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View Full Version : Horse nervous riding with company



laziblu
May. 30, 2010, 01:25 AM
I have a mare that was given to me last fall whom I have been loving to ride alone around our property. She is an older teen mustang, very bottom of the barrel in the herd, was picked on where she came from, had lots of bites and scars... Here, my herd all gets along great, but she mostly spends her time as the outsider, definitely has some anxiety "being" close to the other horses. When I ride her alone she is nearly perfect 98% of the time. I took her on a group (3) ride a month ago, and about 1/2 hour into it, she started to get ADD, looking all over, speeding up, etc. We continued another almost hour, and she wound up totally jigging, tossing her head, etc. I had to half halt and serpentine the whole way home. Good thing is that, having had some anxieties in the past from a bad accident, I do not feel nervous on her. She "wants" to be a good girl, and does/did EVERYTHING I asked when I did, but, as soon as she "got her head back" she wanted to be off. She would've run home if I'd have let her. So, I have trainers here working with a young horse saddle training the basics, and I figured I'd take her out with them when the took the "baby" out of the ring. First day, she started jigging immediately. Once around the trail and I decided to get her a fly mask (they were bad) and the lesson turned into a stand to be mounted lesson. Today, again, going to ride her around the outside of the round pen while the "baby" is being ridden in the pen with another horse tied outside, and she was a wreck. She felt a bit unstable under me, so I asked the trainer to get on her, and you can see that she has some issues in her back legs, instability, reluctant to bear continual weight on one back leg, and stiff hocks. She did start to calm down, but, what a mess. She was suppose to be my no nonsense ride and go horse. Now, I'm perplexed. Any thoughts?

Guilherme
May. 30, 2010, 08:59 AM
At this age you've got a very significant training problem. IMO if you want to ride in groups you'll either need another horse or a very large bank account to have this one worked on with a trainer.

Last Sep. I rode my mare in a close formation with 70 other horses. We'd never done that before. She was a bit concerned but within three or four min. had settled nicely. Here's a photo:

http://picasaweb.google.com/wkambic/NationalCavalryCompetitions#5391766241716050562

I'm on the gray to the right, my wife is to the left. Her mare had never done this, either, and and settled right down, too.

The "herd instinct" is quite valuable in large group riding. But if it's been "damaged" then I'm not sure that the effort to fix it will be reasonable in relation to the reward.

Of course, that is a decision to be made by the owner. But you did ask for thoughts! ;)

G.

Huntertwo
May. 30, 2010, 09:04 AM
At this age you've got a very significant training problem. IMO if you want to ride in groups you'll either need another horse or a very large bank account to have this one worked on with a trainer.

Last Sep. I rode my mare in a close formation with 70 other horses. We'd never done that before. She was a bit concerned but within three or four min. had settled nicely. Here's a photo:

http://picasaweb.google.com/wkambic/NationalCavalryCompetitions#5391766241716050562

I'm on the gray to the right, my wife is to the left. Her mare had never done this, either, and and settled right down, too.

The "herd instinct" is quite valuable in large group riding. But if it's been "damaged" then I'm not sure that the effort to fix it will be reasonable in relation to the reward.

Of course, that is a decision to be made by the owner. But you did ask for thoughts! ;)

G.

Wow G, your horses look identical!

twofatponies
May. 30, 2010, 09:42 AM
If you can work with another rider regularly, and maybe work on being closer to and farther away from another horse? I had the opposite problem - an older mare who was very dominant and didn't like to be close to other horses much. Even in turnout she preferred to be on her own. Went out trail riding alone fine. The first time I tried to ride in a group she was so upset she tried to kick one horse and jigged and fussed and I went home after 1/4 mile. :D

I ended up riding out with her and just one other horse (a submissive mare from her herd) for a long time. We started out with us leading. Then in a large paddock we also worked on riding in different patterns. For example we'd hang out in the middle while the other horse did "ring work" around the perimeter. Then we'd switch and the other horse would stand in the middle while I rode around the outside. Then we'd practice following each other but with a lot of space between, then doing patterns of "follow the leader" taking turns leading. Just walking at first. On and on.

Even a few years later she was still not perfect, but she'd listen and was 90% improved. She fox hunted, she hunter paced, she did "drill team" games at the barn with 8 other horses. She'd stay in back at a canter on a group ride, though once in a while she'd backslide and get pissed off and try to get to the front. But not often. But given the chance if she was next to that submissive mare she pastured with she'd try to get a bite in sometimes! I had to be on my toes. She ended up being most reliable when with horses she didn't know well (like on the fox hunt - she never batted an eye even when crowded against or bumped into).

Bogie
May. 30, 2010, 10:33 AM
When I first got my OTTB the only place I could ride in a group was in front. After even just a few minutes behind another horse he would throw a tantrum. I used the technique below and after about a year he was fine.

Your horse may be having her anxieties because of there position on the totem pole. Is there any chance you can separate her out from the herd during turn out and let her bond with another horse or two before re-introducing her into the herd? That's how I've generally introduced OTTBs into turn out situations since many of them don't have social skills.


I ended up riding out with her and just one other horse (a submissive mare from her herd) for a long time. We started out with us leading. Then in a large paddock we also worked on riding in different patterns. For example we'd hang out in the middle while the other horse did "ring work" around the perimeter. Then we'd switch and the other horse would stand in the middle while I rode around the outside. Then we'd practice following each other but with a lot of space between, then doing patterns of "follow the leader" taking turns leading. Just walking at first. On and on.

jeano
May. 30, 2010, 11:53 AM
My two dont get out with other horses often, and nearly always the other horses is just one horse that they know well. When I took my gelding on his first big trail ride with a group of strangers and his best buddy he was an absolute fool until I finally in sheer desperation put him in the lead--from that point on he was a superstar. I can see it will take regular riding with a posse to get him to settle down and I havent the resources for that at present.

My other horse hasnt been out with a big group since I got her, but since her former job was to lead the vast, drunken stampede known as the Sparta GA trail ride, I suspect she, too, will be a huge pia unless she's in the lead, if ever I get the chance to take her out with a group.

Compared to how they go even with just one or two other horses, both of mine tend to be more obedient and focused when they are alone. They do have fun going out with other horses, though, and I'm okay with that. I would love to have access to three or four like minded riders to work on the patterns mentioned by twofatponies so they learn how to accept different positions in the "herd."

twofatponies
May. 30, 2010, 12:41 PM
Finding people to work with is probably at least half the challenge, if not more. The other person really needs to put their mind into the project, too or it's just frustrating.

You might be able to do some of it by using the horses in the pasture, if there are areas far from and closer to the pasture fence where you can ride and you can practice doing some work nearer to and farther from them, learning to ignore the other horses (which if you get very close to the fence might even follow along or pass you...)

chicamuxen1
May. 30, 2010, 02:25 PM
Do not give up, you can do this retraining, from your post I doubt you need to "Pay" a professional. You will need the help of 1-2 other riders who arn't ninny's, or fearful riders themselves. Yes, you can do a lot inside of an arena or small paddock. Maybe someplace that your horse is relaxed at. It's about games. You can do ground work around the other horses doing ground work. Moving close and away from each other. Ooh very big help is grazing, in hand and undeer saddle. not having to go anywhere, just graze and walk and hang out. Do this sort of thing under saddle, keep changing positions, walk a little ways and graze, graze, walk ona nd swithc positions constnatly and graze, trotp 40-50 feet,swap positions and graze. A horse is letting down and trusting when it lowers it's head to graze (or drink). Being with steady comapnions that really don't give two hoots, and doing grazing and a great begining. After you have progressed to trotting and swapping and hanging out and trotting then see if you casn increase the number of horses, etc. You sound like you aren't fearful on this horse so enlist some people to help train your horse. Perhaps you'll make new riding buddies and they may begin to ride more and socialize more too.

Bonnie

rmh_rider
Jun. 2, 2010, 10:18 AM
More practice, more exposure, more consistency is what your horse needs. Ride where he is the least comfortable, don't LET him have his way. You be the boss, not HIM.

My 4yr RM is fabulous everywhere on the trail. She has been under saddle for a good year or more. However, she has one chink in her armor, she doesn't like horses coming up behind her, or riding behind her making noise, or just being there. She needs to learn nobody is gonna attack her from behind and that there are riders with brains riding on horses and they are in control of the horse (we hope). She is getting WAY better, and quickly. I rode recently with some mature, experienced riders (well all of us are) on some speed rackers and gaited horses, and those were mature, experienced trail horses. She did the dance tail swishing, jigging, etc. but hey she got mostly over it eventually. She had to ride in the middle most of the time. I told the other riders, we have ALL had horses like this, so train her well. And they did. They would come up and back, keeping a safe distance. Yes, I can handle her busy ways on the trail. She just needed more exposure, and a consistency of the rider(me, which she got) and horses/riders with us. Then the next few times, she had the same type exposure. She is doing really well. With the groups I ride with, sometimes I may be leading then catch up. Or others will catch up with me. No I do not allow any horse I ride to RACE up, and catch up with the others. She tried a few times, and quickly got over it. I make the horse maintain a pace I want. This horse watches the others go out of view, and the way she acts, she seems to think: cool I am in the lead now, I am confident and do not need to follow. Then we would come back up to the same horses, and she was good with that too. But then we come up to the group, and she is not in the lead, and is ok with that. She rides well in the lead and behind. Just not so great in the middle. So we ride in the middle most of the time. There are more folks whose horses ride the WORST in the rear, so they always behind us. These horses who do not ride behind well, and want the last place, they usually have to fight for that post position, it is the most coveted position. And then there are those who do not ride well in the lead (worst kind imo, and it is a confidence problem with the horse, and probably the rider). My RM is the speed control of the speed horses. She has a soft slow gait, and it is really good for the speed demon horses. At this point the speed horses can get really really close, and she is showing little to no reaction. I have found, my horse is the one everybody wants to ride behind due to her controlled gait, and speed. Go figure. I usually have the speed demon looking for the slower horse to ride behind! Wow what a change! It is nice in the slow lane.

Your age horse it will be difficult. You will have to be on your game at all times. You will have to make the situation happen a whole lot, control the situation each and every time, and move on. If not the problem will never go away. It won't totally, but at least you will be able to manage your horse better.

Everybody at one time or another has to have the green horse of any aged horse. Guess it is my turn, and yours to a certain extent. Considering this is the only chink in my horses armor, I am happy she is getting good exposure, and getting over this issue. She is a total natural on the trail, really tough gal. Wow. Amazing. Good luck. Learn now how to deal with the problem, so you will know how to deal with it on your next horse.

Gestalt
Jun. 5, 2010, 04:58 PM
I've had this problem. For one of my horses, it's still a problem to be around more than 2 other horses. It's really weird and disheartening.

The thing that was the easiest for me was to join a goup lessons at the trainers barn. At first my old TB and I would have to stand in the middle of the arena (more like DANCE in the middle). But after awhile it became easier for him. And with the control I gained in the arena, we were able to use that on the trails.