Rearing in Ground Work

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28 December 2018
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So I’ve had my Arabian mare for 4 months now and she’s been a doll. The last two week however she been having a problem with rearing when working on ground work. The first time was with my trainer and she had her saddle on as well. We were working on directing in lunging when she was told to go the opposite direction and I think she was confused and reared. Her saddle and all tack fit very well and the girth wasn’t super tight. Two days ago she had only her halter on and no saddle or surcingle just a plain old halter, lunge line and whip (I seldom use the whip). I was working on directions again and she did the same thing and then acted like I was abusing her to ask her to switch directions. Both me and my trainer immediately got after we in both instances. Before this she has lunged very well with no problem.

I have had the vet look her over and he says she has no joint, muscle, or tendon issues. This is very odd for her as she was used as a lesson horse by her previous owners and she is 15 so she should know better. But luckily she has never reared nor threatened to rear in the saddle (she’s all business when it comes to riding).

Any ideas on what could be causing this behavior and how to fix it before it gets worse?
Thanks!
 

tda

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Years ago I took my very happy placid mare to a parelli clinic, I was learning too and we were were doing the 7 games. I was very astonished when she reared up, very out of character. The trainer said she was feeling the pressure and I had to tone down my cues (a lot, and I didn't think I was putting much pressure on at all)
Could that be the same with your horse?
 

meleeka

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It sounds like she’s confused as to what you are asking. Try going back a step and making things easier until she understands the cues. Are you remembering to praise her for every little step in the right direction?
I couldn’t use a whip on one of mine, even slightly as in his previous ridden life it was only used to punish him. There’s no way he’d see it as an aid and would probably get himself in a right old mess.
 

be positive

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If she was trained to stop to change direction, the handler physically turning her onto the new rein, and you are expecting her to change alone to a cue then she will be confused as in her original training that would not have been allowed and corrected before it became a habit, either keep to the rules she understands or take her back a step and show her what you want when you are closer to her, if my understanding of what you are doing is wrong then ignore this but that is how it comes across to me.

Just another thought, as she is 15 if you are trying to make her spin onto the new rein it may be causing discomfort in her hocks as she has to take extra weight on them so unless there is a genuine reason to persist I would not push it and may get a vet out to take another look anyway.
 

Red-1

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I think it shows confusion yes, but I would not worry too much about it translating to ridden work.

She did not understand and was stressed, tried rearing as a possible solution to her discomfort and found that did not work.

I would try to use smaller signals with a quicker release, it is about not waiting for her to achieve the move, it is about removing the pressure as soon as she thinks about the correct solution. Horses are very observant, and to her she had probably tried the correct solution with a small movement, look, energy shift, and did not get a release (because you did not notice her try). So, it rapidly became more stressful, and she had to try bigger solutions.

Yes, I would also make sure she is comfortable to do the work.
 

Tiddlypom

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If she was trained to stop to change direction, the handler physically turning her onto the new rein, and you are expecting her to change alone to a cue then she will be confused as in her original training that would not have been allowed and corrected
This is what I would think is the issue, too. I once went to a groundwork clinic in which the trainer was most insistent that I had to change the horse's direction on the lunge without stopping the horse, but by using the lunge whip to 'block' forward movement and then redirect it round the other way. Result, one very upset and confused horse, who was normally very good to lunge. Once I was back home, I ditched the 'turning on the move' cue and went back to my normal methods, and the horse (eventually) settled down to lunging calmly again, but he was very upset for a while.
 
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Shay

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Although it is (occasionally) useful to have a horse that turns itself when you want it to that is certainly not how horses are usually trained. You don't normally want them deciding to change direction on their own and so - as BP says - that behaviour would be strongly discouraged. It sounds like your mare reared when she didn't understand and was just trying to tell you she was upset / scared.

To be honest I wouldn't personally persist in even trying to teach the move. It doesn't add anything.
 

Pinkvboots

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Although it is (occasionally) useful to have a horse that turns itself when you want it to that is certainly not how horses are usually trained. You don't normally want them deciding to change direction on their own and so - as BP says - that behaviour would be strongly discouraged. It sounds like your mare reared when she didn't understand and was just trying to tell you she was upset / scared.

To be honest I wouldn't personally persist in even trying to teach the move. It doesn't add anything.
This is my thoughts exactly especially with a 15 year old horse I just don't understand what it can achieve.
 

Lyle

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Sounds like she's confused, and trying rearing as a possible answer/resistance. It's ok for them to show this when learning someting new, I'd quietly persist with the cue, and wait until she gives even the slightest evidence of the correct response and reward by immediately releasing the pressure. I wouldn't 'get up' a horse unless it showed some pretty obvious agression/dominance..
FWIW teaching them to change direction by turning in can be achieved without the rope first, then by teaching them to yield the quarters. Lots of good stuff online to watch if you'd like a different persepective on it.
 
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