Question: I have an 18 month old Quarter Horse x TB who is kept with my 21 year old Welsh X. My problem is that my youngster pushes the old one around all the time, herding him, biting him and has now chewed half his tail off. How can I put him back in his place in the pecking order?? Many thanks
Answer from April Reeves: I want to start by saying that your Appendix QH is lovely. He has a nice balance to his body, and at this age it’s hard to find, which means he will only get better.
While his attitude is unacceptable to you, lets look at the good side of who he is and what he is doing. First of all, I’m assuming he’s a gelding, or else we stop here and he gets castrated before you go any further, as it will only get worse regardless of what I say here.
You can’t change his behavior. Read this as ‘you’. All the groundwork in the world, all the charm school you can throw at him won’t alter who he is in a herd situation. That is up to him and his herd mates to decide, and while we humans often sit back and freak out at the charade that’s happening out in the field, to them it’s nature and ritual.
Question: I have a 7 year old Appendix, who is in full show hunter training, and he is a fantastic hunter, but he has one major issue. He is a fairly dominant gelding and when another horse, no matter gender or size, passes him or gets too close (in either direction, although the same direction is worse) he bucks. I don’t mean like a baby or one time buck. It is a full bucking fit around the arena. The last time he bucked, it was because a pony passed him and he took 5 minutes of pure 4 feet of the ground bucking, and a run in with the fence to stop. He did NOT do this when I first bought and showed him. It started in June 2008 and that was 6 full months after I purchased him. My trainer and I have exhausted all of our options, and cannot find an answer as to why this started nor can we find a solution. We also thought it was me for a while, but I have been evaluated by a mental coach and my nerves are not the cause, they are a reaction to his bucking fits. Can you help?
Answer from April Reeves: I need a bit more information. What are the options you have exhausted? That way I won’t need to go over them again. Have you done any groundwork and if so what did you do? This is an easy fix but it will require time and probably someone with a different skill set. I will wait for your reply before suggesting a solution.
This bit, in the wrong hands, is abuse
Question: Hello I have an 8 yr. old reg. quarter horse and he is the most wonderful, trustworthy horse ever!. But the problem is throughout training him (since he was 2) I have had problems with his listening to a bit or hackamore. I have everything from a snaffle to a severe curve bit. Same for the hack – I have a hack that has a metal band and a snaffle bit on it and he does listen but I hate it! I feel like it is abuse :(. Im at my wits-end its to the point that I don’t want to ride him sometimes and will pick one of our other horses. I need some new advice if you could help me I would love it. Thank-you
Answer from April Reeves, Horseman’s U.com: You have good gut instincts, as the harder the bit, the tougher the horse is going to be, and some of the equipment you have is abusive, even in light hands. There are very few harsher bits that have any purpose being near a horse, and they must have some result that is acquired without heavy handling.
Horses that do not respond to tougher bits and equipment are not bad or insensitive. They are a result of improper training.
Problem is, humans resort to harder bits because they don’t want to take the time to train the horse properly. The horse just gets use to the pain and pressure, which causes the bit to stop working, so the human seeks a harder bit, and so the evil process proliferates. Some humans don’t care about the horse’s well being either. This is life.
Whenever you get a tough mouthed horse, lower the harshness on the bit – find the softest one on the market and use it. Why? Horses will fight pain. They will become resistant and irritated, and that always plays out in “bad” behavior (human’s interpretation). The behavior is not bad to the horse: he’s just trying to protect himself. When you take the pain away, you give the horse a chance to work for you. A happy horse free of pain is a horse that will work harder, learn faster and bond with you better.
Question: I have a Quarter Horse mare who is very calm tempered which I love. My problem is getting her into a canter. She is willing to walk, trot, but when I give her the cue to canter she resists and sometimes very strongly. My instructor says to use a lot of leg which I’m trying to do but she still tries to get out of it. I’m not pulling back when I ask her to go into it. If I use a crop she is better but still doesn’t like it. I can get her to do it but it’s always a struggle. Will it get better with more practice? I would love your thoughts/advice.
Answer from April Reeves: Using more leg is not the answer and this is why. Horses should be obedient from the very first signal (aid), and that signal should be a very light pressure in order to obtain what you want, at exactly when you want it. If you find that a horse does not respond the first time, nor the second time, and not any time after that, it’s likely (100%) that the horse will never respond to a soft aid, or any aid for that matter. The more you ask without response, the duller your horse will get, as you are effectively training the horse to be dull. We, as humans, usually think the horse is being bad, but we unconsciously train our horses to be dull and disobedient. Just as the horse will pick up a new request when the request is clear, they will also pick up dullness and lethargy with the same enthusiasm if you nag them.
Question: I have a 9 year old Quarter Horse who used to be a great trail horse and good around kids. We moved and had her boarded for about 4 years. We couldn’t go ride her because she was about 7 hours away. Now that we have her in the pasture the kids want to ride her. She hasn’t been ridden for about 3 1/2 years. She is not afraid of the saddle or anyone being on her but when you get on her, she won’t move one step unless someone is leading her. I really don’t want to sell her because the kids love her. What should I do?
Answer from April Reeves: You are merely steps away from having a really good horse again. When that amount of time is lost from riding a horse, they will forget the odd thing. If their training has been solid, they won’t come back with bad habits; just forgotten ones.
Question: Last year I purchased a 2-year-old quarter horse filly. She is a complete doll but when I was starting her she turned up lame. I was boarding her at a stable with someone that had 30 years + experience with Arabians. I asked that she would be fed a hay mixture with little alfalfa as she was still young and growing. Soon after I went away and was not able to see my filly for a while. I asked one of my friends to go and check on her and spend time with her. Soon after I left, my friend informed me that my filly was receiving pure alfalfa. I had her moved. When I returned I waited a while as my filly grew about so much and her butt was about 2 hands higher than her withers She evened out some and then I started her. Soon after she was stiff in her left hock. I called the vet and I was told by that she had a bone lesion (spur) in her hock, then seeking another opinion another vet told me all she needed was her hock injected and stall rest and she would recover. I am wondering was you think? I stopped working with her while waiting for a slot with the vet to open up and she was fine…. so I lunged her a little and she was fine for about a week and then her hock started to hurt again. I then contacted another vet and they came and looked at her and they too though all she needed was her hocks injected. How long do you think it will take her to recover?
Answer from April Reeves: First, I am so glad you called not one, but two vets. To all who read this, you are a ‘shining’ example of the care and attention a horse needs.
Hock injections can and do work, but there are many questions that need to be answered before anyone injects anything.
Question: I have a 2yo AQHA show prospect in training in the US (I’m in Canada), what should my expectations be for the first 90 days? She is a well handled, reasonable filly with great ground manners. She has been worked with, saddled previously and even done a little showing in LL (but still sound and sane) with no issues. Any advice?
Answer From April Reeves: Great question, as I have seen some pretty sad horses return from ‘training’. I had the privilege one day to ride an expensive reining colt, returning with 3 months of ‘pro’ work on it. I lost half of my face from this ride.
Good foundation work on a 2 year old should only consist of the following: