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Do barn sour horses ever really "get over it"??

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  • Do barn sour horses ever really "get over it"??

    Hi. Has anyone on here successfully "cured" a horse of being barn sour? I am dealing with my fourth barn sour horse in my life. In my experiences while I was able to get them all to be less barn sour it never went away completely - the issues were less and less frequent but I still had to deal with it with all three of them to some degree. My new horse is the worst of the horses I have had , and at 45 years old, I am really not interested in another 15 years of dealing with this. I spent all last summer/fall working on it and he did get better, not great, but better. He had a little time off this winter due to ice and now that I am back to working with him we are back to where we started. We have 5 horses at my house and the rest ( other then my retired Arab) are not an issue. He is 8 years old, great on the ground, great in an arena, great when I haul out but riding away from home he can be a nightmare. My husband would like me to sell him. I do not like selling horses but I also want to ENJOY riding and have it be relaxing. Any real success stories out there?

  • #2
    Can you send him for training with someone who specializes in these things?
    Boss Mare Eventing Blog

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    • #3
      My experience is that you never 100 percent break them of it. They can learn not to do it with a specific person relatively quickly, but they will generally revert to it if they think they can get away with it.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post
        Can you send him for training with someone who specializes in these things?
        He is only a problem riding off of my property so sending him away to a trainer would not do much good, he is great in an arena and fine if a haul him somewhere. I would need someone to come to my house everyday which would get really expensive.

        Comment


        • #5
          Can you describe what you did previously that seemed to help the problem? I haven't had a barn sour horse in years and years, but that might be because my horses work at home --arena next to barn. They are probably thanking the God of Horses when they see the trailer because it's going to be a no-arena-work day.

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          • #6
            It’s just destination addiction, and a pretty easy fix. You work where they want to be, and rest (or remove pressure) when they are going where you want them to go.

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post
              It’s just destination addiction, and a pretty easy fix. You work where they want to be, and rest (or remove pressure) when they are going where you want them to go.
              That is what I spent all last summer and fall doing. We would go out for a short ride, come home and work, go back out, come home and work ...repeat, repeat, repeat. He also always gets left tied up with saddle and bridle when we get back to the house, no scratches, or treats...no "reward" to come home. It for sure helped, to where we actually had some relaxed rides. Will it ever stick though or I am going to have to continue doing this the entire time I own him??? He is not a nervous horse so it perplexes me that he hates going out so much.

              With winter here in MT I have not been able to ride consistently, now that he is not getting this routine he is back to "losing it" when we get away from the barn. Going out with older / quiet horses does not help, once he "goes" I lose his brain. He does not just get excited and jigs, he throws all out fits, bucks, rears, crow hops, sideways etc... after a little time off, once I have a few days on him, he settles a bit and gets better with consistency. I am just thinking he might not ever be what I want and he would be happier being an arena horse.

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              • #8
                Well - maybe the best thing for both of you is to find him a home with someone who likes ring riding and get yourself a horse who likes to do what you want to do. Selling a horse isn't fun, but it sounds like neither of you are having a ton of fun and maybe it's just not a good fit?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yes, it's possible - I own one who was not great about it & I fixed it. I had to try a lot of different things, he can be very stubborn, but so am I, heh. That whole "work when you get back" thing didn't work with him, he didn't care, he's not afraid of work. I finally stumbled on an old article by John Lyons, basically saying to put the horse on a small square every time he wants to rush off. He has to do something every 2 steps (transition /halt/turn/back/whatever) & stay on this tiny square so he is so danged busy he doesn't have time to think about home. You have to stay calm & fair. When he relaxes, you can carry on. Of course, you can't do this on a narrow trail, so you need to literally pick your battle ground.

                  But you have to ride every step & the second he makes a bid, it's back to the square of busyness. And you have to do it for as long as it takes. The first time I gritted my teeth & did it, we were in one part of a field for over 2 hours. And of course it was July. BUT after that day, which I still remember clearly, I never had to do anything that long again. The horse got the point & needed only brief reminders after that.

                  That was probably 11 years ago, he is almost 24 now. Yes, he still walks faster going home, but that's fine & there are no fights. My other 2 horses have been much easier, they did not have his stubborn streak. However, that stubborn horse is my most amazing partner who I wouldn't trade for anything, so it was worth every hair he made me pull out, ha.

                  Just like all training, it does take some work & you have to want to solve it for that horse. It's OK to decide that you two aren't compatible too.
                  Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                  Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                  We Are Flying Solo

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                  • #10
                    Two thoughts --I think what you were doing was correct --clearly you had good results. As to the second part of your question --will it stick --yes, eventually. My QH had a buck when mounted when he was 4-5 years old. To fix that I lunged him, did ground work, in hand work vigorously for 15-20 min before I rode him. First ride of the summer (I was a teacher, so didn't ride much until May), he was rodeo-horse on the lunge line for about 5 days ---he'd settle into riding after the lunging --but until then --Mr. Sparky. After 5 days, we could back off on the lunging, until after a couple of weeks, I could saddle,mount, ride --but always do a serious mounted warm up to avoid the buck. This continued until he was about 15 ---he gradually stopped. These days (he's 22 now), I can go out and put a saddle on, mount and ride with no lunging or warm up at all. He's fine --no buck. So, yes, I think your horse will eventually "get over it." The question is how much time do you want to invest in curing the problem. Personally, I think if it is cutting into your riding time with little hope of expedient resolution, consider another horse. My young horse came to me because he was a bucker --but the owner only rode him now and then (she said 10 times maybe in a year). I ride him almost daily 5-6 days a week. No buck after the first week I owned him. He just needed more work than she could give him. I think this horse is the best horse I've ever owned --previous owner thought he was rank. Different owner can make all the difference.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by wildlifer View Post
                      Yes, it's possible - I own one who was not great about it & I fixed it. I had to try a lot of different things, he can be very stubborn, but so am I, heh. That whole "work when you get back" thing didn't work with him, he didn't care, he's not afraid of work. I finally stumbled on an old article by John Lyons, basically saying to put the horse on a small square every time he wants to rush off. He has to do something every 2 steps (transition /halt/turn/back/whatever) & stay on this tiny square so he is so danged busy he doesn't have time to think about home. You have to stay calm & fair. When he relaxes, you can carry on. Of course, you can't do this on a narrow trail, so you need to literally pick your battle ground.

                      But you have to ride every step & the second he makes a bid, it's back to the square of busyness. And you have to do it for as long as it takes. The first time I gritted my teeth & did it, we were in one part of a field for over 2 hours. And of course it was July. BUT after that day, which I still remember clearly, I never had to do anything that long again. The horse got the point & needed only brief reminders after that.

                      That was probably 11 years ago, he is almost 24 now. Yes, he still walks faster going home, but that's fine & there are no fights. My other 2 horses have been much easier, they did not have his stubborn streak. However, that stubborn horse is my most amazing partner who I wouldn't trade for anything, so it was worth every hair he made me pull out, ha.

                      Just like all training, it does take some work & you have to want to solve it for that horse. It's OK to decide that you two aren't compatible too.
                      I've got one who's not sour, just has an "agile mind" and spends too much time "skylarking" and paying attention to what's around him vice me. I use the "quick step" method described and it works pretty well. I've likely got the best counter-bending horse in the World as he spends a lot of time doing it! As well as several other small exercises.

                      One reason you have to be very consistent, to the point of obsession, is that you are going to build a memory in the horse that says, "attempts to ignore a current commands mean that we will do that damned "square" thing again." So if you do it you must do it each and every time and you must do the whole routine. That way you build that memory and you don't ever take a chance on erasing it. Or eroding it.

                      G.
                      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

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                      • #12
                        Yes, I have and it's not a fun process all the time. My latest was a mare and for whatever reason, I find that mares are more intense if they're allowed to be come barn sour. This mare would wail, refuse to move, rear occasionally, bolt back to the barn, jump out of her skin if the grass blew the wrong way, lots of fun stuff. So I separated her. Completely. She has her own pasture with shelter, her own round bale and can see other horses over the fence. Other than that, she has me and the barn cats for companionship. It also helps that the other horses over the fence are NOT herd sour so they don't accommodate her foolishness. I got her into a routine and once in a blue moon, she will call out, but is easily corrected and we move on without issue. The heat cycle is a different story and has improved a lot. The vast majority of the time she will ride out alone or with a group without any silliness at all. Time, consistency and very black and white rules.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Mine are all barn sour to some degree. The longer they're left to bond with their herd between rides, the more barn sour they are. Alternatively, the more often I can separate them from their herd without scaring the crap out of them, the less barn sour they get.

                          Ideally, I'd take them out on the same ride every day, but would only take them a little bit out of their comfort zone and then bring them back, then go right back out again and back home, repeat until they were good with that distance then go a little further. IOW, gradual habituation.

                          Horses will sometimes habituate while we're trying to punish/reward (make the wanted behavior easy and the unwanted hard), or they may eventually accept us as a herd member and become less fearful that way, but they habituate best from frequent, low level exposure (rather than from flooding or punishing or rewarding).

                          The reason training fixes for this don't often work long term is because leaving the safety of the herd is way more punishing than anything we can do to them, and returning to the herd is way more rewarding.

                          That said, going out with another horse will often solve the problem much more easily than anything else.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by MontanaDun View Post
                            Well - maybe the best thing for both of you is to find him a home with someone who likes ring riding and get yourself a horse who likes to do what you want to do. Selling a horse isn't fun, but it sounds like neither of you are having a ton of fun and maybe it's just not a good fit?
                            That is pretty much where I am at right now, if he is going to be stressed all the time and I am not enjoying it what is the point? It was rewarding this fall when I started actually taking him out and long rides and having no issues but I had probably 100 rides on him at that point and a lot of not fun days. I am not one to give up but I am getting older and a little wiser!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by quiacato View Post

                              That is pretty much where I am at right now, if he is going to be stressed all the time and I am not enjoying it what is the point? It was rewarding this fall when I started actually taking him out and long rides and having no issues but I had probably 100 rides on him at that point and a lot of not fun days. I am not one to give up but I am getting older and a little wiser!
                              Yeah, I'd agree you need to find him a more suitable home. He isn't happy doing what makes you happy, and visa versa.

                              Stop thinking of your situation as "giving up". It isn't. It IS being a responsible, caring owner who recognizes that the horse needs a particular home that you don't have, and then taking steps to find him a life where he will be happy. Give him that consideration with a new human. Otherwise you are being selfish (and thoughtless) trying to force this poor animal to do a job that clearly makes him uncomfortable and opens him to your disappointment. He knows you are unhappy, but so is he. This is his personality - it isn't going to change, and even if he modifies it for you a bit, he will always revert back to his comfort level.

                              So, the question is - who has the capacity to change things so that you are both happy? (Hint - it's you)

                              Find him a new home where his ability to make someone 100% happy within his comfort zone is realized. And find yourself another partner that takes naturally to the same goals as you - relaxed and fun rides stepping out and away from home.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by quiacato View Post

                                That is pretty much where I am at right now, if he is going to be stressed all the time and I am not enjoying it what is the point? It was rewarding this fall when I started actually taking him out and long rides and having no issues but I had probably 100 rides on him at that point and a lot of not fun days. I am not one to give up but I am getting older and a little wiser!
                                Do you know any trainers in the area that are looking for a lesson/school horse? Maybe you can sell him easily that way? And / or find someone that has a horse for sale that would fit you well, and they would knock off some money if you "sold" aka traded off for sales cost... your horse as a lesson horse for them?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Can you take him out a ways, till he starts to act up, and lunge him out there? That way your tush isn't on the line, and he's doing something to take his mind off of the fact that he's away from his friend.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I don't think it's a yes or no answer necessarily. I had a mare for a while that was lovely in the ring (after a lot of work), okay if you trailered her out somewhere and rode with one or two other horses but abominable for anything else. I could get maybe a mile off the farm with her and she would go ballistic- rearing, bucking, bolting. I'm pretty sure she'd have run herself off a cliff to get back to home. She was completely mentally checked out and laser focused on the get home part. I ended up returning her to her old owner who pretty much just has her as a pasture pet. It hurt my ego a little (I've done a lot of work with problem horses) but in the end it totally was not worth getting killed over.

                                    Currently I have a nice little Kentucky Mountain Horse gelding that I got in October. He is very typical for a gaited trail horse- he's been taught that you follow the horse in front of you and you GO. Steering, stopping, using your body, etc- nope nada. He is also definitely barn sour but as we've been working out all of the other kinks, that is coming along quite nicely too. When we go out alone, we spend a lot of time reinforcing forward when I say as well as transitions, circles, serpentines, halting, etc. We are currently at the stage where I can take him out alone and he doesn't scream like a banshee the whole time plus we can walk when we are headed back home- granted it's a fast walk but I'll take it over a bouncing gaited, mish-mash lol
                                    Wouldst thou like the taste of butter ? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

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                                    • #19
                                      Every "barn sour" horse is one who feels that his relationship with the other horses at home is more important TO HIM, than his relationship with you is. To solve this problem, you must make your relationship with him to be more important to him than his relationship with other horses is. You must earn this position as his "leader" and socially important being in his opinion. To do this, you need to refine your pressures, releases and goals and interspecies communication skills. This is two way communication skills and mutual understanding of communication between you. He speaks to you and you understand, and you speak to him and he understands. You must "get his attention and earn his respect". You don't do this by being "violent", or particularly "authoritarian". You do it by being fair, setting and attaining incremental goals, and responding positively to his "tries". YOU must become the singly most important being in his mind, such that he forgets about his equine buddies in his herd when he is with you. He must choose YOU to be the most influential being in his life. This isn't something that you can force, it is something that you must earn in his opinion, and he chooses to freely give to you.

                                      It may not be easy, it may not be something you want to invest time into. You may not be successful with your attempt to get this done. But, it is a learning experience. If you can get it done with this horse, your future relationships with other horses will benefit, because this is an opportunity to enhance your skills as a trainer of horses. Selling this horse to someone else will not help you to become a better trainer and rider. His next owner will be faced with the same requirements when they attempt to work with and ride this horse. No guarantee that they will be successful, and the horse may end up in a bad situation if he can not find someone who can successfully establish the relationship described above. Some are tougher than others, especially if they have been through a number of owners who have failed to get this basic relationship right, right from the start. Remember that horses learn through the "release of pressure", not from the pressure itself. Find a way to release pressure on him. Find something that he does right, even if it is only for a moment, and release the pressure you may have put on him as his reward. Take the steps slowly and small steps at a time. Yes, it can be done. But you must earn his respect, which you do not currently have.
                                      Good luck!
                                      www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

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                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by gothedistance View Post

                                        Yeah, I'd agree you need to find him a more suitable home. He isn't happy doing what makes you happy, and visa versa.

                                        Stop thinking of your situation as "giving up". It isn't. It IS being a responsible, caring owner who recognizes that the horse needs a particular home that you don't have, and then taking steps to find him a life where he will be happy. Give him that consideration with a new human. Otherwise you are being selfish (and thoughtless) trying to force this poor animal to do a job that clearly makes him uncomfortable and opens him to your disappointment. He knows you are unhappy, but so is he. This is his personality - it isn't going to change, and even if he modifies it for you a bit, he will always revert back to his comfort level.

                                        So, the question is - who has the capacity to change things so that you are both happy? (Hint - it's you)

                                        Find him a new home where his ability to make someone 100% happy within his comfort zone is realized. And find yourself another partner that takes naturally to the same goals as you - relaxed and fun rides stepping out and away from home.
                                        That is all good advice. Thank you

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