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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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New horse challenges


I've just bought a new horse - 4 year old mare who has gone from sweetness and light to pure evil (in her stable). I have had her two weeks. I am not a novice with horses and have never encountered a problem of this sort before. Are you currently in the UK? I'd welcome your advice before i send her back to the breeder. This is her first home since being bred and i believe she was kept out most of the time. I also think she was broken very quickly and possibly not too sympathetically. She has no knowledge of lungeing or working from the ground. She only appears to relax when she is tacked up but even then she starts off as if she has a cold back. I'm at my whits ends - any advice much appreciated. I did not witness any of this behaviour when i went to try her.

With regards,

Fiona from England


I live on the Greek island of Corfu. I come to the UK several times a year. You can come to Corfu to work with me if you like. I can give you info on that if you ask. Direct flights from Gatwick Airport are available. For immediate help in the UK Google: Bittles Brook Farm, The New Horse. Carolyn Bourchier. I teach there several times a year. They are terrific.

There are many reasons why you could be seeing this behavior. A new place with new horses and other new and different aspects to her environment cause fear. Fear is overcome by trust. You need to become her great leader/parent and earn her trust. This is still a young horse, green and not confident. If this was your child you might go very slowly and introduce new things gradually, with kindness and tons of patience. This is what is needed here.

Do not expect too much too quickly. Allow 6 months at least to bring this horse to trust. I suggest going back to the beginning of training and re=start the horse completely. Lots of quiet on the ground schooling w/o you riding at all for a while. Lots of reward for any effort (complete removal of any pressure or input of energy is the best reward + total peace for 30 seconds or so). If you mostly have only ridden horses and not done much on the ground you are a novice as far as your understanding of the mind of the horse. Relationships based on trust are formed first and foremost on the ground. This horse has a lot of fear and it is understandable.

I have written a lot about this subject. It is all available for free within the archives of my help center on this website. Search these archives and view the essays and articles. It is all there for free.

Give up expectations, judgments and words like “should” “have to” “anticipate” “need to” etc. Every instant you are with this horse is an opportunity to develop trust. Let this be your only agenda for some months. The horse should not be expected to obey you or do anything you ask until you have the animal’s trust. EARN THIS TRUST and learn how to be trustworthy for a horse. Good Luck.

Sincerely, Franklin

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