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View Full Version : PSA: If your horse refuses something on the trail, LISTEN TO THEM!



sublimequine
Oct. 13, 2009, 07:15 PM
Well, had an uh-oh on the trail today, thanks to me thinking I know better than my horse. :no:

I moved to a new barn a few months ago, and am still learning the on-site trails. I rode maresie over to the creek, which is just a small trickle with a sand/dirt mix on both sides. Creek crossings, water in general, has NEVER been an issue with this horse. She is one of the bravest horses I've met when it comes to water, and she trucked down towards the water without blinking an eye. Then.. she stopped, and promptly threw it into reverse, and backed up quickly (but not panicky) away from the creek and refused to move.

Alright, I'm thinking we've never ridden across this creek before, she's just unsure. I dismount, and plan to just handwalk her across because she's always more confident with me on the ground. She VERY RELUCTANTLY walked down to the creek, with me ahead of her a few feet and standing to the side.

Before I knew it, just as she was about to step the front feet into the water, her back feet slid out from under her so she nearly sat down like a dog. It was that damn mud that is dry and crusty on the top, but wet and slick as snot underneath. I was light enough that I was able to walk on the crust.. she did not. :( So in order to save herself from faceplanting into the water, she LEAPT forward and landed a good 5 feet on the other side of the creek and up the bank, just barely missing me standing there. :no:

I can't even imagine what would've happened if I'd stayed in the saddle, it would've been even harder for her to keep her balance when her back legs slipped out from under her. I am an IDIOT for not listening to my horse! :mad:

Luckily, she's alright, and I didn't get trampled (always knew not to stand directly in front of a horse). But damnit, if I'd just listened to her telling me, "I am not crossing here, it is slick and I will fall!", it wouldn't have happened in the first place.

So, a little PSA.. learn from my mistake folks! If your otherwise steady as a rock trail horse oddly refuses to do something.. they're probably refusing for good reason! :sadsmile:

springdaisy
Oct. 13, 2009, 07:46 PM
My aunt ha the same sort of experience with her "wonder pony!" He was always great on the trail, never spooked or balked. One time he *did not* want to keep walking. She made him, thinking he had gotten pony 'tude. All of a sudden, a bear comes running out of the woods...missing her cub. My aunt and her pony were in between them. :eek: They were ok, but she hasn't gone back to that section of trail yet!

sublimequine
Oct. 13, 2009, 07:49 PM
My aunt ha the same sort of experience with her "wonder pony!" He was always great on the trail, never spooked or balked. One time he *did not* want to keep walking. She made him, thinking he had gotten pony 'tude. All of a sudden, a bear comes running out of the woods...missing her cub. My aunt and her pony were in between them. :eek: They were ok, but she hasn't gone back to that section of trail yet!

Whoa.. and I think mud was scary.. a BEAR?!?!? :eek::eek::eek:

Beverley
Oct. 13, 2009, 09:46 PM
This is sound advice, if you have an honest horse. I've been fortunate to have a few that absolutely, positively, if they said, don't go there (sometimes when bushwhacking through underbrush)- you let them pick their way around or turn back.

However...some horses do figure out that if they sense 'danger' and rider says well then okay we won't go there...well, they can sense 'danger' more often when it suits them!

sublimequine
Oct. 13, 2009, 09:50 PM
This is sound advice, if you have an honest horse. I've been fortunate to have a few that absolutely, positively, if they said, don't go there (sometimes when bushwhacking through underbrush)- you let them pick their way around or turn back.

However...some horses do figure out that if they sense 'danger' and rider says well then okay we won't go there...well, they can sense 'danger' more often when it suits them!

That's true. My mare, while she is a total brat sometimes, is honest. If she doesn't want to do something, she'll simply act up and give me the big horsey middle finger while saying, "I DONT WANNA, YOU CANT MAKE ME!" So she makes it clear when she's acting up, and when she's clearly unsure about something. :lol:

I just wish I'd picked up on WHAT she was unsure about this time. I just thought she was apprehensive about the creek in general, not that the damn mud would be so slick. :no:

skip_rainy_shi
Oct. 13, 2009, 10:39 PM
yup scary. i have learned to trust my gelding. the 2 times i did not and pushed him. he sank belly deep into a bog. i was able to hop off and turn him around to solid ground and he got out.

the other was going down a steep sandy hill. it looked fine to me. so i kept asking him to go down. after a few week it turned slick. and he started to slide fast, he paniced and i was able to hop off before he went head over butt backwards down the hill a few times. he paniced again and tried to go up a steep mud slick and again went over backwards.

from this day on if he does not want to go and neither do my mares we find another way around.

twofatponies
Oct. 13, 2009, 10:52 PM
I should have listened to my honest mare when she walked three feet out into a "puddle", then started pawing and didn't want to go further. I gave her a swat, and she said "okay, you asked for it" and we were swimming. It wasn't a big puddle! It was a crazy pond! With who knows what at the bottom. Yikes. I let her leap back out, and she gave a huge groan "You idiot humans!" I had to ride home in wet jeans, which hurt. Serves me right!

sublimequine
Oct. 13, 2009, 11:16 PM
I should have listened to my honest mare when she walked three feet out into a "puddle", then started pawing and didn't want to go further. I gave her a swat, and she said "okay, you asked for it" and we were swimming. It wasn't a big puddle! It was a crazy pond! With who knows what at the bottom. Yikes. I let her leap back out, and she gave a huge groan "You idiot humans!" I had to ride home in wet jeans, which hurt. Serves me right!

Isn't it funny how they somehow figure these things out, while us intelligent humans don't? How the heck did that horse know there was a drop off in the water there? And how did my mare know it was slick under the dry crust??? It's mind-boggling, sometimes!

Cita
Oct. 13, 2009, 11:16 PM
Worst fall I ever had was trying to force a pony over a jump she didn't want to jump... I didn't see it for the tallish grass, but the ground in front of the coop was rock hard and washboard-rough. I eventually convinced the poor pony to give it a try, but she stumbled on the approach, ended up nearly on her knees (with me on her neck at this point), then HEAVED herself over with a tremendous effort (bouncing me way up in the air), then stumbled again on the landing (catapulting me off her back). I did a flip in the air and landed head-first, back-second, on the hard dirt. Gave me a decent concussion, despite my helmet, but I didn't realize it at the time and ran her over a few more coops back by the barn, just so she wouldn't end sour...

Totally my fault, and I really regret it. Pony was telling me "no," my gut was telling me "no," but the person I was with was telling me, "Don't be a wimp! Just do it already!"

Beverley
Oct. 14, 2009, 12:12 AM
Isn't it funny how they somehow figure these things out, while us intelligent humans don't? How the heck did that horse know there was a drop off in the water there? And how did my mare know it was slick under the dry crust??? It's mind-boggling, sometimes!

I never could figure out how my one eyed tb did it- but every now and then, out hunting, he would shy to the left- sure enough, there would be a groundhog hole to the right- but that was the side missing the eye. My theory was that he could somehow detect through hearing, something not good on that side.

sublimequine
Oct. 14, 2009, 12:16 AM
I never could figure out how my one eyed tb did it- but every now and then, out hunting, he would shy to the left- sure enough, there would be a groundhog hole to the right- but that was the side missing the eye. My theory was that he could somehow detect through hearing, something not good on that side.

It's truly amazing, how horses are as observant as they are.

SLW
Oct. 14, 2009, 01:42 AM
Close call and you did very good.

Years ago the same situation happened to a friend and myself. My gelding would not cross, her mare balked and balked then obeyed her.....sinking up to her chest & hips in the deep mud. Rider bailed, we loosened the girth (the mares lungs were compressing in the clay) and we pulled to no avail. We decided I should go for help before the mare was exhausted and when I was 1/4 mile down the road my friend called me back, the mare had pulled herself out. Way close call.

A bit of lore I heard about selecting where to cross at an unknown creek is to cross where there are rocks. The ground will be solid under them.

Mersy
Oct. 14, 2009, 02:27 AM
Raising hand...I agree...listen to that honest horse.
I have had some close calls too, with bogs, chest deep mud (that just looked like a gravel pile), slippery slopes, sinking sandbars, hidden barb wire. I usually spend the rest of my ride apologizing to my horse over and over.
Thanks goodness that an injury has never resulted.

amdfarm
Oct. 14, 2009, 06:03 AM
I think my QH gelding is too trusting of me to get us from point A to B safely. He seems to think that I have to do all of the thinking for the both of us I guess. Although he is very bright and would never do anything to intentionally hurt either of us, sometimes he needs to be more observant than he usually is all on his own.

Like walking along the flat trail w/ good footing at a snail's crawl pace, I shouldn't have to constantly remind him to pick up his damn feet before he trips and both of us go down!! :lol: I call it his old man shuffle, however he's done it since I got him at 6. At 23yo you really think he'd know by now. :winkgrin:

BUT, the only time he ever got himself into a pickle was when I wasn't riding him, but was w/ them. I was riding my big Percheron mare who was just learning about this whole riding thing. It was her first road ride and trail ride down to the river. I had my step-daughter ride my gelding and go along in case she couldn't handle it. There's nothing on the road or trail that my gelding is afraid of, ever. He's a point and shoot type and will go wherever you point him no questions asked. ALWAYS! Again, very trusting no matter who is on his back, unless it's a true beginner than he's more hesitant and cautious.

So we made it down to the river and were walking along the sandbars and I was letting my mare check out the water. She ended up loving the water and plodded right along through it. We walked up and down it a few times and then took a little break to snap some pics at the edge of the sandbar. Put the camera away and was getting ready to head to the trails in the timber along side the river when my gelding and step-daughter just sunk. All four legs up to his belly in wet sand right on the edge of the dry sandbar. Mare and I made our way towards them and BAM, we did the same thing. Well CRAP! Neither horses panicked, thank God (trusting souls they are), we both got off, loosened girths and breast collars (mare broke hers when she went down) and let them catch a breather before encouraging them to try and get out. I was a tad panicked as I wasn't quite sure how I was going to get a 17hh, 1800lb mare out of super wet sand. Gelding at the time was a very fit 15.3hh, 1200lb'er, but much more agile than she is.

After five minutes of panick and then calmness to not get them worked up, which they weren't, I walked up to my gelding on the dry sand bar, gave him a little tug (step-daughter was having a meltdown and was so afraid she hurt my boy) and reassured him that he could get out of this mess all by himself and by GOD he did. :D He made one big lunge and managed to get himself out and onto the dry sandbar w/ one good heave and no help from me. I threw the reins to my SD and told her to check his legs and in the meantime, my mare followed along, two big heaves and she was out, as she was farther out then he was. She stood calmly waiting for me to check her out. Not a scratch or anything to be found, tightened the girths, and continued our ride ending on a good note, except for the two teens we met at the end of the bridge on ATV's. Mare did a little jigging, but made it past them w/out incident and the boys were great. I motioned to them to stop before crossing so we could get passed first. They did and turned off their ATV's just as we got there.

We were a little wet and sandy, but no worse for wear. They both deserved medals that day!

ILuvmyButtercups
Oct. 14, 2009, 06:21 AM
These are great stories, good advice, but sometimes such situations can have a wonderful surprise twist.

I had a silly OTTB mare who was actually pretty good on trails, brave, strong, never spooky at all. She was so steady and predicatable I always rode bareback all over the country side, up hill and dale, it was always a blast.

One summer day we came to a creek - I knew it was very deep in a spot, but the banks were hard packed dirt, footing good even though you had to descend some yards to get into the water. Ol' Ma Horse stopped cold, fought me for a time. It was 90+ degrees out, she was awash in sweat, I figured if she'd just TRY it, she'd find it quite refreshing. Finally I got her into the shallow part, and we made our way to the deeper area. WHOSH! In she fell, up past her belly, just stopped in surprise. After a second or two, she made her way with no prompting by me into deeper and deeper water, eventually was swimming a few yards, and once she got her feet on the bottom again, she didn't want to get out of the water!

After that, every time we headed out into that far field, she'd pull straight for the creek, and plunge right into the deep end. And everytime it rained and there were big mud puddles formed in holes in her pasture, she'd stand there forever, pawing and violently splashing mud and water all up under her belly and flanks. What a water baby she turned into! :lol:

jeano
Oct. 14, 2009, 11:44 AM
Sadie got HERSELF mired up to the belly once when SHE insisted she could cross the Damp Place--I was hollering noooooo and hauling on the reins but She Knew Best.

That was one scary incident and thanks very much I Do Not trust Ms Sadie's judgement about footing. About other stuff, yeah, pretty much I do. Unless I'm in a mood for Extreme mud bogging I make sure that I know that the muddy places have a bottom before I'll let her get me anywhere near the swamp again.

She crosses water and anything else like a champ and we ford little creeks all the time. Once she bucketed across about a hundred yards of god awful marsh, leaping from tussock to tussock and all the while insisting "We'll Be Fine" when in reality we were in a place where there was no way to be rescued if she guessed wrong--nope, never again.

The gelding also has a firm and completely unfounded belief that He Knows Where We Are Becasue He's Been Here Before--he has good sense about mud, but no sense at all about how to get home in one piece. He would walk straight to Texas if I let him have his way. And Texas is a fur piece from here.

PRS
Oct. 14, 2009, 12:01 PM
Something very similar happened to me. Many years ago I was riding my gelding (we were alone) and since he had never had a problem crossing creeks I was very suprised when he absolutley refused to cross the creek. He kept spinning away from it and I kept spinning him back to face it an urging him to cross the creek. Finally he reared straight up. When his feet finally hit the ground again, THAT was when I finally saw what he saw. I saw a very large cottonmouth snake :eek: curled up on the bank on the other side of the creek right where we were trying to cross. That horse had NEVER reared before and has never reared up again. I've owned him for 17 years and that is the ONLY time he has ever reared, but I was too dense to realize that he had a very good reason for refusing to cross that creek. I look at things like that much more carefully now. :p

sublimequine
Oct. 14, 2009, 12:16 PM
Wow, some of these stories give me goosebumps! :lol:

And yes, as others said they apologized to their horse profusely after, I did as well. And today I am making her a special snack with some extra goodies in it, as my apology-gift. :lol:

analise
Oct. 14, 2009, 12:22 PM
My dad and I were riding on rented horses on trails in Arkansas. Good, willing horses. I trusted them a lot more than I expected to, riding horses I'd never "met" before. But there did come one point where we chose to head down this one trail and the horses refused. We probably could've made them, but they really didn't want to go that way. I don't know what was down there, but we just picked another direction and kept riding (which was why I figure it wasn't something like the horses not wanting to go that way because it was away from the ranch, because we didn't turn for home at that point).

Minerva Louise
Oct. 14, 2009, 02:08 PM
My dad and I were riding on rented horses on trails in Arkansas. Good, willing horses. I trusted them a lot more than I expected to, riding horses I'd never "met" before. But there did come one point where we chose to head down this one trail and the horses refused. We probably could've made them, but they really didn't want to go that way. I don't know what was down there, but we just picked another direction and kept riding (which was why I figure it wasn't something like the horses not wanting to go that way because it was away from the ranch, because we didn't turn for home at that point).

I've ridden those same horses. You are right that they are good, good horses. I've never seen them refuse anything, felt totally safe, trusted them completely! :yes: Wonder what was down that trail???? :eek:

What were the names of the ones you rode?

SmartAlex
Oct. 14, 2009, 05:51 PM
My horse is afraid of getting mired down in mud because when he was a three year old and screwing around he accidentally got us mired in the unexpected sink hole which was over my Mom's mare's grave. The grave was several months old and had settled, and he was being an a$$ and landed in that thing up to his stifles.

It took a lot of work to get his confidence in uneven footing. To this day he carefully inspects all muddy terrain. In fact, today, as we were riding up a logging trail which was pretty firm, but has some soft spots, he was going along in "inspection mode" with his nose about a foot off the ground, studying each spot he put his feet. I had to chuckle... "yup, this is my giraffe necked Saddlebred with his nose to the ground!" All he needed to complete the picture was a Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass, and a deerstalker! He's a very careful guy ;)

analise
Oct. 14, 2009, 10:17 PM
I've ridden those same horses. You are right that they are good, good horses. I've never seen them refuse anything, felt totally safe, trusted them completely! :yes: Wonder what was down that trail???? :eek:

What were the names of the ones you rode?

The one I rode was Smokie (http://barfiftyranch.com/BFRGensPushinSmoke.html). I was shocked to later find out she's only three or so. I would've guessed she was about ten!

My dad rode Roxanne (http://barfiftyranch.com/CheyennesChinaDoll.html).

I have to say it was weird riding them, at least for me. I'm used to drafts! :)

Minerva Louise
Oct. 15, 2009, 10:25 AM
I haven't ridden either of those two myself, but friends and family have ridden a good number of the horses there at one time or another. I've ridden Sadie and Honey (who I don't think is listed on the site), Hubby has ridden Black Jim.

I was also surprised at how young some of their trail horses were. I think the thing is, those guys get ridden ALOT. And when they aren't working, they do not live in stalls.

And yes, definitely different from riding a draft! :lol:

analise
Oct. 15, 2009, 11:17 AM
Yeah, I mentioned it to them one morning at breakfast and they talked about how A) their horses are really good-minded (which I've heard about Walkers anyway) and B) they start them fairly early and once they get going, they're going out on the trails. So I imagine by the time I was riding her, Smokie'd already gotten plenty of trail miles.

twhs
Oct. 15, 2009, 03:25 PM
Analise & Minerva Louise --
What's the name of the place where you rode the walking horses.
We're looking for a good vacation spot with TWH's to ride.
Thanks.

analise
Oct. 15, 2009, 03:32 PM
twhs, it's the Bar Fifty Ranch in Bismarck, Arkansas. (you can get to their site from the links I put up there on the horses' names).

It's a pretty cool place, not far from Hot Springs if you want to head up there, and economical rates for staying the night (they've got "lodge rooms" and cabins you can rent and "cowboy rooms" with a few less amenities but cheap if you just want ap lace to sleep). They also provide real breakfast every morning (french toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, etc).

You can rent a horse for the day or get a guided trail ride and the trails are very nice. We did notice they have quite a few motorbike riders but ever single one we ran into on our ride was very polite and would pull off the trail, turn off their bikes, and even remove their helmets to say "hi" until we passed on the horses.

It was definitely a good spot (and it had come recommended to me) and the folks on the ranch were all nice people.

Nike13
Nov. 25, 2009, 09:53 PM
I was riding my relatively green QH behind the retaining wall of a pond one spring, just letting him pick his way through ankle deep water, when the bottom fell out from under him and we were in slop/water up to my knees. Mind you, there was no visibly bad mud around, but apparently we found a good ol' Kentucky sink hole. I had just finished an equine rescue short course, and all I could think of was, "The fire department is going to have to come get us out. And I just watched that video!" Fortunately my horse was very level headed about the whole situation and got us both out in a few good lunges, none the worse for wear. I felt very lucky, and incredibly quilty for getting a green horse in a bad situation. He crosses water just fine today, no thanks to me.

camohn
Nov. 26, 2009, 08:57 AM
Yup.....if you have an honest horse you listen. The one I have now tries to get out of anything at any time....so I would not trust her to know if something is bad or not. In the past though I had a brave one. This is before we had a riding ring so I had to ride in the pasture. Of course I chose the flattest section out in the middle. He absolutely refused to go in the middle where X would be in my "pseudo dressage ring". Anwhere else was fine, NOT in the middle of the big flat spot. Nothing anywhere around him to spook him. One day I went out and where he refused to go? It was now a sinkhole........