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MY HORSE THROWS HERSELF ON THE GROUND

Q/A Natural Horsemanship training Tips

© by Gordon Adair / Trainer

I have a 4 year old quarter horse mare. She follows me through obstacle courses over logs, plastic, and through water. She would follow me into the barn until she got herself into a situation and scared herself. I returned to ground work and I now feel she is ready to move on. The trouble is that she does not. We went through a rodeo event and she would end up throwing me. I know her moves and now I can stay on. So she started to throw herself onto the ground to halt our outing. When she throws herself down she is no longer panicked, her breathing is normal and her eyes are closed. You can see the fear building up inside her.

One night I left her tied for two and a half hours because anytime we went near her she would throw herself to the ground (she doesn't care what is in her way either). When we finally untied her, she was a totally different horse (calm and relaxed). One minute she trusts me the next minute she does not. I do trust her with the ground work and riding in an enclosed coral. Your suggestions would be much appreciated.

Unfortunately when it comes to training what the owner thinks is not as important as what the horse thinks. Your horse has a problem with something which needs to be dealt with before moving on with her training. When a horse is good and slowly becomes worse the owner is doing something wrong.

First I would like to elaborate on each problem before trying to solve them. Your horse throwing herself down on the ground is the result of her trying to flee something and accidentally falling down. In her mind falling down got her away from danger and then from what she does not want to do. Your horse closing her eyes while on the ground reflects she is frustrated and has quit thinking. This is why she does not respond when you ask her to get up. She has to recover her mind first. This can be very dangerous when a horse is in this state, because what she will do next is unpredictable. The reason she runs over top of things is that the only thing on her mind is to flee. Since a horse can only concentrate on one thing at a time she does not see anything around her, thus she runs over top of things.

Each one of these problems have the same ingredient - your horse does not trust you any more for some reason. You stated, "your horse got herself into a situation and scared herself." Were you with her at the time or was she alone? If you were present and because you were in charge, which all humans are, your horse felt you let her down by allowing her to be scared or hurt. So now when your horse senses danger she does not look to you, instead she reacts the way she feels will help her. If this is the case you will need to rebuild her trust by incorporating situations in your training program were she will need to trust you. If she was alone at that scary time, then she may be blaming the human world. Again you will need to regain her trust in the human world by adding different scenarios in your training to gain confidence.

It is always best when solving problems to return to the basics and find what your horse is unsure of to recreate a good association. Avoid any procedures that may cause her to reactivate her problem until you regain her trust. Then slowly introduce new procedures using good communication. Improving your communication and the understanding of horses will solve all problems especially this one. It may sound like I am blaming you for everything, this is not the case. Unfortunately, you are the leader and teacher of your horse. Your ability to communicate to your horse will determine whether you will succeed or fail. This is not an easy problem to solve and it is a dangerous one. You may want to work with a trainer who will instruct you on what to work on.

Training programs and rates / Lesson outline / Ground training / Training tools / Gordon's articles

Hoof Studies / Club foot and uneven heels / Laminitis and founder defined / Laminitis / founder treatment

Homepage / G.A. Equine Center / About Gordon Adair / Interview

Gordon Adair is a professional natural horse trainer and riding instructor with over thirty-seven years of experience. Gordon's specialty is instructing owners with their horses, the philosophy of teaching horsemanship and communication. The ability to teach and communicate can then be used with the owners own discipline and personality. Ocala, Florida for more information

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