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of the Month
have been taking notes on questions and issues that I’ve heard
from you and around the horse community for awhile and created
a new section on my website called “Questions of the Month”.
I am not going to use any names but will rephrase the questions
and provide the answers to be helpful to everyone.
an experienced horsewomen. I have two horses, a quarab x warmblood
gelding and a AQHA mare that wont move. They have not been ridden
in about 2 to 3 years. I have tried everything! Also they won't
lunge eihter. My mare will not respond to the lunge whip and
turns to face me when i try to make her move. I have even tried
tin cans, they worked for about two circles and then she gets
mad and either trys to bolt or charges straight for the person
that is lunging her. Im not a pro. or a trainer. but I have
tried everything that i have found. Can you please help me!
MA: Thanks for your letter. I'm not sure what you mean by they
won't move, but guess you mean they are stopping and unwilling
to move forward both on the ground and under saddle?
What is their living environment like? What are they eating?
How old are they, etc.? Where are you/they located? Let me know
more and I can answer your questions a bit better.
Thanks, Mary Midkiff
figured out how to get them to go forward. They need a little
encouragement and they need to ride together. My mare is a 9 year
old AQHA and my gelding is about 15 year old quarab x warmblood.
They are both very healthy. They each get a coffee mug of sweet
feed to make their hooves grow faster and a slice of hay. They
live in a part field/part woody area, it's a little less than
an acre. They are ridden every day. I have a new question. Do
you know how to get them to ride seperate!!!???!!?!!?!!?
MA: To get them to go out and away from each other you are going
to have to start separating them and adding a surrogate friend
in. I would recommend getting a couple of sheep, llamas or goats
or ponies or retired horses to "baby sit" the horse that is
left alone while you take the other out for a ride. This may
take some time but creating the safety of a herd should work
for separation anxiety.
It sounds like they are bonded very deeply and depend on each
other. So try adding in a few more friends and that should help.
You can also give the one left behind a flake of hay while you
ride the other.
Another idea to help you out at least temporarily is to give
Bach Flower Rescue Remedy to the one left behind. You can buy
this product at any health food store. Just put about 3-4 drops
in the mouth of the horse you plan on leaving behind and this
will help ease anxiety and create relaxation. If the horse you
are riding is upset too, give him or her 3-4 drops in their
mouth about 10 minutes before you ride. It really works well
to help their emotions but they will still be active and working
Best wishes, Mary
note from MA: Thanks a lot for your help. I tried the Rescue
Rememdy and what do you know! It works. I went out and bought
some of it yesterday! Thank you, MA]
Mary, Here's the scenario. I rode my mare today, first 30 minutes
in the pen, after groundwork. Groundwork went fine, she seems
to enjoy our time together. Saddle is a different story, typical
of what it's been like so far. Lots of ear pinning, threatens
to buck, reaches around into increasingly small circles. I spent
the whole time at walk and trot, working at moving forward in
a straight line. Finally felt like I was making some progress
and had decent control. As an experiment I had decided to go
"outside the box", so opened the gate and went out into the
plowed field. She immediately was a different horse. Walked
and trotted willingly, no head slinging, no ear pinning. Went
west away from the barn with only slight anxiety. Rode to the
fenceline then south, turned around and rode north to the corner.
The ground is very soft but no resistance on her part, only
some anxiety about the idiots in the barn calling to her. At
one point she(on her own) fell into a canter and so we loped
for a ways. She was for the most part controlable, though by
no means the compliant ride I envision. Still, we had a great
time and it did feel wonderful.
any suggestions on combining the work we need without playing
into what she clearly thinks is a miserable way to spend our
time? I know the logical thing to do would be to work outside,
but I"m not sure I feel safe without some time in the pen to
establish and practice control. Sue H.
Thanks for your letter. I will send you an article about feeding
alfalfa and all that it does in and to the horse’s body. Changing
to grass hay will be one step toward gaining relaxation and
focus from your mare.
you have already shared some of her history with me, I can deduce
that in the pen environment she only thinks about the work,
the pain and tightness in her body, the saddle fit, and pressure
to do something with/for the rider. The pen represents a highly
pressure packed environment and her nervous system gets defensive
and elevates to handle the stress, therefore, releasing adrenaline
into the blood stream and shutting down the healthy brain function.
It sounds like in the past the person that was asking/telling
her what to do did not listen and did not care what she thought
as long as she obeyed. They also did not teach her to think
on her own and allow her time to process. So you’ve got lots
of “pen work baggage” you/she is dealing with. I’ll give her
lots of credit for keeping her soul in tact through all of this.
Some horses get wild and neurotic others go deep inside and
become dull and lifeless. I think you rescued her in time to
where she is not beyond help. When I met her she seemed to be
saying she wants a way out and to be happy with you as her partner.
you take her out of that environment into open land, her thought
patterns shift from all the baggage to looking out and exploring
the horizon. Her mind is off all the bad baggage. This does
not mean she is okay or in control it only means that the bad
stimuli is absent.
have to take care of all the baggage before you are going to
have the safe, comfortable, compliant, enjoyable horse that
you want. I think this is within the realm of accomplishment
but it will take probably a year (maybe less, depending on how
quickly she gets comfortable and can enjoy being ridden without
problems) of working with her, establishing trust, getting her
in good physical, mental and emotional condition, understanding
your ways of communication with her both on the ground and mounted,
body work, low protein feeding, foot balancing, teeth and mouth
balancing, proper saddle fit and gaining trust in you as her
would really help you both if you can get your round pen set
up. The enclosed area you are using now is too large for teaching
trust and communication. You need the close contact ability
and the sending away ability within a confined space for her
to start letting down and “joining or hooking up” with you.
you are local we can work together to rebuild your mare into
the partner you want. We have to remove over time the baggage
and any pain and tightness in her body. We have to slow the
world down for her to be able to process and release, process
and release. We change/shift all of this into a very relaxed
comfortable safe sense of well-being. I don’t think she’s beyond
rehabilitation and will make a very lovely partner if you are
willing to play the holistic game with her. I would be more
than happy to work you toward the goal of safety, comfort, reliability
and cooperativeness. But you will have to make the commitment
to get the body work done, the feet and mouth balanced, the
saddle properly fitted, feeding her a very low protein diet
and working with her at least 4 days per week.
Q & A