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Trainer Q&A - Behavior Problems & Quirks - How do I get the respect of my new horse?

How do I get the respect of my new horse?

Cuss007 Asks:

Horse age: 17 and 16.2 hand high
breed: Throughbred
history: racing for 3years, EFA jumping for 8 years and was a schoolmaster.
my comments: When I rode her before i bought her she was fine and very responsive, the lady who owned her didn't ride her because she fell off and lost confidence. She was also really calm and you could do anything and she didn't care.
I got her home and she was in heat and fell in love with the neighbor's gelding. I am an intermediate rider but have no experience in training, and I'm only 18. So,I went to see her every day. When I lead her at first she was pushy, so I'd push her 3 steps back, the next day she was cooperative, but bolted when I opened the gate back to her paddock. The day after, she tried to be stubborn, but I was patient. The day after that, she came in by her self and I was thrilled, thinking I had made progress. Then the next day she was okay. I brought her to her post where I had been taking her every day,to tie her, this time I wanted to test a saddle for fit.I put it gently on her back. She was okay, a little fidgety, then I put the girth on and did it up a little at a time running my hand between it and her skin, I didn't do it up completely tight! Then for no reason, it seemed, she pulled back, broke the snap and got her rope halter in her mouth and took off! I have only had her 7 days so far, but I feel a little discouraged because I am a confident rider, but not sure in my training skills or ground management of a horse since I am not experienced, having never trained a horse before. She was so calm when I bought her (no she wasn't drugged) and now I assume she is testing me and I don't know adequately how to respond to her. Some advice would be great! I want her trust and respect, I know it's early, but I want to show her that I might be small but I'm the boss! How can I get her to want to spend time with me when she is so impatient to go back into the paddock, she stamps her foot and puffs and doesn't even seem to enjoy it when I groom her and obviously doesn't want to work when I cant even saddle her! Please help!

Our Trainer Answers:

Getting the respect of a new horse can be challenging. It sounds like your horse has had a good education. This will be of a great benefit to you, since your experience has been limited in the training department. Familiarize yourself with the technique of longeing your mare. Longeing is working your horse in a circle around you on a long line. I prefer to use a 25 foot long line. Make sure you wear leather gloves to prevent getting burned by the rope sliding through your hand. Until you get the respect of your mare, do not tie her or worry about even grooming her before you put her to work, we will use this as her reward for doing as you ask. Halter her, I like that you are using a rope halter continue to do so for this lesson, and take her to a safe enclosure (preferable a round pen if you have access to one). Attach the long line to her halter and remove her lead rope. You will also need a longe whip or she will be the one giving you the lesson!  Put her on the rail of your pen and put yourself in the middle. You should not have to teach her any of this, if indeed she was a school horse. Lead her, point your arm, in the direction that you want her to go. Use the whip if she doesn't particularly want to move out. Work her at a brisk trot for 10 to 15 laps. Tell her to "whoa", and move to her. Give her a few minutes to rest while you are petting her on the face and neck. If she doesn't want to stand, send her out again and make her work another 10 or 15 laps and repeat. It won't take her long to realize that you are the one allowing her to rest and also making her work. This will cause her to see you as her leader. Work her both directions. Do this every time that you interact with her until she learns to pay attention to you and not the other horses in the paddock. Practice on taking her through all of her paces, walk, trot, canter and "whoa", out on the end of the longe line. When your mare is totally tuned into you and your wishes, allow her to rest by tying her to the post and grooming her. If saddling remains a problem at the post, saddle her in the round pen after a brisk lesson on the longe line and this will soon become a thing of the past as well.

Thank You and Happy Trails!

Christy Mellington