New Horse... Need Advice.

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by PineBurrowPeeps, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. Some of you might have remembered seeing my posts here about getting a paint mare that I rescued in OR.
    Well unfortunately things didn't work out with getting her here but I found her a great home with a family in TX and she's doing great.

    After all of that happened I started to look for something else. I looked and looked and nothing fit right.
    I decided to go out and have a look at this 18-22 year old Belgian gelding who is supposed to be bombproof, road safe, used to carrying rank beginners and bigger people, children, etc.
    So we went to see him and everything was great, I liked him alot, he has a great calm puppy dog personality.
    I was late to get there because we got lost and the owner had to run to work so we only stayed a while, we even hung out a bit with him after she left.

    The next day she wanted to set up to trailer him to me, we set up everything that I would take him on a trail period of a 12 month free lease and then pay $1500 for him if I wanted to keep him.
    She was supposed to bring him 10 am two Sundays ago and we got up early, took care of everything and waited and waited. She never showed. I came in and checked my e-mail and sure enough there was an e-mail from her saying that she found out from her Ex husband (who's horse it technically is) that he cannot be kept alone ever or he colics.
    We're disappointed but completely understanding and wouldn't ever want to risk him getting sick just to have him here.
    We drop it and everything is fine. She tells us that if we were to get a goat or a pony or whatnot she thinks he would be fine. The only problem with that situation is that we only have one stall, a 14 X 14 converted garage on our farm. This is temporary until next Spring when we atcualy build two stalls in our big barn.
    So I let it go and started looking some more. My neighbor down the road is going to free lease her horses out for the winter because she is in financial trouble and has a pony who was used for lessons prior in his life, he's a 12 year old Welsh Gelding. My kids have ridden him before when I take them to visit.
    Just as I'm about to tell her that I'll take him because I'm more looking for a horse that I can give lessons on to my kids and young Newphews and Nieces than for me to ride, I get an e-mail from the Belgian lady telling me that she talked to a horse friend who is in his 70's and has had horses all his life and he doesn't think Dan (The Belgian) is going to colic from being alone. She said come to think of it that he'd been alone and been fine.
    She talks me into trying him out and giving me a tube of Banamine to give him if he ever starts to look off.
    I've had him for two days now. He seems to be perfectly fine being alone, he's not pacing, neighing excessively, his poop is great, he's eating, drinking, etc.

    My problem lies in that I'm wondering how long is normal for a horse to act different from a move, and at what point would I assume that he's not everything he was projected to be?

    This afternoon after grooming him out thoroughly and hand grazing him for awhile I decided to try lunging him to see what he knows. Now he's a big boy, 1900 pounds of horse, whom she claimed had been ridden by a 4 year old with very little help in his paddock. I have high expectations at this point.
    I put him on the lungeline and take up my lunge whip and start trying to move him around at a walk. Nothing.
    I flick my whip a little at the ground at his feet while telling him to Walk On and he takes off in a nervous trot.
    I tell him to Whoa and thankfully he does stop.
    I go to his head and give him a pat and try and show him that I want him to Walk. I go back to the center of my circle and try again. Again, nervous trotting with head tossed up in the air and he's pulling much to much to the outside, angling his rump diagnol away from me.
    I try telling him to drop to a Walk from the Trot and he did respond down to a walk for all of 15 seconds before going into the nervous trot again. This time, not wanting to end it badly I told him to slow to a walk and once he did a couple steps later I told him to Whoa.
    I then put him back on a regular halter and lead and just walked him for awhile.
    Wanting to further see how he was reacting, I had my husband go and grab my bareback pad, I wanted something light. I wasn't intending to try to mount him, I just wanted to see how he would react to being "tacked".
    Well it wasn't good. I let him sniff the pad as I walked towards him with it and he was fine, but as soon as I lifted it to drape it onto his back he swung his hindquarters away. I tried again and actually got it draped over his back and then he stomped his foot down really hard and tossed his head. It certainly wasn't the reaction I was looking for. And I never even buckled the girth. I let it sit on him while I led him around inside his paddock and when he was completely oblivious to it and grazing normally I removed it.

    So how much is just newness jitters and how much is lies? hmmmm.

    He also won't let me pick up his feet to pick them out. I have tried every way thinkable and he will not pick up his feet. When I asked her about that she said that only her Ex and her Blacksmith (both men) seemed to be able to do it. So I had my husband try, and he still won't pick up his feet.
    To me that's a major thing, you need to be able to clean your horses hooves out.

    Now, keep in mind that this horse is supposed to be for me to ride but mainly for me to give lessons on. I'm suddenly very nervous about whether this guy is going to work out.
    Luckily I haven't put any money into him yet, just trying him and she's told me she'll come back and get him if it doesn't work.

    What do all you horse people think?
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2008
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    the first, and $64,000, question that is not clear from your post is, did he longe and stand quietly to be tacked WHEN YOU TRIED HIM at the owner's place.

    If he longed just fine then, and stood quietly for tack, then the problem is some combination of new environment and not 'getting with' your body language.

    If you did not see him longed or tacked or ridden or things like that, then it is POSSIBLE he's what was represented, or it is possible he is er ahem um you know what's the word Not [​IMG]

    Hoping it's the former,

  3. Pumpkinpup

    Pumpkinpup Poultry Princess

    Jul 16, 2008
    North-West Georgia
    With him being the age he is, first off I would say, he is not some green idiot who has no clue about how things work. I believe he is possibly testing you to see how much he can get away with. I had drafts for years and they are far from stupid [​IMG] Sounds like to me that he may not know how to lunge and that is why the acting up there. The feet thing is being stubborn and lazy, again, testing you to see if he can get by with it. The tacking up thing makes me think the same, he's lazy and does not want to be ridden. How long has he been standing around being a pasture ornament or has he been being ridden regularly at the ladys farm? have you asked if he has been ridden with tack or if they just rode bare backed? I would ask if he has even be taught to lunge as it's possible no one ever taught him to. Id give him a few weeks but make sure I did not let him "win" in any of the battles of wills. He needs to understand that you are the dominant one and in charge and that you are not afraid of him. Just be patient and continue asking whatever task of him until he does at least one thing positive. At that point, end the session on that positive note and praise him. He should figure it out. Good luck to you.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    just adding: the stuff you describe does not actually sound particularly ominous unless you require a dead-broke beginner-machine. LOTS of draft horses longe, uh, sluggishly and sloppily [​IMG] (especially if they have not yet decided that you are in charge and worth paying attention to); lots of horses, draft or otherwise, will put their heads up and swing away if you come at them with an unfamiliar pad to put over their backs. And lots and LOTS of drafts are lousy at picking up -- and KEEPING up! -- their feet, which is one of the reason it can be hard to find a farrier willing to trim them <g>. (e.t.a -- the little-known but very useful key to fixing the feet problem is 1) get the horse's attention and then 2) teach him to shift his weight off the foot. You can't pick it up til he's shifted his weight entirely off it, and many drafts, being so big, just honestly have truly never learned to do that on cue. Not difficult to teach)

    If you have a fair amount of experience with horses, all of these things are easy enough to work with as long as you have the common sense and 'presence' to safely handle large drafts.

    If you are more towards the beginner took-some-lessons-but-that's-it end of the axis I would very highly recommend finding an experienced person to assist you, NOW rather than later, as letting bad habits develop with Very Large drafts is a real big mistake to avoid [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Last edited: Nov 24, 2008
  5. *hangs head*
    I did not Lunge him at the owners place. And here's the even worse part; we were over an hour and a half late to get there, we simply got lost really badly.
    By the time we got there she said that she had just untacked him and that she had been riding him up and down her property at road front looking for us.
    Now, we did remark on seeing the diamond shaped outlines of the saddle pad on his back and he did still have a bridle on when we got there.
    It was simply a matter of this woman working three jobs and hardly ever being home mixed with our crazy two job/farming/kid schedule.
    We made her late for work being late and she had to rush off about 15 minutes after we got there.
    We hung out for a while later with him and talked to her Father who also lives there and has handled him, he told us alot of things that mirrored what she said, that he was easy to handle and anyone could ride him, etc.

    I just don't know. Like I said, at least if I find him to not be up to snuff for us I am confident I can send him back, I have talked to her at least 4 times just today, I know I can be honest with her.
    I'm thinking in my head that I will give him a week. Do you feel this is suffient time for him to settle in and show his true colors?
  6. lorieMN

    lorieMN Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 19, 2008
    well,if you didnt try him there,all I can say you know for next time..dont believe everything people tell you,try them for yourself.Doesnt mean hi isnt broke,he may just be trying to buffalo you into letting hem get by with things.
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:PBP, PBP, PBP, what are we going to do with you? Don't get horses, especially not horses that are required to be beginnery, without seeing everything important done and then doing it yourself. Goodness! [​IMG]


    How far away does this woman live, and can you just buy her lunch in exchange for her coming down for an hour on the weekend and longeing, tacking and riding the horse for you at your place.

    Not only will that let you see what he's used to, which will be educational, but you will also be able to see what he's like "best case scenario" (well, more or less best) and decide if he's likely to be in the realm of what you want.

    Failing that, get some very experienced horseperson friend to come do the same, for the same reason.

    Good luck,

  8. miss_thenorth

    miss_thenorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2007
    SW Ont, Canada
    Can the lady you got him from come to your place to work with him a bit? At least so you can see he does know how to longe, pick up feet, saddle up etc? That's what I would recommend at this point. At least that way-you know what you're working with.
  9. Going back 10 years ago I owned 4 of my own horse, two Off The Track TB's, a rescued Arab, and a Hanovarian. I used to ride english and did show jumping, eventing, some Dressage, etc.

    I have never handled a draft until now. And I did tell the prior owner that and she talked to me alot and felt I would be fine with him.

    I realize they aren't really big things and that an older Draft is bound to not have as much as pep and spring as my TB's did, I am getting used to him, it's a size thing and I'm not afraid of him in the least, just cautious of where those big hooves are at all times!

    I was taken aback that he would toss his head like that and act so nervous when he was projected as being broke to death and able to be ridden around with nothing with a halter and leadrope.
    When they arrived here at my farm and he was in the process of being about to be unloaded, she opened the side door of the trailer for him to get some air while we talked for a moment and a huge gust of wind came and slammed the metal door shut in his face. He didn't move a muscle! I watched. And I mean slammed, really hard and loud about 6" from his muzzle.
    When we were out seeing him, I watched two cats weave through his legs while he muched hay. And have pictures of two dogs running crazily around his paddock while he sits and watches him.

    He was ridden at least once a week by her with full Western tack, but also occasionally in English.

    It's just a really big deal to me that it work out and I'm really observant and I want to make sure that the little things I'm noticing aren't signs of bigger things to come.
    Maybe I'll give him more than a week if you guys think I should... I'm open to it.

    Since I would be putting small kids on him who have never sat on a horse before it would be important that he be dead calm.
  10. Bec

    Bec THE Delaware Blue Hen

    Personally, I wouldn't try to ride him for at least 2 weeks. Let him get settled into his new home. In the mean time, I would just do ground work with him so you establish a trusting relationship with him. After just 2 days, he has no idea who you are, where he is and what you are expecting from him. Let him settle in a bit more then try again.

    Belgians are one of my favorite breeds!! I would LOVE to see some pics of him!
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2008

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