Difficult Mare

Hi everyone. Not sure if this is the right place for this but I’m looking for any advice I can get. I’ve recently been having some issues arise with my 17 year old Appaloosa mare. So first I’ll give you a little background. This horse was trained by an individual not a big facility, and was given to me after about five years of not being touched. Understandably when I first started with her she was a little rough around the edges. I’d go to work with her she’d be feisty and give me a hard time, I’d put her in her place, she’d be well behaved for about ten minuets, then be back to her unruly self. Since I had another horse at the time who was well behaved and my primary riding horse I didn’t bother pushing her, as I had taken her mostly as a favor to a friend, not to be my main riding horse. Recently I’ve been trying to work with her again but her behavior is starting to get out of control and I’m not sure how to handle it. She’s very pushy when on the ground. She will try to kick out when being saddled up, and just today she took off as I was mounting her, not sure if she was spooked by something or if she was simply being naughty. In addition she’s decided to completely ignore the whip. I will try to lunge her and she will just stand there unmoving. So I have to resort to hands on ground work. In the saddle, if we actually get that far, she’s no better. She likes to take off at random and graze every second she gets. Fighting her usually leads to even more chaos. I know she has a level of training to an extent as when she does decide to behave it’s clear she knows how to take vocal cues as well as cues in the saddle. It seems to be just a manner of her choosing to fight me, at least that’s what I think at this point. Does any one have any advice on how I could handle this bad behavior in a safe manner? Currently my approach has been refining hands on ground work, but I don’t know how to get her to respond to the whip, so I can’t even lunge her. And after the fall I took thanks to her last stunt I’m a bit hesitant to get right back in the saddle. I’m open to any advice, thank you everyone :slight_smile:


My best advice is to find a trainer. She doesn’t understand what you are asking. If you aren’t clear with your training, you will only confuse her more. Instead of labeling her difficult, think of her as uneducated/confused.


A trainer is the only way this gets better. My suspicion is that this horse neither trusts you or respects you. It sounds like you think you need to “win” with the horse… or that you just need to “show her who’s boss.” That is not the solution to every training issue. Why is the horse taking off? Why is the horse bolting? Why is the horse trying to kick you while you’re tacking up? And why are you still getting on a horse who tries to kick while you’re just tacking up. She’s trying to tell you something and you’re ignoring her. She’s not being naughty for no reason.

Think of a trainer like a couples counselor. You need someone to point out both party’s issues and help them come to an agreement in their relationship.


As much as I would like to get a trainer it’s not something financially viable for me at the moment. It’s not so much a matter of “winning”, with her as it is a matter of not allowing myself to get walked all over. And as I already mentioned this horse does behave occasionally and takes cues and vocal commands, so I believe she does know her training. Obviously if she is trying to kick me that day I won’t be getting on her, and will instead only do ground work. The problem here is sometimes she’s an angel and sometimes it’s a full 180. I think it’s more of a respect issue if anything else, so if anyone has advice that does not include simply ‘getting a trainer’ it would be much appreciated. :slight_smile:

Just so everyone here is aware, OP messaged me to “respectfully” tell me she knows what she’s doing so she’s most definitely not the issue. Case closed everyone.

OP nobody here can help you. If you cannot afford to take care of this horse (as in hire a trainer) then you need to find this horse a home that can. There is no super special secret roundpenning trick trainers don’t want you to know to get your horse to listen to you. Hire a trainer or get rid of the horse. Those are your options.


Well you might want to subscribe to someone like Warwick Schiller who is often recommended here, who can start you on a program of understanding horse behaviour from the ground on up.

Honestly a horse like this really needs to be restarted from the beginning with attention to finding and filling in the holes in the trainjng

At the moment you are just teaching her to fight with you.

No one hear can write you a novel on how to retrain a horse from the ground up but there are lots of resources out there.


From the back story I’m guessing horse was never properly trained, and quite likely was left to sit for 5 years because she was giving people problems. It’s amazing how many horses fall through the cracks and don’t ever get properly trained.


She was in training for how long and trained to do what exactly before she was untouched for 5 years? Then you’ve had her for how long and have left her unworked for how long? If you’re trying to lunge her and she clearly doesn’t know how to do that, you either need to find someone who does know how to train that, or cross that off the list of things you ask her to do. She clearly doesn’t know how.

If you ask a first grader to do advanced math, and they can’t, they’re not being a naughty child, they just don’t know how yet. No amount of putting them in their place is going to teach them the more advanced skills. You either need to find someone who can teach her and put her in training, or you need to find her another home that can. Until then, you’re going to continue punishing the “naughty” horse and she’s going to be frustrated getting reprimanded for missing cues she doesn’t even know to look for. That’s no life for a horse.


Honestly, it is really difficult to give advice on your particular situation without being there in person. Right now I can think of several different ways to approach the situation, BUT the approach completely depends on different factors and for that matter, I’m standing by suggesting a trainer as well. As they will be able to assess the situation and deal with it as appropriate. However, I do understand that isn’t always a feasible option for everyone, so what I will suggest is finding a trainer/instructor that will travel down to either work with the horse their self or teach you how to work with the horse on the basis to which you can afford. Even if you are knowledgeable yourself, having a trained eye evaluate the situation will pick up on things that you otherwise can’t observe/ feel from your point of view. That is why the top riders still continue lessons despite being as skilled as they are.


This times a million.


This, it’s how I describe trainers, that or a translator, helping you and the horse to talk the same language. So much of this language relies on understanding and quick reactions to a situation, that it’s really hard to go it alone.


There are way too many reasons why she’s acting the way she is. I think the top three are, in no particular order:

1.) She’s got your number, and she knows it.
2.) She has absolutely no idea what you’re asking her to do, because she’s not as well trained as you think she is.
3.) There’s an underlying medical or pain issue (bad saddle fit, or pain associated with coming in heat, arthritis, kissing spine, bad teeth . . . the sky’s the limit).

Get a vet to do a top to bottom evaluation first. Have someone check your saddle fit. This is where a trainer would be able to help you, because saddle fit is one of the trickiest things in the world (seriously, it’s more difficult than quantum physics). This may take a while.

If she vets clean, send her to someone who can do a 60-day restart on her - starting with ground work. But at 17, it’s not likely you’re going to get very far with her. Arthritis and other issues are going to start setting in (if they aren’t already). If she was mine, I’d kick her to the pasture and let her be.


As far as longeing.

”‹”‹”‹”‹”‹”‹I’d really have to watch the OP longe and try the mare myself to say anything about what horse does or doesn’t know.

I’ve been stepping in to help out a barn friend who is a good rider and can longe her lease horse fine. Now she is working with a 2 year old a bit. She gets into huge tangles because of her body language. I can take the filly and send her around on the 10 foot lead but barn friend still messes up her body language when she gets frustrated. It’s very interesting to watch. She tries to send the filly forward but instead pulls her on top of her and stops her.

My own mare has good ground work skills but a mind of her own. She has no fear of the whip. She has a tendency to just lie down and then smile at you if you try to longe. I know how to get her attention at the start of a longe session so that she sighs and gets to work. But if some average person was working her unaware and just decided to send her off like a regular horse at her general level of training, she would easily defeat them.

In general if you are working with a horse that doesn’t know how to longe or is resistant to it, you just do what you’d do with a colt which is teach the horse to longe by starting on a ten foot lead rope and getting the horse to move forward and away from you.

It’s a dance that requires timing and good reading of the horse’s response. If you don’t have those, like my barn friend, you need some help from someone that does. Just expecting a horse to longe like a well broke schoolie is not going to get you anywhere.


Just a comment. IF a horse is trying to kick ME, I would feel safer IN the saddle than ON the ground. S/he can’t reach me “up there” but can easily do so when I am at her/his level.

If a horse is trying to kick me the sky falls in on her and she never tries that again, and we proceed with my general plans for the day.

If I found myself working with a “dirty kicker” that I really felt was dangerous, I would stop working with her altogether.

This is the kind of behaviour that you either just shut down 100% or you give up on the horse if it can’t be shut down.

Non negotiable.


My first thought on this is pain/poorly fitting saddle. Giveaway to me is that she doesn’t like being saddled or mounted. She’s telling you something hurts.


Advice is to get a trainer. Or send the horse to a trainer.

You said money is a problem. Well, horses are expensive. They are a luxury item.

How will your afford your medical bills WHEN you get hurt (Not if you get hurt.)

Usually horses that are given away for free have problems. That’s the reason they are given away for free.

So she’s at least had 12 to 17 years of engrained bad habits and/or problems.

You are in over your head. Period. We could give you all the internet advice in the world but if you lack the education, skills, timing, and feel, nothing will change. This is where a hands-on trainer can help you assess the situation in front of you.

This is a horse that either has pain issues causing the behavior problems, or she had pain at one point, or she’s just developed behavior problems in general. No matter what, again, it is going to be more difficult to re-train her because she probably has been allowed to get away with most of this for most of her life. Even a very experienced horseperson may have difficulty ever getting her to be SAFE consistently.

It’s absolutely a respect issue. But if you don’t even know how to get her to respond to a whip cue, I don’t know what we’re supposed to explain over the internet to help you? We can’t see you. We can’t see your horse.


Clinton Anderson DVDs…Start with the very first one on ground training. If it helps, continue on. His methods have worked for both of mine, one a greenie, the other one a pushy in your face Appendix.

No. Don’t do any of that.

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Have you ever TRIED any of his methods?