Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reader Question on QH-Morgan cross with Bad Ground Manners Including Rearing

A reader sent me the following question on a horse of theirs with bad ground manners,…”I recently bought a Quarter Morgan cross she has horrible ground manners. Last time I took her out off the halter she bucked and reared and I had a hell of a time getting back under control. I have been doing basic round pen work with her and trying to get her to pay more attention to me. Any suggestions to help her and I get on the same page. I like her spunk but I like my fingers and arms too lol. Thank you”

Having fingers are good. Having thumbs is what separates us from monkeys, although I have seen people act as monkeys when working around horses.

If your QH-Morgan mare is stalled or not handled for days on end, especially when the weather is cold, then this will tend to make them more “energetic”. If you are using a webbing halter, then I suggest you get a good rope halter such as a Double Diamond Halter and tied on lead rope. Your horse should, of course, stand still as you remove the halter, and should even position her head to make it easier for you to remove the halter and not move off until you walk away.

Re-building ground manners starts from haltering and instilling these habits. She'll learn from the release of pressure be it pressure from the halter or pressure that she perceives from you. I would lead her around until she does everything I ask her to do under halter, before turning her loose. I would walk off, stopping, back then standing still. Mix it up some.

She’ll rapidly figure out what you want. If she doesn’t stop then back her with a bump on the lead rope tied to your rope halter. I like my horses to stop immediately when I stop, even at a jog, then back one step. This will translate to a better stop under saddle. When she is correctly position then let her stand for a few seconds then move off. Not necessarily each time you walk of then stop, but more than occasionally, I would also stop and back her. Horses get better at almost everything else when they can back well. But you have to stop before they want to stop or before they resist otherwise it does no good.

When I’m leading or lunging a horse on a long lead or lunge line and they rear, I sharply bump on the lead line as their front end is off the ground,…this is a good point on why the rope halter is good. I didn't have much effect on one horse, until he time he reared, I bumped the halter lead sharply then back him with energy.

Before I take off the halter, I ask the horse to drop his head through a slight downward pressure on the lead line and slight downward pressure with my off hand on their poll. You need to quickly release the pressure at the slightest try in dropping their head. Several repetitions will make them better at this, until they can drop their head, like in a collected position – nose vertical, and hold it there until you take the halter off and walk away.

I would try to keep on hand (left) on the lead and use my right hand to un-tie the halter,...if the horse tries to move away before the halter is off you can use the lead rope to bump her and get her attention.

I hope this helps you. A QH-Morgan horse is an excellent cross. Safe Journey.

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