What quirks/bad behavior would you put up with in an uber talented horse?

I was thinking about this the other day. Everyone expects different responses from their horses. Some people let a lot of bad behavior slide, some nothing at all. The behind the scenes/ groom spotlights sometimes talk about the quirks or attitude of the super competitive horses. Some of them I personally would be okay with but others I’m not. I’m curious to see what other people think is okay if a horse is winning everything you throw them at.

It depends on what type of competition the horse does. Most “bad behaviors” can be trained out, so why put up with any of them? I would except a horse that competes in an activity that requires an extreme physical exertion, like racing, open jumping, barrels, eventing, etc. If they get pumped up to do their job, it can be expected in those situations - they need to be so fit and so strong it’s understandable to be a little full of it at times. But I would not put up with biting, kicking, overall bad manners. A show hunter, dressage horse, wp horse etc should be well mannered both under saddle and on the ground, no excuses.

No bad behavior. Good manners at all times. Why would anyone “put up with” (ie, tolerate, allow) bad behavior?

Bad behavior like kicking, biting, rearing…? NO. But I’m an ammy and this is my for fun time so I am not willing to put up with it being not fun. Pros may have a different threshold, especially if they are being paid to put up with it.

Quirks? like “only likes bananas withOUT the peel”, or “will poop in his water bucket at every opportunity” or “will only eat my food if it is unadulterated by medication”? I put up with some of those even with the ones who aren’t uber talented!

I swore I’d never own a cribber. But then I bought a wonderful Paint gelding for our young daughter, and while he did crib, he was a saint. It was the best purchase ever, and I loved him and was so grateful for his kind and patient soul we all put up with his cribbing. I never regretted it, and if I’d passed on him because of it I would have missed out on a truly remarkable horse.

I’ve had just one super talented horse. He had quirks.

He wouldn’t stand for mounting, but it wasn’t a problem because my granddad taught me how to turn him underneath me as I was getting on him.

He wouldn’t tolerate bad riding. Maryal Barnett compared him to a violin: “If you do it wrong, it’s hideous, but it’s gorgeous when you learn to do it right!” I didn’t consider this a bad thing.

He liked to buck in the woods. That was just pretty much entertaining!

If a horse is fractious but making lots of money at the highest levels of competition or in the breeding shed people will manage behaviour to some extent. They are fit, focused, and full of energy. The same thing that makes them successful can make them a handful to deal with. It’s a balance of keeping the horse on their game, but staying safe.

For the average ammy this is not stuff we want to out up with. And indeed may not have the experience or skill to do so safely.

I think “managing” is the operative word rather than “putting up”. You need to be skilled, knowledgeable and intuitive enough to read the signs, know she. To push and whe to back off.

For me ‘bad behavior’ is only allowed on the other end of a lunge line. Sure, go leap, kick, buck and fart all you want. Just not when I’m on top :slight_smile:

On the other hand I did have a very smart, superstar mutt of a horse that looked like a stereotypical dumb draft. For some reason people always thought they could lead him around with just a rope around his neck or by pulling his mane. He would always just walk away really fast so they couldn’t keep up. Then not let them catch him by repeatedly walking away faster. I probably shouldn’t have, but I always though it was really funny, when at the same time he would come when called to by people he knew :lol:

I expect all my horses to behave themselves when people are around. I don’t care how talented they are.

I guess to me, it’s like saying “if your kid was a genius and beat a computer at chess/created a computer program that hacked the NSA/CIA/FBI database/developed the cure to cancer at age 8, would you be OK if they were constantly wailing on their siblings/back-talked to adults/flipped you the bird when you asked them to clean their room?” Um, hell no…

So why are horses any different? I suppose if money and shiny things are on the line, perhaps folks put up with “quirks”. But none of my horses are going to the Olympics, so they don’t get any slack. :lol:

Often the superstars have quirks. They are powerful, fit, and have that edge that makes them competitive. They are professionally managed by knowledgeable people so are mannerly – but was just thinking of the German Gold medal team at the Olympics (dressage) when they had their victory gallop - it was a mess!

For me bad behavior tells me the horse is confused unhappy or badly managed, so I try to fix those issues so the horse can relax, know what’s being asked and perform better.

none… even our cat is trained to behave

As a groom - honestly, as long as I can keep both of us reasonably safe, I’m fine with whatever, winning or not winning. I hate dealing with bolters or horses that pull back because I find those the hardest to get back under control. Other than that, the biggest thing to me is whether the “quirks” are predictable. We have one who’s a pretty much incorrigible rearer, but everyone who handles her has known her long enough now that we can tell when she’s going to go up & get our butts out of the way.

I will say that I think the stereotypical pro horse has a little more “fight” than “flight” in them. Even the sweethearts tend to be the type that will just escalate the situation if feel like you’re going after them too hard for a small offense. I’ve known a few nice mares whose response to a growl was to try to bite you, and then kick you if you tried to tell them off for biting. :lol:

In the wonderful interview with Alan Davis (posted) - he said that Blueberry has to always have his dinner first, or he’ll bang the door down. A small concession for a World Champion Gold Medallist.

Salinero could not stand still at the halt but made up for it in other ways. Anky had the quickest salute on the planet.

That sort of thing - not plain bad manners.

I once worked with a very talented hunter that had to be turned out with a bucket of grain (to occupy him while the halter was removed). Teaching him manners was not an option, so I was told…

I could put up with annoying things that aren’t dangerous. Things such as horse likes to chew anything left outside stall, makes giant messes with water buckets, etc.

Serious bad behavior such as biting, kicking, rearing, etc. Are never acceptable.

Sure, in an ideal world your horse is well behaved no matter what.

And I can’t speak to any behaviors I would be okay with theoretically, because theoretically I’m not okay with ANY poor behavior on a horse’s part.

But at the end of the day, the number one job for my big jumper is to jump around a course with as few faults as possible. He has to be a bit of an asshole to get his job done well. Not saying that they’re all this way, but so many top level jumpers have that intensity that makes them “pro rides.” And it’s not like they’re “pro rides” because the trainers who have ridden them haven’t tried to…you know…train them. It’s because those factors that make them capable of going to the top (intensity, intelligence, etc.) often also come with flip sides such as mischievousness and a focus that can be ill-directed at times.

My FEI horse has a bunch of little idiosyncrasies, but the one that comes to mind first is that he’s a total jerk when I go to girth him up. He had lots of rib issues when I got him and we’ve resolved those issues over the years with bodywork, but the behavior remains. He paws when you hook the girth on the first side (and it’s not just pawing, he’s trying to stomp on your foot the whole time), snaps the air as you go under his neck and then tries to step on you with the other foot while you connect the girth. Once it’s buckled (on the loosest holes, so all of the pawing/stomping happens when it’s not tight) he relaxes and then yawns the whole time you actually tighten the girth.

I tried to address the behavior every single day for the first 10 years we were together. I have come unhinged, carried a whip (and used it), tried to reward the positive, tried treats, screamed at him, poked him with each pawing motion until he stops, and a hundred other things over the years (and I’ve given months+ to my reactions, not jumped between). Absolutely nothing has had any impact on the behavior whatsoever. At this stage I ignore it (well, after getting the first side done I smack him with the girth until he stops pawing so I can hook it on the second side - but there’s no longer any frustration about it on my part).

So now when I have someone helping me at a show I tell them to stand out of the way of his mouth, keep their feet out of stomping range, and ignore it. I’m sure several of my helpers have thought I’ve been crazy for ignoring it.

But again, his job is to get from one side of a jump to the other. I push him hard, and well outside of his comfort zone, on a regular basis. I just don’t care about the girthing up thing that much anymore.

Same story for the fact that he absolutely loses his marbles during ribbon presentations and victory gallops.

So I guess all of that is a really long way to say that it’s all about priorities.

And wow, I’m amazed that anyone will say with a straight face that their horses (and cats???) have no idiosyncrasies that others might construe as misbehavior. I can think of quirks that all of my horses have that haven’t been trained out of them over the years! Maybe I’m a less capable horse trainer than I thought!

Everyone has pretty much said what I thought they would. Quirks are acceptable to most everyone, like when a horse is silly and likes to steal your hat or something. I definitely agree with the no dangerous stuff thought. It’s really interesting to read the quirks that other people have dealt with.

It would be fantastic to find a free horse with lovely manners and good movement and the talent to jump around at an UL event. I have yet to find one, though. So I accept that while it may improve over the years I will always have to be aware and careful about kicking/ biting/ girthiness, or pick up a dressage whip every time I load the horse in the trailer, or not hack out in a group unless I can be in front. For the right horse there’s very little I wouldn’t put up with/ try to manage.

I’ve never been one to demand that a horse be a complete angel on the ground. Good? Safe? definitely, but I tend to have naturally high-energy horses, and they also tend to have not the best backgrounds, so I accept some quirky behaviour.

My mare is silly about girthing. She had some maaajor issues with it when I bought her a year ago. Now, it’s generally just a dancey step or two and maybe a sour face. I couldn’t care less and I’m not going to wind her up by getting after her about it.

She’s also very fresh for her first canter. Often, I pop her on the lunge before riding to establish good listening and remind her that “hi hello, yes I’m a puny human but you have to do what I say.” She inevitably bucks and scoots and is silly for her first canter. Again, I don’t care - she’s not allowed to buck, scoot, and then take a nice break at the walk - she has to keep trucking in a nice canter after her shenanigans. If I choose not to lunge, she has to keep her head about her, but I’ll sit a couple hops and push her forward and we’re just fine.

She is a doll to handle on the ground for the folks who work at the barn. She is quiet and sweet when they have to move her for feed time, she leads well and isn’t a pushy jerk. I am her sole rider, and I have no need to make her a beginner safe horse. She’s talented and athletic, and I ask a decent amount of her (for her current training). It’s more important to me that I have a productive, useful ride where we make progress on our overall goals than for me to get after her for a silly feel-good buck. Goes back to what PNW said about priorities - only she’s working at a much higher level than us! :lol: