Q&A Questions and Answers:
In july my husband and I purchased a lovely Peruvian Paso 3 year old mare, looking for this to be our next trail horse since our best trail Paso is 24 and getting lame. We knew she was described as "timid" when we purchased her but since we have handled PMU's and other scared horses before we felt quite safe in purchasing sight unseen "just pictures" from a respectable and well known breeder. Well. to call this mare "timid" is definitely an understatement. She is terrified of everything and I mean everything! We have tried all the normal means of de spooking and several times thought we had her on her way to being a normal horse but poof she goes right back to being "nuts." You will be able to go into her pen or out in the pasture and halter her anytime, then suddenly you cannot get near her without her freaking out or burying herself in a corner snorting and blowing.
We are both very experienced horse people who have trained both for our own use and worked on ranches for others. But I have no idea what else to do with this mare. She is so touchy she even dislikes being brushed, she acts like she is super ticklish and definitely don't try to put a cinch on her, she goes absolutely nuts, the last time we tried she took out two fences try to escape from it. She will tolerate just a blanket, doesn't like it but will longe etc. wearing one. I would like to go on with her training but don't know what to do, she came to us bred and is due in April and I am afraid anymore to push her too hard after the last vet visit for her last freak out.
Any suggestions? She is not really afraid of people in fact she loves attention, just is afraid of everything you ask her to do for you. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I wonder if it has anything to do with her pregnancy. I assume this is her first foal, and -- along with the weird things rapidly changing hormones can do to one's mind -- she may be simply wondering what's going one with her body. It may also have something to do with a mare's natural protectiveness of her little one. If it were my horse, I'd start by simply waiting until the foal is weaned before getting back to saddle training. Many skittish mares naturally calm down after their first birth. At the same time, I'd keep very close watch over the foaling out of concern that she might spook and cause harm to her foal. (Just be careful about your own proximity to her -- you wouldn't be the first human kicked or otherwise attacked by a mare that had just given birth.)
After the weaning, I'd go back to the beginning: teaching her to stand hitched, thorough sacking out, round pen work, etc. With some timid horses (as with some children) we make the mistake of being overly gentle out of fear of upsetting their sensitive nature. What they often need, however, is the security that comes from knowing that the leader in their life is firmly in control of things and not afraid to take strong action when needed. If she still shows signs of extreme spooking, I'd ask the vet to check her for indications of any neurological disease.
See if this approach works, and keep me posted on your progress.
I hope this helps.
Happy Horse Training!
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