Return to Questions and Answers Index

Q&A    Questions and Answers:


I have a five-year-old mare. I'm unsure of her breed (possibly Arabian). This horse will not pay attention when she is being ridden. How can I keep her in check?

Also, how can one tell how long a horse is? She is a wild horse I bought and the owner said she is due in March, but this horse is getting large. Is there a way to tell? Or do I need to get a vet to knock her out to check her for this?

Thank you,

- A. M.


Thanks for your interesting question - actually two questions!

1. Ask yourself why the horse isn't paying attention. Most likely, the reasons will relate to the rider more than to the horse! Is she worried about her surroundings? If so, she's probably saying she doesn't trust the rider to keep her safe. Is she ignoring your cues? This may indicate that you aren't constantly working at keeping her focused with a steady flow of signals. As I mentioned elsewhere a few times, a horse will tend to behave toward you like you behave toward it. When I hear about a horse that's not paying full attention to what's going on, I immediately begin to suspect that the rider isn't either. Set up some barrels or cones in your arena or pen and work her in a continually changing pattern of movements around them. Don't give her mind a chance to drift before you give her the next set of cues.

At the same time, work on riding with "gentle hands." If you constantly jerk on the reins, she will soon have her attention on the pain caused by the bit, rather than on the message you are trying to communicate to her.

Have you ever watched a beginning automobile driver? He will usually try to hold the steering wheel steady, then make large over-corrections when the car starts to drift. With experience, he learns that driving involves constant, subtle movement of the wheel to keep the auto moving smoothly in the proper lane.

I frequently see the same phenomenon with horse riders. They let the animal drift, then try to jerk the animal back on course with heavy-handed tugs on the reins. Sometimes the best way to learn this (and a technique I frequently use with young riders) is to ride double with a more experienced rider behind you. You hold the reins, but have your mentor guide the horse by holding your hand. After a few minutes you'll pick up the feel of the expert rider's movements.

I've also pointed out a couple of times on this web site that a former wild horse has learned to distrust almost everything. It can take a long time to teach her otherwise.

2. As for the pregnancy issue, I'm not a vet, and I'd strongly recommend that you have her checked by one. Not only can he give you a better idea of how far along she is, he can also check for things that may cause potential problems with her pregnancy and foaling.

Happy Riding!

Previous Question  |  Next Question

Return arrow Return to Questions and Answers Index

Return arrow Return to the "Learning More About Horses..." page

  The contents of this document are not for reproduction.