Comforting words needed please - fallen out with horse

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24 November 2007
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I bought my 4 year old Connie in September and our relationship has become progressively worse and despite all of my attempts to push on and build a bond he’s just not getting better.

He’s resisting being turned out in the mornings (I can’t work out why) and will just plant his feet every few steps. On the way back in from the field he’s so bullish he’s almost dangerous which is no fun at all, I get back to his stable shaking and hanging on to him. I have bought a monty Roberts headcollar which he hates but it does help him be a little safer.

In the school he is now almost unrideable as he naps and bucks when asked to go forward, and if I’m honest he has now frightened me.

Even tacking up he has now developed a habit of kicking out as soon as he feels the saddle hit his back (it has been checked and is fine), he also kicks out when I try and pick up his feet.

Hacking out he was ok but has recently begun to nap then too.

Lunging he fights, bucking and fearing leaving me hanging at the end of the lunge line terrified

I’m literally at the end of my tether. I am getting help fro the YO but I just dread going up to the yard twice a day, I can’t sell him in this state and I just don’t know where to go next. I try so hard to treat him with the respect he needs to build a mutual bond but then he tries something else on and I lose it in an instant.

Sorry for the long rant Im sitting here crying while writing this and just don’t know what to try next.
 

ihatework

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Firstly I would get a full vet check.
Then, assuming nothing wrong, would send him on full livery to an experienced but sympathetic schooling yard and get some proper help to get to the bottom of his handling and riding issues. A yard that also teaches, so when they have the measure of him they can train you to reach that point too
 
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He’s got a clean bill of health, and lovely though that sounds I just can’t afford that sort of livery. The only thing I can think to do at the moment is to turn him away for a few months to give us both a break, but perhaps that’s just delaying the problem.
 

ihatework

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He’s got a clean bill of health, and lovely though that sounds I just can’t afford that sort of livery. The only thing I can think to do at the moment is to turn him away for a few months to give us both a break, but perhaps that’s just delaying the problem.
It’s likely only delaying the problem but probably better than staying on a negative downward spiral.

I’m afraid if you buy a 4yo you have to be prepared to invest in its development if you aren’t experienced enough to do it solo.
 
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It does not sound a happy pony, the kicking out when the saddle is on sounds like pain. I know you said he has a clean bill but when was the last time his back was checked and the saddle. Turning away will only make this worse if there is actually nothing wrong with him.

You need to nip this in the bud as at 4 years old they are soaking up their environment and need a good positive human to show them the correct way forward before it gets learned behavior.

Re checking is expensive but this pony is 'yelling' at you that something is not right please listen to him.

I would sort his ground issues out before getting back on board to help with your confidence as well
 

SpringArising

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When you say he has a clean bill of health, what has been checked?

To me it sounds like he's taking the piss as he knows you're scared of him. So IIWY the first thing I would do is send him on schooling livery for a month. If his behaviour improves, you are more than likely the problem (no offence!).
 
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I feel your pain!

He sounds very similar to my boy when I got him as a 3 year old. He was just awful, to the point where everyone told me to sell him! He would rear, spin, barge, bite, turn his bum on me, slam his feet down, anything bad, he would do. He wasn't in pain, he was just a 3yr old Anglo Arab with a mega bad attitude.

Unfortunately it was just perseverance and trying different techniques until I found things that worked for us. I started leading him in a chifney, I didn't want to but it transformed his leading.

Richard Maxwell technique has worked wonders for us, I had to have him out to solve his loading issue and have since used a couple of the exercises to good effect when he has been pushing the boundaries.

One friend, an experienced horse man, said to me, stop trying to be his friend, be the leader and his friendship will follow, these are very wise words for this kind of horse!
 
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Not a happy horse. You say hes been checked, how? Is he like it for everyone or just you? I'd say pain as well. Stops on the way to the field after being stabled.. I'd guess hocks, stifle? locking stifle? Kicking out with saddle on, hes saying, this is going to hurt get that off me. I bet hes had a physio or saddle checker out.. they can't tell you if hes in pain, you need a vet to take a look. Hes only a baby bless him.

Definitely worth getting him checked out to check if its pain or behavior.

Try a strong bute trial, see if his behaviour changes.
 

Ambers Echo

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I think a Bute trial is a great idea. My daughter's pony also had lots of problems and checked out fine repeatedly: scoped for ulcers, lameness work up, physio etc - all fine. But she was not fine at all. The bute trial really clarified things for us: she was simply a different pony on bute. It's less expensive than re-doing lots of other investigations.
 

Auslander

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Newboult - I will try to phrase this gently, as it is not my intention to be mean, but you have said he has a clean bill of health in previous posts, and never answered anyone who has asked you to be more specific about what tests/investigations he's had.
I am often on the fence about "He must be in pain" comments on threads about behaviour - but in this case, I strongly suspect that this horse is trying his best to tell you that something is wrong. Please tell us what investigations have been carried out, so that we can understand the situation better
 

ImmyS

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Firstly, just breath and take yourself out of the situation
For a minute. Ive felt very similar to you at times over this last year with my 4 year old and have a number of times been reduced to tears. My 4 year has not demonstrated the problems you have described, but he is extremely nervous, and progress can be very hit and miss, quite often going back a few steps!
I was in tears the other day because I went out to see my 4 year old after not being able to get to to the yard in a week and he just ran away from me scared, cue tears and oh god we’ve gone back to square one. But you know what I stepped back, got perspective, he’s a young horse, known for being nervous, hadn’t seen me for a week, had been in a different routine and the whether had been crap. So the last few I’ve got back into a very strict routine, groundwork sessions twice a day and he’s already come on leaps and bounds. Young horses need confidence, calm and consistency from their handler.
From your posts you need to get some perspective, you’ve got a young horse on limited turn out, possibly being over fed, little exercise and a nervous handler - where does this horse get it’s confidence from? This horse just generally seems confused and frustrated at the moment.
I would recommend going right back to basics, with help on the ground, I always use a rope halter and long rope. Clicker training can be useful if it’s something that interests you.
Or turn away and be prepared to go right back to basics in the spring preferably with professional help.
What I’m trying say is don’t beat yourself up, it can be a tough process.

I’m saying this all providing all physical checks have been made as that would be my first port of call. You can then start to form a working relationship once pain has been ruled out or treated if needed.
 
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What was he like when you bought him? Was he over from Ireland or in the uk?
Most connies whilst being extremely intelligent are generally fairly straight forward fun guys. Of course always an exception to the rule but he clearly sounds extremely unhappy. Have you had a full work up inc x Ray of his back and scoped for ulcers?
 

Fiona

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When you say he has checked out OK, how do you define that???

Has the vet seen him, including checking for ulcers? Has his saddle been checked? Have his teeth been checked??

What does your YO think? Can she handle him to turn him in and out?

We cannot help unless we have more information, and you aren't giving much away :(

Fiona
 
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Please get some help from someone with experience of quirky Connemaras. Much as they can often be great all-rounders and performance ponies, equally often they can be incredibly, unbelievably difficult and quirky. It would be really interesting to do some research in to all the posts on H&H about behavioural difficulties and breeds of horses. As I went to open your post, I thought... "Bet this is a Connie..." Yep! Scroll down a bit and there's another post about behavioural difficulties... "Bet this is a Connie..." Yep! A five-year-old.

Honestly, before I owned a Connemara I thought they had a reputation as wonderful children's ponies and all-rounders. Having owned one for years now and having competed in Connemara-specific showing classes, performance classes, whp, etc. I've met many, many other owners of Connemaras, and everyone, every single one, has a story to tell about this or that Connemara that was the trickiest pony they have ever come across. People will raise their eyebrows and say, "Quirky Connie?" or nod at their own and say, "Quirky Connie!" I've lost count of the number of people who have said to me, "Don't blame yourself; I'd NEVER have another Connie." It's only when you have one that you start to meet others with one just the same.

Don't get me wrong. They are AMAZING, and I had more success with my quirky one than with any pony before or since, but they can be incredibly challenging.

Everything... everything you describe is exactly what I experienced. The not going to the field, the not coming in, the planting, the ridiculous throwing himself around, impossible to keep him safe on the lunge, just being difficult in every context. Mine had every health check under the sun and more besides, ulcer scopes, back x-rays, every joint in every limb x-rayed. NOTHING wrong with him. In most cases I would be the first person to say, "pain" if a horse is being difficult, but I swear to god... some Connies are just like this for no reason whatsoever. I could point to a huge number of extremely competent professionals who have also experienced this with Connies.

I still compete with mine. On a good day he will go through the card and win everything and take supreme champion. On a bad day I won't make it to the ring from the lorry park. I have NO idea which Connemara I have until I actually get to the show, drop the ramp, and watch his reaction to being there. Over the years we have done all sorts of record keeping and experiments to try to figure out a pattern so that we can understand it better or at least avoid situations where he's not going to be at his best. There is absolutely no pattern to it that we can find; it seems completely and utterly random.

Sorry, I have probably not helped there at all. I think my main message is that you are not alone; it's not necessarily anything you are doing wrong; do scope for ulcers to rule that out; do find someone to help you who has experience with quirky Connies.
 

Tarragon

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Poor you - it looks like you are a little out of your depth and need some help.
Perhaps take a step back for a week or two just to prevent it from getting worse - can you get help from the YO for a few days?
I would then see if you can get some professional help to come to you so that they can evaluate you and the horse and also for you to find out how the horses behaves with someone else.
Then you probably have enough information to make a more informed decision as to whether it is vet or professional help or both (probably this one)
 

Pinkvboots

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Newboult - I will try to phrase this gently, as it is not my intention to be mean, but you have said he has a clean bill of health in previous posts, and never answered anyone who has asked you to be more specific about what tests/investigations he's had.
I am often on the fence about "He must be in pain" comments on threads about behaviour - but in this case, I strongly suspect that this horse is trying his best to tell you that something is wrong. Please tell us what investigations have been carried out, so that we can understand the situation better
This definitely you need to tell us what vet checks have been done, horses don't generally behave like this without reason.
 

blitznbobs

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He’s in pain -I’d put money on it... a change in behaviour like this is pain... vets miss stuff could you try a course of Danilon or similar to see if there is a physical problem - I’d be almost sure there is.
 

be positive

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You have posted numerous threads about problems with this pony and also the yard over the past few months, to me he sounds like a barely started, probably far greener than you thought, confused pony who doesn't know right from wrong and is getting no help to learn from his owner, you are not really to blame as you have taken on something you were ill prepared for in almost every way and are now experiencing a total loss of self confidence that is making matters worse.

There may be a physical issue but in my experience it is far more likely that he is becoming worried and this is showing in him being bolshy, I would forget ideas about building a bond, horses take their confidence from their handler/ rider, they will respect you if you give clear, consistent instructions that they can understand and I am not sure he understands you or what you want and you are getting ever more nervous which he will feel and that will be even more confusing for him.

If your YO is going to help then they need to have an action plan to get you back on track, to give you the confidence, even if it is a bit put on, to take control and be there every time you handle him until it is going in the right direction, if they cannot put in the time or you cannot afford to pay then I would either turn him away and save up to send him away in the spring or consider selling him as a project as he is, you will take a loss but it may be best for you both.

The above is not meant to be negative, although it may come across that way, it is exactly how I would put it to a client of mine if they were in a similar situation, one of my liveries would never have ended up where you are because I will step in and help before it gets out of control but I have had "problem" horses arrive with very similar histories and they needed an honest appraisal in order to come to a decision and move forward in whatever direction seemed best, you need help but first need to be totally realistic about your options.

I don't think you are near enough for me to be able to help but if you put your rough area in someone may know the right person near you.
 

amymay

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I've never had a Connie, but my understanding is that they can be 'tricky'. As can four year old's generally. So you have a double whammy (potentially).

If you're confident that there's nothing wrong, then it's time to enlist some professional help.

You could also contact Michen on here who has a wealth of experience of the breed.
 

tristar

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because of the origins connies come from i am not surprised about the challenging ways, probably at its worst at 4 years old, i know this attitude very very well, and you are not to blame for his attitude, if you make certain it is not pain related.

the first thing to do is write down all the problems then list all the obvious solutions, ie he leads badly and is intimidating to you whilst being led ~ solution to try,put on bridle, only use bridle to lead and long lead, get kind person to help and assist in teaching him over a period of a week to lead kindly and halt when asked. do you get the plan?. no need to be violent or nervous just think things through before approaching him, take the view that you will make it impossible for him to take charge, the first lesson is to lead do not try lunging until he can lead mannerly, with the bit in his mouth if he plays up it will be him that snags himself in the mouth not you, he will understand this, and the instant he settles and leads nicely heap praise on him, i also use lots of carrot treats with horses like this, whatever it takes to do it kindly, he is probably a very bold and lively horse who is not using his youth and energy in a good way,

once you understand how his mind works and that its not you, he needs you to show him that life can be fun and working is good, once he gets passed this he will probably take great pride in his work and be very genuine, this is what i have found with these horses anyway.
 
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Clearly you're not happy and your horse isn't happy. Firstly remember you've not had him long. If you are convinced it's not pain related and you've had a full vet check etc. etc. I'd go back to basics. I'd get him in to a routine and just concentrate on handling for now. It sounds like you want people to tell you to turn him away. It's not the worst idea in that it sounds like he's not settled at the yard yet. However, I think you'll have given up on him and will he just become a field ornament? What's his turnout situation? Has he got company? Herd turnout would help him settle. It does sound like seperation anxiety to me... Nappy behaviour, not wanting to go out (alone?).
 

stormox

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Could I ask how experienced you are with young horses OP? Most young horses will push the boundaries and if they feel they are succeeding will push further.
I have had quite a bit to do with connemaras and they are usually rather self sufficient and bossy with other horses in their field - can revert to 'feral ,wild-pony, look after myself' attitude with humans too.
I think he sounds like a young pony who is a little bit too much for your experience and think you need an experienced helper before he gets entirely unmanageable.
 

Goldenstar

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So why do you think you horse is behaving like this because it’s not normal ?
Why does he hate going out for a start that’s very very strange for a youngster .
What are you feeding him ?
How much turnout is he getting ?
Does he have company when he’s turned out ?
It’s very very unwise to buy a four year old with out the resource to pay for help unless you have the experiance to cope .
TBH you need experianced help and so does the horse who will live with the consequences of a bad start for the whole of his life .
I don’t think you can ever give a horse and clean bill of health it’s only a case of much of how have you checked without finding something .
What exactly have the vets done in the way of a work up
 
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He sounds rather like my NF was at that age, I spent a long time trying to find what was 'wrong' with him. Turned out neither the vets nor the back lady not dentist could come up with anything it was all 'in his head' Assuming you are sure he is pain free, I suggest if possible you leave him turned out as much as you can. Handle him with a bridle or head collar & chain, IME a Dually will only work if you have been trained to use it. Forget about riding him for a few weeks, bring him in for a nice brush and take him for a walk in the arena again on a bridle, give him a very small feed when you are done & turn him out again. You need to gain his trust and make spending time with you a pleasure for him. Some natives like to be in charge of their people, mine is still trying it at 11 yrs old even though he knows I am boss. Always wear your hat, gloves and a BP when you are around him. Be firm but fair. Shouting and growling is ok when he is being bossy and maybe a slap on the chest to make him step back. Ground work, ground work & more ground work. I know the feeling when you don't have the spare cash to get the extra help but you can do it. Keep yourself safe
 
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Not sure where your Connie came from? If from Ireland as many do these days do you know his history? Maybe he came via one of the many sales, was ‘vetted’ as part of the sales process, sold as broken but do you know what this involved? Maybe just put on a saddle and off you go ...or not as the case may be. Four year old connies are often very immature, some bloodlines are quirky but by no means all. I don’t remember as many problem connies as there seem to be these days when l was young, and l suspect part of the problem is the growth in the market to bring them over to the U.K. for a quick profit. The phrase buy two and sell one to cover costs is frequently used. In your shoes if there are no vet issues l would be inclined to turn the pony away over the winter and bring back into work in the spring starting with basics as a refresher. See how you get on then and evaluate in the better weather.
 
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