A lost cause

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by StraightandTrue, May 21, 2018.

  1. StraightandTrue

    StraightandTrue Senior Member

    Mar 19, 2010
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    A short clip came up on my social media feed recently which got me wondering: how do you decide that a horse is a lost cause training wise? What's the tipping point where you decide that the risks outweigh the benefits?

    The clip in question showed a horse rearing up so violently it flipped over onto it's rider. Now, say that hypothetically physical causes were ruled out and the problem was purely behavioural, say the horse had been poorly trained and it had this reaction any time somebody got on, would you decide that horse is too dangerous to continue training it? If so, why? If not, why?

    Also happy for people to share stories (good and bad) of horses with extreme behavioural issues.
    Alsosusieq2 likes this.
  2. endurgirl

    endurgirl Senior Member

    Sep 29, 2004
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    There are many factors. How was the horse started? Surely he has more issues than just the flipping.

    An Arab i rode years ago had a screw loose, he would be perfect!!!! .... then just take off and buck or bolt. He was restarted but had no holes except his tendency to just take off bucking unexpectedly. He injured many riders and the owner sold him for $1 with full disclosure of his problem, but that person turned around and sold him for a few thousand dollars, and the new owner did everything you could think of, teeth, chiro, massage, bareback riding, no bit, retraining, etc... but he'd still occasionally just break into a buck. She retired him from riding and he's merely a groundwork horse now, which he's perfect and very safe at.

    He had a screw loose.
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  3. slc

    slc Senior Member

    Feb 19, 2004
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    Well, the answer is, I don't know of any one, single red flag that always works in identifying the 'end of the line' or even more so, gets the horse to the right job/owner/place. Sometimes there is no right job/owner/place.

    Hurting someone is a possible 'end of the line' and that works as a decent red flag much of the time. If the horse really hurts someone severely, the end of the line might literally be euthanasia. But then, obviously, quite a few people are still trying to get some money out of the horse and are unwilling to euthanize even a very obviously dangerous horse, because they might get some money for him.

    I'm looking for an inexpensive horse, and many of the horses I go see have dangerous problems. The seller usually has a long and complicated story about family emergencies or health or financial problems, and a horse that is an absolute disaster. And they are selling that problem. It's not ethical, but it's done all the time.

    The problem with many horses is that they aren't athletic enough or conformationally strong enough to attract more advanced, more skilled trainers to them. In other words, many horses have 'solvable' behavior problems, but will never come into contact with anyone who could actually solve the problem. As one trainer told me about an extremely unruly horse that was also very poorly balanced and unathletic, 'What do I get if I fix the crazy elephant? An elephant.' She simply did not want to risk getting hurt in order to wind up with a horse that 1.) she couldn't compete on or 2.) couldn't be sold at a price that compensated her for her time.

    Of course, that isn't even always right. With many horses, the behavior problem will never be completely eradicated. It might be much lessened in frequency, but not entirely gone.

    I had a horse that reared. I stopped the rearing. But then other behaviors worsened. Spooking, running backwards, 'ground shying.' The underlying problem was a loss of vision. You could 'address' the behavior problems all day in a myriad ways, but no matter what you fixed, another problem would pop up. When that happens it's possible it's a fundamental training issue, but it's also possible it's a physical/medical issue.

    Around here, many Amish say a horse that 'goes for the ditch' once and causes a bad road accident, is 'ruined.' They are unwilling to put their wives and infant children in a buggy pulled by that horse. Similarly, many old timers feel they can identify which horses are in fact 'ruined' and they have no problem euthanizing those horses.

    In the 'intentional sports'(dressage, showjumping, eventing, combined driving, etc) where the horse is supposed to meet a standard expectation, and at least INTENDS to move up a long series of levels over a number of years, many horses 'flunk out.' My friend's Quarter Horse became unruly when she picked up the reins and tried to ride him on a contact. He went to a little boy who rode him in the local hunter classes with a loop in the reins. Other horses have mild arthritis or simply are physically limited in how far up the ladder they can go in those sports. When they reach their limit, the owner gets another horse. Those horses are not so hard to find the right place for.

    But many are not so lucky. There obviously is no place in this world for the horse that attacks people, but there are a lot of horses between 'killer' and 'good kid's horse' that never find a place to be.

    Last edited: May 22, 2018
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  4. bellalou

    bellalou Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2014
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    I don't think there's a general rule I could think of. It's individual to the horse and the situation. Bella hurt me several times early on, once badly, and someone else might have seen that as a tipping point. I didn't because I could tell it wasn't either malicious or neurological.

    Even malicious may not be a deal breaker depending on the situation. Flipping over alone wouldn't be enough for me - it would have to be a full picture of what was going on
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  5. tlwidener

    tlwidener Senior Member

    Dec 26, 2008
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    I don't know that I have a tipping point. I do in general believe that it is better to either get a young unstarted horse or a mostly finished horse.

    I rarely have good outcomes with older project horses. If horses aren't started right and worked consistently... it is tough to make something useful of them.
  6. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

    Mar 30, 2016
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    Lost cause scenarios are rare. Not worth my time or bother is much more prevalent. I personally wouldn't take on and fuss with a horse whose conformation is a wreck or issues from that and their value is zip or literally a financial drain because of issues and also be a training nightmare or dangerous. I think anyone with common sense wouldn't either.

    Extremely dangerous, I have only seen a couple and their situation was complex and no, I wouldn't take them on as only one was a valuable horse.
  7. Circle C

    Circle C Senior Member

    Mar 9, 2005
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    I simply won't mess with a horse that has serious issues. It's not worth my time or effort when there are a million other horses out there that are issue-free. It's not worth it.
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  8. GotaDunQH

    GotaDunQH Senior Member

    Dec 19, 2008
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    I give it a year and if things are aren't working out....I get out and move on. I owned a gorgeous AQHA WP mare a while back....she was still green, but had the WP movement, but not the mind set. Trying to get that mind set into thinking like a WP horse was tough, and after a year of trials and tribulations....we sold her and bought Sidney, who had the goods. She just had this quirk in her head that was not going to change. I'd be loping down the rail all quiet, and out of the blue she would throw her head up and bolt. It wasn't physical, because we always check that first....it was something in her mind set...and not conducive to my goals. I sold her, and this continued. She eventually ended up on a farm in Vermont in a pasture and passed from colic many years later.
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  9. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

    May 21, 2010
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    Yes. If they don't have enough sense to consider their own self preservation, they are not good minded enough to be riding horses.

    Doesn't matter how the horse came to be like that.
  10. waresbear

    waresbear Senior Member

    Apr 17, 2012
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    Totally agree manesntails, if a horse don't care if he hurts himself, he sure ain't gonna care if he hurts you.

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