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Ask Sharon

Caring for and Choosing Your Horse

Kawena from Kailua, Hawaii, writes:

Dear Sharon,

My black gelding is still rearing on me but now the problem seems to be getting worse. I almost came out of the saddle the other day while I was practicing slow work on the barrels.

I would like to know if there's anything else that can be done. I don't want to get rid of him because he is a good horse and a sweetheart on the ground; it's only when I ask him to enter the arena before a race or ask him to do slow work around the barrels that I have problems.

Do you think giving him a calming supplement for excess stress would help at all? I would prefer not to make him slow or uncompetitive based on medication.

Thanks for all you help!

Dear Kawena,

We are getting into a touchy area here. Please listen to me as I have been here before many times with other horses and riders. The serious aspect of this situation is that rearing can turn into a VERY dangerous and challenging problem. If horses lose their balance or footing, they can fall backwards or over on he rider. In this case, I think your horse “has his rider’s number” and uses the rear as a threat not to comply with what you want him to do.

First off, THE PROBLEM DID NOT START WITH YOU! It will take discipline and retraining to get him over or through this issue. Whenever you feel him threaten you, whether it be during slow work or in the alleyway, you MUST discipline him. It is important that you anticipate what he might do, so you can discipline him before he actually threatens you.

I have found that the double-down exercise is most effective form of discipline. Get his nose with a bit, disengage his hind-end and circle at least six rotations to get him refocused on you and not on rearing. Bit possibilities are the Reinsman Combination #711 or #723 for competition.

Reread your clinic manual for a reminder about the double-down exercise. Remember not to avoid the slow work, as this is the place discipline needs to begin. Groundwork in the round pen can also be beneficial as I am not sure how much this horse understands about giving into pressure.

Regarding taking the “edge off,” I have both of my horses on Tahitian Noni. Along with the combination of training and Noni, both of them have NEW attitudes and many problems have been eliminated. Noni will also help with ulcers and bleeding, as often times these are both hidden culprits of major problems.

Keep me posed with your results,

Sharon