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Franklin Levinson's

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My Studly Five Year old

Hi Franklin,

I have been interested in purchasing this horse for some time now, he is a Clyde/TB cross, Five years old and advertised as a "gentlemans" horse due to the fact that when he was gelded (at 2) his testosterone levels did not drop. He has been checked for retained testicles and all that jazz, it seems to be his hormones.

I have been working with him on the ground (he is not "backed") and just spending lots of time grooming (massaging, scratching, rubbing, picking up feet and feeling ears and sensitive spots) him and trying to apply what I know about Ron Meredith's method of heeding to my leading and roundpen work, as well as grooming. He was responding really well, but I think I may have overstepped my boundaries when I asked him to accept a rider, and then a few days later accept the saddle. We didn't do anything fancy, I basically sat on him for five minutes without a saddle, he didn't do anything accept tense up a little and swivel his ears madly. Three days later when I saddled him, it was harder to do that than anything else because he was too concerned about the smell of the saddle pad! On the same day I saddled him (after about 2 hours of grooming) after I took the saddle off and calmed him down (he gets anxious and chomps his teeth together) I took him up to the roundpen to do our usual 15 or so minutes of work. I don't have much experience with roundpenning, and I really don't like some of the chasing methods I have seen others use so I just try to keep him going, push him when he wants to stop and look at the other horses, eat grass, paw the ground, whatever. We were doing really well up until that day. He has charged me before, but I just took a step towards him, raised my rope into the air and he headed the other direction but this time he kept going! He came right up to be teeth barred and turned at the last minute and kicked out. I am not sure of my actions at the time prior to that (I have been thinking it would be a great idea to videotape my work with him so I could watch us BOTH later) I think I may have acted too agressivly, but maybe I did not act agressive enough. At any rate I am concerned because he is a huge horse and he is smart, he wouldn't even go around the roundpen once after that, he just kept looking at the mares, or pacing from one side to the other and when I would ask him to move on (by stepping into his space and pushing him forward, or twirling my rope) he would charge me again. So I stopped asking him to move on because I didn't know how to react next time he charged me and went back to leading him around the ring and practicing paying attention to me instead of the mares, whoa and walk.

Another thing that could be affecting his behavior is the fact that his Father broke through a fence, knocked the wooden boards off the roundpen and fought with him about two weeks ago. I was thinking that maybe I should get a whip and put a plastic bag on the end of it so I can shake it at him when he charges me? Or should I just forget about the roundpenning for now and work on his groundwork? I will be taking him to Meredith Manor with me in a month or two where we will be in a facility that has boarded in arenas, but that doesn't really fix the problem right now. Also, when I am leading him sometimes he stops stock still and stares at the other horses, my response to get his attention is to gently push on his left shoulder increasing pressure until he diverts his attention back to me. Is this okay? Could I be reinforcing a bad habit? Thanks, I can't wait to hear from you!! Elise

Hi Elise,

I was not able to find the pics your referred to. I deleted your reference to it in my response. No worries. Making a 'flag' is a good idea. They are a great tool (only as good as the person using the tool). Half a plastic shopping bag on the end of a dressage wand (whip) should do OK. It is wonderful you understand that a round pen is not for chasing a horse around in.

It seems you took no time in getting him used to the pad or saddle and just threw it up there. 'Sacking this horse out' is more important than anything you will do with this horse at this time. This is what will build your relationship with him more than anything right now. This is what will develop respect and trust with him. As this horse can react aggressively, you need to go much slower than you have and make certain you have completed each step in his training before moving on to the next one. Patience, skill and timing are the real keys to training this horse. How are you in the 'patience' area? Do you understand 'timing'? Timing is knowing when one step is completed and the time is right for the next one. Letting go of YOUR time agenda is important. You cannot rush a horse. You must train as he is ready and not when you think you are.

I know of Meredith Manor. They may or may not take to your horse. This is something you will have to deal with at the time. They are very careful that no one be 'over their heads' with any particular horse. They are quite traditional in their methods as well. So, I really cannot give you more feedback as to how it will go there. I can say with a lot of certainty that your horse was not prepared properly for what you wanted him to do. It will continue to be dangerous for you with him until you go way back to the real basics, take your time, sack him out thoroughly, go slowly, REWARD EACH AND EVERY LITTLE STEP of progress, don't be over confident and impatient and don't assume anything about this horse. You can get hurt.........Be Careful........I think you need to ask this question of yourself.... Is your immediate agenda you or your horse. If it is you, this may not be the right horse for you as he needs time and quite a bit of it along with a good amount of experienced training with someone who knows about the processes I am speaking of. If your agenda is the well-being of this horse, then you will take the time and get the education neccessary to effectively, properly and safely train this horse to be ridden, no matter how much time must be taken. He will be green for quite a while no matter what you decide. Perhaps consider this young horse was not the greatest choice for your personal horse at this time. You have the time to learn and develop your skills. A very well trained, seasoned horse will teach you a lot and probably give you less risk of getting hurt. Be careful and good luck......

Sincerely, Franklin

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