Good Morning Victoria,
What type of retraining are you doing? Has you horse just been idle for a while due to your back issues? Or do you have specific areas of concern? Since your are an accomplished horsewoman at this stage in your life, just a couple of FYIs about Peruvians. They are very sensitive. You have to ask with far less pressure than other breeds. They pick up your cues much faster, but you have to really watch for the try. They can get frustrated with OUR inability to see that they are doing what we asked... Ride like you would any other horses, balanced with an equitation seat. And one of the biggest considerations is saddle fit. Ausie saddles, some English/hunt seat saddles, sit too far forward on the Peruvian's shoulders and hinder their movement. Good Luck and have fun! You are in for a treat. Congrats on your 1st Peruvian.
I purchased Danny this summer. I woman was selling 2 horse. One was hers and the other belonged to herboyfriend who was transferred out of the country. Both horses were given to them from a rescue. Danny aka ,Chico, had been starved and handled badly. His left ear had been pulled when the original owner mounted. The woman selling Danny was a sincere person but Danny really wasn't, her horse and he had been so thin he had not ridden much. She did not realize he wastage. I rode and bought her horse and then through phone calls bought Danny for 600. Took him to vet next day to check for dsld. Turned out hooves had been too long for a long period of time arthritis was starting to develop. I had an excellent farrier, he knows how to trim barefoot horses. and Danny is fine. He was so nervous this past summer. I have worked him on the ground, saddling, grooming, round penning, and lounging. I hired a Parelli trainer, but notice trust issues and have begun to understand how he would end up a one rider horse. I am 69 and even in my younger days rarely bought high strung horses but I have been around a lot of abused horses. Danny is both. I had my grown son help start to ride him on two occasions. One in a round pen to see how Danny responded to being mounted. I use a mounting block. Ij don.t know why his ear was twisted, he seems to stand fine though nervous. A snaffle seems too strong. Using just a halter.y But it seems he wants to buck up. I am using an Abetta saddle. I have waited saddle I use for my Twh, but the Abetta seems to fit better. For the past8 weeks my back had been inflamed, but now I am a lot better and can get back with the horses. I am inclined to just want to practice getting on and off waiting for him to relax and move forward, flex, move forward, then stop and get off.
Just be careful. Your plan sounds fine. Remember this type horse may be able to be trained to be ridden but never may be able to be trusted. It may be you will always need to be "in control" of this horse, i.e., to be constantly riding and not be able to relax and enjoy the scenery.
The decision is does one put the time and money, physical and emotional effort into such a horse or move on to a horse with a more suitable disposition. Only you can decide that.
I think I understand what you are talking about when you say that I will always need to be "in control". But I do think I need some clarification. I have ridden some horses that would startle at things. One in particular, a racking horse, would have his head up and looking down the road at something and then spook a little because he had just past a mailbox that he hadn't notice. I was 30 years old at the time and rode that horse all over the outskirts of Louisville. His spookiness never concerned me. But when I sold him, the next owner called up and wondered if he was blind in one eye because of the way he was. I did not tell her when she bought him he was spooky because to me he wasn't, To me he was a great trail horse. With Danny, I fear that something will come up behind him or a noise will somehow be created by an animal, or machine and he will bugger out from under me. He seems extremely light but if I over react will he tend to rear or just freak out. Is this what you are referring to or will he be an inconsistent horse, one day act like calm and reasonable and another day the world will seem all new to him?
I will try to explain. I am not meaning spooking. That is a problem but a different one than what I meant. From your short description I got the impression he was hyper about being ridden with wanting to buck and misbehave. IF this is his true personality, he is unpredictable. Something you do as a rider may set him off, something external that spooks him, or maybe he just sets himself off. So you are required to always be alert to his mood and actions. With that type horse a light reaction may be needed or a very quick stern reaction by the rider may be needed to keep him from acting up. That is hard to say without seeing what works. In any case it needs to be quick to stop him if you can before he gets started. That is why you cannot relax. Too relaxed, too late, and away you go with the rodeo. The correction would be a one rein correction, pulling to the side. Then you are on the way to doubling him if he decides to keep misbehaving. Pulling both reins will increase your chances of rearing. That is why the flexing you mentioned is a good thing to be doing.
To give you some hope, I had a horse sent to me because when the owner wanted to bring him home from training, he was so unruly the boarding ranch would not let him on the place. This was a supposedly fulled trained horse. The owner asked if I could train him, I said maybe. Luckily the owner was extremely patient. After 4 months of only groundwork and lots and lots of it, his attitude changed. After a year he was riding without reins and winning at the shows. Again it will depend on your horse if he comes around.
I have worked with more than my share of abused/rescued Peruvian horses. It's easy for them to end up "broken". They are so sensitive and willing. Trainers who normally work with other breeds are just too harsh for them. I was talking with a woman who had recently rescued her first Peruvian. She was having some of the same issues you are having. My advice to her was to not use a pound of pressure. Not use an ounce of pressure. Just use a whisper. The next day, she worked with him and asked for everything in a whisper. She kept her own energy low. He did everything she asked in a relaxed manner. She was very surprised at the change.
I have an Abetta saddle that I use too. Is yours the cutback model? The square skirt tends to hit their hip bones and "annoy" them. When you brush him, does he ever flinch or twitch his skin? He may need a chiropractic adjustment. He may also just be expecting something horrible to happen. It could just take time to overcome his past.
When I have started over with a rescue Peruvian, I literally start from scratch. Just like I would start a colt. You have to build a new set of muscle memories and emotional memories. It takes a while, but it is worth it in the end. You are probably correct in your assumption that he will be a one person horse. But when you get him to lock on, he will walk through a wall of fire for you. Peruvians have a deep sense of loyalty. That's why it is so easy to hurt them.
You have a good plan in place for him. I'm sure you will find success.
What does he do when you say he seems nervous? Also, I don't think I quite understand when you say he seems like he wants to "buck up"?
I got my mare in last April of last year. We rode her almost daily with no problems whatsoever. Slowly over the summer, she started acting girthy, trying to bite you when you saddled her. By September she was bucking.. I'm now treating her for ulcers. Just a thought, but to me, at least with my mare, I think she internalizes. I'm her 2nd owner in 14 years, it's going to take quite awhile for her to adjust to new people, new surroundings, other horses... Look at what it does to people when they move or change jobs, etc... It's got to be stressful for a horse just as well..
Give him a bit to just chill and get to know you.. Let him learn to trust you. Rule out that he's in pain anywhere and start slow treating him as if he knew nothing.. As you work with him, he'll learn to trust you and you him.
Michele is correct. I've had some hurdles so far in the 8 or 9 months I've had my mare, but I already get the sense there when she's back to 100% health wise, there is nothing this mare would not do for me.
Thank you for your encouragement. By bucking up, I mean like a horse who refuses to go forward, plants his front feet to the ground, and then brings his hind legs up. When I felt that he was going to do that, I tightened the reins on the bosal so he couldn't bring his head down--which discouraged him from going forward. I truly feel that there were several things going on at once. first and foremost, he was resentful that I was asking him to move forward. He was in a pen that had one side that contained the pens my other horses were in, and he wanted to be with them and not do what I wanted. The other part of the equation was me. I was very uncertain and fearful that he would act up and i not be able to handle him. In my better days, I would have been circling him and making his legs move one way or the other in a gentle but firm way. But I was off in my confidence. I did not really flex him and make him bend and move. I did get him to move forward for a few steps and got off. My son got on and I led him around, and he seem to act better and more relaxed. But when my son was leading him, he did not seem to like that. The other part of the equation could have been that he did not know my son as well as he did me, and as long as I was leading him, he felt that he would be okay. But I don't know for sure. The other is that I am an obese rider. Some horses do not respond well to my weight. It does not depend on size as much as the attitude of the horse. I have a 1/2 arab that is barely 14 hands and he does not react at all to my weight. I rode him on a trail ride to see how well trained he was, and he carried me all day with out a problem. I have owned a thorobred that resented heavy people. He would buck up with me if I didn't warm him up slowly. Took him to a trainer and he told me he was just a cold back horse. I sold him reluctantly to a man who weighed more than i did, warning him of course. The horse tried to lay down with him, but he got a stronger bit and made him keep moving. He ended up riding him all over the country without any physical problems. That was what was on my mind when I started riding Danny. It is why I have lost confidence in my riding.
But this is what I know today, however. He does trust me and he like me to stroke him. He focuses on me when I am ground training him and he does not look around for the other horses. If I point to the ground, he will lower his head so I can either stroke him or take off his halter. When I have him on the long line, and he is four feet from me, I can still get him to back up by wagging my finger at him. I can "reel" him in with a gentle pull of the rope till he will come all the way up to me. He will then bury his face in my chest and invite me to stroke his head and scratch around his ears. Therefore, somehow I have to keep progressing forward, but I am not sure what my next steps should be. I do know that he needs to stand quieter when I saddle him, and I would like to be able to lead him with just my hand under his chin. For the most part he will let me,but when he gets by the mare, or decides a different agenda, I begin to lose him. I want him to stay with me no matter what.
I have thought of long driving him. I had done the Parelli 7 games with him, but have not used the old fashioned long driving that I use to do when I trained a few of my horses. When I first got him,he was so reactive to ropes around his rump. He is not that way now,but still very suspicious. Again, because of my back, and the weather, I had not really been outside for any length of time to train or work with my horses. I am always, training while I feed, desensitizing or correcting behaviors the sometimes crop up during feeding--but only to a slight degree because i was in pain. Now I am fine, but the weather is interfering.
Danny was lame when i first got him. He had started to get arthritis on top of his hoof line because his hooves had been so long. I had an xray done and talked with the vet. The vet really like him and considered him sound if I followed by farriers advice. I am fortunate that I have a good one. Danny is now barefoot and is not lame at all. He is thinner than I would like him to be, but my friend and I began to wonder if it wasn/t just a lack of conditioning. He does not seem to have good back muscles. I purchased him in June or July but didnt do much with him because of his lameness. then 6 weeks later or so before school started, I hired a Parelli trainer to come and help me retrain him. We worked together 6 weeks, but she found him to be very reactive and I noticed that he did better when I worked with him by myself. I am going to get my friend, a little younger than me, but quiet to help with him. I think because she is a woman and somewhat like me, it might help him. I am open to any ideas at this time. I want to ride this horse more than anything else. It is part of my goal for this year. Lose more weight, ride Danny and save more money.
Sounds like you have a good plan in place. One thing, maybe some of the other long time Peruvian owners can correct me if I"m wrong, but I have noticed that it just seems the Peruvian way of gong that they seem to tuck their butt and lighten up on the forehand to gait. I've ridden TWH and RMH that did not feel this way. My mare, whenever she really gets in a good paso llano, that her butt seems to drop down a bit. Not much, just it's more noticeable when you ride.
If he's lost muscle on his topline, a saddle may fit him differently then it normally would.
Maybe this is what I am feeling and interpreting as getting ready to buck up. Mr TWH is real heavy on the front end. I really need someone experienced to help me.