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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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New Horse for Us

Hi. My name is Rebecca.

I have just got a new horse for my kids but he is not what he seems. He is about 13 hands, has a very pleasant temperament but is a very shy and scared horse. He is a bit girth shy and very nervous so I have been brushing him putting the saddle on him for a few hours each day, lunging him and just basically spending a lot of quality time with him. Do you think this is the right way to help him? I can’t put my kids on him yet because he does like to pig root and I am very nervous about getting on him. I had a bad fall on a horse a few years ago and it has taken me a while to get back in the saddle. My husband has been handling that side of things. I will say that who ever broke him in was very rough and cruel and I don’t think they did it properly.

So, can you help us?

Hi Rebecca,

Thank you for your question. How old are your children? If they are really young, perhaps this is not the right horse for you, as it does sound like this horse will take a bit of time to come around completely. He will make it, but it takes time and consistent handling to turn these kinds of issues in a better direction.

What you have described is certainly a good way to begin. Lunging, grooming, saddling are excellent steps to get the horse acclimated and calmer. How long have you had the horse? Do you have a round pen? This is a very good tool and can accelerate the horse's development if you can use one regularly. What do you mean by "pig root"? Do you mean pawing at the ground or moving with his nose on the ground all the time? If it is the latter and if he does it with a lead rope and halter on, snake the rope under his chin. That will get his head up. If he is under saddle when doing this, bump him with the rains and bit a little. That should get his head up also. How old is the horse? Sounds like he may be a bit young and green.

As far as girthy goes, this is very common. Slow way down when saddling him (I am assuming it is a gelding). Before you bring the girth up take your hand and rub his girth area both sides. Stroke the area and be soft and comforting. You can also take a soft towel and have another person on the off (right) side of the horse holding one side of the towel and you hold the other. Gently bring the towel up and softly rub his girth area up and down with the towel. Back off if he shows nervousness and begin even slower with a lot of reassurance. Never crank the girth fast and hard. Snug it just enough that the saddle won't slip when you lead the horse around. Then gently make it a little tighter after he moves a bit. Make it gradual and easy for the horse. Trust is built over time. You can gentle him more yourself by being consistantly soft, present and foscused with him. It sounds like you have had quite a bit of experience with horses, so I know you can do this.

When you say your husband is "handling that side of things" do you mean the riding part? If that is the case he needs to be as soft in the saddle as you are with him on the ground. If he is heavy handed at all that will increase the horse's nervousness. If he pushes the horse too much that will increase his nervousness. The horse needs to be handled the same way on the ground as in the saddle; soft, light and patiently. You are training this horse pure and simple.

Please let me know how it all goes. I am here to help and I hope I have offered some good suggestions. Blessings to you.....

Aloha, Franklin

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