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Hey everyone, 

I am hoping to get a little help from someone with a bit more knowledge about training horses than my dad and myself.  

We both use natural horsemanship and have trained several horses using methods from both Clinton Anderson and Parelli. 

However, last year my dad bought a beautiful registered spotted saddle mare who he was really looking forward to working with.  The mare was sweet and did fantastic on the ground.   He took a great deal of time doing her groundwork and slowing working up to mounting and starting work in the saddle. 

Now we were told she was green broke by the Amish.  

Well the short of it is this mare bucks like you wouldn't believe, particularly with any contact on her flanks.  We've used jugs of rocks tied to her saddle, saddle bags with rocks, anything we could think of to desensitize her.  A lot of her fear seems better, but it hasn't stopped the bucking. 

We have even tried to bring in a more experience rider to rider her through some of these issues after a lot of her apprehension with her flanks seemed to be taken care of.  Let's just say that the Mare still is not ridable. 

At this point, my dad would just like to find a more suitable home to try to work her through this and help her have a good home.  

Does anyone have any ideas or tips at either helping us work with this mare or finding a home for her?  Thanks, 

Sincerely, 

Shawn 

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Have you tried a different saddle? Do you work her in the round pen a LOT before you try to mount? I don't have any real suggestions, but good luck! I would try different saddle and just keep on with Clinton Anderson methods.
A friend of mine bought a young horse and had the same issues. No matter what trainer, saddle etc she used, the horse would buck. She had a vet go over the filly and she had a pinched nerve in her back.
Thanks. That's an idea. We've tried different saddles. As for the round pen, we don't have one. But we have done and and do extensive groundwork.

But a thorough vet check makes sense. We were just thinking that something with the initial training must have really messed her up before we got her.
I second Robin's suggestion to have your mare evaluated by a veterinarian. I'd check back (both for muscle soreness and alignment), teeth, saddle fit, and hoof balance. That way you can rule out the possibility that she's reacting to a physical problem. Mares can also have reproductive issues that cause pain, especially in the flank area.

I do have a question...how is she getting pressure at the flank? Is it from the rider's leg? As a general rule, that's not an area that usually receives contact. I'm curious as to how that's happening and also if she's fine as long as her flank is left alone. I'm also wondering if she's bucking constantly or when she's in a specific gait, etc.

In regard to the groundwork she's received, I've had a lot of fixing to do on horses that have had their hindquarters "disengaged," including a lot of bucking. I just thought I'd share that.
I had to ask my dad. My dad is extremely patient in his training. (A lot more than he was with me, growing up. ;-) He says age has mellowed him. I just think he had a lot of practice raising two difficult boys). I live about an hour away and haven't seen the recent blow ups. Here is his response.

I disengage her mainly with my calf. Maybe a little heal. Light precessor. Not a kick. I had her head flexed pretty good when I touched her. She reacted by disengaging but very violently. She we circling very fast/hard when I tried to get off. If I had held her head better, instead of trying to get off, I might have been able to stay on her. She seemed to be reacting with a lot of fear and panic with some violent bucking) Just trying to get away from it. She seemed fine before. She was dropping her head to eat grass. I would ask her to raise her head and take a step either forward or backward. I would then release her to eat for a few seconds. Neil was doing nothing but slow walks with her. No apparent problems for several sessions over a couple of months. He touched her flanks when he was trying to get off of her. (resulted in throwing him violently)

I am guessing she was disengaged very hard with spurs by the Amish. Just a guess.

I don't under stand the last sentence. I can disengage her on the ground with the back of my hand touching about where my calf or heal would touch her.

Thanks for all the responses and suggestions.
Yeah, from what you're saying she could feel too confined and restricted to move forward. When she feels trapped, she panics and has no other option but to buck. If that's the case she'd need work learning how to move forward in a relaxed manner. It isn't going to be easy, because at this point she's pretty well convinced she doesn't have any options at all.

I bet you're right about the use of spurs on her. She's been put in a no-win situation. At this point, she will be unpredictable because she's so anxious and distrusting.

However, it is probably possible to reprogram/retrain her and rebuild her confidence. It will take time and the results will depend a lot on her. I work with a lot of abused horses, and they always improve and nearly always become relaxed and reliable.

In the last sentence I was talking about horses I've worked with that swing their head/neck from side to side and swing their hips from side to side, but their shoulders never move. They are stuck and unable to move forward. The result is a hind end that goes side to side and up and down (bucking) but there's nothing you can to do to move the horse out of it because its neck is like a noodle and he can't move his front feet. It's hard to explain. I hope that makes better sense.
Get a nice broke gelding.
Yep! To many good horses out there needing a home to get yourself hurt.
I couple of comments here.

1) This isn 't the only horse we have. We have about four horses that we ride that are at different training levels from "bomb proof" to green. We took our two to Many Cedars last Saturday. We usually have one other horse that is more of a project. This saddle mare has just been more than we bargained for.

2) We have been open to finding this horse a home and moving on. In the first post, I asked for two things. One, was how to work with this mare. The other was how to find a home for the mare. Its great to say there are other horses out there needing homes, but then this mare becomes one of those needy horses. Its not easy finding a home for mare that is not ridable. Particularly if you are a little particular about the new owners training methods.

If you have some advice on how to find this horse a home, we are very open to that suggestion.
Offer her as a companion horse.
I had a mare that was this way. She was super sensitive and way over reactive. I did get her to deal with her problems some, but she was never a broke horse. She would buck from time to time, for no apparent reason, and any pressure to her flanks-- or behind the saddle would for sure get a buck. A rope under her tail would be a disaster. I worked this mare TONS, some improvement, but she would buck. She bucked even out in the pasture with no rider alot. Vet check was fine. She was also a kicker, not to people but extremely reactive to the horses in the pasture. I sold her, to a lady with full knowledge of her problem. She didn't want her to ride, but to breed. I did explain I would NOT recommend that, but because of her color she wanted her. Now this mare was very talented, but had a temperment.
I have not had trouble with the Amish around here being harsh on the horses. They however are not what I consider trainers. They can get one green broke, as far as riding, stopping, turning. Just nothing advanced.
It is hard to place a horse like this. Maybe invest in some good training with the horse and rider.
i would recommend a buck brannaman groundwork video. i have had a lot of success with bucking horses by taking the loop on my rope and stepping your mare into it and having the loop around her flanks put pressure with the loop and it will get better. it is best to do this in a round pen and i would recommend redoing the disengaging groundwork vetcheck will be valuable as well normally when a horse bucks and will not stop there is a reason. the fun is just figuring it out!!!!

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