Once I was an instructor in a large stable in Buckinghamshire. It was a big place with an indoor school, cross country course and acres of paddocks outdoor schools around a big house.
Albert was a magnificent misfit, a huge horse who had become a great favorite of an Australian businessman. He had been rescued, as he was a brewery dray horse who had been fired by one of the large breweries for fighting the other horses whilst in harness.
He was young, sprites and very intelligent but had a very bad habit, bad enough to make him almost un ride able. He had got into the habit of when he became bored of being ridden or being asked to jump an obstacle, he would rear up and attempt to unseat the rider.
Over a period of sever months he became avoided by everyone and his future became in doubt. I could normally stay on board but he could only be exercised indoors on a lunge line (a 25-foot line that allowed the horse to work circling round you).
Whilst doing this I decided to try an old trick I had seen in a horsemanship book.. I had all the equipment, so grabbing a friend, saddled Albert and led him back into the riding school. The floor of the school had a deep peat floor and was just the job. Before mounting, I attached the lunge line to Albert's bit; this was a standard snaffle, the lunge line was pass through the right-hand ring of the bit over the head and attached to the left-hand bit ring. the point was when the lunge rein was pulled it would pull on the bit and push down on the horse's head.
The moment of truth was near, I mounted and proceeded to trot round the school keeping away from the sides. After about 10 minutes Albert went up the plan was put into action:
- feet out of stirrups
- keeping hold of the lunge line slide down his back letting the lunge pay out to its full length.
- walk back and pull hard on the lunge line.
Standing on his hind legs, Albert was at his balancing point. Slowly and gently pulling on the lunge overbalanced him, and he fell slowly over backwards. The next step was crucial: run over to the prone horse and lie on his neck. If a horse can't lift its head, he can't get up. So I lay on his neck and talked to him. He was not annoyed, but surprised: I made sure he realized it was me and kept the small talk going until he stopped trying to rise. then I took off the lunge and let him up.
Still making a big fuss of him, I mounted and worked him for about an hour. After that he was as good as gold and became a pleasure to ride. His owner was delighted and they had a lifelong partnership, Well done, Albert.
Editor's note: This sort of manoeuvre requires an experienced trainer. Bob points out that you shouldn't 'try this at home'.