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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 21, 2005
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    977

    Default foxhunter needs advice from eventers

    I hope you all can give me some advice, even if I dont event; I show hunters and foxhunt. I have done a grand total of 2 hunter trials with my mare (picture XC over simple jumps but the horse is judged more or less like a hunter). I am wondering what I can do to increase my horses's confidence ??? I like doing the trials and would like to be more competitive.

    She is a bit scared - she seems to be thinking "what the HECK are we doing out here all alone ?" and she is definitely weirded out by the jump judges. We can trail ride alone just fine, although she is pretty cautious out there (not a bad thing). She has lots of experience in the h/j ring, super confident jumper in the ring and we hunt rountinely. She is very brave jumping in the hunt field, has led the field and will go first in a hunter pace and jump everything.

    how do y'all get your horses used to going out alone XC ? I guess just practice...... ?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar. 17, 2008
    Posts
    472

    Default

    I had been wondering about what makes certain horses more confident going XC vs the barn and buddy sour types. My horse is quite comfortable going XC alone, whether it is schooling or competing. But before he became an eventer, we took him to many hacks alone or in company of other horses. Initially he was unsure when alone, but after over a year of doing it, he got pretty comfortable. My take is that they have to learn to trust their riders and it takes some time.
    ___________________________________________
    "Another member of the Barefoot Eventers Clique"



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct. 26, 2004
    Location
    Central Mass.
    Posts
    245

    Default

    Some of it comes down to the horses personality...I have one who is brave brave brave....the other is a baby....will follow but hates being out there by himself. The rest is practice....go to some of the schooling trials...in MA ..Apple Knoll has a few...get together with some friends and go school on a course...several MA farms will let you do that. Hunter paces...in most of those situations you will encounter people out on the trails...Good luck.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug. 17, 2007
    Location
    Mount Airy, MD
    Posts
    494

    Default

    i know a lot of hunts in my area have pair/team chases.. that might be a good way to transition her from lots of friends to flying solo.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    May. 4, 2007
    Posts
    191

    Default

    I have had my mare since birth. Her "buddy" system is me When she was just a month old we started going on "big girl walks" leaving her mom in the stall and we would just investigate things and have fun. She is almost 10 now and we have never had a problem with being away from other horses because I think she looks at me as her buddy. My advise is at home and away from home make sure that the two of you have alone time. Even if it is just hand walking around. It is fun to ride in groups and such, but working on being by yourself is just as important. Of course having a x-c machine really helps. When we leave the start box the only thing I think she sees is the jumps!!!



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 19, 2004
    Posts
    362

    Default

    I own my own farm and my horses are off the track or started by me. I normally ride alone in a field that is about 1/4 mile from the barn. I have 4 or 5 horses that come in their stalls to have dinner each evening and be rode. Each hack alone the 1/4 mile up the hill before dressage work.

    I have found some horses brave and some not so brave. I have had 2 horses, (one off the track and the other started by me), out of about 30, who were never able to walk up the hill and thru the woods without the "worried" look. They have and will most likely always be the "worried ones." Even on XC they seem to look around until they see their fence, but are brave jumpers when schooled. After riding each for more than 3 years, they were still worried. I think some horses (as with people) are just going to be worried.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    May. 16, 2003
    Posts
    2,022

    Default You can teach them to be bolder!

    (I just re-read your post and realized that you're really already at step three , which is to say, just go out and practice! Let her know it's all ok and fun and her confidence will grow. Don't worry that she's a little uncertain now - she's just green at this. I'm posting what I'd already written anyway in case anyone else is wondering the same thing but hasn't done all that you have already).

    While I agree that some horses are naturally more confident alone than others, you can absolutely teach a more timid horse to be bolder alone. Go out with one or two other horses. I'd put a horse who's never hacked alone behind another who's brave. The next step is to go out with a buddy and go first. Even though you've hunted your horse, I'd still do this step, though it might be a short one. With some horses, I wouldn't make them go first til we're headed home; others can lead heading out right off. That way, they still have the buddy, but are going first. When they're really confident leading the buddy coming and going, I'll go out alone on a hack the horse knows well. Then to new places / add jumps, etc. The more positive experiences your horse has the more confident he or she will be. That includes hopping around XC alone - make it really easy and fun, rinse repeat, and you'll find yourself with a confident horse. Easy.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    May. 22, 2002
    Location
    somewhere between middleaged and dead
    Posts
    1,924

    Default

    What all the others have said, particularly Saskatoonian.

    I rode out for years with a friend and her horse led for a long time then we would trade. Lots of hunter paces too. To this day my horse is a bit of a chicken 'alone' but I have found that where sometimes he won't walk past something he almost always will gallop by it. That said, there are times still where I have to get off and lead him past a particularly scary rock which is good practise on getting off and on by yourself in the open. This horse is now in his teens.

    That said he is an extremely successful eventer as once he understood that 'job' and trusted me, he is very comfortable on course. Your horse will get to be the same way.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 19, 2005
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    14,497

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    ...... and she is definitely weirded out by the jump judges.

    Yeah that isn't an unusual problem. I've had some scared by the jump judges...and others who want to stop and see if they have any cookies....both are just the lack of focus of a green horse.


    Most green horses get out there and are clueless. They are looking at the sky, a tree, a bush, oh boy we are cantering, oh look over there at that bird....OMG a person....OMG a jump....oh boy we are cantering again!!!


    Best thing is to get her out to some low level events. Keep the level small. The point is to teach her about the jump judges and jumping alone in the field...not going eventing and jump big fences. You should slow every thing down...I would trot well out from the first few fences (if not trot the first part of the course entirely). As she gets more confident, then let her canter and jump out of stride. I know that your priority is the hunter trails....but if you go to some events were your horse is not judged....you will get her in the same atmosphere, see the scary jump judges and give her the time and experience to be come more confident.

    It is so funny to watch them figure out the game. The green horses will go up to the start of xc on the buckle and laid back but come home thinking they are king of the world and want to go again....whereas the experienced horses will be more lit up to start since they know what fun they are about to have!

    Good luck!!
    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov. 19, 2005
    Location
    Lost in the Sandhills of NC
    Posts
    2,684

    Default

    Ray - my son's horse is at upper levels and still the biggest worry is the fence judge! Along with all the good advice above, we started making it a priority that anytime he schooled over fences, be it in the ring or XC that someone stood in the vacinity of the jump. There are still days he goes over a prelim/intermediate fence with one eyeball on that scary person with the chainsaw on the ground. Is Shepley Hills still open to hack? I would imagine mose of the fences are gone or have fallen into disrepair, but my old hunt used to run a very nice hunter pace there.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr. 29, 2008
    Posts
    92

    Default

    I have one that was completely wigged out by the jump judges our first
    year. He is Irish and I don't think they have people sitting by the jumps at the horse trails over there. His first full year of eventing he would pay much more attention to the judges, the footing, the people, etc., etc., etc., then me. If he led out hacking he was on constant scan. If he followed he was fine.
    He has gotten better and more focused. With schooling your horse should get better. I had someone else take my horse to a clinic with Beth Perkins and she said something very astute about this subject. She said in her experience most TBs understand point A to point B. They have done that, if they have raced or trained to race. The warmbloods don't. They don't have that experience and sometimes it just takes a little time.
    When I hack my horse we ride point A to point B. We don't sight see. He might be looking for deer, watching leaves fall, etc but he does not get to indulge in that. He moves forward. The trick is not to push him so fast that he gets extra scared because you are rushing him. He has to listen to you and look to you for reassurance.
    One other thing that I have done is to keep my hands quiet. I have had a couple of very good trainers tell me to keep my hands low. If you start to take an extra tug of the reins it brings the horse's attention back to you and not on the job in front of them then when they refocus front they can be surprised that all of a sudden there is a jump or a jump judge or a change in footing. Really, really try to ride their body, not their face and head and push forward and straight. It is a challenge.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan. 17, 2008
    Posts
    2,081

    Default Trust, bonding and repetition

    I have a horse (OTTB) that was terrifying to hand walk with a chain over his nose alone. He now hacks out happily and confidently alone, well...with "his dog" in tow.

    I hand walked this horse everywhere as often as possible for a long time, spent a lot of time on the ground with him, progressed to walks under tack with a calm buddy and finally got to hacking him alone. I also would always try to leave the group for little periods of time and then return and just kept pushing the distance. It has taken over a year to get him to this point and I doubted that it was possible many times but stuck with it. He has turned out to be one of the braver horses I know and would probably jump off a cliff for me if I asked.

    With him it was just a matter of building his confidence and gaining his trust.
    "look deep into his pedigree. Look for the name of a one-of-a-kind horse who lends to his kin a fierce tenacity, a will of iron, a look of eagles. Look & know that Slew is still very much with us."



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov. 22, 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    7,136

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by clm08 View Post
    it takes some time.
    Yup. A brand new thing to GET USED TO. That is all.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct. 2, 1999
    Location
    Mendocino County, CA: Turkey Vulture HQ
    Posts
    16,835

    Default

    Something to think about is that most eventers introduce their horses to cross country in a small schooling group, where one horse jumps, and stops, and then the other horses jump and join the first horse, until the whole group is gone.

    In my experience, this makes all the horses that follow the first horse very excited and relatively bold.

    It might be too much excitement but on the other hand, it might help her get the idea that she's jumping on her own and that her buddies are waiting for her just out of sight.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket



  15. #15
    Join Date
    May. 4, 2007
    Posts
    191

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by poltroon View Post
    Something to think about is that most eventers introduce their horses to cross country in a small schooling group, where one horse jumps, and stops, and then the other horses jump and join the first horse, until the whole group is gone.
    I read this and had a memory flash back! I school my horse 2-3 times before her first event. She was 4 and had 10 months under saddle. We went by ourself with my coach, but we would jump a fence or two and talk/regroup. At the event, we left the start box and jumped the first 4 fences really well. Then in the middle of no where on the way to the 5 fence but no where near it my little precious just flat out stopped! Apparently she needed to have a mental regroup of all that was going on. She wouldn't budge one foot until she was ready (which was about 5 min). We finished the course, but got the E for going over the allowed time. Very funny how their brains process stuff. On a more positive note, two months later she took 2nd in her BN division!



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 21, 2005
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    977

    Default

    really great suggestions, THANKS!!

    looking forward to getting back out there



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep. 23, 2008
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    138

    Default Shepley Hills

    Quote Originally Posted by pegasusmom View Post
    Is Shepley Hills still open to hack? I would imagine mose of the fences are gone or have fallen into disrepair, but my old hunt used to run a very nice hunter pace there.
    They do still run a hunter pace through there several times a year. It's run by the Nashoba Valley Hunt. I did the pace a couple times this year, and it was a lot of fun. The jumps are not in disrepair - it's really nice. You can hack in the woods and trails in that area. I'm not sure about the actual farm area - probably not.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov. 19, 2005
    Location
    Lost in the Sandhills of NC
    Posts
    2,684

    Default

    I whipped in for Nashoba Valley a while back - and know quite well the family that owns/owned Shepley Hills - just didn't know what was being done with the actual cross country fences. The liability aspect of them was always a worry.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep. 23, 2008
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    138

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pegasusmom View Post
    I whipped in for Nashoba Valley a while back - and know quite well the family that owns/owned Shepley Hills - just didn't know what was being done with the actual cross country fences. The liability aspect of them was always a worry.
    Oh, right. I don't know about the Shepley Hills XC fences either. I was thinking of the fences in the woods that seem to be more for the hunt. It's too bad about the liability issues - can't say I blame them.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb. 9, 2006
    Posts
    1,976

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by longrun View Post
    I have one that was completely wigged out by the jump judges our first
    year. He is Irish and I don't think they have people sitting by the jumps at the horse trails over there. His first full year of eventing he would pay much more attention to the judges, the footing, the people, etc., etc., etc., then me. If he led out hacking he was on constant scan. If he followed he was fine.
    He has gotten better and more focused. With schooling your horse should get better. I had someone else take my horse to a clinic with Beth Perkins and she said something very astute about this subject. She said in her experience most TBs understand point A to point B. They have done that, if they have raced or trained to race. The warmbloods don't. They don't have that experience and sometimes it just takes a little time.
    When I hack my horse we ride point A to point B. We don't sight see. He might be looking for deer, watching leaves fall, etc but he does not get to indulge in that. He moves forward. The trick is not to push him so fast that he gets extra scared because you are rushing him. He has to listen to you and look to you for reassurance.
    One other thing that I have done is to keep my hands quiet. I have had a couple of very good trainers tell me to keep my hands low. If you start to take an extra tug of the reins it brings the horse's attention back to you and not on the job in front of them then when they refocus front they can be surprised that all of a sudden there is a jump or a jump judge or a change in footing. Really, really try to ride their body, not their face and head and push forward and straight. It is a challenge.

    Just wanted to say thank you, as I'm going through the constant gawking with a new horse, and these are great suggestions, longrun!



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