Horse Whispering with Hattie

I’ll fill in more details as work goes on with Hattie, age around 5, 15.1 hands, a good weight condition scoring 3(UK) HattieThere are several issues being addressed, bad ground manners, kicking and biting in the stable, uncooperative when ridden, separation anxiety and spookiness on hacks, has on occasions cornered her owner in the stable with her bottom with threat to kick. Oh and…. Farrier scared of her!! Didn’t believe it at first, but when he came to do another horse first then rushed off before doing Hattie saying he’ll be back on Saturday morning at 8am… he never turned up!  Time for a change of farrier, before that though she needs a bit of help.  My first opinion of Hattie is that she’s been handled too much as a foal, hand fed and did not understand boundaries and she thinks she is lead mare over humans.

Initial assessment showed she has difficulty in slow walk and looks wobbly from behind ( please excuse any incorrect words, it’s just what comes to mind to describe it!! ) She’s not listening to gentle leg or hand aids, so keeping at her side I encouraged forward walk and she became more balanced.  My daughter (age 14 & been riding since she was 2) then rode and said she felt an imbalance on the hind. On backing up she showed weakness on the right side and couldn’t back up straight.  On touching she became jittery from just behind her withers and reacted with a bite when my hand went to her loins. Picking up the feet was a challenge, not as bad on the front, but the back was an aggressive kick.

Little note, I am too heavy to ride Hattie, so riding will be done via the owner and my daughter.

First session Join up in an indoor school on the ground. Aim  day 1 – get her listening, walking on when asked. If you’ve seen a Monty Roberts Join up, then that’s what normally happens but just in a bigger space, the horse ends up running around you in circles then joins up using the Equus language. Hattie didn’t do that!! She just went in straight lines to and fro across the school. She show very weak signs of listening, so I let her join with me quite quickly. Followup achieved. It does not seem that she’s had much herd interaction so this may need teaching to her.

More to come, this is a video of join up in the field, but first I had to exert my leadership as lead mare to both horses.

As you’ll see by the end of the video, Hattie has already bonded with me and feels relaxed. Now we can see what the real issue is with her hind quarters. She has already have checks, but nothing conclusive.

Progress on Hattie May 2014

Working with strengthening the core muscles from the ground with Hattie has greatly improved her movement and she has become more responsive in the saddle.

She had manipulation done on her pelvic which was one of the big reasons for the difficulty of going backwards without bending.   After manipulation and more strengthening exercises from the ground, her feet are now in alignment and she is relaxing into overstride about 5 inches.  At liberty she has wonderful collection  and extended trot.

She is quite stunning.

Bay Mare - Hattie

Bay Mare – Hattie

June 2014 – Things changed suddenly a couple of weeks ago, I went to see Hattie in her stable and straight away she whipped round and gave me a hard bite on the arm. I went into the stable to see if anything was wrong and again she whipped round and bit me again.  I contacted the owner and asked if anything has changed and she told me that Hattie was being ridden everyday now by another instructor who’s promised that she will be fully back to good riding condition in just 2 weeks.

Hattie had one week of hard riding at the time she bit me. I can only think what’s going through her mind at the moment.  I backed Hattie up to see if the hard riding was affecting her pelvic area and it is, she has started to bend when backing up and the jerk in the stifle area that had disappeared with manipulation and ground exercises has started to come back. Whilst Hattie is being ridden hard, I’ll not be working her. 😦

When horses show behaviour issues, there is not always a quick fix. Many horses in pain are like it due to incorrect riding, incorrect saddle fitting and incorrect biting and handling. Correcting this fully or as much as possible requires time, trust and exercises to support weak areas of their bodies.  It’s treating the ‘Whole Horse’ and not just walk, trot, canter, jump!

Everything a horse does he/she is trying to tell you something, the question is are we willing to listen. Kicking, Biting, Bucking, headshaking and rearing, the horse is trying to tell you something are you listening?


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