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Franklin Levinson's

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When to give up?

Hello, Frank,

First of all excuse me for my english. I am 50 years old and live in Rome. My compliments on your excellent capability to explain compilcated arguments in a very simple way.

Three years ago I bought a 12 year old gelded lipizzano horse. I don't have any information concerning his background except that he was a movie horse. I found him staying alone in a stable standing a small paddock in deep mud in the winter and no shade in the summer. He was very suspicious , aggresive to other horses and scared from almost everything.

I have moved him to a pasture where he stays with another old gelded horse ( 26 years old). He has become more calm and enjoys the horses company. I have worked with a lot of patience and love over the past years. I have gained his trust when I am on the ground but not when I ride him. Sometimes when we go out for a ride he gets very difficult to manage. I am forced to get down and walk with him until he calms down. I know in the past that people had accidents when riding outdoors with him. I've also tried to go with other calm horses but at certain moments he looses his patience and wants to go home. These moments could be when going next to cows , other horses, rivers, forest, bicycles, etc. I try spending time on the places where he has difficultly but probably not enouph.

I am not a very good rider but I try to be as gentle as possible. I could say that that I usually walk with him on the ground 50% of the time when we go out. He has improved alot but I feel that he doesn't enjoy to go out. Considering his age do you think I should give up on going outside on trials with him and just dedicate our time playing at home?

Thanks Mark

Hi Mark,

When you dismount when the horse gets nervous, you are training him it is fine to be afraid because that will eliminate the pressure of having a rider on his back. The standard proceedure for a horse that gets distracted from the rider is to put the horse to work of some sort (leg yields, serpentines, circles, etc. to get the animal's attention back on the rider). When he gets nervous and afraid you do as well and that compounds the problem. As it is your responsibility to be his great, confident and skillful leader, if you are not quite up to that task, I suggest having more advanced rider ride him out a few times with some other calm horses and see if that rider can get him through his fear.

As this horse is not a youngster, you might not want to take this too far. But that is up to you. Most horses of any age can be conditioned to trust and feelings of safety with very confident and skillful handling and riding. It takes time and patience. It certainly can be done. It is up to you. Gong out on trails may never become his favorite thing. But it can get better. When you encounter a scary object, try to get yourself in a position to follow the scary thing. This way the animal things he is actually chasing something scary. This builds confidence.....

Good luck.

Sincerely, Franklin

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