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Franklin Levinson's

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My moody mare

I bought a 4 year old thoroughbred mare March 2004 who had trained to race but never actually raced. The first few months I did ground work with her, loungeing, driving, etc. and she responded very well. She had an exceptionally sweet personality. She was of course moody when she cycled, but nothing drastic. The middle of August I found a barn with a trainer who agreed to work with me and my horse. I have been taking riding lessons for 3 years so I am a green rider teaching a green horse. I definitely needed help.

I moved my mare to that facility the middle of August. She progressed wonderfully. The trainer was working with her 3 times a week. First lessens were ground work and by October she started riding her. During that time there had been no blow ups or anything out of the ordinary. In fact, she entered her in a hunter-jumper show in the "green horse" divisions and she took all blue ribbons.

Suddenly 2 weeks ago everything changed. We had gotten to the point that I was riding her one day a week in a lesson. Things were going fine the first couple of lessons. The last time I took a lesson things were much different. I had walked her to the indoor arena and she refused to go in. No matter what I did, I could not get her to go. My trainer finally got her in with the help of a crop. During the lesson she was jittery and shying away from everything. She never tried to bolt, rear, or buck but definitely was distracted. Since that time she is aggressive in her stall. She pins her ears and tries to kick.

There are 2 things I suspect may have gotten her in a twit. 4 days prior to my last lesson, when my trainer took her into the indoor arena there was a ferrier hot shoeing horses. My trainer said my mare was "scared to death" with veins bulgeing on her forehead. The second thing is my friend moved her 4 year old off the track thoroughbred mare to the stall next to my mare. My friend as a nasty habit of stuffing carrots in her horses mouth as soon as she gets there. As soon as she gets there my mare gets moody and starts kicking her stall. What are your thoughts about constantly hand feeding treats to horses, particularly green 4 year old?

Any advice you could give would be great.

Do more on the ground, lots more. Another thing might be to turn her lose in the arena and simply let her be in there without pressure of being ridden or asked to perform. You be in there as well and occasionally occupy the same space reassuring her a lot. If you keep forcing her to go where she is afraid to go, it will work against you. Help this horse to trust you better by working on the bigger picture of your relationship and not whether or not she goes into an arena or not. She will not trust you or anyone if she is forced into her fear. If she trusts you, she will go wherever you ask. She is not stubborn. She is merely afraid. Your trainer may be very good at training a horse to do something. But when a fear issure comes along, if she goes to hitting the horse and using the aids abusively, she is no trainer (she is a task master only). The person giving her horses carrots is making it harder for you and your horse. Tell her what her actions mean for you and your horse. Ask her if she will find a more appropriate and less negatively impactful way to give treats to her horse. If she is resistant to seeing your situation, tell the stable manager. Keep me posted......

Blessings to you, Franklin

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