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dangerous herdbound behavior

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  • dangerous herdbound behavior

    I know there are a lot of threads about this, so thanks for allowing one more

    I have a 10 yo OTTB who I've owned for 4 years. For the first year, year and a half, we had no issues. For some reason, he became herdbound. We didn't change barns or routines, nothing traumatic happened to him so I'm not sure of the "trigger". What I do know is that now he is king of his all gelding herd.

    When all horses are in their stalls for the night, he's a perfect angel. Easy to ride and we can leave the property without much drama, though because of the barns location we can't go too far. Anyway, the problem is when horses are outside and he needs to come in. He completely tunes out everything but getting back outside. He crow hops on the cross ties, screams, head in the air, prances, etc. Getting on to ride is possible, but he pays no real Attention to me and still jumps around a lot.

    Today was kind of the final straw. I need to move him to a new barn, as we bought a new house. He not only refused to load, but was showing his displeasure by rearing and striking the air. We ended up having to stop and arrange a different day to move him, for his safety and ours.

    Since he is moving to a new barn, I am hoping that leaving his herd will help, but Im not sure! This new herd will include mares and geldings, but he will be out 24/7 instead of stalled. I'm at the point of thinking of selling him if this move doesnt help. in addition, he actually has to get INTO the trailer to go there!

    Any advice or success stories? Thank you in advance!

  • #2
    You might get more response in the horse care or off course forum. Good luck!


    • #3
      When he's acting up, what do you do? You say you can't ride him, so do you just groom then turn back out?


      • #4
        Unfortunately this problem will follow you in one way or another. It needs to be corrected. I have had this problem and after much advise and trial and error I broke down and handled a track guy to come and show me how to be the leader of my horse. IT was the best money I've ever spent. I learned tons. The problem I had was corrected in 1-2 sessions BUT I have changed the way I deal with my guy on a permanent basis. No longer is he EVER allowed to take his attention off of me. Under saddle/on the ground etc. I am the leader. The sooner your horse learns that the sooner your problem will be corrected. Do you have someone who can help?


        • #5
          Originally posted by KurPlexed View Post
          Unfortunately this problem will follow you in one way or another. It needs to be corrected. I have had this problem and after much advise and trial and error I broke down and handled a track guy to come and show me how to be the leader of my horse. IT was the best money I've ever spent. I learned tons. The problem I had was corrected in 1-2 sessions BUT I have changed the way I deal with my guy on a permanent basis. No longer is he EVER allowed to take his attention off of me. Under saddle/on the ground etc. I am the leader. The sooner your horse learns that the sooner your problem will be corrected. Do you have someone who can help?
          KurPlexed just saved me some typing.
          chaque pas est fait ensemble


          • #6
            Our new barn has thrown our routine for a loop and I have dealt with some herd bound stuff for about a wek.

            Some yelling and nerves, but as soon as I get on its down to business and I have to keep ALL of my own emotions at bay while I correct the tension and ask for flexions like it is another day the office.

            Out of about 5 rides only one was meh, but otherwise we have an understanding and Ive had some lovely work.

            I used to try to lunge them down, or get after them but that just creates more issues and reactions. You have to request firmly but fairly and keep on being that leader.

            You have to keep asking for their attention even in OVERLY obvious ways but then release when you should.

            It can be dangerous and you have to keep your guard up at all time until they respond willingly and with relaxed demeanor.
            ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


            • #7
              Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
              KurPlexed just saved me some typing.

              Too bad I had so many typos lol!! Must learn to edit before hitting send!


              • Original Poster

                Thanks, I will try the other forums!

                I do ride him...if I go out after everyone is stalled for the night, he's perfectly "normal" to ride and we can go out about our business. I have his attention, he does whatever I'm asking. However, going out in the afternoon, for instance, when everyone is out on pasture, is another story. He's Jekyll and Hyde.


                • #9
                  I'm not sure if this is at all the case for your horse, but I used to have a horse that was really obnoxious if I brought him inside to ride him when everyone else was out, but was fine being pulled out of his stall to ride.

                  But in Arlo's case, it wasn't a herdbound issue at all. The problem was that he was very attached to his routine, and he thought being brought in meant it was time to go in his stall and eat. Fighting it out with him as not an option (he had HYPP, so stressing him out was downright dangerous), so I would bring him in, put him in his stall with a little handful of oats and some hay, go get my tack and grooming supplies ready at a leisurely pace, then pull him out and ride him, and he'd be totally fine with it.

                  If it's a routine thing, moving should help, and getting out and working him right away at the new place so that he doesn't think that hanging out with his buddies all day is his new schedule.

                  If it truly is a herdbound thing, well, I've had one of those, too. And it was a much longer road to fix that one, so I'm hoping for your sake that the new place will solve your problem.
                  "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                  -Edward Hoagland


                  • #10
                    I think moving him to a situation where he is out 24/7 will be worse. Then he will never be leaving "his" herd unless he is being brought in to be ridden. He needs to learn who is boss, especially on the ground and on crossties. This might help his under saddle issues a little. I think it sounds like he is use to getting his own way, even today when you tried to load him. He was dangerous, yes, but you stopped and put him away. He won. I have had herd bound horses do this to me, strike, rear, flip over while trying to load. I was patient and he went in within 30 minutes. But you better believe he had a chain over his nose and got his butt backed down the drive way a few times. This horse was just a plain obnoxious jerk all around. Some days he spent about 2 hours on crossties until he stopped rearing. Horses like this cannot be babied. They are too big and dangerous. This is not something that can be fixed through advice over a BB. You need someone to show you how to handle him. My gelding had an obsession with one mare. He started rearing under saddle. It took time, but his herd boundness wore off, he had many wet saddle pads and spent many hours tied until he behaved. He had many sessions of learning respect on the ground. Simple things like making them moving their hind quarters and backing up help to get their attention and focus on you while on the ground. But first time he ignored me or focused his attention on the herd he got a little whip in the chest. Just too much stuff to explain on here. And not a safe situation.
                    Derby Lyn Farms Website

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                    • #11
                      My horse had some herd bound problems when I got him- rearing when he didn't want to leave his friends, and he reared when he didn't want to get in the trailer.

                      I started dealing with the field rearing by having him on a 14' lead and I lunged him around when he disobeyed. He'd act contrite, and then we'd go into the barn, but it didn't really fix the problem. Then one time he clipped my elbow as he reared and he was lucky I didn't decide to murder him. I lunged him around changing directions until he acted like he gave in (chewing, contrite head). And then I lunged him more and he showed more attitude (snaking head, baby rears, running like an idiot) because he didn't really mean it the first time. I lunged him all over his field away from his friends, towards them, away again, etc, letting him pick the pace/gait, but getting after him if he showed any attitude. It ended up taking only about 15 mins I think, but he eventually just gave in and really meant it. I didn't have any trouble after that (knock on wood). It has been a year so far, and I still use a Natural Horsemanship halter to fetch him in and I carry a little whip, but I haven't had to do anything special since that CTJ moment.

                      The second thing that helped me was getting a trainer in to help with the trailer loading problem. He did it NH style, and I found it really successful. In one session he had the horse self loading and I was able to do it myself. The first part was him establishing acceptable behavior, and the second part was me learning how to handle myself and direct the horse.

                      Part of my homework was to work on leading skills-- if I stop, the horse stops. If I tell him to back up using body language, he backs up. He is not to walk past me or pull in any way. My homework also included making him do obstacles and stuff in hand that he may not want to do.

                      I think these things really helped and while he may not be perfectly obedient, at least he doesn't rear at the barn help or me anymore and he self loads on the trailer.

                      My vote is to get with a trainer to show you the tools you need to handle this and for them to work with the horse some to get you started on the right path.


                      • #12
                        Moving a horse like this into a herd where he is out 24/7 is going to make the problem much worse.

                        I've just gone through this with my young horse. He was living in a large paddock next to my retiree, across from a shedrow of a dozen horses. I like my young horses to live outside because I think it's best for them.

                        So we had a few minor incidents at home - fine being ridden by himself but very unhappy if another horse joins the arena and then leaves. The final straw was at a dressage show in Aug - the show arena was in a wooded area isolated from the warm up. He was fabulous in the warm up, completely lost it in a dangerous, dramatic way in the show arena.

                        When we came home he moved into the barn. My trainer felt that it was very important that he no longer be able to touch other horses. See them, but in a stall, then in turn out during the day. Individual turnout, again where he cannot touch other horses.

                        Seems to have fixed the problem, at least so far.