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My Horse Runs Over Me

I have a three year old paint filly that seems to have a very bad attitude. She has always been quite rude and pushy. When the vet was out for vaccinations she had to grab a muscle in the filly's neck in order to make her stand still. This horse has a habit of lunging forward when she does not want to do something (hence running over whoever is in front of her). She tosses her head wildly when I try to us an oral wormer. She has been to a trainer for 30 days and he had no trouble with her (of course he is much more experienced than I am and he wears spurs). She has to be practically lifted into the horse trailer (she has only been trailered twice).

I think she knows that I am afraid of her. She also seems to be super sensitive to everything. I cannot spray on fly spray. She cannot stand even so much as a fly landing on her. Last time I rode her we were going along just fine (although I know the bugs were bothering her when all of a sudden she ran me through some trees -- I managed to stay on but ended up with scraps and cuts on my face from the branches.) When I tried to sponge her down she lunged forward and ran right over the person that was holding her for me. She always seems to have a wild look in her eyes. I want to sell her but need to keep working with her so she can be sold. Are there some horses that just have bad attitudes and cannot change?



Hi Sue,

Thanks for your question. I seem to find myself working a lot with Arabians. They are a 'hot' blooded breed as opposed to a 'cold' blooded breed like a quarter horse. They can frequently be a bundle to handle, especially for a novice. These horses need consistent basic ground handling from a good, confident leader. If the handler is unsure, unknowledgeable and not confident as to their leadership skills with horses than what happens is the horse begins to fend for itself. This not a bad thing for the horse, it is survival for the horse and that is why they get pushy as your mare is. She is fearful there is no leader and therefore is leading the dance herself. She is fully aware of your uncertainty and lack of skill. Nothing against you. It is merely experience level we are referring to. Your horse has a 'fearful' attitude because there is no great 'parent or leader' around. She is trying to take care of herself and protect herself from things she is afraid of. She is very fearful, not ‘bad or mean’. She can learn to come back to trust of handled properly. She can change if given a real chance by a good trainer who can work with her consistently.

Even with a trainer occasionally handling the horse, if the balance of the time is with a 'novice' handler, the horse will immediately fend for itself. If the handler is vulnerable, the horse will walk over them. There is a non-abusive way to handle your horse, but it takes a lot of skill developed over time. Unfortunately, so many people make an emotional buy of a lovely horse that is way beyond them and find themselves in your situation. This is unfair to a good horse and a well intentioned person. Consider an older, more experienced, bomb-proof horse for your next 'go-round'. That horse will teach you what good horsemanship is once you understand how to listen.

I don't think I have been much help here. I would try to find an 'experienced' horse person for your 'baby' (and it is really a baby and now needs a great and skilled parent) and then a great and skilled mature horse for you. Perhaps I could come there to help. Please let me know. I am in Colorado.

Sincerely, Franklin

Hi Franklin!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my e-mails. I really do appreciate it. I really do agree with you that I have been trying to act like the leader (although sometimes I'm so scared of this horse that it's hard to even try). At any rate -- I saddled her up yesterday. She resisted the bridle so I just tied her up for 10 minutes. When I returned she let me slip the bridle on. I led her out to an open field (away from the other horses) and mounted with no problems. She has always been good about mounting -- stands very still and does not move until I tell her "forward." Of course the other horses were very vocal in the background which, I think, upsets Junebug a bit. She did a lot of head tossing (doesn't seem to like the bit too much although I have tried several. I do have a bit-less bridle I tried but did not feel I could control her with that one.) I tried to relax in the saddle but she knew I was tense. I walked her down the road about 1/4 of a mile. It is hard holding her back -- she is a very, very fast walker. Don't know if that is something that can be overcome or not. I practiced "Whoa" a few times -- she is good at that. She spooked a bit (when I asked her to go around a rather large bush) and has a wild look in her eyes when I am riding her. A car passed and she got a bit antsy but we managed. She wanted to hurry back to the other horses but I made her walk. She did try to rake me under a tree (she seems to enjoy that). The interesting facet of this horse is that she needs only the very slightest leg pressure to turn her in any direction. I think when I get tense my legs tighten up and maybe that confuses her. At any rate -- I'm not sure if she could ever get desensitized (she doesn't even seem to enjoy being brushed like the other horses). I know in order to sell her I need to keep riding her. Please let me know if you are ever out in this area. I operate on a shoestring budget but would like to know if you are holding some classes in this area (just south of Kansas City near Overland Park, KS). I will keep trying to ride her but she is not nearly as predictable as my other horses.

Thanks again! Sue

Hi Sue,

I recommend riding the horse in a snaffle bit. This is the lightest thing you can put on her. It is even lighter than a bit-less bridle. You do not need as much control as you think. What you may want to consider is that you need to direct the horse's energy (movement) more than to try to control the horse. Like a big kid that you try to control, the kid will eventually walk all over you. However, if you can give him something to do with his energy that is at least active and easy for him to do, you have helped the situation. When you first mount up, do not try to go straight ahead. Rather, bend the horse in a few small circles in each direction. Then offer a WHOA! (a little stop, a place of rest and peace). The ask for another circle or two in both directions. Then WHOA! If you do this a few times before asking the horse to walk off straight, you will be amazed at how much more the horse will listen to you, stop for you and 'dance' with you in the saddle. If things get a bit out of hand, ask for a few more circles. Get proficient at this, it will serve you well. The head tossing is the horse trying to get away from pain in his mouth. Even though you are trying just to 'control' and not be heavy handed, the horse experiences the pain in his mouth and doesn't want it, thus the head tossing. Please consider directing the horse rather than controlling the horse. Keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

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