Thursday, February 22, 2007

Are Arabian Horses Different than Other Horses? Part 3

Dandy and Rachel at the Daffodil Arabian Summer Show

Part 1
Part 2

In dealing with the spirit of Arabian horses, I've talked about taking the circumstances into consideration. Making note that if an Arabian horse doesn't get out of a stall for a period of time, it's going to be bursting with energy. Taking that into account and planning accordingly will make things easier on the horse and the handler. A good example of this has been the developing relationship between one of my mares and my daughter and granddaughter.

Currently, my daughter, Colleen, and granddaughter, Rachel have two of my horses boarded over by their house. They are there so both, Colleen and Rachel, can work on their horse skills. Rachel (thirteen) would like to grow up and train horses for her grandmother so she needs a lot of skills.

They've had one horse, Scandal Sheet, aka Dandy for over a year. He's a seventeen year old broke to death gelding. Colleen and Rachel's skills are developed enough they are ready to take on a bigger challenge.

Recently they took Scandalous Dare over there to join Dandy. Dare is an eight year old green broke mare and pretty sure she's destined to be an alpha mare. She has my heart bigtime! So I think I've not spent as much time on her training so no one would want to buy her. She's a good horse to teach Rachel and Colleen about handling young horses. She is young enough and green enough to be pulling some things, but willing enough and trained enough to respond to the proper cues. Once they have mastered how to deal with her, they'll be ready to try one of the real youngsters.

They were both warned before they took Dare that she does have an alpha mare personality which makes it very important to not let her get away with anything. Give her an inch and she'll take at least two miles. Don't give her an inch and she will love you to pieces. She has tested both of them. But Rachel has been unsure of herself and it's showed up in how the mare has begun to take advantage.

From what I understand, the Arabian mare has been good in the stall and being led but when it comes time to lunge, she's been telling Rachel what to do. The behavior Rachel was seeing on the lunge line is unlike anything I have ever seen with the mare. But then the horse and I have an understanding and Rachel hadn't established that yet. So when Rachel tried to control the horse, the mare reared and struck, kicked etc warning Rachel that she (the horse) is the one in charge. This is a very athletic mare. I intend to teach her reining she is so catty on her feet. So the maneuvers she used to evade Rachel had others in the barn moving up to the rail to watch. Being the star of the show didn't help Rachel's confidence but made the mare bolder. Dare definitely wants to be the star of the show.

Since the behavior was so unlike the horse, the first thing Colleen and Rachel did was have the chiropractor check her. Dandy already had an appointment so they asked him if he could check her briefly while he was there. They didn't check with me, they just did it. (Yeah! for them, I love it when they remember what they've been taught!) As it turned out, the mare was a mess. Even though the chiropractor had said he didn't have time to adjust another horse, he worked on her anyway. The chiropractor thought maybe she had been in a trailer accident, she was so sore. So the first priority was dealing with the soreness. The treatment plan was two or three adjustments followed by massages and not anything but hand walking in between.

So that explained part of the horse's behavior. She had not wanted to lope because she hurt. The mare is so athletic that she didn't appear lame but she had a lot going on and was compensating as much as she could. She tried to tell Rachel that she couldn't lope, Rachel insisted and the mare said I know more than you do. Colleen and Rachel's instinct to check for a physical reason for the behavior was a good one.

Once they got a clean bill of health on the mare, they made arrangements for Rachel to have a lesson with the barn's trainer to fix the lunging issues and Rachel didn't lunge her until that lesson so they wouldn't re-enforce any bad behavior. (More good thinking on their part, both getting help and waiting until they had it)

During the lesson it didn't take long for Rachel to get control of the situation. Rachel had had the right ideas about corrections all along but had been afraid to make a mistake so hadn't used them. (I would say this is probably the number one error that beginners make - doing nothing) Mostly, the mare is sensitive enough, that just scolding her with a firm voice will do the trick. Rachel let her uncertainty show in her voice so the mare didn't believe her. Once Rachel had the support of the trainer, she spoke with authority and used the lunge whip a couple of times as a barrier and they were back on track. Dare is figuring out that Rachel really is in charge and Rachel is gaining confidence.

Now that Rachel is feeling more confident, she is lunging the mare daily. Doing this it didn't take Rachel long to figure out that the mare is much more compliant when she is worked daily. When she stands in the stall for two days, the horse is a pistol! She has energy oozing out of every pore that needs to go somewhere (back to Arabian spirit) She still minds but it takes more focus on Rachel's part to get the horse's attention. It's much better for the horse and Rachel to work her regularly.


  1. Hi MiKael

    Ah yes excess energy. I know the feeling. I am so glad that they are getting on so well with both horses and had the sense and knowledge to speak to the chiropractor. Was the mare ever in a trailer accident? You mentioned that the vet thought this could be the cause.

    In answer to your question on my blog, no the eye photo is of the mare that we stall for the winter, she will be going back to the track next month sometime. The owner of the mare was the one who told me the story of the horse with no water that he had bought many years ago.

    Hope you are well.


  2. Hi rising rainbow - love your blog, and have been learning so much!

  3. I love these series on the Arabian horse. Horses are so easily put into categories. Living in a mostly quarter horse area of the country Arabians are often bad mouthed. Not by me though! I've had two half arabs and their personalities and hearts filled us with unending joy.