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Taking Your Appendix(QH) Out On The Road

She writes...

I sent this along with the request for the Bonder page info, and after reading your web page further, I realize you may not receive my e-mail through the other address. So here I am copying it and sending it to your other email address. Any help or advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated!

My daughter (14 years old- has ridden 7 years) and I now own a horse -- our first one. He is an Appendix Quarter Horse and his nickname is Paco. He is four years old. He is boarded now with only one other horse. He was "supposedly" used as a trail horse in a children's camp last summer. We purchased him January 1 and during the month of March and 1/2 of April we put him in training to make sure he understood certain cues. While he was in training, I asked the trainer to take him out on the road, which she did, and she had my daughter and I also ride him a couple times on the road along with her and another horse. No problems.

We have continued with weekly lessons on him. My daughter has been out a couple times on the trails, leaving the barn alone to meet up with a friend on the road. He would give her some problems but she managed. I took him out once with his pasture mate and met another horse on the road and near the end of the ride he was a bit antsy to get back, but manageable. Then my daughter took him out for over an hour, which I feel was a bit too long for him to be out, and he tried to rear with her, but she managed him, continued her ride, and came back home. That was her third time out.

Last weekend, she was going to go riding again. Paco would not leave the barn area. The farther he got from the barn, the harder it was to handle him, to the point we ended up bringing him back, and with the help of a gentleman friend, we worked him right outside the pasture area, up and down trails, where he misbehaved, even once where my daughter decided to bail off of him and he ran all the way home and through the pasture electric fence. We brought him out again and she worked him for 1 1/2 up and down trails, and up and down the cul-de-sac and finally got him to listen to her.

I tried to take him out today with his pasture mate and we were meeting two other new horses to go trail riding in a field. The ride began okay, but as we got farther and farther in the field, his pasture mate was having problems, perhaps with bugs, and I kept trying to hold Paco back from trotting and trying to keep him in a walk. the other two horses were behind us. Well, Paco tried to buck me off two or three times in a row. I got control. We decided to put the other horses in front and keep Paco and his pasture mate behind. That was better, but he did attempt to try and buck me again two more times, and his pasture mate was very agitated still. We finally made it back to the road, went our separate ways -- the two new horses going home, and Paco and his pasture mate going home, where he calmed down and we made it home.

I am a novice rider. I am taking lessons. Paco does extremely well with ground work, lunge line and riding him in an outdoor pen area. Listens well and usually is not very stubborn and corrects easily. I'm at a loss as to what went wrong today. Can you give me any advice as to what I may have done wrong?

thank you!

I'm not sure what you did wrong, if anything. This is another of those problems where a cut and dried answer won't cut it. If I was there I'd be able to actually see what is going on and who is doing what, but I'm not so about the best I can do is jabber on some and hopefully something may click.

As far as being at a loss as to what went wrong "today"...if it did happen on one particular day I'd tell you not to worry about until it happened again, because on any given day anyone can be beat and these things occur on occasion. However, the rest of your letter says this has been building for sometime.

I feel especially compelled to tell you up front, based on your relative lack of experience, to be careful with this horse. In my opinion and observation, for what it is worth, Appendix Quarter Horses, in an extremely high percentage of cases, require rather experienced riders.

I tell people if they have little horse experience to stay away from horses who are bred for a particular characteristic or have abnormally colored eyes. If you look at the stallion ads in any breed journal you'll find some form of, "He sure throws pretty babies!!!" He can be meaner than a snake and have all four legs coming out the same hole and they'll still stand it.

Quarter horses are slow-twitch fibered horses. They are bred for long work days that require occasional bursts of speed (cows aren't really all that fast, you know). In other words, they are bred for economy of energy. TBs, for the most part are bred for flat out speed over greater distances. In other words, they are bred for expending energy. When Quarter Horses are bred to TBs you are breeding a slow twitch horse to a high twitch horse and these two qualities often war with each other. You get a horse who can be calm and lackadaisical one moment, or raring (sic on purpose) to go the next. Predictability and rationality is not the Appendix's strong suit.

The closer the parentage is to 50/50 the more unpredictable the horse will be on any given day. The greater the parental characteristic the more likely the horse's personality will follow it.

The Appendixes / race horses are bred in large numbers hoping to produce a winner as quickly and as cheaply as possible. If they do not have obvious race potential at a young age they are disposed of for what the breeder can get. Hang around any racing facility for awhile you can often pick up the unwanted OTTBs (Off Track Thorough Bred) horses for little or no money. The horses often have little disciplinary training since the ultimate goal is racing. A farrier friend of mine was told by a breeder to not turn his horses to the right because he didn't want them to know they could.

Years ago, in my more traditional cowboy days I was talking with a Utah friend of mine, one of the most proficient traditional cowboy horse breakers I have ever met and as we discussed a particular technique he said, "unless, it's an Appendix Quarter Horse, they flop around on the ground like a fish. I have never had one that didn't fight it." He went on to tell me his wife was the emergency room director at the area hospital, "This is cowboy country, we get a lot of horse injuries, I told my wife to keep track of the breed involved as much as she can. Most of them are Appendix bred."

I never said a word, his experiences with them paralleled mine. I thought I was the only one who felt that way about them.

For those of you who are reading this, no need to email and tell me that you have or know of an Appendix who *ISN'T* that way because I have heard it all before. I never said all Appendixes were worthless. I said they very often require experienced handling.

Now then, does that mean the situation is hopeless? No, not at all. Just that you'll have to be more careful and diligent. Always wear a helmet and other safety wear.

First of all, you have to get the horse's respect. I'd suggest reading Lightning Is An Unlikely Cause Of Loading Problem because in reality you have the same problem - namely establishing a connection and maintaining and moving the control of the horse. When you have read it, read BondBond and read it over and over until you understand it and can do it in your sleep, then put Paco through it and see what difference it makes.

Once the respect issue is dealt with and he still acts up, the next course of action is to look for physical causes. He may very well have some physical things going on, but from the things you report, my gut feeling is disrespect and the insecurity of not being connected is the biggest part of the problem.

He has no sense of place and he's all over the place looking for it.

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