Equine vices under saddle. cont

Another common one I often encounter is horses that just get to a point and stall/balk/ freeze whichever term you prefer, bottom line is they refuse to go any further. This same horse is also usually the one that pulls performs and is full of energy when turned for home.

One must bear in mind that horses never do anything without a reason; there is always a motivator that the horse perceives as beneficial. So if the horse enjoys stopping and standing in one spot, while the desperate rider tries all sorts of things to get him moving, take a look at the situation as an outsider for a few seconds. The horse doesn’t want to leave its herd, stable, familiar area, etc and has absolutely no motivation to do so. The poor rider tries a few things, like getting off to lead, hit, kick, scream, and swear etc – all means nothing really to the horse. But then the rider usually gives up and in some way ends up letting the horse turn for home…. Bingo – horse suddenly has motivation – Going home to mates, food and comfort zone. Highly motivated pony in a hurry to get home. So in one quick ride we have successfully trained our horse to balk. After this situation happening a few times the horse potentially becomes a problem horse with a vice under saddle. So what should we do to avoid this happening to us? One of the most important things here is to remain calm and not loose your patience, often easier said than done! When you end up on a horse that does this, just stop relax and pick up pressure on one rein and just sit and wait. Be warned this could take a while, so phone the yard and let them know you may be late back so nobody panics about you. It is a waiting game between you and your horse now, but one that is worth it as once fixed you don’t usually have this problem again. Keep your pressure on one rein, even if it means your horse bends his neck onto your leg, and just wait. The second your horse moves a hoof (any foot will do) release the pressure and encourage forward movement. Your timing needs to be spot on, and you need to remain firm and calm. Accept any forward movement that is not directly headed to where you came from. Keep practicing this and after a few weeks you should see an improvement. If not contact an experienced horse person for help.

Actually a horse with vices needs to be ridden and worked with by someone with experience as it can be extremely dangerous combining a problem horse with a novice or beginner rider. I always recommend that both horse and rider are worked with, usually separately. As more often than not the rider has been the problem and not the horse, and has inadvertently encouraged and trained the “unwanted” vice. Of course the rider didn’t mean to do this, as it is usually completely out of ignorance or by trying to do what was perceives as correct from the human perspective.

Often horse with vices under saddle benefit by being completely restarted and reschooled, and if the ground work is done correctly the horses become solid citizens able to do a good job under saddle without the vices. However it takes time and patience.

Preventing vices is far better than trying to fix them! And far safer too!