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Problems with new Arabian mare
Just bought 9 year old mare (part Arabian) that has not been ridden in 8 months. Been kept in small pen during this time, and fed twice daily by owner, who has owned the mare since 4 months old. The owner saddled the mare and rode her, showing that she had no buck in her. He had no problems walking beside her or saddling and bridling her. He picked up all 4 legs and rubbed her, front to back. She loaded very easily and backed out of the trailer like she knew what she was doing. After leading her to her new pen, which was much larger, we released her off the lead rope and just watched her for a while, allowing her to get use to her new environment. 30 minutes later, I walked into the pen and slowly eased up beside her, and she turned and kicked me immediately. Later, I went back into the pen, she came right up to me and allowed me to pet her, but when I touched her halter to lead her, she reared up and started pawing at me with her front feet, and then turned her butt towards me and kicked again. I can hand feed her and pet her while she eats from my hand, but if I try to touch her halter, she paws at me and then tries to kick at me.
Is this something that she will stop doing after getting used to us, or am I fighting a losing battle ? Why could her original owner walk all around her with no problems? I’ve bought horses in the past and never had this problem. The owner had kids and grandkids that have ridden this horse in the past, also. Is there anything that I can do to prevent this problem? Horses I have bought in the past never needed an adjustment period. Is this typical of the Arabian, or does she just need some time to adjust? Are there any good methods to break a horse from biting, kicking, or pawing? If they are 9 yrs. old and don’t do these things to their original owner???
Please help and I will greatly appreciate any prompt reply or phone no. I will gladly send a generous contribution to your service if you answer me, and will give me the address to send it too. Thank you for your help and having a service like this on the net. You are greatly appreciated.
Well, lets see if I can offer you something substantial. It sounds like she may be in her estrus cycle or 'heat'. That is a fact of life with mares and during this period she may be more nervous and a bit emotionally on her edge. She will need you to be especially patient and thoughtful during these times. Just like a woman......
If you have a round pen or a reasonably small paddock (30 to 50 feet across) she can be in, you will need to somehow get her into it. If where she is allows her to walk or slowly trot around in if asked to without feeling cornered, that would be fine. A round pen of course would be ideal.
Stop trying to catch her. You will first very gently ask her to move away from you. Have a halter or a rope or both in your hand and gently swing it in her direction (towards her butt not her head, remember to stay behind her hip to have her move forward) and ask her to move away. You are doing this as gently as possible. There are to be no big movements or noise. This is a gentle request to move away, preferably in a circle. She may go into a corner and hold up there. You may have to rope off the corners so she just can't wait there with her ass towards you, but rather has to move around (the joys of a round pen). Occasionally ask her to gently change direction by you moving in the direction she is going and getting slightly ahead of her. Be careful not to crowd her. Give her plenty of room to move and you stay out of reach. Do not try to get up to her. Just keep her moving around and changing directions. She can walk or trot. You should avoid her cantering.
Occasionally say "Whoa" and just stop moving. Nothing more. She will probably stop and turn towards you or just stop. Then request that she move around again. Do this for 15 to 20 minutes steadily. After that period of time say "Whoa", you stop and turn away from the mare and look down. Wait at least 5 or 6 minutes. The mare may just come to you and stand patiently next to you. If she does, gently and briefly scratch her on her withers or shoulder (do not touch her face). Stay away from her head. Tell her she is a "good girl" in the softest voice you can muster. If she does not come to you within 5 minutes, have her move some more, another 15 minutes, then repeat what I just described.
At some point when she comes to you and stands, invite her to take a walk around the paddock with you without the halter or lead rope on. Say "Whoa" and stop when you want to. She will stop too. Tell her she is a "good girl" and then invite her to come along for a bit more walk. Inviting her means you pat your leg gently and say "come on girl" and start walking. Don't wait for her to come with you, just go somewhere at a normal pace (not too fast and not too slow). If she shows any sign or rearing, kicking, biting or anything like that, have her move away from and around in a circle and keep her moving 10 minutes. The offer her that place of peace by your side with a “Whoa” and a “good girl”. This way there is no punishment, you are not a disciplinarian. She only goes to work if she acts out.
Within several attempts, if you are doing this properly, the mare will come to you and stand there. Do this several times and, when you feel the time is right, stand by her shoulder or the base of her neck (not in front of her) and gently slip the lead rope under her neck on the near side (left) and over the top of her neck on the off (right) side. Once the lead rope is around her neck, stand by her middle to upper neck, do not crowd her head, and gently put the halter on.
I suggest changing your agenda for a time with her. Again, do not feed her grain for a while, only grass hay. This will help her to stay calmer. Once your start riding her and working her, then you can give her some grain in the morning. By changing your agenda I mean, have her comfort and well being as your only goal. Even forget riding her for a little while. You will be supporting her acclimating to her new space and companion horses by doing this. Spend a lot of time near her. Do the 'circle dance' I have described as much as you can initially. Once you get a halter on her, lead her around the paddock for a few minutes and let her go. Do not take her and saddle her up for a while, only put the halter on her. Take the halter off slowly, as slowly as you put it on. Stand with her a few moments while she is loose with you and caress her with your voice. Do not over stimulate her by too much touching. Arabians and other hot blooded horses are very body and skin sensitive. Too much touch causes the horse to move away from you. Caressing her with your voice once she is accustomed to being near you will help her to stay with you. Touching her will generally prompt her to move away. I always want to do what keeps the horse near me. I let go of my agenda to pet the horse's face (something they rarely like or want) or body save for some brief, well placed and well timed scratching.
Arabians, being extremely sensitive, do require a lot of patience and presence from us. Her previous owner knew her well and she him. That is why he was able to move around her and do the things he did. There was a bond of trust created over time that was deep. You will need to forge this bond for yourself and her anew. She will be loyal and kind and all the wonderful things you want of her in time. Please do not rush her. Mares can be more moody and and 'up and down' more than geldings. Being an Arabian contributes to this also. Age is not much of a factor in this process.
If you try this and it works for you, please let me know. I am not soliciting money in my offering this to you. It is freely given to order to be of service to the horse/human dance and relationship. I am not opposed to gifts or offerings of any type that come my way. I am providing you with my Colorado address and contact information should you be so motivated.
As far as helping you to become more of the type of trainer you want to be, I would be delighted. You could come here or I could go there, you could even come to Maui this winter. I do week-long immersion programs regularly. A person comes in for a week (25 hours more or less of time) and spends time with me every day training, problem solving and riding. Where ever I go and whatever I do with horses that person is there with me. That charge is usually about $1,500 for the time. However, it could be more or less time depending on what the client wants. As I previously mentioned, I am free to travel to your area and do private or semi-private work and clinics (should you know other like minded individuals).
I have really enjoyed creating this email for you and really pray it will help. Thank you for the opportunity. Good Luck and Many Blessings to you and your wonderful new horse.