Advice Please - Discovered my new mare rears...

I See Clover

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I bought my mare just over a week ago now, but have been riding her on and off since October last year; I rode her in weekly lessons with the university. So, as you might gather, she was owned by a riding school (a well named one at that) and used for intermediate classes.

She is super in every way and very well behaved - until it comes to hacking that is. Before I bought her, the previous owners did tell me that she can be a bit nappy - she does it at the same spot every time and once you leg her on, she's fine.

So before I bought her, I took her on a hack with another horse. She done exactly as they had described (stopped, backed up, tried to turn home etc), but I kept legging her on and she was fine (napping lasted for a couple of minutes max). She was quite excitable after that and jogged for the rest of the hack and the whole way home.

However, I never thought to try hacking her on her own aswell - very silly of me not to think of it, I know. They had never hacked her out on her own, they'd always had company, so never really knew what she was like.

So took her on a short hack this morning on her own.To be on the safe side, my mum walked along with us just incase anything were to happen. Came to the end of the farm road and she done the usual. But this time she chucked in 2/3 decent sized rears. This episode lasted a bit longer than last time, maybe around 5 minutes. Mum had to catch up and ended up leading her forward for a couple of minutes.

We got on to the road and she made a half hearted attempted to nap, legged her on and she was fine. On the way back she was perfect - much calmer than last time and didn't jog at all.

I tried to concentrate on working her so she would be focusing on that more, but it didn't seem to work. She is too alert to what is going on around her and can be quite spooky so it is very difficult to hold her full concentration.

My mum thinks I need to be a little more dominant with her and constantly keep my leg on her when she naps/rears. I think she was worse today because she was on her own and she was trying to test her luck with me. Also, because she can be a whoose and over-alert, the rearing might have been out of fear....

Never had a rearing horse before - so have no idea how to handle it. My mum isn't that worried about it and neither is my riding instructor. Is that normal?? Am I just worrying about the whole thing too much?

Sorry about the long winded description - any advice greatly appreciated.

B&J's icecream to those who have read this far!
 

Booboos

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Sounds like typical napping unfortunately, but from what you say you handled it really well and achieved what you set out to do. What you do from now on depends entirely on you. She is very likely to try it on again, then again she is likely to get over it if you continue persevering, however if she scares you and you want to hack on your own a lot then maybe she is not the horse for you purely because riding is supposed to be fun!

How bad were the rears? I tend to think of rears in three categories:
a. little jumps off the ground, either ignore these or kick her on
b. proper lifts off the ground but nowhere near vertical, try lowering one hand and seeing if you can give the rein one good tug to get her back down to earth, then big kick to send her forwards, or keep head and neck flexed to one side, you may end up doing circles this way but she will be less likely to rear
c. truly vertical lifts, rider needs to get arms around neck to push all the weight forward, horse may be in danger of going over backwards. These are completely beyond me and I would seek professional help asap!!
 

Allover

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Sounds like typical napping unfortunately, but from what you say you handled it really well and achieved what you set out to do. What you do from now on depends entirely on you. She is very likely to try it on again, then again she is likely to get over it if you continue persevering, however if she scares you and you want to hack on your own a lot then maybe she is not the horse for you purely because riding is supposed to be fun!

How bad were the rears? I tend to think of rears in three categories:
a. little jumps off the ground, either ignore these or kick her on
b. proper lifts off the ground but nowhere near vertical, try lowering one hand and seeing if you can give the rein one good tug to get her back down to earth, then big kick to send her forwards, or keep head and neck flexed to one side, you may end up doing circles this way but she will be less likely to rear
c. truly vertical lifts, rider needs to get arms around neck to push all the weight forward, horse may be in danger of going over backwards. These are completely beyond me and I would seek professional help asap!!
Ditto this, i dont know how competent a rider you are but if you are worried then i would suggest getting a good local trainer to ride the mare out for you on her own to stop the behaviour before it gets any worse, being able to ride horses through nappy behaviour takes a certain amount of experience and doing the worng thing at the wrong time can make matter 10xs worse.

Dont give up though, she is probably just trying you out for size!!! :)
 

zoon

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My horse used to be like that. I emphasise that he WAS like it and isn't now! So you know it can be over come. But it does take a lot of time and patience.

Mine would do it at the gate way to the yard and refuse to go out. He'd back up, rear and spin. The rears were never high enough to unseat me or risk him going over, but big enough to unnerve me.

So for many years I didn't hack, or only hack in company ever so often when some kind person offered to come out with me. When out in company, he was a saint even if the other horse was mucking about.

Then I moved to a yard with very good hacking and there happened to be a 5 minute little loop you could do out ofthe yard, up a grass track, along a quiet path with a few houses and then back down the lane to the yard. I started walking him out in hand as often as possible around that loop always the same way around until it became boring and normal. He viewed it as part of the yard and therefore it was "safe" in his eyes.

Then we went out under saddle, at first with a person on the ground (they didn't mind as it was less than 5 mins!) and then very quickly on our own as it was boring to him. Then we went around the loop the other way around in hand a few times before riding it.

If he was silly I'd sit it out and wait for him to get over it. The important thing I found was not to let him turn around and if he did to turn him straight back around again. I also found when he was reversing, spinning and rearing the best thing to do was just sit very quietly and wait for him to stop - no leg. Once he stopped and stood still (always facing in the direction you want to go) I'd give him a little scratch on the withers as this seemed to calm him - a pat on the neck or whatever works for your mare will do, I'd wait a few moments for him to chill just looking in the direction I wanted to go and then gently apply leg. If he went backwards or tried to turn or reared, I'd sit quietly but keep the contact so he couldn't turn around. If he went forwards he'd get praise and another scratch on the withers.

I found if I was legging him on when he was being stupid, it just wound him up and he'd get worse. Sitting quietly, but not allowing him to turn meant he realised it got him no where. He could reverse (I could never stop him going backwards!), but he'd always be facing the way he didn't want to go so it got him no where and going backwards was hard work! He soon realised it was easier to go forwards.

I could feel it when it was genuine fear rather than nappy behaviour and i'd let him stop and look at whatever was scary, calm down, get a scratch on the withers and we'd move forward. maybe just a step at a time before he'd stop again - but I never let him turn!

Eventually, he went round the loop no problem and one day we turned the other way instead of turning back to the yard. I had planned another short loop (good job I had all these options around my yard!) and used my methods above and we eventually got round.

With vast amounts of patience (I spend more time sitting and waiting than going frwards for a long time!) and lots of repetition, we got him hacking happily alone.

Then I moved yards again and from day 1 I hacked him out alone. I found this worked as he didn't have the yard as a comfort zone yet as he wasn't settled. Had a lot of stick for it as people said I should let him settle before I went hacking, but getting straight in to it meant we didn't let the yard develop into a sticking zone! He wasn't nappy at the gate, but we had a few stopping and starting moments out and about from things he was unsure of. I just sat and let him look, didn't let him turn and gave him praise and reassurance when he was calm.

Since then, no matter what yard we're at (we've moved a couple of times over the years since then) he has always hacked alone. Unsure at first of new things, but the napping at the gate has stopped and the rearing has stopped. I found the yard move was the making of us - throwing him into a new environment and out of his comfort zone and making the hacking normal from day 1 - they settle into the routes just as they settle into a new yard.
 

tashyisaudrey

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My horse used to nap and rear a lot. It's a nightmare but you just have to persevere and it sounds like you handled it really well. I actually think riding in company can make a horse more nappy so maybe try and avoid that for now - it reenforces the need to have horses around her but at the same time be safe! You handled that well but the question I want to ask is - what if she rears higher next time? I would focus on your relationship on the ground - building the trust. Join up in a round pen works well. But also groundwork exercises so she learns that YOU are in control of the situation. The more YOU are in control of her situations the less concerned she will be out hacking alone. It's herd separation so you have to be her leader, someone she can trust. You can ride through a problem but that doesn't cure the problem - it can make it worse. Get her back tack and teeth checked too just to put your mind at rest. It could be pain. My horse was like this for two years but I persevered with lots of groundwork and now she'll go anywhere with me. So I speak from experience!! But she would do full vertical lifts!! Good luck - I reccommend books by Kelly marks and michael peace for this problem as there ate tonnes of exercises you can do :)
 

tashyisaudrey

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Yes definitely ditto the leading in hand! Again - you're in control on the ground and therefore in control of the situation. Also just remembered - don't use the whip. This really winds them up and you can get into the pattern of the horse rearing higher and higher. Try asking for leg yield to get moving forwards and only use your leg. Stay calm even tho you feel like tearing your hair out in frustration because unfortunately if you get angry the horse will think you are frightened, and not in control and that he or she was right to nap in the first place. Then your back to square one again. Also don't get someone to walk in front it will just enforce the behaviour. Try circular routes and never turn back on yourself if you can avoid it. But no shame in leading. It's very effective. Like I said - after two years of hell with my horse, when we finished our first ride on our own with no problems I burst into tears! Long struggle but def worth it!
 

I See Clover

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Hi,

Thank you for all the replies - I feel much more reassured now.

Booboos:
Her rearing didn't scare me, I just didn't expect it and felt like I didn't really know what to do. To begin with, I'd say she was in the first category (little jump to the side), but it followed with 2/3 rears of the second category (proper lifts off the ground but nowhere near vertical).

Allover:
I would say I'm a fairly confident rider most of the time and her rearing doesn't make me feel like I couldn't carry on. As to being competent - I'm not a novice rider, but I don't have vast amounts of experience either (I'm somewhere in the middle :p). My last two horses napped when I first had them, but I persevered and eventually they realised that it was much easier to go forward. But, I've never had a horse that has reared before. I think I'm too determined to give up on her and I completely agree that she is probably just trying me to see how far she can push it!

Zoon:
I will definitely try walking her in-hand. At the moment she is still kept at the yard she was at as I am currently on a waiting list for the yard I want to move her too. The hacking where she is now, is quite good, but there are no loops so we are always turning back the way we came to get home. This definitely doesn't help and might even be reinforcing her bad behaviour.

However, I been given a time frame of 3-6 weeks of moving to the new yard which has excellent hacking and nearly all routes are circular, so no need to turn back the way we came. I think this will make things easier for the both of us. Once we have moved, I will get her hacking straight away before she establishes her 'safe' zones like you said.

Tashyisaudrey:
Yes, I agree with you - for now, I think we will be hacking out alone until she improves, then I start hacking out with others. Unfortunately, we do not have a round pen, but I have been spending a lot of time with her on the ground. Since I've had her, all we've done is ground work, some cross poles and lot's of exercises in the arena - I will keep this up so that I can build up a relationship with her and so she can gain trust in me also. Thank you for recommending the books, I will have a look into them!

My mum walked behind us on the hack, but came to assistance when the rearing started. That’s when she lead me forward until A settled down. I daresay I will be very much the same when we overcome this too :rolleyes:
 

mystiandsunny

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Lilly used to rear, she has pretty much stopped now but is prone to rearing when she's scared of something. I'd imagine if I put a new rider on her in a new place, that she'd do it again, as she doesn't now 'cause she trusts me and is settled. Probably what has happened with your mare. Just calmly ride her forward, nagging all the time and never giving up. Don't stress her out with massive kicks/whip (or she may get too stressed and go higher), just keep irritating her with your constant leg until she finds the confidence to go forwards on her own.

Many nappy horses are insecure away from the yard and that's why they do it. Riding out with a friend will give her confidence, although I found it was best to go in front and only get a lead when I really needed one, then she learnt to face her fears on her own.

Good luck, I'm sure she'll get over this soon!
 

SophieLouBee

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I used to ride a ptp horse, who could rear for england, when you got on, he bronked for about 2 mins, then unless you were going forward in a straight line, he reared. He was a total and utter prat.

He was fine as long as I really made him go forward, couldn't go up if he was going forward. I know it's hard not to let them stop, but it really helps, leg on at all times, whip if needed. Be firm and mean it, no half hearted attempts! This doesn't mean un-nerve the horse, you need to be positive as well as firm, giving the right message.

I also own a 16.2 shirex, who is also an idiot, spins and mini-rears, he will only respond if I shout at him, it's like he needs the sound to break through a barrier in his brain. He is very dumb.

Hope you succeed with her! :)
 

Izzwizz

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My mare was nappy when I first had her. She wouldnt go off the end of that yard and used to back up quite spectacuarly. She took a while to settle into her new home and I started off the hacking out alone by taking her out in hand along a familiar route, then riding it with someone walking, then riding it on our own. When we had cracked this I then added bits onto it and before long we were going further without her really realising it. Its just lack of confidence and you have to be fair but firm. I always carry a schooling whip, praise her like mad when shes been brave, and talk to her an awful lot. Shes so good now its not the same horse that I bought 5 yrs ago. She is spooky at say a blowing crisp packet but will go past roadworks and men down holes with drills going without batting an eyelid. Time and patience help and the bond that you will forge between you will seal her confidence. Good luck, the results will be so satisfying and rewarding.
 

V1NN

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I think the fact that you pushed her through it and she was fine after and you were not scared by her, hope fully if you take her out a few more times and again just push her through it she should get over it and realise she isnt going to win by doing this, and therefor hopefully she'll stop doing it. x
 

Ludi-doodi

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Haven't read the other replies, but a now retired instructor of mine was helping someone on our yard with a nappy gelding who'd rear when try to take him off the yard on his own. Her advice was as soon as you feel the first 'threat' of the rear, turn their head towards your knee and shoulder fore/in to get them moving. They can only rear when they have their head/neck straight if it's turned tightly towards you then they can't rear. It seemed to work well with horse in question, yes, he'd tried strop a bit and try to walk backwards but like you was simply pushed on and not allowed to. Eventually he got the message, go forward and life is easy, go back and it's not!

Good luck!
 
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