How to deal with napping?

Sarah_Star

Well-Known Member
Joined
4 April 2008
Messages
229
Visit site
This is not strictly competiton-related but I thought someone might have some ideas.

I bought a new horse recently, he was perfect when I tried him out. Now I've got him and had him for about a month, but we're not getting on very well at the moment
crazy.gif


He naps in the school especially, now my instructor has told me to hold off schooling him for a while as he stands in the corner and starts rearing, you can turn him in a very small circle but as soon as you head away from the gate he stops. It's not massive rears, but I've never encountered this problem on my previous horses so don't know what to do. Maybe he will stop doing this once he has fully settled? He is fine to hack with others, but the napping issue arises again when hacking by himself. It's so frustrating as he was lovely to ride in his old home!

Anybody got any tips on dealing with napping? Or should I stop riding him altogether and get my instructor to ride him until he starts behaving? Not sure what to do because I really want to be able to deal with it myself but maybe I'm just not a good enough rider
blush.gif
 

figbat

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 April 2009
Messages
107
Location
South Oxon
Visit site
The only thing that works with napping is patience, and lots of it. First determine if it genuinely is napping and not some underlying problem like back, teeth, feet or other issue that he associates with working in the school. If it's not that then you should just keep at it, but rather than trying to get him schooling each time, simply try riding him in there and standing quietly, facing away from the entrance if possible. When he has settled and stood quietly for a bit, ride him quietly out and maybe go for a hack or do something he enjoys. Hopefully, over time, you will be able to spend more time in the school and get further and further into it until one day you both realise you're actually schooling and neither of you mind it.

Getting stressed and worked up, or trying to force him into the school will only imprint the problem and make it habit.
 

Sarah_Star

Well-Known Member
Joined
4 April 2008
Messages
229
Visit site
Thanks for the advice, I beleive that it is genuine napping as I took him in the school the other day to walk around it when another horse was in it, and he was fine. It's only when he's by himself that the issue starts. I was planning on trying to hack him, then after the hack take him in the school for 5 mins so maybe he's a bit more chilled out, then gradually increase time spent in school.

But at the moment I feel I'm just re-enforcing the problem, as every time he does it I get nervous and end up giving up, so he probably thinks that he's got away with it.
 

Mickyjoe

Well-Known Member
Joined
8 July 2008
Messages
633
Visit site
Might be worth getting his eyes checked too. I knew of a napper before - would spin and rear at the slightest opportunity and it eventually turned out that he had cataracts which had been missed in the vettings.
 

Booboos

Well-Known Member
Joined
5 January 2008
Messages
12,776
Location
South of France
Visit site
Start with the vet to make sure everything is OK. Does he have a new saddle? It would be worth re-checking that especially if the vet finds any soreness in his back. Vet will also advise if he needs to be seen by the physio.

If there is no physical problem, has anything changed in his routine from his old home? Is he being turned out? Can you cut down his feed? How old is he? How much work is he in? What was he used to doing in his old home? It might be worth calling up his old owners to see whether they came across this problem.

Then I would ask the instructor to get on him and assess why he is behaving this way. If he is scared, re-assuring him and re-inforcing him when he gets it right (e.g. a pat, a polo, taking small steps one at a time) is the way to go. However, if he is taking the mickey you may find that one sharp slap and a big pony club kick to send him onwards might be more helpful. Ýour instructor should be able to advise on the best approach and then talk you through what you should do. What does your instructor say at the moment? Why did she advise avoiding the school?


Good luck!
 

Booboos

Well-Known Member
Joined
5 January 2008
Messages
12,776
Location
South of France
Visit site
Sorry just saw your reply.

I always think it's worth checking with your vet first to eliminate any physical issues, but from what you say it sounds like a confidence issue. If you are feeling worried by his behaviour, get your instructor to ride him a few times and give him a bit more confidence. Meanwhile you can still school him and hack him with other horses around to built up your bond.
 

Sarah_Star

Well-Known Member
Joined
4 April 2008
Messages
229
Visit site
He didn't come with saddles so have recently got him a saddle, I could get his back looked at but surely if it was a physical issue he would not miraculously be cured of the napping when other horses were around? It's only when he's alone that he naps.

His routine is very similar to his old home, he gets 2 meals a day as he did back there, and gets all day turnout, which is what he had at his old home. He's generally ridden for 30-45 mins a day, he was in medium work at his old home. They gave me a copy of his routine- it says he was exercised for 40 mins a day.

The old owner mentioned this problem as it occured when I tried him cross country. She said that patting him helped, he completely ignores being smacked with a whip. But the patting doesn't seem to do much when I try it. My instructor thinks he'll just get even worse if I continue to ride him in the school, and will be creating problems for her as well (she rides him quite often). She can actually deal with the problem whereas I can't, but I feel like a complete failure if I give up and ask her to ride my own horse. I was once able to ride through it but it was such a struggle, and that was with my instructor's help.
 

IncaCola

Well-Known Member
Joined
28 December 2008
Messages
458
Location
South West
Visit site
Agree that you must not get worked up about it and try and tackle it in a calm manner. If you do feel you are not up to it, it could be a good idea to ask your instructor to help. How to deal with it would depend alot on the nature of the horse and whetehr he is just being cheeky or is genuinely worried. The first thing I would do is ring up the old owners for their advice as they will know him well and hopefully will be helpful.
Does he lunge well. If so using some one on the ground can work well. I would first lunge him and then get on him and have someone lunge him with you on him. Should he display any backward terndencies a small flick of the lunge whip should send him forward whilst the rider stays quiet and relaxed; ie leave it up to the person lungeing to keep him forward. Once that is going well take him off the lunge and just work in circles around the person with the lunge whip as if you were on the lunge with the lunger flicking the whip and their voice if necessary. Hopefully from then you can slowly progress to gradually moving away from the person on the ground although keep them around until you are really confident. Obviously keep sessions short and always finnish on a good note with lots of pats and perhaps a treat. Hope that helps.
 

Sarah_Star

Well-Known Member
Joined
4 April 2008
Messages
229
Visit site
Thanks for the advice everyone, it has given me a lot to think about. I've decided I'm going to lunge him for a while to try and build more of a bond between me and him on the ground before attempting to ride him again. Unfortunately he doesn't lunge very well either, he gets easily distracted and stops often, although I lunged him about 3 weeks ago so he might be better now.

I'll ask my instructor to ride him for a while (I still have my old horse to ride so not it's not like I'll be missing out on riding
smile.gif
), then she can judge how he's going as to when I should get back on board. He's 6 and is still a bit green. ETS he's evented at PN level so is not a complete baby, I think it's partly my confidence that's the issue.
 

Prince33Sp4rkle

Well-Known Member
Joined
15 November 2009
Messages
6,880
Location
Leicestershire
Visit site
basically i echo everything already said-if all physical checks are fine, its a case of building up his confidence (praise like crazy for everything he does right, even simple transitions etc) and just out-stubborning him!
 

quizzie

Well-Known Member
Joined
26 May 2009
Messages
881
Visit site
You could try this , which worked well with a horse I had that napped & reared. He got a lot worse if you tried to force the issue.........so once his feet were on the ground(!!), I would turn him in very tight circles one way, by opening the inside hand a long way......and when he seemed to be getting bored with that, then turn him the other way, again very tight circles for at least the same amount of time. Then quietly suggest forward motion again. If he starts napping again, then quietly & calmly repeat. It didn't take many times for my boy to decide that straight lines were better than circles!. .
If it makes you feel any better, my horse ended up as an intermediate eventer, having refused to leave the yard when I first got him!.

Above all, keep breathing...keep calm, let him exert the mental energy.
 

Sarah_Star

Well-Known Member
Joined
4 April 2008
Messages
229
Visit site
[ QUOTE ]
You could try this , which worked well with a horse I had that napped & reared. He got a lot worse if you tried to force the issue.........so once his feet were on the ground(!!), I would turn him in very tight circles one way, by opening the inside hand a long way......and when he seemed to be getting bored with that, then turn him the other way, again very tight circles for at least the same amount of time. Then quietly suggest forward motion again. If he starts napping again, then quietly & calmly repeat. It didn't take many times for my boy to decide that straight lines were better than circles!. .
If it makes you feel any better, my horse ended up as an intermediate eventer, having refused to leave the yard when I first got him!.

Above all, keep breathing...keep calm, let him exert the mental energy.

[/ QUOTE ]


Thanks for that advice, think I'll give the circle exercise a go. Can't do him any harm anyway!
 

Booboos

Well-Known Member
Joined
5 January 2008
Messages
12,776
Location
South of France
Visit site
Don't be too hard on yourself!! He is a new horse for you, you are both just getting used to each other and he is quite young!

I would still suggest you get the vet out just to be on the safe side. Many physical problems get worse when the horse is stressed, so pain is consistent with only being naughty at certain times. Saddles often cause problems, and it sounds like he is a sensitive soul!

Don't feel bad about asking your instructor to ride! That is what she is there for and a good instructor is worth her weight in gold! Mine gets on both horses regularly, shows them how to do things, shows me how to do them and sorts out problems. It's really good that she is there to help you.

From what you say about patting him I would think that the problem is caused by tension. Next time he does it take a deep breath, let it out slowly, drop the reins completely (if safe to do so!) and sing him a song! Singing will help your breathing calm down, your body will relax and he may relax with you. Sit there and sing for half an hour is necessary! Don't worry about schooling, don't worry about wasting time, don't worry about looking a bit silly, just sit there as if you have all the time in the world, as if you fully intended to 'park' your horse and do nothing.

Good luck!!!
 

MerryMAL

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 September 2009
Messages
888
Location
Oxfordshire
Visit site
A horse I had on trial called Lolly did that. When he started napping and rearing I sent him back to the owner. However, my old pony napped sometimes and we did lots of ground schooling with him first using a Dually (sometimes called a Controller I think) headcollar just walking over a tarpaulin (part of our water jump that he hated), once he did it in that we rode him over and over and over it. Now he jumps it like anything. I think the key is persistence, and ground schooling helps. You could also try just walking past the gate at a really slow relaxed walk.
 
Top