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Mare Pins Her Ears When Working


I have a 4 year old TB/Paint cross that I've owned since she was 18 mths. old. I have been riding for 15 years and I have started her and ridden her myself (with help from another trainer). My problem is that she is extremely lazy. For a four year old (and even as a three year old, when I started her under saddle) she cannot be ridden for an entire week and still be extremely lazy when I ride.

I normally ride about 4 times a week, for 30-60 minutes each ride. By day 3 in a row, it's almost impossible to get her to move.

The other issue I have is that although she's a great mare with no vices and decent movement, she pins her ears back whenever she works, which causes her to drop down in placings when I show. She does this in-hand, in the round pen & under saddle, so I don't believe it's a saddle-fit problem. I have had her vet-checked several times and there is no sign of lameness. Any ideas?

thanks, mkb

Hi Michelle,

If the mare will not move well on the ground, you cannot expect her to move well under saddle. I would stop trying to ride the horse for a while and go back to the basics of schooling and playing with her on the ground until that she does her ground skills much better and with an improved attitude much more than you are describing. One step (lesson) at at time and do not move to the next one until the previous one is mastered. A great reward for immediate compliance by a horse is to immediately stop working the animal and put the horse away. This is a basic and general training rule. I assume you have had the horse's mouth and teeth checked, ears and any other physical possibilities as well. Sounds like she is habitualted to her behavior now and habits are hard to change. Perhaps you did not actually complete her ground schooling to the point that good movement became the habit as opposed to what you have. This is often the case with horses habituated as you are describing. Go back to the basics to change her habitual way of going and performing. She is showing you a sour attitude. She is being honest. Perhaps she was brought along too fast without enough time to really enjoy what she was learning. This is important. You need to figure a way to have schooling ebcome more enjoyable for the horse. Consider playing on the ground with the horse as opposed to 'working' the horse. What would you rather do play or work? Simply changin how you talk about what you do changes the energy behind it. your horse picks this up better than you do. A shift in attitude may be called for. A change in paradigm. Obviously what is happening is not working and needs to be changed. Changes begin in thoughts, beliefs and attitudes.

Good Luck, Sincerely, Franklin

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