Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rearing Horse

Ed wrote “I have been working with a 7 year old green broke mare in the round pen, and around our place for about 6 months. My objective is to get her where she can ride me along the river trails next to our place. Our problem is that she works good for a while, then she tends to puff up, get stiff, and rear. She has put me on the ground twice, and the second time came all the way over. Fortunately, I went left, and she went right. Although she lost her mind, she did not run off, and after another 10 minutes in the round pen, I remounted her, and she rode me around the round pen for another 15 minutes or so before we went back to the barn. My question is can this mare be broke of the rearing, or, is she too dangerous to fool with any longer?”

Hey Ed, good for you to, after getting dumped, to get right back on. One question would be does she rear in the round pen when you work her off the ground? If you make it uncomfortable for them to have their front end off the ground by a hard jerk on the lead line. This requires good timing of course. Sometime they have to go over backward to figure out that’s what they don’t want to do....not a suggestion just an observation - hope that won't happen, but much better to have a horse do it in ground training than with a rider in the saddle.

I would make sure you remove any other source of her coming off the ground like too much pressure or no release from the bit; any teeth problems that may be associated with pain from a bit; or a bit seated too deep in the mouth. I knew a guy who had a problem with his horse coming off the ground sometimes and I associated that with his use of a mechanical hackamore and being too heavy handed, so the horse had no way to go but up to find a release from the pressure or pain.

A buddy of mine swore up and down that the only way to break a horse of rearing was to pull their head around causing them to fall to the side, bringing the ground side leg up and staying in the saddle, then get the horse up on his feet and put him to work. I reckon this was his version of pressure and release. I like the use of my own legs too much to try this on purpose.

One of my horses came off his front end a couple times and I reacted by whacking him on the chest with the poppers of my reins which caused him to bolt forward both times and I just doubled him and made him work hard for a few minutes. He hasn’t done it since,……doesn’t mean he won’t do it again given the right circumstances, nor does it mean I won’t see it again in another horse.

Sometimes a horse will get their back end up underneath themselves, especially in backing so their front end will come off the ground with all the shift of weight to their back end. Doesn't sound like this is your problem, but something to look for.

The bottom line is that coming up off the front end (rearing) is very dangerous as you know. If I couldn’t replicate it and fix that behavior in the round pen, on the ground first, then in the saddle, then I personally wouldn’t ride her out until I could fix it. However a lot of wet saddle blankets usually makes a pretty big difference in young green broke horses.

Good luck Ed and let me know how that mare is coming along. Safe Journey.

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