What to do with my problem horse?

by Dana Hokana | May 6th, 2013 9:04 AM | No Comments

Q. Hi Dana,

I need some advice on a horse I bought at an auction in February. He is a 4 yr old gelding with Zips Chocolate Chip breeding. I saw him ride at the sale and saw him in his stall. He was calm and rode around nice. I had him at home for about a week and a half then I sent him to my trainer who shows and trains western pleasure for open and AQHA shows. The horse went real good for the first couple of weeks and then he started to act up, like get spooky and rear, and then all of a sudden he started to crow hop to the side when anybody dismounted. My trainer wont ride him anymore and he is afraid I will get hurt. I brought him back to my house but I haven’t rode him. I am an older rider (59) and I don’t know what to do with this horse. He also has a leg issue with picking up his hind legs. He kicks when you go to trim his feet.  I don’t have the money to buy another horse unless I could trade him for another one. I am so disappointed that this horse is like this. I want to go show so badly but now I can’t with a horse that is not safe for me. What would you do if you were in my shoes?




A. Hi There,

I really feel bad for you! Many of us have bought a horse that didn’t turn out, but your story is really unfortunate!

To answer your question, what would I do in your shoes? I would consider searching for a trainer who is very good with problem horses as well as one who is good at reading a horse and developing a good relationship with a horse. It may not be a show trainer. I would see if this trainer could straighten him out, making him into something that you could trade for a better, safer horse. If you are not able to do that, then I would trade or sell him for whatever I could get. I realize you need the money from him to buy a new horse, however he is not worth very much the way he is now! I would be very clear to the buyer and make sure you disclose everything, as you don’t want someone else to get hurt! You could also be legally liable if he hurts someone and you didn’t disclose it.  I wish I had a better answer for you! But unfortunately, you are not in the best position! I would do one of these two things and then move on. Don’t try to ride the horse yourself!

There could have been many reasons as to why this happened. He may be difficult minded, or your feeding and work program may just be different from what he was used to and he responded poorly. There was also a remote chance he was on medication. We really don’t know the cause, however it seems evident he is not the horse for you!

I once had a mare that was brought to me and had a lot of bad habits. She was dangerous to say the least. I told the owners this and suggested we find a trainer like I described to you. He was great at dealing with problem horses and spent a lot of his time on cow horse training. He took her, roped off her, worked cows on her and trail rode her. He completely changed the mare’s life, and she became good and safe for him. We got her to where she could be a trail horse and sold her for that purpose.

Good luck to you and let me know if I can be of any more help to you!

Dana Hokana

About the Author

Dana Hokana is one of the top female trainers in the Quarter Horse industry, and currently operates Dana Hokana Quarter Horses in Temecula, California. Raised in Southern California, she has had a lifelong love for horses. Dana has trained multiple Western Pleasure circuit champions, winners at major futurities, and horses who have placed in the top ten in Western Pleasure at both the All American Quarter Horse Congress and the AQHA World Championship Show. Riding her own stallion, Invested Dimension, she captured an AQHA Reserve World Championship title in Senior Western Pleasure.

Dana’s DVD series entitled “The Winning Strides Series,” is designed to educate horse owners and riders from the basics of horse handling and horsemanship, to competing at high levels in the show arena. Skilled at teaching in an encouraging, relaxed, non-intimidating way, she carries these traits into the instruction in her video series. Dana will be a featured clinician at the Mane Event in Red Deer, Alberta, and has spoken at the Equine Affaire in Pomona, California and was a clinician at the Equine Affaire in Massachusetts and Columbus, Ohio, focusing on topics from grooming to western pleasure.

Now is your chance to have your questions answered by Dana! Just submit your question using the comment section below or the email link, and she will respond to select questions in future posts.

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