Hello! I’ve seen some similar posts in my training research but nothing quite exactly the same so I’m hoping you all have some advice for me! This might be long, I apologize!
I imported my hew Hanoverian gelding about four months ago. He turned four in April and I believe was a bit misrepresented by the seller and was not under saddle long before coming to me. He’s a very sensitive boy so he had a few weeks off when he arrived to settle in. When we started training, he was very shy of mounting and it took 1-2 weeks just going up and down the block, leaning on him etc to get him to stand calmly to mount.
Once that was tackled, you would get on and he wouldn’t move an inch. It was like he didn’t understand your leg at all. So a ground person had to lead him with treats for a week or so until he moved freely from your leg and seat. He is lunged 10 min or so both directions before jumping on, the trainer uses side reins usually. I don’t normally but am now. He is excellent on the lunge. Calm, responsive, forward.
I had a lovely trainer working with him 5 days a week and he was making progress. He moved out to the sand arena from the round pen (we don’t have a fenced arena so round pen = safety first), was trotting on, easy to mount etc.
But in the last 2.5 weeks he won’t go forward, scratch that - he literally goes backwards. You mount up, he stands still, gets his treat, put leg on and backwards we go. The first time he did it with me, he won. At the first touch of leg, he marches backward. I’m usually alone so I didn’t want to get us tangled up without someone to save us. The second time, the barn owner (a highly respected trainer and all around horsewoman) came out with me. She suggested the hard rein turn to change his focus and balance. That worked. We ended up with easy Trot.
But then last week the trainer who’s been working with him had a “come to Jesus” discussion with him when he started going backwards. I don’t know if that was his first time doing it with the trainer but it was an all out battle apparently (round pen dirt up the walls, shoe lost). The trainer had to go out of town so I lunged twice then had a riding day. He started with he backwards and I decided to do the opposite of arguing with him and praised him like a puppy how we did when he wouldn’t move when we first started riding him. IE: you can dooooo iiiit!! Cooomeeee on ponnyyyyy! That worked a bit, got two walk circles, no trot. I Thought I succceeded, trainer said not so much. Warned me that Fritz knows how to go forward, being a brat etc.
So the trainer rode twice this week with the assistance of the barn owner and had the backwards thing happen. He’s at a loss except for wanting to whip him forward and doesn’t want to get injured personally and asked if I could find a ‘crash’ rider.
In my research, half of people seem to think you must win the battle. The other half think to let small steps be enough and praise praise praise for it. I can’t decide which is more effective, though I lean toward patience with this sensitive horse. I don’t want to let this become an irreversible habit though and would love advice from anyone with similar experiences!
The vet has been out, he is a little stiff on one leg and his front feet are different sizes so she recommended some things for the farrier who made the changes. No signs of ulcers though that’s what I first thought since he’s a little girthy and I’ve read some people start the medication anyway with good result. He has verrrry little teeth, so the dentist is coming out next week. He’s very good to bridle though. He got a massage yesterday and had some sore spots, he was smooth and lovely on the lunge after. His saddle is custom and fits like a dream.
I really don’t want to choose the wrong path and love this horse so Im hoping to get us in the right direction, literally ha! I’m going to take his training down from 5-6 times per week to 3-4. He’s not particularly muscular for such a big horse (17hh) so I’m concerned about that but maybe it’ll help him enjoy the work more. Also going to move out of the round pen to the grass and sand arenas, I rode in the grass arena for the vet after his Flexions and everything was fine and it was the most Ive gotten from him ever. To be fair, the vet clapped behind us when he started his antics. That was before the trainer’s two unsuccessful rides this week.
I have another trainer (she’s a lovely Grand Prix rider) who came out and said to vet him first before we went any further, so she’ll come out again but I have an inkling she and everyone else is going to say to win the battle by all means necessary and I’m not convinced I suppose. This is just my assumption that most trainers will think of him as being obstinate. But I wanted to have my own thoughts together before that conversation with anyone else.
So dear horse friends, what do you think? Thanks so much for reading my novel!!