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Is it me or my horse?

I bought my 14.hh Welsh Cob mare as an unbroken three year old and had her professionally broken. She started off really nicely but over the past two and a half yers her behaviour has gradually got worse as she has really knocked my confidence so I don't feel that Im can deal with her any more. However I am really close to her now and under no circuimstances want to get rid of her. I think her mauin issue is a lack of respect. She wont hack out on her own and if I do manage to get her out she is wound up like a spring and feels like she is going to explode at any moment because of this I don't feel safe riding her out on her own. Even with other horses I have to tuck her in behind so that she wont run off and she wont go in front because she kicks. She is also in a field because of this as no one wants to risk putting their horses in with her.

I have access to a cross country field and last year I jumped nearly everything down there. However the first time I wnt down there this year she ran off with me twice and has proceede to do it again more recently. I havn't been of the lunge this year in my riding lesson because of it. I also have access to a small badly sufaced school which is the only place I can ride in. Most of the time she behaves in here but she often refuses to go towards the end of the school because there are "scary monsters" living there and the only way to get her to move is to scream at her and kick her. As well as this she refuses to canter. Sometimes she won't even strike of and other times she sticks her head between her legs and broncs around the school. I have tried lungeing her to stop this but I she is even less reasponsive without someone opn her back. This makes her sound like she is a horse from hell but when she is behaving she is absoloutely lovely and shows real promise so I don't want to give up on her. I have a number of options which include moving her to a different stables with better facilities, sending her away for a bit so someone with more experience can work with her (however Im worried that the problem is me in which case this wont solve anything), or just continuing like I am in the hope that her behaviour will improve.

Im sure that you will be able to suggest something that will be able to help. Please!!!!

from Amy

Hi Amy,

To be quite honest it is always more about the human than about the horse. Your horse is normal and merely reacting to the absense of a confident, skillful and knowledgeable leader being around. Your horse is fending for itself because it thinks it has to in order to survive (even though you know its survival is not an issue, it is a survival issue for the horse). Horses get their confidence, their sense of safety and that all is OK in life from their primary handler (leader). I just led several horsemanship clinics in the UK that you would have gotten a huge amount from. In just two or three days of a solid horsemanship clinic you can have enough skill to easily over come the challenges you are now facing. They are easy to correct in your horse. But you need to learn the skills. You are correct in thinking that if you send the horse somewhere without you learning as well, it would be a waste of money.

To give you all you need is impossible in an email. I could coach you over the phone a bit. Calls to and from the UK to the US are not too bad actually. Consider that possibility. But initially, you need to develop your ground schooling skills. That is where to begin. It is a lot more than merely longing. It is confident leadership with the ability to be firm (not abusive) and precise in all requests, action and movement. Begin by having every little move be a clear request. Such as :forward two steps, then HO! Good Boy!, back two steps then HO! Good boy! Ask for something easy, small (two steps), clear (HO!) and say thank you for compliance (Good Boy!). Just a few steps, clearly asked for, a firm HO! (complete and immediate stop when you stop and say HO)...(this may need to be accompanied by a jiggle of the lead rope under the horse's chin), then two steps back and say HO and Good Boy. Do you see what I mean? I just don't have the time to describe every step to you in detail, but I hope you get the idea for clarity, simple, firm, say "Thank you". Big strides begin by taking simple first and short steps. Make all movement, no matter how simple and small the step, a clear and conscious and appropriate request and then say thank you.

Let me know if you don't understand. But this is what has to happen.....

Sincerely, Franklin

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