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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 26, 2008
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    876

    Default Working with a horse that gets fussy on the way home?

    Hi!

    I have a wonderful 10 yr old OTTB mare. She was introduced to trails last spring and did wonderfully all through last spring/summer/fall on trails but come winter we had to give them up due to footing getting bad in the winter.

    I've begun slowly re-introducing her to trails the past couple weeks now the weather is warming up. We go out with a riding buddy and her saintly QH who thankfully completely ignores my mares "sillies" and spooks.

    She has been very good but she starts getting very fussy and stressed on our way home (jiggy, flipping head, pulling at reins, etc). I just ignore her hoping that eventually that all of her complaints won't get her anywhere. We are doing only walking trails right now so I think if I were to allow her to get more energy out she would be less hot coming home but our riding buddies don't want to do anything but walk/ little bit of trot.

    Anyways I was wondering if any one had any advice/tips on working with a horse that gets upset on the way home?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008
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    4,266

    Default

    I've been on a 24 mile trail ride, and the horses still found the energy to perk up when we hit the last three miles back to the barn. I don't think going faster is going to help anything. I prefer to always do fast work on the way out and no fast work within a mile of the barn on the way back, and none at all on the way back if in a group with insecure riders or horses that are getting fresh.

    You can come home from your too-slow trail ride and go straight into the arena and do 20 minutes of trot and canter work. Do that every time for a while, and make sure you are not hanging on her mouth on the way home - set her at the pace you want, then let her go, just correcting every time she speeds up but not trying to bottle her up behind the bit.

    I've had the same issues with my mare - first few rides out, or if we add a strange horse to the usual group, etc. she falls back on bad habits and wants to hurry hurry hurry. I usually do the above, and do practice sessions with a friend passing each other and being first and last. Then she settles down for the season again...



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan. 8, 2006
    Location
    B.C. Canada
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    1,918

    Default

    If your riding buddie's horse will put up with it, use him to be the brakes. Put the QH ahead, and have your buddy zigzag her horse to block your mare. I've done this on more then a few occasions and it does eventually work, but you have to be consistent. You are basically having your buddys horse say, 'I'm the lead, you follow".

    Then, at the same time work on a solid relaxed walk on your mare. It's tough, mostly because it's in our nature to be tense/fighting the horse subconciously because they are already 'jiggy' but slowly let her have some rein, and make her realize she'll get there, when she gets there. Also, if you and you friend have the patience, make the horses stop, let them have a snack, stand and look at the flowers/trees.. (etc)anything to enhance the slow down and walk nicely frame of mind.

    The other way is, some horses just have to be ahead to keep their frame of mind. I have one horse who acts up behind other horses, but will walk home on a loose rein, if he's alone, or in front. It's not that he wishes to rush home, he just wants to lead. I find this more common in horses who are the herd leader types.

    and if you are really bored I've also been known to take out impatient horses, bring them home, and go back out again, as many times as it takes to get the point across (usually 3 or 4) and they figure out, hey, I do get home, but.. I dont' always get my rider off me when I do either.
    Quote Originally Posted by ExJumper View Post
    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct. 1, 2005
    Location
    Sandy, Utah
    Posts
    5,960

    Default

    You know, my normally saintly 6 yo appendix did a bit of fussing on the way home yesterday, unusual for him. All my horses know 'the rule'- you can walk as fast as you wish heading back to the barn, but it must be a flat four beat walk. What I do- and did yesterday, is, if they break into a trot/jig and do not respond to my subtle request to walk, we simply turn around and walk about 50 yards away from the barn, perhaps do a circle in each direction there, or a little flexing in both directions, or some such, and then turn around and head back toward the barn. Rinse and repeat as needed. Took him two cycles. For more extreme cases I've worked with for others over the years, I might have spent as much as an hour doing that back and forth thing before they finally figured out that they might as well walk or they'll never get home!

    As suggested, some ring work when one returns is also a good idea for some- getting back to the barn doesn't necessarily mean end of ride, so best to save your energy!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun. 25, 2007
    Posts
    2,193

    Default

    I love Clinton Anderson's trail riding techniques. If she has the energy to do the wrong thing (pulling, jigging) then put her to work. As soon as she starts acting up, trot her in a small circle - not 2 or 3 times, but 20 times. Hustle her feet. Make it quick and sharp (ask your friend to wait) and hustle her. Then ask her to walk forward on a loose rein. Her reward is walking nicely and calmly at the speed you dictate. As soon as she gets fussy, do it again. It may take several tries or a few days in a row of training (which really helps if you can take the time to do several days in a row) but she should quickly get the point that it is a reward to walk quietly home. My friend and I have trained through this and it works. If there is no room or place to trot, or you are in tight woods, you could back her up a good 100 yards, then ask for forward again. Use the backing as the "work".

    I would also work her in the ring when you get back home. Good luck



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb. 22, 2007
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    3,928

    Default

    I do two things, both of which have been suggested already. First, make sure you aren't tense. When my horses get jiggy or silly I always take a deep breath and think about sitting heavy in the saddle (don't slump of course, just sink your weight down) and keeping a light hand, taking it stronger for a moment if required but not holding. It is easy to tense up but IME just staying relaxed and heavy works to quiet them down at least half the time. I also try to prevent the jigging by working lateral movements and gentle flexing, sometimes serpentines if the trail is wide enough. That keeps them focused and frequently keeps them from getting so worked up. I start as soon as I feel them tensing or speeding up. I also do it from the start on any horse I think is likely to be silly (green beans, horses who haven't been out for awhile, that sort of thing).

    I also use Beverley's suggestion of working them away from the barn when they get silly. Don't do something that will wind them up--I know a girl who turns around and runs in the other direction, and it only seems to make her pony worse until they're both too tired to fight anymore. Instead, I like a nice forward trot, and doing things that make them think and focus a little bit, like circles, serpentines, lateral movements. Then when they're quiet I turn around and start for home again.

    I rarely work my horses when I get home because most of the time they jig because they're insecure out on the trail and so even working at home is more comfortable (the exception being spoiled horses). Even horses that love the trail can be frightened on it and eager to rejoin their buddies. I prefer to resolve the issue where it is a problem, on the trail.

    The amount of work you do on the trail will only do so much to calm her down...I've ridden a horse til I thought her legs were going to fall off (or maybe it was my legs that were going to fall off...she was in a mood that day! ) and she still managed to get silly on the way home. Of course if your horse is fit and hyper it won't help you work through this. She should be calm regardless, however.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 26, 2003
    Location
    NE FL
    Posts
    6,479

    Default

    When she starts to fuss turn around and ride away from home.
    When she settles down, turn back around towards home.
    repeat
    you may ride up and down the same 20' of trail for an hour but you have to stick with it.
    Even if you ride up to the front gate and she gets silly, turn around and ride away til she calms down.
    it won't take long til she gets it.
    "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar. 25, 2008
    Location
    Goshen NY
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    2,627

    Default Hay

    I used to turn my horse around and head away from home but that's harder to do in a group. When you head back, the group is farther ahead and sometimes it causes more problems when you're trying to catch up.

    I now stop the horse, back up a few steps and then proceed forward at the walk. I back the horse a steady few steps. If he's being a real jerk, I'll be a little tougher with the back up, faster and farther then ask to walk forward. As soon as he pops into the jig, stop, back and walk forward.

    I found my horse got way too wound up when I would do repeated circles right, left at a fast walk or trot. And he has way more stamina than me so I would give up quicker. The back up helps me.
    Sorry! But that barn smell is my aromatherapy!
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug. 26, 2008
    Posts
    876

    Default

    Thanks for all the good advice! : )

    Thankfully I am really good at staying relaxed while Marsie is acting up. I don't hang on her mouth I just have a lite contact, just enough to make sure she knows I'm there. We ALWAYS walk whenever we are ever headed towards home.

    I doubt putting her behind a buddy would help as she really hates it (being in front is drilled in to her heard from her racing career). Though we are working on that issue out on the trails but it would just escalate her stress if made to be in back on the way home.

    Knowing my mare circling and backing up would only maker her pissy.

    I think I will try the working after the trail rides, because she is wired on the way back to the barn but once it is insight she is quiet and relaxed. This leads me to believe she just wants to be through with work. Of course if that doesn't work we'll give all of the other ideas a try.

    Thanks again for all of the advice, I wouldn't have thought of half those ideas.
    “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

    !! is the new .



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr. 24, 2003
    Location
    kennebunk Maine USA
    Posts
    469

    Default

    the man i bought my mare from was very big into trail riding. when he was working with horses like yours. he would go out ahead of time and place a few flakes of hay every say 400 feet. if the horse was being fussy he would ask the horse to stop and just chill out and have a bite to eat. once they settled he would start heading back again. the more rides he did with the horse the less often they would have to stop. . after a few weeks he would not need to put hay out, and would have nice relaxing walks back to the barn.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 26, 2008
    Location
    San Jose CA
    Posts
    46

    Default What worked for me today on a trail ride

    when my QH mare decided to trot instead of walk on the way home...I checked her lightly with one rein (testing a half halt), no response, so I did a one-rein stop, turning her away from the direction she wanted to go and circling her until she stopped on her own, total release of contact. Let it sink in for a few seconds, walked again. Test, no response or speed up?..one-rein stop. Took 3 times and she was fine the rest of the way. Now these are not circles where she's being yanked around, it's basically disengaging her haunches so she isn't heading straight the way she wants to go, getting her mind back where it belongs, and making it more work than it's worth. Mentally I have to remind myself not to get tense or irritated, just stay matter of fact because it's all training.

    Now, she wouldn't load into the trailer on the way home, but that's on another thread somewhere...



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan. 7, 2009
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
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    Default

    I board at a barn immediately adjacent to state park trails. In fact, one of the trails runs parallel to the road that my barn is situated on, so I literally cross the street and I have 50+ miles to play on. There is a 32-mile loop with plenty of stream/river crossings, hills (rocky and muddy), fields and flat wooded areas. . .makes for a wonderful day ride. I rode it last August, and my horse still picked up the pace when he knew we were getting close to home.

    The location of the barn makes it great for teaching a horse that running home will not actually get him home any faster. If the horse wants to rush, I can just ride him right past the barn and keep on going. Or, I'll ride him onto the barn's property and straight into the arena, do some arena work for a couple of minutes, and then take him back out on the trail again. It doesn't take long for him to figure out that heading home isn't necessarily a guarantee that he is going to get to stay there, or that he's "finished."
    Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    May. 11, 2009
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    21

    Default

    Hello fellow trail riders! I am a new member of the forum, though I've been reading it on and off for some time. There are always interesting questions, lots of different opinions and I always come away thinking this is one of the smartest horse message boards around! On this topic, for example, there were some interesting solutions to the issue of jigging back home, some which might work well for the OP. ( personally I've always agreed with the method C. Anderson uses and I think one of the posts talked about it already )
    I have owned/ridden horses for years ( that's as close as I come to telling my age ), have two horses that I enjoy trail riding and camping on here in the NW. I also use one in trail challenge clinics and competitions occasionally. Nice to meet all of you... I look forward to lively discussions.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan. 7, 2009
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
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    1,363

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by foxrider View Post
    Hello fellow trail riders! I am a new member of the forum, though I've been reading it on and off for some time. There are always interesting questions, lots of different opinions and I always come away thinking this is one of the smartest horse message boards around! On this topic, for example, there were some interesting solutions to the issue of jigging back home, some which might work well for the OP. ( personally I've always agreed with the method C. Anderson uses and I think one of the posts talked about it already )
    I have owned/ridden horses for years ( that's as close as I come to telling my age ), have two horses that I enjoy trail riding and camping on here in the NW. I also use one in trail challenge clinics and competitions occasionally. Nice to meet all of you... I look forward to lively discussions.
    Welcome Foxrider!!
    Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008
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    4,266

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    In a group you really need to insist (in advance) that you are all working together as a team. If anyone is having trouble and needs to stop and work on something, or go the other direction, the rest of the group should have the courtesy to stand and wait, or join you in going back and forth. Worst case divide the group and have at least one or two other riders who will swear to stay with you if you have trouble, and let the others go off as they please. It's a lot to ask of a horse to stay behind when everyone else takes off!

    We did one exercise the other day which helped a rushing horse - that last long hill home is a real temptation, and his owner had been running him up it every time. So as a group (trainer was riding the problem horse), we all walked in a line, and then took turns the last person trotting to the front, then slowing back to a walk, then the new last person trotting to the front, etc. Other days we might all walk up and back and up and back together, or take turns riding back in forth in opposite directions on the same stretch of ground, until all the horses are settled down and a little bored. Then we turn towards home again.

    You can really get a lot of good practicing done in groups if everyone will agree to play along!



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr. 25, 2007
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    1,306

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    I didn't read all the replies so forgive me if this is redundant. I have had good luck just keeping the horses mind engaged in other tasks, like leg yielding left and right as we go down the trail, some bending exercises, (I ride English) asking for a little bend just enough to see the horses eyelashes, maybe combine that with a leg yield, when they get engaged and settle down a bit, go back to riding a straight line, as soon as they get antsy, put them back to work. It is not so much work to burn off energy as it is work to give them something else to think about. For my last OTTB an idle mind was a dangerous thing indeed!



  17. #17
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    Feb. 23, 2008
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    Can I just say that despite all my lovely advice (above), I still have to deal with this some days? Ms. Morgan Mare seems to think that once in a while, it's really really exciting to be heading home and totally uncool for Mr. Gelding to be slightly ahead of her and worth a try to see if she can up the speed. And then we have to review the rules again, and have a little discussion, before she gives a big horsey sigh and walks politely.
    Last edited by twofatponies; May. 15, 2009 at 06:56 PM. Reason: typo



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