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Horse rearing up and falling over

I have had horses my 40 years of life, and I have a problem I do not know how to handle.

I took in a beautiful grula horse a year ago. She was not supposed to be broke. She was 3. I did ground work on her for a couple of months. I did not have any problems. She is very laid back and easy going. Very gentle. Trimmer came to trim.

He picked up her front foot and she fell to the ground. She would not get up until I pulled her reins and told her to get up. Later I saddled her up and mounted. Absolutely no buck. Plow reigned nicely. I decided she had been broke before.

I rode her for a month or so, walking. No problems. Stood perfectly still one time when approached by a mule the first time. I didn't show fear and let her stand until I felt her relax. Then went about our business. No problems. She was tied to the hitching post one day and got her briddle twisted in her mouth. She fell to the ground. She laid there and I had to go tell her to get up. I was now starting to suspect a problem with bits. Went on for another month. No problems with me riding her. My 13 year old had been itching to ride her. I started to let her ride her. She rode her for about a month and decided to start teaching her the poles bending. Took the horse to a playday. She did wonderful. My daughter started training her harder.

One day as I was watching them train, the horse reared and fell on my daughter. I could tell by how delicately the horse got up and stood beside my daughter and then wouldn't let me close to my daughter at first that she didn't mean to hurt her. My daughter was not hurt badly but could have been killed. The horse was now off limits to all of my children. I sent her to a trainer and she never once rear or fell down. We brought her home and on the next ride she stepped up on unlevel ground and fell over. I was standing in front of the horse and could see the absolute fear in her eyes.

Now I am certain that any hard pull on the bit freaks her out and she jumps up and falls over. I did some research on her and have discovered she was a horse at a horseshoeing school. I'm not certain what was done to her but am pretty sure they threw her to practice shoeing. Now it is a definite no to my children on riding or messing with this horse. I started to train her to pull a buggy this summer with ground work while I built a cart. Didn't want to tear either of my dad's wagons up or put to much weight on her. I finished the one seat cart a week ago. It was dark but I hitched her up and used flood lights, which she was already used to with darkness at 5:00 here. She pulled that cart with a halter and not blinders being led and no weight. I climbed on and had my husband lead me awhile. No problems. I put the blinder headstall and bit on and rode her in the arena. No problems. My dad drove her. No problems. Took her to the street with christmas decorations everywhere. No problems. Drove her for over an hour. Got up the next morning and drove her for three hours. Walking and trotting. Took her though some mud and the tug broke. She took a step or two and stopped. She stood there while I made repairs and hooked her back up. She just doesn't seem to spook. I thought we were both in heaven. Finally something she was a dream at doing. Harnessed her the next night (3rd time hooked to a wagon) and took her through our small town with a group of carolers on horseback and other wagons. She was the best harness horse that went. Everyone was amazed. Today I harnessed her and made it three blocks. She took three steps backwards, reared up and fell over backwards, cart and all. I took off scrambling to get out of the way. When I looked back, the cart was on its side with one chav on her back and the other chav under her belly. She just stood there. I unhitched her, pulled the cart off of her, and hitched her back up and drove back home. I don't know if the drive line caught on the chav and pulled to hard or if she now just does this because she can. If I can't correct this major problem, she will have to be put down. I really want her to pull a wagon but if she is going to flip when the drive lines are pulled to tight and flip when a rider pulls to hard, she will have to be put down. Already no one is allowed to ride or drive her except for myself for fear that she will kill someone. Please help! She is an exceptional horse except for this one deadly fault. I don't want to fail her. It is so random. All I can think is the horseshoeing school would throw her by pulling hard. I don't know what to do. I try to be very gentle on her mouth. I use a split bit. Would a solid bit be better?

Hi Angela,

Seems you are quite knowledgeable already and have tried numerous methods to 'get this horse right.' Here are a couple of things I might suggest: try not using a bit at all. Of course if the horse has only been in snaffles, you could try an easy curb (medium port, leather curb strap as opposed to a chain) and see how it goes. If you can ride the horse in a rope halter and lead rope tied up as reins and nothing bad happens, then try driving the horse with reins hooked to the halter (rope halter). If nothing bad happens, perhaps find a nice easy hackamore that will do the trick. If the rearing continues, try ground driving the horse (long lining) without a cart (you walking a safe distance behind the horse) using halter and lines and/or perhaps try several types of bits (stay away from a snaffle for a while). If the horse rears or signals it is going to rear, or comes off the ground with front feet at all, immediately drive it forward hard. Perhaps you may need to carry some sort of buggy or lunge whip to do this. This will provide a consequence for the unwanted behavior. It is not supposed to be a punishment. It is supposed to be a consequence with the intention for the horse to learn that if it rears it is driven forward firmly. You could have it set up so when you push the horse forward it is able to travel in a circle as opposed to straight ahead. This could be accomplished by dropping an outside rein and letting the horse drag it while you direct it's direction lightly with an inside rein. Sometimes I suggest setting up/staging the exact situation where you know the horse will do exactly the behavior you do not want. That way you have some control and can anticipate what and when it will happen. That gives you the chance to be ready to provide the 'consequence', or whatever your response will be.

Thanks for the question and I send you my best wishes for success. Please let me know how it all goes. I think your estimation of how this behavior originated is accurate. I do think you can have a successful out come though. Be careful and have a wonderful holiday season.

Sincerely, Franklin

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