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Horse refusing specific trail- Help!

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  • Horse refusing specific trail- Help!

    Disclosure: I'm a relatively new rider (about 1-2 years experience), and I'm a brand new horse owner (1-2 months)

    I brought my gelding home about a month ago. He's settled well and into a good routine. I boarded/rode him at a professional facility for about two months before bringing him home. He is a true unicorn, dare I say almost perfect: not spooky, willing, patient, and sweet. We have rode in the pastures at home without a hitch. He has given neither me nor the trainer any peoblem up until recently.

    We live on an organic beef farm, where we use poultry manure to fertilize our corn fields (common organic practice). I know horses are sensitive to ammonia, and we currently have a stockpile of it to the tune of a few tons. This is located nowhere near where my horse is stabled or pastured. It is, however, located at the juncture of the main trail head I want to ride down. Under saddle he refuses, balks, and rears when we get close to the trail head/manure pile. However I can lead him down and around there without any refusal, maybe a perked up ear at most. He rides perfectly fine anywhere else on the farm, but as soon as I point him toward the trail head, he refuses, and I'm wondering if the poultry manure has something to do with it. Thoughts?

    Under saddle in this situation, I've tried tight circles, changing directions, approaching the pile from the backside, leading and mounting him beside the pile (for which he wont stand), and lastly, even having my husband lead him to the trail while I'm in the saddle. All to no avail. What can I do to win this battle? This is the only access to trails on the property, and I'd like to start riding them.

  • #2
    Get a friend with a brave quiet horse to ride ahead of you.


    • #3
      Ride out with another horse, or get off and lead him past and remount. Having big fights over this is going to create problems. He will get used to passing it on the way home that way.


      • #4
        I second both ideas, get a horse to lead, or just get off and lead him passed then remount. Reasons, often a horse will follow the lead horse because they don't want to be left behind, sometimes when they follow passed something they don't like (or through like a ditch) they will try to run or jump passed, so be ready for that.
        It was a really good idea to have someone else try to lead him passed.
        You know you want to ride by but the horse doesn't, try to dismount at slightly different spots, stand quietly like this is all the best thing and your idea, dismount. Wait, maybe turn around walk a few steps back to home, change up the routine a bit then walk by, maybe turn around and walk by few times, take a few steps, halt, walk, halt back walk.

        Will he ride back on his way home?


        • #5
          Since OP is a new rider I will repeat something that more experienced horse people know.

          Getting off and leading a horse past or through or over anything spooky or dangerous is a fantastic solution. The horse will usually follow a handler even if they won't go on their own. It saves fights, it saves spooks, it saves falling off or getting hit by a car.

          When in doubt get off and lead your horse.

          Only downside is getting back on if your horse is tall. In that case train your horse to stand nice at any random rock or stump. If there is a stretch you always have to dismount you could roll a stump or something over there.

          If your horse won't lead past the pile, then you need Ground Work 101. Find a good trainer locally to work with.

          It is very common for good egg horses to develop bad habits in the first few months with a newbie rider. Balking is a prime bad habit. Once you teach him he can balk here he will start doing it other places, guaranteed.