View Full Version : "Bad stable manners" doesn't even cut it...

10th November 2009, 10:29 AM
Well for those of you that don't know, I'm new around here :) I'm from England, but I'm currently living in Japan, and working as a stable hand on a dressage yard here.
Kind of looking for some advice right now...

So every day I work, I get a free riding lesson.
Today I was on this horse that is an absolute dream to ride.
But on the ground?
I've honestly never seen ANYTHING like it.
I mean theres grumpy, theres bad stable manners, and then theres evil.
It's like this guy has complete mood swings. One minute you'll be putting his saddle on and he's fine. The next minute you walk into the stable and again and he goes for you.
It's not even like, a little nip. He sort of charges your direction, all eyes, baring his teeth and goes for your face full on.
He's at his worst in the stable, but its not just there. He's bad when he's being bathed/ groomed etc too. But like I said, when you're actually on him, theres no problems whatsoever.
I've seen plenty of horses the opposite- sweet as you like on the ground and nightmares to ride. But I've never seen anything like this.
Maybe its just because I'm so used to all the horses where I'm from- dozey, sweet and uncaring of almost anything?
Theres a couple at this place that are very grumpy, but he's by far the worst I've come accross.

It's not MY horse, so its not like its really my major problem.
But i'm going to be working there for a year.
Why should I get my face ripped off eh?!
At first I just thought he'd taken a dislike to me, but he seems to be the same to everyone.
So if any one has any sort of advice how to handle this..
I mean, i've tried all the firm hand stuff that you do when a horse gives you a nip. It just serves to make him more angry.

Thanks in advance!

10th November 2009, 11:50 AM

Ive seen this before in riding schools and its actually a resentment factor. The horse feels intruded on his personal space and people have ignored his signals so he's become more and more clear in giving them untill people back off. He doesn't want fuss or petting but to just be left alone.

My advice is to actually ignore him while you in his stable, dont look at him, dont raise your hands to him and actually face away from him as much as possible. When tacking him up, try and do it outside tha stable so its not in his room and do it very formally. Give him a stroke but dont over do anything, let him have his space. Clap your hands and stamp if he lunges and stand your ground but as soon as its over, ignore him and give him his space.

I feel sorry for them when they are like this, they are so bitter to humans and do best turned out (but obviously not your choice!). Just let him be and see if you can work up a repore with the poor guy with reverse psychology. By not wanting to be with him, he may look for your company.

10th November 2009, 01:00 PM
Unfortunately, have known a few like that all brilliant under saddle or when driven but in the stable or when being tacked up a nightmare. I think as Sasca says its a need for some serious turnout with friends. If you have no control over the situation then all you can do is manage your own safety as Sasca says. Poor neddies.

10th November 2009, 09:26 PM
My TB ex racer Chip is a bit like that! He's a lamb to ride but around his stable, he's aggressive and grumpy. I wouldn't say he is evil at all but it is obvious that Chip is protective over 'his space'. He's very ticklish being groomed and doesn't hesitate to lift a leg at you if it gets too much! You can't even look at him the wrong way when he's having his feed and he won't hesitate to kick you. I make sure he is left alone at feed times although he is happy for me to stand next to him, I just can't touch him! Sometimes he is fine being tacked up but other times he will continually turn to nip. He's out 24/7 in summer and in at night for the winter so he isn't short of turn out.

He launched at my neck over the stable door the other night but he seems to withdraw at the last second as I don't think he really means to bite, he just wants you to keep out of his space. He's not overly keen on affection and all attempts to hug and kiss him are met by ears completely flat back..... but I do it anyway and he has learnt to tolerate me doing it! If you retaliate with any sort of aggression, it only makes him worse. Sometimes he lets his guard down and seems to enjoy the attention and has even had a little doze in my arms.

I can only imagine how many different grooms, jockeys etc he had to put up with in racing from a baby to 6 years and I just think its no wonder he has a bit of an attitude. He is learning to trust me more and more and I just need to be patient with him. He has even started to whinny to me recently which is a good sign after 16 months of owning him :)

10th November 2009, 10:34 PM
Thanks for the advice guys :)

Due to lack of space in Japan, none of the horses are turned out. Must be pretty frustrating for them.
The ones with the attitudes do seem to be the ex-racers..

Anyway I'll give this a go. Thanks! :)

11th November 2009, 10:24 AM
Wow-they don't get turned out at all?:scared:

I agree with the advise though-about personal space. As you mentioned, due to the lack of space in Japan it must be kinda hard for them to just be horses for a bit.

Are there not any oppotunities to free school etc, to just "calm" them down a bit so they are not working or stuck in their stable all day? I realise as he is not your horse and so it must be very hard to do much about it though. Even though you want to help, it would be terrible if you got hurt because of him. How does the YM handle him, or is it generally just you and the other grooms? Horses like routine and need gentle but firm handling.

Good luck though!:)

11th November 2009, 11:00 AM
I'm not surprised he's like that if he's never turned out.

I used to live in the Czech Republic and they just don't have a culture of turning their horses out. Our pony was the only one on the yard who ever had turnout - and that had to be in a sand paddock because there was nothing else. Everybody else thought that we were stark raving bonkers.

I thought they were bonkers, because half of them couldn't even get on their horses as they were so wound up and frustrated, and I'd pass fellow liveries in the woods feebly attempting to lead their horse around the place!

vels mum
11th November 2009, 11:14 AM
I couldnt even imagine what my lot would be like with no turnout all year round, coiled spring comes to mind!!!
Sounds like a difficult situation but I would agree with others, they must be quite frustrated stuck in their loose boxes all the time.

11th November 2009, 01:34 PM
I really feel for both the horse and you! Its so hard when you want to do something one way but you can't because of the fact that its not your horse, or in your case thats theres plain and simple no turnout lol!
There was a little TB like this at the RS where I used to work, he wasn't used in the school lol, he was one of the workers horses. I admit I was pretty scared of this horse, you risked life and limb getting near him because he was so fed up of people, you could see it in his eyes. He'd stand like a lamb for the farrier because he just got on with it and did his feet and then put him away, and said horse was different around him - he'd actually relax. But for anyone else he was a real problem - not saying it was him with the problems - it wasn't - it was problems that people had given him but in turn it made most of us scared of handling him and in the end there were only three people on the yard who could deal with him - I was NOT one of the three lol!
He spent most of the time with a bucket muzzle on and it broke my heart to see him look so dejected. That said when it was not on one day he just went for his owner, literally picked her up by her arm and shook her - I swear I've never seen anything like it - there was blood and white pus/fluid everywhere, my younger cousin was with me that day and I'd never seen her fearful in front of any horse or situation but she was white as a sheet.

Sorry went off down memory lane there, but its all so sad xx

11th November 2009, 05:03 PM
youd be surprised how many top or higher level horses are like this, especially if they have been overly produced rather than being someones horses just being one of many on a yard, my horse came from geramny and is very sweet but has some vices, some horses get nasty others tend to pick up little quircks and vices

ignore him, he may just be like a bratty child and want some kind of attention and doesnt mind if it is nice or bad attention, he may also be quite uncomfortable and be acting up becasue of this

12th November 2009, 03:46 PM
Thanks again for all the replies and advice :)

There aren't any fields whatsoever for turnout- the yard is basically in the middle of the city. When I've been there I've never seen them turned out in the school or anything- closest its got is being lunged. Other than this, they are taken from the stable and walked around the yard (can't be too exciting for them!). Don't know if there is ever any time of year when they're taken elsewhere or anything. Doesn't seem likely though.

Piccolo- I've never actually seen what I suppose is the YM handle any of the horses (things kind of work differently here in japan, the owner is in the offices overseeing the running of the place from what i can tell), they have sort of 'seniors' in the yard- like the top instructors etc. The only things i've seen is one of them pushing him away when he went for her (didn't help), and one of the other grooms running for his life from the stable! Which obviously won't help either, although sometimes it seems like the only choice!

13th November 2009, 01:58 PM
i work at a polo yard locally and i have to catch a youngster like that. he's such a horrible horse! if you touch his sides he kicks out. if theres food around.. he kicks out. i went to catch him in the field and he launched himself at me as if i was another horse, i lost my confidence to start with and then i stood my ground abit and charged back when he did it and then he was abit like "woa... wat r u doing?" and hasnt done it since!

fell lover
15th November 2009, 01:48 AM
Leandra's pony Jim doesn't like people in the stable with him - that is his place. But bring him out and tie him up, and you can do anything with him!