, I had him saddled and from week 10 to present, we have been doing riding sessions. He's both physically & mentally ready to handle other things that I may ask of him.
Your pony may need the same time frame, maybe more, maybe less depending on her overall personality. If she is 100% fit, then spend some time on the ground with her. Your time lunging her may have to be extended to get the bucks out of her system, if she's the type of mare who likes to buck on the lunge line. A lot of times, this should be enough for the horse to feel better, and could be more focused on her job.
If she only wants to do it under saddle, you may need to consider some other things, such as you and/or your tack. 99% of horse problems are people problems in disguise, and I'm betting that a lot of her issues are stemming from you and your sister. I'm not saying that you are intentionally doing things, but it could be something subtle that your horse is picking up on that you don't realize you are conveying. If your tack fits and nothing is bothering her in that respect, consider hiring a trainer for a month and ask him or her to watch you handle your pony and to guide you in the right direction as to how to correct her issues. A third party may be able to identify issues that you may not have noticed or even thought of.
I hope this might help you out a little more. Feel free to email me back if you have more questions or any new questions. :)
Good luck, and happy trails!