why is my horse suddenly zooming in reverse everywhere?

(10 Posts)
Mitchy1nge Sun 30-Mar-14 20:16:55

backing up when confronted with something he doesn't like the look of, say a stupid little fiddly gate or going under or round something difficult, or when asked to stand still at a junction for example, is becoming a new habit

but he's quite old now and hasn't really done it before or at least hasn't got away with it - do I need to start beating him to push him forward? as it is I feel like a bully kicking an old man and growling at him blush

LastingLight Sun 30-Mar-14 20:34:32

Try making him turn a small circle - this must be quite hard work going backwards.

Mitchy1nge Sun 30-Mar-14 20:45:51

he particularly likes to do it if there is very little space though, such as on the edge of a terrifying ditch hmm maybe our hacks have been too stressful lately but we've had to squeeze under things and he got caught in a tree quite badly (not hurt but quite alarming for him) and cross very narrow bridges and so on

I will definitely try circling where space permits though, it feels like he is cantering backwards but that's probably not possible?

Pixel Mon 31-Mar-14 00:34:35

If you can't get him to go forwards can you at least get him to stand still? That sometimes used to work with my nappy pony. He would calm down, get bored and then walk on with a huge sigh. As long as he wasn't going backwards I wouldn't hassle him, otherwise it just turned into a huge fight. Not always possible I know, especially if you are riding with others. Actually come to think of it, does he do it when he has another horse to follow or just when you are on your own?

Also, if it's a recent thing and he's getting on a bit, have you thought of getting his eyesight checked?

Mitchy1nge Mon 31-Mar-14 12:07:58

oh that's a good point about his vision, he seems to think the green pond is grass or that he is Jesus and can walk on it, yet conversely he can be very anxious about stepping on bits of road that have been filled in with a different colour

he's the same with or without other horses, but it is a pretty recent thing

I think you might be on to something, I could probably check in a very basic way myself? oh no, a new thing to feel sad and worried about (am just getting used to probably having an autistic child)

Pixel Mon 31-Mar-14 21:12:41

Oh dear, I didn't mean to upset you, it might not even be that, I'm only making suggestions! It's just I've had a blind pony and I know that you can't always tell at first. The vet reckoned mine had about 30% vision by the time we found out and we hadn't noticed anything different about him at all.

Sorry you've got the autism thing to worry about. How old is your child?

Mitchy1nge Mon 31-Mar-14 21:19:33

no no don't be sorry, I think you could be right about his eyes, it's better to know (not that I've called a vet yet!) he's definitely being a bit odd even by horse standards

she's going to be 15 next month, I was shocked and surprised at the suggestion (from CAMHS) and don't really see how any form of autism could go unnoticed for such a long time but now we are just on various waiting lists to either rule it out or confirm it - I don't know much about autism and seem to have a total mental block when it comes to learning about it confused

Pixel Mon 31-Mar-14 23:05:39

Apparently girls are much better than boys at coping/covering it up as they are more able to learn the social 'rules' so that they fit in.

Booboostoo Tue 01-Apr-14 07:18:37

Have you had this horse long? Did anything happen to give him a fright?

If you've had his a while, this is new behaviour and there hasn't been anything to explain it (including yard move, lots of new grass, etc.) it's worth getting the vet out to check there is nothing physically wrong. Eyes are a good suggestion and also sources of pain may make him nappy when the pressure is on, while he seems OK at other times. I have a saint of a HW cob and the day he started being hesitant about giving a lead on hacks I knew there was something wrong. He had a minor tendon injury that healed with rest but that pain was enough to change his lovely personality (ever so slightly in his case, but if you know your horse you know what is typical).

If it's not pain I think you need to ride him through it and the sooner you get him out of the habit the better. Do you have an instructor? Ideally you need your instructor to come with you, observe what is happening and advise you there and then.

Things you can try (if it's safe with cars around etc!!!):
- catch him before things get bad, so as soon as you sense hesitation, pop him into trot, in need be give a good boot with your legs or a sharp tap with the whip (one, well placed, well timed tap with the whip may save you a lot of trouble).

- if he starts going backwards try again a good boot/tap with whip/growl and if you really can't get him to think forwards turn him a half circle to point his bum in the direction you want to go. If he still reverses now, let him, at least you are moving in the right direction. If he stops unwind him (i.e. don't let him complete a full circle, but turn a half circle back where you started from) and as soon as he is looking in the right direction, quickly into trot.

- if he is reversing when you want him to stand still, turn him in circles.

Mitchy1nge Fri 04-Apr-14 23:10:45

thanks booboo, those are great ideas to try before I splash out on any expensive and probably unnecessary veterinary stuff - he's on amazing form otherwise, have had him for quite a few years now, I don't suspect any pain because he is all whizzy and perky (for him) but obviously can't rule it out. They are amazingly stoical aren't they. As far as his general personality is concerned though he is his normal self. Even his brakes have become unreliable, like he is young again. There is so much new grass suddenly though!

actually I do think it might have started from the day we got stuck in a fallen tree, but I didn't know he was stuck (it was his tail) so I was kicking and growling and he was getting angrier and angrier, it was quite stressful. Our hacks generally have been a bit stressful for him lately because have tried out some new routes that involved obstacles he finds complicated or annoying like tiny gates or going under or round fallen trees. he is ok bombing pootling round the farm tracks and insists on jumping stuff again, I know he wouldn't suggest jumping anything if he was in much pain. He just doesn't seem to trust that he will fit where I know we will sometimes, or that the ground is definitely ok to walk on if it looks different in places.

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