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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Green horse

Dear Franklin,

At the stables where I ride, there's a 3 year old green english/arab stallion that has not been trained or ridden at all. He's been left in the stables for about a year since he was brought there. The horse never gets out; the owner is not at all interested in him since he is totally green and needs a lot of time and attention. I have been observing this horse for the past few months and noticed his physical and mental health slowly getting worse. He's lost a lot of weight, he's become really shy and afraid of people, he attacks the person on the other end of the lunge, he bites, he's been colicky,.... no one wants to go near him or do any kind of work with him and the owner is just waiting to sell him to the first buyer. I really feel for this horse and have been thinking of rescuing from this situation but have no experience dealing with horses like him. I've been researching this a lot trying to figure out the best and safest way of bringing this horse around, but need to know if I'd be wasting my time or if he's situation is not too far gone. Simply put, I don't know how I can help him, where to start really. I'd appreciate your advice on this.

Thanks Franklin,
Sincerely, Laila

Hi Laila,

I don't think this horse is beyond 'turning around' at all. However, as he is a stallion the risks are greater. Your safety is paramount and you need to access whether or not you can work with him and keep yourself safe. If he were mine would take him back to the beginning of his training and 're-start' him. A round pen would be most helpful. Start by asking only for simple little things like him moving steadily in one direction. Then stopping, turning and going the other way. .If the horse moves into your space or pins its ears, shake a rope or a flag at him, raise your energy and your hands and have him move a few steps away from you or send him around the ring (put him to work). Best to use a rope halter when training with the halter on. You must step up and be able to 'lead the dance'. You need to have action and activity. Initiate movement with the horse that is appropriate and you lead the action. If you do not have the ability to do this, you need to learn it from someone who can teach you. I can and I can coach you via the telephone in this as well. Consider this excellent possibility, please.

Once you gain the trust and respect of this horse you will help his nervousness out because a horse that trusts means a calmer horse. Once he gets used to you asking for simple things (coming forward, stopping, backing, turning, longeing, etc.) and then he does them and gets a reward of a little praise and a short rest, you have set up a winning cycle for the horse. The horse will get into the habit of doing as you request. He will come to trust you as his good parent/leader.

You must be careful when mares are around. If the horse was pasture bred some he may get unruly in the presence of mares in estrus. From your email it sounds like he may not have been bred much, which can help your situation. Anyway, the safest way to bring this guy around is to use a round pen and reward compliance with a rest and some praise and treat behavior you do not want by putting the horse to work doing adn action like circles. He is smart and will learn with appropriate handling and training. He can do all sorts of evasive things though. He can bite, kick, run over you, strike with a front foot, rear, swing his head, all sorts of potentially dangerous things. He will do these if you make him afraid. If you can ask for movement and stay below the fear factor, you'll do OK I think. If you are patient and consistent with how you handle him, firm when you need to be, confident (even if you are faking it), you'll probably do fine over some time. Always end things on a positive note by asking for something easy the horse can do and get a Good Boy. I have some tapes and DVD's that would help too.

Please understand that horse training has an inherent risk to it. With a stallion that risk is greater. You do what you do at your own risk, so be very careful and if you need some 'coaching' or real help, ask for it. It is difficult to give much in an email, but hopefully, I have offered some helpful suggestions and some insight. Good luck and please keep me posted as to how it all goes.

Sincerely, Franklin

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