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More riding troubles

Hey everyone!
So little background information I just started half leasing a 9 year old green appendix gelding starting May 1 and his name is Earl. He used to pull maple syrup carts in Quebec and he came to my barn in March. He is now becoming a hunter/jumper horse! He’s only been jumping since he came to my barn and doing quite well he’s doing 2’ sometimes 2’3” right now.

His past owners let him get away with a lot of bad behaviour and now he has some quirks and bad habits. Example just last week in a practice ride he kept putting his head down I thought he was just going to scratch his leg because there were mosquitoes out but then next thing I know I’m on the ground and he’s on the ground rolling, I didn’t have time to pull him up because I didn’t know what he was doing as he’s never done this before. Someone that works at my barn saw this and corrected this bad behaviour

A huge ongoing bad habit for him is turning into the middle in the ring. At first he was really bad with this and have tantrums when he wasn’t getting his way because he got away with this previously. He’s good with going into corners in walk and trot now I just have to get on top of him from the very beginning of our ride. However in canter I have never been able to get him around the ring in canter. I am pulling on outside reign and squeezing with inside leg but he just uses all his force and pulls me into the middle then gallops to the other side of the ring. Im getting so frustrated of it when I’m trying and he’s not listening it happened so many times today. I don’t know what to do it’s getting very frustrating and I just want to be on the same page as him and work with him instead of against him constantly.

Is your trainer helping you with strategies and instruction for what to do when Earl gives these behaviors? Who rides him the other half of the time aside from your lease - is the trainer actively working with him, or is it just other students/lessons? How did you correct him after you fell off and he was rolling - it sounds like someone hit him with a crop well after all of that happened? That’s unlikely to be effective discipline.

Based on your other threads, I’m wondering if this horse is just not a great match for you right now. You may need something more trained and less green so you can work on your own position and building your riding skills instead of fighting his evasions (unsuccessfully, it sounds like, which IS frustrating and is only going to cause him to do it more often). For example, it’s going to be difficult to fix your leg position if you can’t concentrate on that because your horse is diving to the middle of the ring and refusing little crossrails. And if he’s doing that with everybody, then he needs more time with the trainer before being used in lessons or he needs to be used only with more advanced students who have some experience with greenies. In the grand scheme of things you haven’t been riding all that long, and there will be plenty of time to work with green horses later when you have a larger skill set. Is there a more solid horse you could possibly talk to your trainer about switching your lease to?


I hope it’s okay to reference your previous post and video! From what you posted, it looked like Earl is used to being a lesson horse, and the design of the lesson is having mounted riders stand in a group, one does an exercise (like canter a small course), and then the rider returns to the group.

When you’re less secure in your position, it’s more difficult to keep Earl doing what you want him to, and override the programming of “work for half a lap, return to the herd and rest.” Some of the problem might be that lessons follow a pretty rigid format, and while this can be helpful when riders are just passengers (if a kid gets unbalanced, the worst that can happen is the horse will stand with the other horses), it’s hard to take that step up and actually take control. You’re confident enough at the walk and trot to set the agenda more, and I assume sit back in the saddle more.

Can you get a private lesson where you are alone and don’t turn into the middle of the arena at all?

The scratching to get out of work is also common. One horse I leased would do that every lap with a beginner or new student, until not permitted to do so with a firm tap and more leg. Now you’re aware of the problem, it’s something you need to anticipate and not let him to unless you decide it’s break time.


And snorting to get more rein. I allow three snorts in a row, then it’s get back to work time.

For scratching, I don’t allow it until the work is over and the bridle is off. Too much risk of something getting caught on a boot etc.

OP, I do think you could benefit from some rides NOT on Earl. Even if you continue your shareboarding of him, you need to get on a horse that you can work on yourself. If that’s not possible, I’d stop the shareboard. His “quirks” are currently above your skill level.


This is how lesson horses get away with this all the time with beginners. The rider pulls the outside rein, often even making it worse by putting the inside hand on the neck for balance or crossing it over the neck. The horses go just fine usually with a more experienced rider who uses the inside rein and leg and doesn’t pull their head to the outside. Pulling the outside rein sends the body in. If none of this sounds familiar (and it takes awhile to sink in and consistently do it for someone just learning, even if it’s being repeated constantly) then you need to talk to your trainer.


It doesn’t sound like your lessons are very rewarding or enjoyable, which is really unfortunate. It’s hard to learn new riding skills when your horse is constantly challenging you. While half-leasing probably gives you some of the joy of owning your own horse, Earl may not be the right fit for you at this stage of your riding. At the very least, Earl needs a tune-up and you need some clearer advice from your trainer on how to specifically address his bad behavior.

One of my former trainers had a large lesson pony that started out doing this trick. Then he took it to the next level: He’d start lowering his head to “scratch his nose” and then abruptly lie down. Always an adventure to get on and school that one!


My horse could be so pathetic about needing to scratch, I remember the first time I was with a new instructor, she was appalled when I wouldn’t allow him to do so when he wanted to after I got on after a few steps. I told her, “okay, I’ll let him if you want me to, but wait and see,” and after he did his “routine,” of needing to stop every lap to itch, she said, “okay, he can deal, keep him working, I see what you mean.” Once, an older woman had a lesson on him, and she took me aside afterwards to say how concerned she was, because he spent the entire lesson trying to itch (he was absolutely fine when I rode him the next day).

Then, of course, there are the lesson horses that convince their riders they can’t poop and move at the same time, and so they develop a routine of pooping twice during a lesson.

At one barn I rode at, the instructor claimed that every horse that wasn’t forward had an issue with the saddle and pad slipping up on the shoulder. Obviously, saddle fit was very important, but all of the horses were “programmed” to not move forward, until they were untacked and retacked halfway through the lesson, which took about 10 minutes off the allotted teaching time, quite conveniently.

It’s amazing how quickly horses learn, and IMHO, especially in lesson-type situations, where most of the horses are pulling similar antics.


Just wanted to say, horses don’t have tantrums. Horses don’t “try and get their way”. Horses can’t think like that. When horses act this way it’s because they don’t understand what you are asking them.


Bull honkey.

The center of the ring = rest. He goes there because cantering is harder and less fun than rest. He knows what’s being asked of him, but would rather rest.

I agree that it’s not a tantrum. He’s doing what any animal does and would do, and not with malice or any human emotion. But he absolutely understands what’s being asked of him, he just knows if he tries hard enough he will end up in the center, not cantering anymore.

It’s a horse who knows his rider doesn’t have the ability to keep him on the rail.

EDIT: and every time he manages to drag them to the center of the ring and even get a moment of rest, it is a self-rewarding cycle.


Bull honkey but you’re agreeing with what I said? OK then…

The rider is not able to get him to do what she wants, that doesn’t mean he’s being naughty or having a tantrum.


I agree. Also, from what I remember of the OP’s video posted on another thread, the center of the ring means the reward of standing with the other horses. Many lesson horses don’t like being the only horse away from the herd, working, while the others are stationary (as was what the horse was being asked to do in the video, going around the ring while the other riders waited in the center).

That was one reason why I thought a private lesson might be helpful, as it reduces at least some of the pressure to keep a horse working while the herd is not, and also reduces some of the reward of socialization as well as rest in the center.

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No. No I am not. This horse knows what he’s being asked. He would RATHER be in the center of the ring where he does not have to work any more.


Most horses would “rather” that. But a skilled rider could easily get the horse to go around the outside. Point being, it doesn’t understand this rider because the cues are not clear. Not because its having a “temper tantrum”.


Again, we agree and disagree.

I agree that a skilled rider could muscle him to the outside. I disagree that this horse does not know this is what he’s supposed to be doing. He knows this rider can not force him to do it.

Horses can have preferences. He prefers to stand in the middle with his friends, so, he does.

Tons and tons of school horses are sour this way. Please don’t pretend like the horse doesn’t understand what the job is - the horse is just taking advantage of a beginner rider. It’s NORMAL. I’m not saying make him into hamburger or anything. Jeez.


You’re arguing against yourself, I never said any of those things. Carry on

Exactly! I mean, when I ride the dressage schoolmaster I’m on once a week, he does exactly what I ask of him, every single time. It’s just sometimes I ask wrongly, so I don’t “get” what I want, even though the horse is operating beautifully off my crappy use of aids.

With a beginner horse spinning inward, it’s possible the rider is asking correctly to canter around the arena, but the horse has learned that the reward of ignoring the rider’s aids is great, while the consequences of not doing so aren’t very much at all. I do agree sometimes beginner riders inadvertently bend the horse in the wrong way and so forth, though.


But you agree another rider could get it to go out on the rail.

Sure. And the OP’s version of “inside leg” is going to be different than yours and mine, with a better application and stronger muscles.

This is normal. But it’s not helpful to OP’s riding progress. Earl just sounds like a smart ol’ schoolie. :slight_smile:


Have you ever ridden a gate sour horse?

This is equivalent, though more benign.