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Nojacketrequired
Jul. 20, 2011, 03:38 PM
I'm sure it's been covered but can't find anyhitng specific in a search.

I have a mare who is learning late in life about hacking out and trail riding. She is quite happy to go with another horse, but flatly refuses to go out alone.

When asked to leave the outdoor arena towards the pathway around the farm, (20' wide, groomed, fenced on both sides, so not scary at all), she will balk, spin, back, shake her head and basically say "No way!" and give me the horsey finger in no uncertain terms.

As she will go with another horse, I have to think this is a confidence issue, not her just being a brat, so I don't want to really get after her until I absolutely have to.

What we have been doing is being relaxed when we are facing the path/on the path and working really hard when she is turning away and being a brat about it. After she has worked hard for a bit, we then see if she will walk or trot towards the path again...She usually will but will then balk after a few steps, so we repeat the above until we get somewhere. It took a good 1/2 hour to get 100' the other night, at which point we stopped before she did and hopped off as a reward while she was still pointed down the path.

At this rate, it will take 48 hours to get 1/2 way around the trail!

Any suggestions appreciated. I dont often have access to another horse to go out with so she has to go alone.

NJR

SmartAlex
Jul. 20, 2011, 03:48 PM
Lead her on foot so she get's familiar with being there alone. That's what I did.

cowboymom
Jul. 20, 2011, 04:12 PM
Crack down on her if you think you can handle it if/when she escalates her antics. If you get tougher with her it will do two things-convince her that you are an authority figure that she should trust and it will stop her bratty behavior. You're doing the training basically correct but if you're not making progress it makes me think that she's not trying to learn and she's just messing with you. When she wins these battles it makes her more confident that she can get her way, you're not tough enough and it reinforces the bad behavior. She'll play games with you all day long in sight of the barn where she wants to be-works for her.

I've had problems like this in the past with horses that are monsters for me to ride away alone so I switch with my husband and he can't even get the horse to look at the rest of the horses as he rides off from everyone into the wilderness. DH is calm, collected and doesn't care if a horse acts up; he projects an overwhelming sense of "give it your best shot, Horse, we're going anyway" and they just don't even try.

Give her a strong attitude of "Knock it off and let's go" and see if you can't get further down the trail! My good riding horse was pretty piggy about it when I first started riding him in the mountains. One day I absolutely HAD to go alone-had to go back to camp a few miles in the wilderness for a first aid kit for an injured friend-and he never even batted an ear at me. He knew I wasn't messing around.

Char
Jul. 20, 2011, 04:12 PM
Yep, lead her. See if you can walk her about 50-100 yards down the trail and then get on and continue your outing. Go from there.

wylde sage
Jul. 20, 2011, 05:21 PM
I've had problems like this in the past with horses that are monsters for me to ride away alone so I switch with my husband and he can't even get the horse to look at the rest of the horses as he rides off from everyone into the wilderness. DH is calm, collected and doesn't care if a horse acts up; he projects an overwhelming sense of "give it your best shot, Horse, we're going anyway" and they just don't even try.

That is a great definition of perseverance. I wished I had it when my mustang was being a pig. Some of them just will get on the fight and Know they are going to win. Sounds like you may be headed in that direction unless you take the upper hand and Insist on going. Depends on if it puts you in a bad situation or not too.

Bogie
Jul. 20, 2011, 06:41 PM
I also suggest leading your horse. I often introduce horses to trial riding this way. I prefer to make it a non issue rather than escalate it into a battle.

All the horses I started this way have become happy and confident on the trails.

Sometimes I lead the whole trail; sometimes I get on and ride for a while then dismount and lead when they get balky.

You need your horse to trust you -- not the steady Eddie horse -- so that you decide where to go.

Key Spirit
Jul. 20, 2011, 06:44 PM
Lead or ride in small circles, each circle a couple of inches further up the trail than the last one....

Lisa Preston
Jul. 20, 2011, 07:47 PM
My suggestion: lead the whole thing. Tomorrow. Hand lead the entire trail. Really. The learning point is that when you say we're going down this, we're going. Pony's had too many incidents of balking and a complete win of no balking and no fight involved would be a nice score for both of you.

Leading a few hundred yards and then mounting could well mean she'll balk again at the next scary thing, five minutes out. At that point, the only way forward could be to get off and lead but this is a situation you do not want--it would be a great loss. No way do you want to be leading every tie her courage fails.

So, get a full win, lead the whole thing (but do have her tacked up.) Next time, (next day, hopefully) after this double win of a full trail lead, all tacked up, mount three-quarters or two-thirds through, when she knows she's headed home. Make no hurry of this. Day, three same as day 2. Day four mount half way. Day five, one third, day six same as day five.

Day six ride backand forth on the beginning of the trail, though still past the ring, on the trail, then do the loop. Day seven, ride out like you own the place.

It would be worth taking a week to win it all.

tpup
Jul. 20, 2011, 07:59 PM
I would lead her calmly and confidently on a few handwalks down your trails to start. No pressure - just walk her a few days in a row. Make it fun and relaxed. When you get to the furthest point on the trail, before heading back or the middle point if it's a circle or loop, let her rest, relax, graze - bring a few carrots.

Then, let the training begin. As the owner of a very, very barn sour horse at one time, I can only share what worked for us. Keep in mind I was a scared beginner at the time and 75% of the problem was in MY head. I was nervous, and horse picked up on it BIG time. Set yourself up for success. Put on a western saddle or grab strap if you have to. Before you leave, get your head in the game, as in "Today, we are confidently going to ride on the trail. Period. End of story." You must get there. My trainer at the time told me to think that my son was in the woods, with my car keys. I had no way to get to him except to ride. He was 5 at the time. :D

Sit tall, and ride her to the trails. At the first balk, squeeze, kiss and crop. If and when she moves forward, release the reins immediately - reward her, sit tall and walk on. If she does move backwards, put her to work immediately then and there. Trot small circles, yield her HQ in circles and make it enough that it is work for her. Ask her for forward again. If she does it nicely, she gets a loose rein and gets to just walk. That is her reward. The old "make the wrong thing difficult, and the right thing easy...".

I will say that what made the change and the turning point for us was to dedicate 5-6 days in a ROW to work on it. I found that if I tried one day...skipped a few days, and tried again, we were back to square one. It is best to work consecutive days.

I also became keen to his "set up". As we walked down the path, he would first start edging right, so he could make a wide turn to the left or spin left to turn back. I started to get ahead of this tactic, keeping my right leg on and forward aids sharp so he stayed in the middle of the path. His way out is still ALWAYS to the left if he tries anything.

My horse was once a nightmare with this. He would do mini-rears, and literally pirrouhette me up the fenceline path back toward the barn doing little spins. It wasn't until I made my mind up that enough was enough - we were GOING and going now...I sat tall, followed my aids with my crop and meant it, and made sure to release and reward at the right times. Fast forward to today, this horse will ride anywhere alone - trailer anywhere alone and we hack alone all the time. He goes happily and actually prefers to lead now. (He used to only follow, with his head practically resting on the horse's butt in front of him!!) I would have never, ever believed back then that we would be riding alone all the time today. He is a joy now and lovely to ride alone. So it can be done. Just set your mind to it, train several days in a row and make sure you reward her when she does what is asked. A pat and "good girl" goes a long way.

jnel
Jul. 20, 2011, 11:10 PM
Everyone's given good advice, but you have to know your riding limits. My mare does the exact same thing. I ride alone on the trail and my nerves were frazzled after taking 15 minutes to get down the driveway to the woods (kick, crop, one step, stop and repeat). So instead of trying to do the whole trail I took her halfway down the driveway after every ride in the arena. By the fifth time she was walking willingly. Then I increased the distance to the whole driveway again it took a few times before she would go willingly and without a lot of drama. I went to a set point every time we rode until she was bored and calm. Only then did I increase the distance. She still has some days where she spins, balks and acts terrified and then I just take her back to the arena and work her a bit then its back down the trail. I know my nerves have contributed to this problem but this helped both of us gain confidence in each other. Good luck this is not fun to deal with.

Eggplant_Dressing
Jul. 21, 2011, 12:57 AM
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a hand walk and graze at the furthest end of the trail. Take a back pack with your favorite magazines, bottled water, and have a quiet picnic.

Even better - bring a curry and brush and give her a spa treatment while she grazes.

If you don't teach her to relax and smell the fresh air, no one else will either. Teach her it is just another walk in the woods.

Simbalism
Jul. 21, 2011, 11:37 PM
My TB mare was around 5 when I started trail riding her. I never had anyone with a steady eddy to go out with. So, I did as many of the other posters mentioned. I trail walked her. I would tack her up and lead her down the road and into the woods. On the way we would practice crossing ditches, over branches or any mudpuddles etc. Same on the trails. I lead her several times without ever getting on her. Then I would get her into the woods(I was still nervous about riding her along the road), and find a stump,rock and get on her and ride her. If I felt nervous about how she was behaving, I would get off and walk for awhile. Then I would get back on and ride. Another thing I did was to take her to a few "bombproofing" clinics. For years now, I have owned the "steady eddy" that everyone wants to ride their greenie with. It just takes consistancy and committmant to keep at it and not let the horse get away with anything.

SmartAlex
Jul. 22, 2011, 08:39 AM
Another thing I did which requires a friend, but no horse, is I had my mother walk with us on foot. It helped to teach my horse that ravines and soft spots are crossable. I mean, how else would he know right? Once he saw a human on the other side, he was prepared to give it a try.

Painted Horse
Jul. 22, 2011, 09:40 AM
My mares that I use for guest and kids have gotten quite herd bound, Great for babysitting kids as I can just lead and I know the mares will follow and stay close. But lousy when I want to work them by themselves.

If I ride anywhere near where they can see or hear the others, It just takes all the fun out of the ride. they walk so slow going away and rush back toward the barn.

So my solution is to load them in the trailer and take them away to another trail. I find they become a whole nother horse when they are alone and have no idea where their buddies are. I can work them the way I want. They listen to me and give me the proper respect.

After a few rides by themselves away from the property, They have a better understanding of their job and I can start to work them around the property. They are still herd bound, but since they developed confidence in me as the alpha on the individual rides, I start off with better control.

coloredcowhorse
Jul. 22, 2011, 09:55 AM
Some good advice above. I have one that backed toward her buddies so I just turned her around and backed down the driveway to where I wanted to be...turned her back around after getting there to see a very confused "how the heck did we get HERE?" look on her face and a willingness to go where I directed after that. I often get horses in for retraining that are barn or buddy sour and it really isn't all that hard to fix for most. I work hard around the buddies or pens or barn (if on on place that has one) and then leave the work area and make being away where they get to relax, get the cinch loosened a bit, some rubs and pets and maybe a snack. Doesn't take long for them to figure out that "home" is work and away is better. I also never, if at all possible, ride a trail out and back...I make a loop of it if there's a way to do it.....I don't want them to learn that there's an end point and get silly about returning. The first trip "out" might be 50 feet but the idea is planted.

LoveJubal
Jul. 22, 2011, 10:15 AM
Lead her on foot so she get's familiar with being there alone. That's what I did.

As many of the others have said...

The only thing I would add to this is that I would groom and tack up just like normal and then I would lead her around the trail whenever it is time to go that way.

Keep things as you normally would so that this just seems routine. After she seems relaxed (and you might have to do this routine a few times), then you can try to ride her around it.

If she gets too keyed up being out there, then take her out and let her hand graze on it, near it, in it, etc. until she calms down.

**Keep it safe** Do it on the ground first - then ride ;)

LShipley
Jul. 22, 2011, 10:38 AM
My mare used to act the same way about going on the trail alone, but would be very happy hacking out in company. She had - reportedly - been a trail horse for some former owners, but if that is the case, they never took her out alone. When I first tried to take her on the trails alone (right on my barn's property)we couldn't go more than 20 feet before she would start snorting and backing up. When the wind blew some dead leaves off a tree, she would get light on the front end.

So I did what many people suggested. I would try riding her along the trail, she would walk backwards, so I would then hand walk her along the trail, return to the trail head and then ride her along the same path I had just led her down. After I had made myself her lead pony by hand walking, she felt more confident with me as her rider.

Four years later, she will still get uncertain if she hasn't been on the trial alone in a while. If something bothers her so much that she won't go forward, I still hop off, hand walk, and hop back on. Last night, for our first time ever, we ventured down a trail we had never been on before - all while riding alone. She was perfect - and when I got turned around, she knew which fork in the trail took us back the way I wanted to go.

I think with a little practice, your horse will be happy to go out alone, too.

sschuessler
Jul. 22, 2011, 10:46 AM
Yep-- been there. My mare was TERRIBLE about going out alone at her former barn. But, I would work her in the field right next to the barn until she was tired. Then, convince her to go for a walk down a very short trail (probably only 100 yards long) and let her graze at the end of it. Then, bring her back and work in the field and repeat the walk down the trail then go back to the barn. She soon equated the trail with a break from working and actually started to act like it was the exit gate in a ring-- that half slow down and look at it like I-want-to-go-that-way-please-mom? look.

Now, strangely, when I moved her to her current barn, I could not get her to come back to the bar a few times. NEVER have I had that problem, but she seemed determined to be going somewhere. Nothing bad happened to her at the new barn, she just decided she would rather be on the trail. She's such a weird little horse!!

Best of luck!

Burbank
Jul. 22, 2011, 11:25 AM
when you ride the path with others, does you horse lead the group? If not start there where you and your horse are the leaders.

your horse may be nervous, but she may just be pushing your buttons b/c she knows she can, sit up tall, cary a dressage whip and keep turing her to the trail and tell her to go, no need to be abusive but be firm, once she goes for a bit listening then ask her to turn around and head back to the barn.

you can try really working her good in the arena then take her on a trail ride so that she learns this is a good relaxing thing

also the trail may be "to inviting" with no turns, branches or hills or narrow spaces she feels she can act up instead of thinking about where her feet are

also this may sound silly but I trail ride with my dog after we are done working in the arena and if my horse is a tad backed off I will send my dog first then my horse follows like it is no big deal *sigh* what a goober sometimes

without watching you and your horse we don't know the exact situation and there are several ways that the end goal can be acomplished

wendy
Jul. 22, 2011, 11:48 AM
you could try going out with a group, and then when you are out, split off and calmly ride home alone.

CosMonster
Jul. 22, 2011, 01:19 PM
First I think you need to figure out why your horse is acting like she is. IME it is usually out of fear, but I have certainly met a few horses who just don't want to go out. For example, right now I am working with a mare who has a lot of endurance miles and I know has been ridden out alone quite a bit and also isn't afraid of anything (seriously, I had a stupid GSD jump up and bite her belly and she barely glanced at him except to do a little "leave me alone" kick, we've had a dirt bike fly past us close enough that I could have--and probably should have:lol:--pushed him over and she barely flicked an ear, etc.) but was owned most recently by a really timid rider who turned back at the slightest provocation and thus spoiled her rotten. So, my lovely Lilly horse has decided that if she gets prancy and tosses her head and tries to turn around and run home I'll just let her.

So, if you have a horse like my Lilly, I think you just need to ride it out. I just push her forward, ride out her little "can I scare you?" bucks and her head tosses and her running sideways. I'm not afraid to kick her or touch her with the whip to get her moving again, basically I just force her to do what I want rather than what she wants. It took about 2 weeks of daily riding but she's pretty much over it now and is a fabulous trail horse. I also make it a point to make going out alone fun--we stop and graze, I give her cookies, some days if she walks out nicely I'll just ride out for 10 minutes then dismount and lead her home.

However, I don't think that's probably the case with your horse, based on your description. For a horse who is reacting out of fear, I think it's good to be slow and gentle rather than riding it out. One of my other horses, Noah, is really insecure and you used to not be able to ride him out alone. He wouldn't hurt you on purpose, but he'd spin violently and try to run home in fear. He's the gentlest animal I've ever met, but he's the lowest horse on the totem pole in any herd I've had him in and relies so much on the other horses that he didn't know how to function by himself.

I fixed Noah by two means: first, I spent a lot of time building our relationship. I'd put him in my round pen with solid walls and just chill, reading a book or whatever. Noah would at first pace and holler at the other horses and generally be freaked out that he couldn't see them, but eventually he would get tired and start looking to me. Whenever he came over I'd give him a cookie or some scritches and then go back to what I was doing. Eventually we got to a point where I can take him into the RP, turn him loose, sit with my book and he'll just stand behind me with his head resting against me (sometimes he'll roll first :lol:). That's all it took to get him to trust me, which is nice because I'm lazy and don't like to walk. :lol: This was in addition to the ground and under saddle work I do with every horse.

Then I'd start by riding him in the arena where he was comfortable, then trying to hack out. We'd work in the arena then walk out for maybe 100 feet, then turn back. We gradually extended that until we could get almost out of sight of the barn without him getting upset. However, getting him out of sight was the big hurdle.

For that I did walk him. Since we already had the "When CosMonster is chilling and reading a book, things are good" thing established, I did the picnic that another poster suggested. I'd lead him out until he couldn't see the horses, basically getting him near but not over his panic threshold. Then I'd find a spot with stuff for him to nibble on, set up my camp chair, and hold his rope while I pretended not to pay attention to him (note: pay attention to them, you don't want to get tangled if they freak out). It took about 10 minutes for him to start grazing next to me. We did that a few times then I started riding him out. I still took it slow and gradually worked him up, but now I can take him out for hours alone (well, I could...he's retired now and not in shape for that anymore, but mentally he's still there). All told it took about 2 months.

I've worked with a lot of barn sour horses over the years, these are just two that belong to me so the first that came to mind. ;) I use variations on these techniques for every horse. Most of my personal horses I've bought very young and lead on the trail before I can even ride them, so it isn't even a problem. I go for a walk or a run every day and bring one of the young or difficult horses with me each time (I figure I'm going anyway, might as well) and it really does help.

meupatdoes
Jul. 22, 2011, 02:49 PM
When asked to leave the outdoor arena towards the pathway around the farm, (20' wide, groomed, fenced on both sides, so not scary at all), she will balk, spin, back, shake her head and basically say "No way!" and give me the horsey finger in no uncertain terms.

As she will go with another horse, I have to think this is a confidence issue, not her just being a brat, so I don't want to really get after her until I absolutely have to.

No way on God's green earth would I allow spinning and backing to pass without a sharp comment. Polite hesitation or uncertainty? Yes. Spinning and escalating? Nuh uh.

Confidence, schmonfidence. A sharp presence of spur and two smart whaps with a dressage whip usually results in
a.) a giant leap forward, which the rider must quietly sit, and
b.) pats as we carry on down the trail.

Giddy on UP, horse, you're FINE.

Well-timed and done with quiet conviction the whole conversation lasts three seconds and anyone watching just sees a slight hesitation and then some quick steps forward and then some pats.

Confidence is like a muscle.
It is developed by excercising it.
Not prancing around throwing a tanty 15 yards from the arena.

She won't be scared if you tell her, "Horse, you're FINE. Now let's go."

LookinSouth
Jul. 22, 2011, 02:56 PM
I also suggest leading your horse. I often introduce horses to trial riding this way. I prefer to make it a non issue rather than escalate it into a battle.

All the horses I started this way have become happy and confident on the trails.

Sometimes I lead the whole trail; sometimes I get on and ride for a while then dismount and lead when they get balky.

You need your horse to trust you -- not the steady Eddie horse -- so that you decide where to go.

I echo this 100%. It's surprising how much trust you can really build when leading a horse on the trails.

jeano
Jul. 23, 2011, 12:39 PM
When Sadie was past the "I wont because you cant make me" phase (having learned that I could too make her) and was dealing with a few fear issues (meaning the balking was mostly at places that she could legitimately be expected to question, like narrow ravines, narrow dams with horse eating frogs and herons and squirrels and such and no good option except to Go Forward, Go back, or Balk) I had a couple of different approaches.

I would outwait her--stop JUST before she balked (so it was my idea) and wait for her to relax and put her head down a bit before asking her to proceed. Sometimes that would do it.

Other times I would turn her, again BEFORE she tried to spin, and work her really hard up and down the stretch of trail just behind us, so that it would be less work to just go past the booger. Sometimes that worked.

Other times I would nag her to put one just one foot forward--nudge with the legs, bump with the legs, tap with the whip, and so on until she would grudgingly give me the step I'd asked for. Then praise her to the skies and do it all over again. After fifteen minutes or so of cutting the cat's tail off by inches she would often give the big sigh and proceed as if nothing had worried her.

And sometimes, especially if I KNEW she was really worried by whatever was ahead, I would whip out my cell phone and call Mr. Jeano to come out and demonstrate that the Trail Was Safe. If she saw him and he spoke to her she would nearly always go right on past whatever had been bothering her.

I NEVER got off and led her, not once. Always rode it out, because at bottom this was a big role change for her, to accept her rider's leadership and judgment. She'd been ridden too many miles by someone who was inebriated if not blind drunk for most of their rides and had, I think, learned that she was the only one responsible for her and her rider's safety.

She is a horse who can be trusted to take care of her rider. She actually walks out more willingly and seems to enjoy herself the most when its just her and me, no other company. She's fine with other horses but I swear she likes our time alone together.

Bif
Jul. 23, 2011, 12:59 PM
. She is quite happy to go with another horse, but flatly refuses to go out alone.
...basically say "No way!" and give me the horsey finger in no uncertain terms.

As she will go with another horse, I have to think this is a confidence issue, not her just being a brat, so I don't want to really get after her until I absolutely have to.

NJR

I didn't read other responses, so sorry if I'm redundant...

Your words actually make it sound like she is being stubborn, not afraid. A great little mare I used to ride put up a protest at the start of every ride out alone, once three or four hundred yards in she was the happiest trail horse you can imagine.

Your mare sounds barn sour/herd bound. If you can handle a reasonable amount of histrionics and that is all she is likely to give, I recommend pushing her through it. If you think she'll dish out more than you can handle, try another alternative.


If you walk her out on the trail in hand, how is she? If she is good to mount from the ground at all times, hand walk her out a ways and then get on. Borrow a human to hold her when you get on, or one willing to walk the whole trail with you, as a bridge for her from being completely alone yet not as "good" a substitute as another horse.

Perhaps when you have access to a riding companion ride her out with the friend and split part way. If it's a loop, have the friend turn back the way you came once you are past the halfway point, an out and back have the friend go on while you turn and continue home; the mare should want to keep moving since heading for home, and you can tell whether she is just buddy bound or genuinely afraid.

I personally like to get all my greenies out on the trail as soon as brakes and steering are installed. It keeps them more willingly forward than circles in the ring. I like to take them solo so they don't pay attention to their buddy, or have an incident if the buddy horse acts up... they need to learn that their rider is who to listen to. I ride them in company only after they go well solo, and have had a spook and learn how to respond to me.

Living on the edge... :D

englishcowgirl
Jul. 23, 2011, 05:46 PM
Please do not allow her to spin, that is a good way do develop rearing. She can root all she wants but she should never be allowed to turn around or go a different direction in this situation. The best option is to have a ground person walk with you and if she refused to listen to your command to go forward, have the person lead her. It will eventually break, but may not be pretty. Nip it in the bud ASAP

gieriscm
Jul. 23, 2011, 06:21 PM
When I first got my guy he could put my butt in the dirt pretty much at will, and he had the same issue as the OP's mare about trail riding alone. In his case it was mainly a confidence issue, so I led him past a lot of scary stuff.

When he started getting barn sour I fixed that by keeping his trail riding easy and fun, but when we got back to the barn I never got off him right away. Instead, he went into the ring for flat work (he enjoys jumping). The ring work didn't last very long, and on the days he was on his best behavior, only a few minutes.

twhs
Jul. 23, 2011, 08:00 PM
This has been a very helpful thread. Thank you. Any more comments, suggestions, experiences, are very much appreciated.

iRide Ponies
Dec. 11, 2012, 02:30 PM
Now, strangely, when I moved her to her current barn, I could not get her to come back to the bar a few times. NEVER have I had that problem, but she seemed determined to be going somewhere. Nothing bad happened to her at the new barn, she just decided she would rather be on the trail. She's such a weird little horse!!

Best of luck!


I have EXACTLY the same problem! My mare, on the way out will GOGOGO and on the way home shes just like... No, Nah I'm good. We walk slowly slower, slower... Then if I ignore her she'll start to gradually change her angle as we walk, so over a period of about 100m we end up pointing in the other direction! Of course, I don't ignore and badger her about walking in the right direction, so we usually are fine.

Still, if anyone has any genious plans to inspire my mare to walk home more willingly I'd be glad to here them. (Not wanting to hyjack the thread tho)

CharingHounds
Dec. 11, 2012, 05:30 PM
Meupatdoes, I am quoting something you said:

"Confidence is like a muscle.
It is developed by excercising it."

I LOVE this. I am going to pass this along and use it on myself as well.

Snowdenfarm
Dec. 12, 2012, 11:17 AM
What COSMonster did with Noah. Great post.

monicabee
Dec. 12, 2012, 07:50 PM
Lots of good advice here,.. One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that you are starting out with a particularly big hurdle - riding away from your barn - which is leaving the herd and home at the same time.

You may not be able to make this experiment, but if you were to trailer somewhere and then try riding alone, it might not trigger the same emotions in your horse. Or follow the variety of advice given, from walking out on the trail to splitting off on the way home but be sure you break it down into pieces you can succeed with and build from - that's what YOU can actually handle, not some idealized rider you would like to be. If you really want to get there, you will.

I started conditioning a young horse out on the trail last year in a situation where I basically HAD to ride with someone else - a good friend, so not a chore in that way, but her horse was quite a needy type and I knew the one I was riding leaned that way too. Still, I have ridden herd-bound horses and find it very tiresome to change that behavior once it is established - so I was determined to address it early on. We started to do a little split-off where the trail would permit - going the other way around a clump of bushes, for instance, and then reuniting before either horse had a chance to become very concerned. Then one day, we bit the bullet and broke them up, on a big hill where they would have plenty to occupy them and we could ride off in opposite directions. It was also on the way back to the trailer, where the edge was already off their energy levels. There was a lot of calling the first time, but when the head came up to scream, I'd ask for more forward and eventually, it died down. The second time we did this, there was a lot less vocalizing, and the third time. la. la. la... he'll be back at the trailer. We even did a ride where we met a friend and then split off, riding with her mare instead of his buddy, and getting into a strange trailer for the first time. By the end of ride season last year, he went to a ride alone. I think it worked for a couple of reasons. First, I took care to really break it down into small steps, but if he did start to get silly, I either rode him forward, did a shoulder in, or did a one-rein stop, depending on the situation. Not in a hard-ass way, just to redirect. I am not a fan of pitched battles - too many blackberry bushes and treetrunks on our narrow PNW trails. Second, my friend owned the horse I was riding, and so she wanted us to succeed.

briannabowling
Jan. 17, 2013, 08:54 AM
I agree. Start with leading her and bring some treats so you can reward her along the way. If there is a shorter loop do that one first so she can have some success and it wont' be too tramatic. After she gets some confidence, then start trying to long line her on the trail. When you lead her, you are the lead horse and its not the same as when you are on her back and HER head is leading the way so long lining is a good intro to being on her back.
Brianna
briannadressage.blogspot.com

SharonA
Jan. 18, 2013, 05:02 PM
The "work her hard when she doesn't do what I want" thing just made things worse with my mare, who for instance decided one spring that she would not walk over the shadow of the power line on the trail access road, and also seemed to feel that she was above things like crossing even the tiniest trickling stream or bridge. She wasn't scared; she just didn't wanna. We had very good success with the "bore the horse into obedience" method. If she balked and spun at the shadow or at the stream, I just pointed her back at it, and there we stood. Every minute or so I'd give her the cue to move on, and if she spun or ducked, back we went to standing pointed at The Evil. Eventually, she becomes so disgusted with this song and dance (it happens every Spring; every year she picks something to have an Opinion about), she just sighs and goes over the stupid obstacle and after a few increasingly half-hearted attempts at similar obstacles, we're done with it and she's over herself. This is just what works for us; every horse is different.

We also tried backing her over shadows and streams, with the thinking that, "Okay, you don't want to go forward over it? Fine, let's go backward," but, the bore 'em approach works just as well and requires less energy from ... ahem... her rider. And she's calmer about it than she is about backing up.

tinah
Feb. 7, 2013, 10:49 AM
I have EXACTLY the same problem! My mare, on the way out will GOGOGO and on the way home shes just like... No, Nah I'm good. We walk slowly slower, slower... Then if I ignore her she'll start to gradually change her angle as we walk, so over a period of about 100m we end up pointing in the other direction! Of course, I don't ignore and badger her about walking in the right direction, so we usually are fine.

Still, if anyone has any genious plans to inspire my mare to walk home more willingly I'd be glad to here them. (Not wanting to hyjack the thread tho)

make sure there is food at home. either cookies, oats, alfalfa, or hand grazing. some sort of high-value treat. and maybe just hang out with her a little. Like the previous poster that would settle her nervous horse by reading a book in his space, i often read around my horses. or you could pick out her stall. Any sort of quiet, in-the-same-space activity should help.

imissvixen
Mar. 19, 2013, 09:40 PM
Great thread. I always feel self-conscious when I lead my mare on trail walks alone. I actually think she is pretty much fine going by herself but I am kind of nervous about it. I like getting the exercise and she doesn't seem to mind walking beside me though she often ends up pulling ahead of me.

ReSomething
Mar. 20, 2013, 12:33 PM
I have EXACTLY the same problem! My mare, on the way out will GOGOGO and on the way home shes just like... No, Nah I'm good. We walk slowly slower, slower... Then if I ignore her she'll start to gradually change her angle as we walk, so over a period of about 100m we end up pointing in the other direction! Of course, I don't ignore and badger her about walking in the right direction, so we usually are fine.

Still, if anyone has any genious plans to inspire my mare to walk home more willingly I'd be glad to here them. (Not wanting to hyjack the thread tho)

I never thought I would have such a problem, or consider it a problem, but the last time I rode the pony we went out the backside of the barn and down the lightly graveled lane next to the indoor and that little bugger speed racked to the parking lot and gave me some chit when we had to pull over and stop for the truck coming up the main driveway. He didn't want to stop!
And he's been more than willing to go down the road less traveled too. Going back to the barn he's in no hurry, but he has misbehaved upon dismounting and tried to head into the barn real quick. It's always something.

OP I recall having a horse that would misbehave to the point of dangerous under specific conditions. You could ride in company or alone, but not part company during the ride or she would do everthing but throw herself to the ground having a hissy fit. I never did have the time or assistance I needed to really address the issue, using friend's horses. Time will help, it did for the riding out alone for us. Time and persistance.

Teddy the Mule
May. 9, 2013, 03:10 PM
I think you should get a hugely calm, confident rider or trainer to ride her out to the trail once while you watch. If she goes fine for the trainer, then you know it's you who needs to give stronger direction. Nothing wrong with crop and spurs, correctly applied.

sketcher
May. 10, 2013, 05:38 PM
No way on God's green earth would I allow spinning and backing to pass without a sharp comment. Polite hesitation or uncertainty? Yes. Spinning and escalating? Nuh uh.

Confidence, schmonfidence. A sharp presence of spur and two smart whaps with a dressage whip usually results in
a.) a giant leap forward, which the rider must quietly sit, and
b.) pats as we carry on down the trail.

Giddy on UP, horse, you're FINE.

Well-timed and done with quiet conviction the whole conversation lasts three seconds and anyone watching just sees a slight hesitation and then some quick steps forward and then some pats.

Confidence is like a muscle.
It is developed by excercising it.
Not prancing around throwing a tanty 15 yards from the arena.

She won't be scared if you tell her, "Horse, you're FINE. Now let's go."

The above 100% although I will say that when I was younger I could ride any horse away from the barn - horses that their owners were afraid to take out of the ring sometimes either because, well, they never rode out of the ring or they were just scared of their own horse or had tried it with bad result. And because of the above-mentioned abundance of confidence I could generally hop on anything and take it for a trail ride with the above-mentioned attitude.

Once in a while one of them was a bit spooky but we could get the job done and after a few rides the spookiness would generally be better. Very, very rarely was there a horse that was just not cut out for it and it was not worth even trying because while you could go out on a trial ride it was far from relaxing or enjoyable and just never took the edge off them but this was very rare.

Once I took several years off from riding and gained a bit of weight, my overabundance of self confidence is - lets just say - no longer overabundant, and am sure that I would not just hop on any old strange horse and amble away without a care in the world like I used to.

It make me realize though how much of this type of issue is most often in the riders head, not the horse's.

Sometimes it helps to get one of those fearless kids and let them trail ride your horse for a while. One who will hop on and just naturally assume they will not have a care in the world. Usually those kids are not in need of spurs or a crop, with the right kid the horse just feels it's ok..

Simkie
May. 11, 2013, 03:19 PM
Bumping this thread up to get the old spam thread off the main page and restore the layout there.

PeteyPie
May. 11, 2013, 04:08 PM
The above 100% although I will say that when I was younger I could ride any horse away from the barn - horses that their owners were afraid to take out of the ring sometimes either because, well, they never rode out of the ring or they were just scared of their own horse or had tried it with bad result. And because of the above-mentioned abundance of confidence I could generally hop on anything and take it for a trail ride with the above-mentioned attitude.

Once in a while one of them was a bit spooky but we could get the job done and after a few rides the spookiness would generally be better. Very, very rarely was there a horse that was just not cut out for it and it was not worth even trying because while you could go out on a trial ride it was far from relaxing or enjoyable and just never took the edge off them but this was very rare.

Once I took several years off from riding and gained a bit of weight, my overabundance of self confidence is - lets just say - no longer overabundant, and am sure that I would not just hop on any old strange horse and amble away without a care in the world like I used to.

It make me realize though how much of this type of issue is most often in the riders head, not the horse's.

Sometimes it helps to get one of those fearless kids and let them trail ride your horse for a while. One who will hop on and just naturally assume they will not have a care in the world. Usually those kids are not in need of spurs or a crop, with the right kid the horse just feels it's ok..

I loved this post.

Where are those fearless kids? I think there are fewer and fewer with the absence of Westerns on TV, and the suburbanization and urbanization of society so fewer girls are exposed to horses. I wish I knew a fearless horsecrazy kid. I wish I were a fearless horsecrazy kid. Aw those were the days...

sketcher
May. 11, 2013, 06:00 PM
I loved this post.

Where are those fearless kids? I think there are fewer and fewer with the absence of Westerns on TV, and the suburbanization and urbanization of society so fewer girls are exposed to horses. I wish I knew a fearless horsecrazy kid. I wish I were a fearless horsecrazy kid. Aw those were the days...

I think in this day of bubble wrapped kids and ridiculous lawsuits, those kids are becoming extinct.