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Franklin Levinson's

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Broncing issues

Hi Franklin,

I have really enjoyed reading your website and would like to say thank you for all the great advice!

I am having some issues with my 11yr Welsh Section D gelding and was really hoping you could help. I bought him over 6 months ago now and when I went to try him he was what I thought was my perfect first horse, he had great ground manners and was lovely and calm to ride in a snaffle. I had him 5* vetted, rode him several times and had a professional view him and me on him, I really did everything I could to find a good horse!

When I brought him back to my yard I spent a lot of time just being with him, I did a lot of lunging and join up and generally just played with him, I didnít attempt to ride him for 5 weeks.

When I rode him the first time it was going great until I asked for a canter, he bolted and just started broncing around until I was on the floor! Obviously this really upset me but I got back on but didnít ask for the canter again. Over the next couple of weeks every time I asked for the canter he would just bronc.

Eventually I got in a professional instructor to teach me. She rode him in our first lesson to see what he was like for herself and she did manage to get him cantering, but only on a very tight rein and he looked like he was ready to pop, given half the chance. She was convinced that he is just a very nervous horse and not very balanced.

All was going ok for a few weeks and we were starting to canter and even jump. Then one day I must have relaxed and let my guard down and he did it really bad and I really hurt myself, which knocked my confidence so bad I just wanted to give up on him.

I decided to get his saddle, back and teeth checked. His teeth and back were fine but his saddle didnít fit him great (it came with him) so we were convinced that was the issue so I ordered a specially fitted one which would take 5-6 weeks or so to come. I saw this as an opportunity to do a lot of ground work with him which really seemed to work. We even entered a local ďin handĒ show and came 3rd!

My issue is that even when heís not under the saddle and something goes wrong like he knocks a pole down or looses his balance or something spooks him he immediately starts broncing.

I have got the new saddle now, but havenít had the courage to canter him. I would like some advice as to why you think he is broncing and how I get him out of the habit.

Iím not enjoying what has been my life long dream and considering giving up on him and admitting heís too much for me, but he is such a nice boy at everything else I still hope I can get him to come good.

Please let me know if you would like any more info, I have tried to give as much as I can. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for your kind words and I am happy you find my website helpful. Some of what you are experiencing could be due to the new location. It can take quite a long time for some horses to get used to their new homes, herd mates, etc.. This depends on the individual personality of the horse. Of course, I am guessing now. A week or two week desensitizing program for the horse would be strongly suggested. If you do not know how to do this, ask someone. Your trainer may only be interested and knowledgeable about teaching riding skills and not have the knowledge or experience to provide this aspect of advanced training. Also, that person may not have the interest. A caution: most riding instructors will never say there is something they do not know about horses. They all want to be your one-stop for anything about your horse. This is unfair and irresponsible.

Other things to try: have the horse longed with you or someone else competent riding it. Do a lot of upward and downward speed transitions. Make certain your leg/seat cues are soft and right on target. Practice leg yields. Do some basic dressage without cantering. Ground drive the horse (double long line) as much as possible with speed transitions and directional changes. The softer you can ride this horse, the better. Breath consciously and deeply when with or tiding this horse. Keep an inner calm and peaceful feelings going all the time. Again, a program of desensitizing the horse to scary stuff is highly advised, provided by a calm, knowledgeable and skilled professional. You should watch the process and learn it. You said your trainer could only canter if she held the horse tightly. Not good. Probably yes, your horse is unbalanced. A really experienced and good rider, can balance a horse.

It is true that perhaps this is not the right horse for you. Dealing with a horse that is beyond the experience of the human is frustrating and damaging and dangerous to both horse and human. There is no shame in making that decision. But if you try the things I am suggesting and are very patient, do not expect miracles to happen as there is no magic pill or quick fix here, learn what skills you do not have and hang in there, things will eventually get better. If you want to be able to enjoy your horse faster w/o it being such a project, consider a different horse. Nothing wrong with that.......truth is, it is always more about the human than it is about the horse. Good Luck.

Sincerely, Franklin

Hi Franklin,

I want to say thank you for your advice.

I just wanted to give you a bit of an update. We are getting along great, we have spent the last week introducing him to new scary things with great success. For example, He was terrified of umbrellas and now is not bothered by them opening closing next to him and even touching him! Our join up seems to have improved, he will even follow me in a grass paddock now, where before he would just stop and eat! I feel we have really started bonding over the last few weeks. And we have also had no broncing in any situation.

I bit the bullet yesterday and built up enough confidence to ask for a canter, he went into it beautifully and felt like he had no intention of broncing, we only had a few strides, but thatís fine as hopefully we can now just build on that. Iím in this for the long run and donít want to rush things. We also had a completely spook free hack out yesterday which has NEVER happened before, Iím so pleased with the results we have got in such a short space of time and so proud of him! I actually canít wait to see him and be with him and ride again now, and am constantly trying to think of new inventive things to introduce to him!

I am going to carry on with the desensitizing as you suggested as I think this is helping his confidence a lot and also helping build his trust in me!

Thank you again from me and King!

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