Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Horse Won't Stand Still

Sam wrote....”I have a quarter horse that I have ridden for 9 years, since he was a 2 year old. Lately I have been attending ACTHA rides. He is calm on the trail and calm during the obstacles, but impatient while waiting for the other riders to complete their obstacle. I took some criticism for circling him last weekend, when he was tossing his head, fighting me and wanted to move on. He even squealed a little. I see this as kind of a spoiled brat behavior and I am not sure how to deal with it. I admittedly did not ride him a lot this year, but he has these moods where he is impatient and might even nip at me when I am leading him. I am considering a vet workup but I think if pain were his issue he would not only act this way when standing still under saddle. Thoughts on how to deal with this?”

Hey Sam, thanks for writing,….actually a problem with the horse not standing still when asked is more common than you would think. Some times it’s feed related. Some times it’s a pain or discomfort issue with the horse relating to bad saddle fit or a physical problem with their hooves or back or instance. A vet check is a good idea, especially if you suspect something.

It is more likely to be a problem that may be alleviated with a lot of wet saddle blankets, or time in the saddle, and, standing tied for awhile to have him teach himself patience. I am not talking about using a snugging post for hours on end,….. I’m simply saying having him tied for 30 minutes is not an unreasonable way to begin and you can go from there.

He may be simply a little buddy sour thinking his herd is moving on without him. I wouldn’t let the criticism bother you. I would think the ACTHA judges are there to judge how you and your horse negotiate an obstacle and not any pre-obstacle schooling of your horse. Of course, if you are standing close to other horses and riders, it is really annoying to have your horse moving around pushing into our horses. But, circling a horse in small circles, or moving his hind end around quickly then offering him a chance to stand still (pressure and release) is a common way to handle a horse who can’t stand still.

If you don't ride him a lot, say only once a week, I think you would see a big difference in his handle by adding a couple of short sessions each week.

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