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Ornery Arab

I just recieved an untrained 6 yr old Arab for Christmas from my aunt, out of some strange circumstances. My uncle had just died in a car crash, and he was the only one who had really taken care of Sweet Briar [the Arab] My aunt gave her to me. After a long trip from Ohio to Florida, my horse was finally here. To our surprise, she was not wild like we thought she would be, she was extremely calm.

Unfortunantly, she was almost 200 pounds under weight, her feet were terrible, and she was very week. She had been in a stall for 4 years. And was very happy to be with another horse, with a pasture and a bright sunny stall. Her feet have been looked at and worked on, and with just another trimming will be fine. She is gaining weight rapidly, and for the first week was a very happy horse. The farrier and my grandfather both said that we should start training her as soon as we could, because as soon as she started feeling good, she might be out of control. And that is what happened. Last week we got a western saddle on her without much trouble, cinch and all. She spooked once, and started galloping around and bucking wildly. That was third day we got a saddle on her. She was fine the next few days. But starting this week, she has been spooky and untrustworthy. If we touch her lower stomache, she will kick at us with her hind leg, as well as when we groom her in the girth area. We thought maybe she was in pain, but when we put the girth on, she gives us no trouble. When I go out to get her from the pasture, as soon as I come in to arms length she pins her ears back at me and will somethimes snake her head around at me baring her teeth. She has also pulled away from me 3 times galloping around me and bucking. I held on, though, not wanting to get her hurt, stepping on the lead and falling.

Also, she and the ex-barrelracer Spook, are as attached as glue is to paper. We can tell that this will be a problem when we move her to the other stable. We try seperating them, but they both go crazy. What should we do?

We are getting our stables trainer to come out to see what she thinks we should do. And we are also thinking about sending her to horse whisperer nearby. What do you think?

Thanks so much! Your horsey friend, Hailey

Hi Haley,

What you are experiencing is really normal horse behavior for the circumstances. The snaking and shaking of the head is normal for Arabians in particular. The horse needs a lot more acitvity now that it is gaining strength and weight. It is really ready for some round pen play and good basic ground training too. Many Arabs I have known are very leg and belly sensitive. They squeel and strike out with a front foot sometimes too. I have techniques for this that usually will work. I use a round pen and train at liberty a lot. Generally, I can get a horse to stand, un-tied, for anything after a little while in a round pen. I do a lot of small circles, hind end yields, coming forward two steps and then back for two, etc. to tune the horse up and get something really going. Once I have smooth and soft transitions, I build on that. I would not hold on to her rope, you may get hurt. Of course, you always wear gloves when working with them, right? If the hrose gets spooky when being led, get it focused on you again by doing simple little hind end yields (small circles aorund you on the ground). This will usually get a horse's attention back on the human and stop the behavior you do not want.

To get them used to being separated, begin by separating them a short itme and then return them to each other. Do this a lot gradually increasing the time apart. This works but takes time. You also need to offer the horse yourself as its companion and great leader by having a lot of action and activity with you as the leader. Arabians can tend to be more sensitive and tempormental than some other breeds (like Quarter Horses). I would re-start the horse in a round pen and have a lot of time in there going slowly to build trust and respect. Sending her to a gentle horse trainer is a fine idea. You should go with the horse to learn these skills. They would prove invaluable to you and will make you into a better and more competant horse person. Please ask this trainer if you can watch a lot. You could never do anything better for your horsemanship education than to watch and learn from a fine trainer. I hope you are not one of those people who only think of riding the horse and always want to send the horse to someone else to fix problems. The problem is not the horse. The problem is lack of experience, skills and understanding by the majority of people handling horses.

Anyway, sounds like you really care. Consider learning something of these techniques yourself and it will open up a much broader world of horses to you (you'll become as better rider as well). These skills would also help in other areas of your life. I teach success with horses as life enrichment. Remember, the term 'horse whisperer' is now used by every backyard trainer around. This is another reason why you need to watch some of the training that goes on. You'll quickly know whether this individual is full of BS and goes to abuse quickly, rather than staying with the process of gentle leadership. Let me know how it all goes. Good Luck and be careful.

Sincerely, Franklin

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