Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Rescued Arabian Mare Problems

I have an 18-year-old Arabian mare who I adopted from a rescue farm. Her previous owners kept and rode her in a pasture only with a halter and lead rope. Prior to that she was a schooling horse.

She is very herd bound and if you try to go anywhere she doesn't want to -- she backs up and backs up and backs up. Trying to get a bit into her mouth is fruitless (I'm using a bit-less bridle). I have turned her in circles to stop this and it has abated somewhat, however, the behavior happens both when I'm riding her and when I'm leading her. A stud chain has been used on her to get her to comply, however, I do not like to force an animal into anything - I would rather have them do it willingly. On our latest ride, she continually tried the backing up, then started bucking and then dropped and tried to roll (mid-stride). I have not dealt with this type of behavior and am at a loss at what to do first. She has a very sweet personality and will come to me when I call her, however, I have the feeling that her previous owners encouraged her bad behavior. I feel like I'm in over my head - am I? Any thoughts or help would be most appreciated.

Thank you, Shirley

Hi Shirley,

Thanks for your question. Sounds like your horse was abused and her fear was reinforced rather than her trust of humans. If the horse were mine I would take her back to the beginning of her training and re-start her. I would absolutely go back to the very basics of the horse's conditioning and re-do the entire process. It does not have to take as long as you think, depending on your skill level. Do you have a round pen to play with? They are a great tool and really help with this sort of situation (as well as many others). Do you know what I am speaking of by "re-starting" the horse? If you take this on your skill level with your horse and all horses will become higher than you could have ever imagined. You could also purchase a video on starting colts and work off of that. That would probably help you a lot.

Beyond re-starting, I think anything you try would be a band-aid for a little segment of your problem and will not work. If you want a lasting and very effective resolution to this situation, begin the horse's training again and pretend you are dealing with a youngster, because that is actually who you are dealing with, a fearful infant.

Good luck and please keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

Look for: