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We have recently purchased a registered paint. She is ten years old. She has had about six previous owners none more than a year or two at a time although one was for four years. Anyway, she loves kids she has taken a while to warm up to my husband. She likes me to brush and comb her. I do feel someone along the road has harmed her in some way or another. She bites horribly when saddling and she always wants to go back to the stalls. She wants to go the direction she wants and not the way you want. The constant fighting with her is taking the joy out of riding her for me. She lets our daughter ride her just fine compared to us though. She was a bit under weight when we purchased her. We have been giving her all the love and attention she has not had in a great while. Also we are feeding her all she can eat twice a day and I have been giving her apples and carrots. I give her grain when done riding to try to associate ride with good. I am not sure, but I think she just wants the grain and not to do good. What am I doing wrong? I have been with horses all my life I feel I have forgotten so much being out of it for a while with an injury that stopped my having horses. Is there any thing you can tell me to do or stop doing? Please help me help my horse.

Becky C.

Hi Becky,

I am sorry it has taken so long for me to respond to you. I have been traveling a lot and am actually on a plane now. I hope I can be of some help.

First off there is no quick fix to the issues you are describing. The mare needs to go back to basic ground school. Do you know how to lunge a horse? Do you have a round pen you can use? If there is no round pen the lunging will do. She needs to re-learn how to move forward when requested. Lunging will help with this. Let me know if you do not know how to lunge a horse. This is basic training pure and simple. As far as being 'girthy' (wanting to bite when the girth is tightened), this is a very common issue and found in horses who have been girthed unconsciously and over tightened or pinched during girthing. Also this comes from being girthed while having galls in the girth area. Have compassion as this horse has been abused. What you can do to help her get over the girthiness is to take a soft towel and have somebody on the off side of the horse and the two of you gently hold the towel up to her girth area and gently and softly move the towel up and back and forth. Always talk soothingly and tell her all is well. You can try letting her move forward a bit as you snug the girth. Sometimes the forward movement distracts the horse. Move her forward with your left hand as you gently snug the girth with your right. Walk with her as she moves.

If you were good at lunging, I would suggest you have her move in tight circles around you if she looks to nip. This puts her to work when she does what you don't want. I would have her move three or four times in both directions and then offer her a Whoa! (a rest and some peace). She will soon get that if she nips she goes to work and as long as she is a good girl all is good and peaceful and easy.

As far as her not wanting to go where you want and only going back to the barn, if you are a competent rider I suggest you have the horse turn tight circles around your leg (both directions) three or four times when she balks at going forward. Turning tight circles is no fun and work for her. If you keep at this she will get that going forward is much easier than turning tight circles around your legs.

She needs some retraining and if you can do it that would be great. Do not give her grain. She is not doing enough work to warrant it and it will compound your problems. Give her good grass hay and random treats. Love is the best treat, believe me. Then the horse is glad to see you and not just glad to get your treat. By love I mean, conscious interaction. Lung her, lead her, have her do lots of ground play. This will bond her to you and you will gradually be able to retrain her. If I had her I could solve your problems in a few days. The horse is always easy to 'fix'. Not so with the humans around her frequently. When I say conscious handling, I mean knowledgeable, focused, thoughtful and appropriate handling. There is no little magical backyard bullet to correct this. The horse needs a good 'parent'. By this I mean someone who understands her needs and can provide appropriate support. Sounds like she is leading the 'dance' for her own survival at this point. You need to become the leader of the dance. The horse/human dance that is. Please let me know if you are experienced at what I have suggested. Where are you located? I am traveling a lot and perhaps I may be in your area. Thanks for your question and I hope this helps.

Keep me posted.

Aloha, Franklin

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