Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I'm going to use this space to document my work with Lily, a registered quarter horse mare about 17 years old that belongs to my friend Breathe.

Lily is a horse that I have known for some time, maybe about 4 years. I've seen her around, and I rode her once. She is a high powered mare with a lot of "go". She hasn't been ridden much, so Breathe asked me to see what I could do with her.

I attempted to ride her on Sunday afternoon, to join a riding party leaving my house, but she was very much out of control, and I elected to work her on the ground first. That day I tried to ride her, she was very anxious during saddling. She would not give me her hind legs. She was just a nervous wreck. When I went to bit her, she kept her mouth closed and CLAMPED SHUT. I've never seen an older horse do this to this extreme. I tried to use my usual technique to bit her, right hand between her ears and over her head, neck slightly bent, left hand guiding the bit in, but she would not budge her mouth open. And then suddenly, she popped her head back, and popped the lead rope! That was it for me. If I hadn't been using proper technique, she would have broken my jaw for sure.

I abandoned trying to ride her and took her to the round pen. She was a nervous wreck. I just let her run and run. I wasn't prompting her to canter, she was just off to the races. That session, I just let her get used to the round pen. It took a long time for her to even attempt to join up, and we had a few unsuccessful stops where she did NOT join up. She did make inside turns, but they were just well-trained automatic turns. There was no submission in them.

I tried flexing her, and she is stiff and braced. She also didn't know how to flex, and my cues for flexing caused her to spin in place. No biggie, most horses do that at first. After a bit, I got her to understand that flexing means just her neck, and not her whole body. But the flex I did get was very small. I'll build from that.

A second round pen session on Monday was much the same, but maybe slightly better. I longed her both sessions too, and she did decently, but still hyper-reactive.

I think she's a 4 month project, honestly. But I may only have room for her for a few weeks. I'll see what I can get done with her.


Anonymous said...

Good idea for you to take a try. Sometimes magnesium oxide as a supplement can help nervous, reactive horses - I get mine from HorseTech and it appears to be helping Drift - it affects the nervous system in a calming way. Horses that "go away" are very hard to deal with. The bitting issue is odd - wonder if something physical is going on there?

Unknown said...

She has let me bit her with no trouble once I rode her out with her halter. I will be interested to see if you get her to that point with a hack more as well.

She has been checked over by the dentist, even she suspects it's just resistance.

I'm just glad she's sound.

I would lay money that you'll see a big change in two wks. That's what I found when I first brought her from sharons...

Fantastyk Voyager said...

It'll be interesting to follow along to see how well Lily gets back in routine. Thanks for posting your training journey.