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

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  • #41
    Some very good insight in this thread. I have nothing startling to add, but I do have a success story to share, in case you do decide to continue with this horse.
    I had a mare who was extremely barn sour. She was very hot, half Arabian, and the method of bringing her home and working her would’ve had zero effect. She had no bottom.

    What worked for me was to turn home and give her a completely long rein. I mean On The Buckle.
    Of course she would try to take off...and I would do an ignorant version of the John Lyons exercise above.
    I have never heard of that exercise, but I did a tiny tiny circle and we did not progress from that circle until she walked.
    The second she walked I gave her a long rein towards home, and she would takeoff and we would do it again.
    We had about four come to Jesus rides.
    It took us about an hour and a half to get home from one mile out.

    Fortunately, in addition to being hot as snot, she was also very smart. She did figure out that walking was the only gait that was going to get her going in the direction she wanted.

    We arrived at a functional agreement that she could have a long rein and walk as quickly as she wanted.
    It had to be black-and-white.

    I was not successful the transitioning into walking on contact Home, but I decided that really didn’t matter.

    The only downside was that she had an extraordinarily huge walk for a horse her size, and no other horses except one could really keep up with her. She also didn’t care if she left other horses in the dust on that walk home. So, I did consider this a success… And it did last as long as I had her.


    • #42
      I have a horse that was anxious and worried about going back home, he would chew his bit and jig.. He never bucked or bolted but if allowed he would pick up speed. I contacted a trainer that I admire and he told me that if I followed his advice it should only take 3-4 rides to work and he was right.

      He advised me to take him out far enough to not see the barn. When I turned towards home he could walk as fast as he wanted. Once home he had to work--hard. Hard enough that he was breathing hard.. Then go right back out on the trail. Repeat the process as many times as it takes until he walks back quietly. It might take a few days and each day it might take several times going out. Also, never dismount in the same place once you are home. Leaving tied for a while after discounting helps too.


      • #43
        I have a similar success story to Arlomine.

        My first mare was so barnsour that she would balk, crowhop, bolt, rear and spin to bolt, etc... So, I made one simple rule:

        She had to walk home on a loose rein.

        I was not going to hold her back or sit with her jigging or trying to bolt. I wasn't going to lunge her or work her or get off. I had places to go, so I wanted to be done with the ride when I got home.

        So, I walked her out and then, when she was walking straight, I would ask for a nice turn. If she dropped her shoulder to make it a fast turn, I would turn her away from the barn again, and she would have to walk nicely before trying again. It took a few tries before she would turn around nicely towards home, but she would try to speed up immediately. As soon as she did, I would use one rein (I had a snaffle bit in her mouth with a cavesson) to turn her sharply back around. As soon as she responded, I would let her finish the turn and wait for her to walk nicely again. If she walked on a loose rein, she could go home. I gave her the command, "Walk home" when I got her turned around facing home. If she sped up, we turned back around. It only took a month of regular riding before I could pick any spot on the trail facing home, loosen the reins, and tell her to "walk home". She was great after that. She knew she wasn't getting home unless she was walking on a loose rein.

        I have used this technique on two other horses, and coached our son with his barnsour pony, since, with equal success. My new horse isn't very bad, but I will probably tutor her lightly anyway.


        • #44
          Yes, this is fixable and there are several ways to do this. I usually ride in a circular route when trail riding--so I never go home the same way I went out. This helps prevent it. For a seriously barn sour horse, I will do this, and I will also take feed (grain) and grain him at the furthest point away from home. If he is really bad, that is the only place he will get grain. For one horse that was extreme I used clicker training for him (similar to the grain idea, but I had to use clicker training from the get-go to even get him from the barn to the ring! Worked well). I find doing a longer circular ride on a regular basis helps more than short rides. In addition, if the horse is more 'buddy sour' than 'barn sour' I will turn him out alone so he doesn't have the chance to be so attached to the others. But yes, it is fixable. Some horses a simple crop and spur ride worked, for the rearer I had I used crop, spur, and draw-rein to get her away from home, and just put alot of miles on her. For the one that couldn't even go out the driveway, and crop and spur did not work, we used strictly clicker training, and that worked. For my gelding that decided he was that way last year, I simply started turning him out alone and riding out alone--problem solved when I started riding this year. So, for different horses I have used different things, but have fixed them all.


          • #45
            Due to my circumstances (back injury, broken ankle, wife with a new knee, etc.) I've not had my sometimes spooky red-headed gelding out of the arena for many months. Yesterday we went out for a short spin around the pasture. He was a bid "edgy" but no more than that. As we were headed back he was not particularly anxious but when we got to the gate he immediately, on his own, turned towards it. My response was, "Not so fast, Kemosabe!" and stopped his turn, turned him back, passed the gate by a few yards, turned around and then passed through the gate my way: On my command.

            Sometimes getting a handle on undesired behaviors means you have to take the time to do the little things before they become big things.

            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo


            • #46
              Good point, G!

              My first mare was very cheap because of her bad habits, lol! Ran into a former owner a year later and they were shocked at how responsive she was for me.


              • #47
                Like someone else said earlier, there are many roads to Rome, and lots of good methods already posted. I have a mare who used to have a similar issue. She was fine when hauling out, but from home would leave ok (maybe not THRILLED about it, lol) but once we turned to head home she was a hot mess. She would try to bolt for home, spook at everything, and get all wound up. If I tried to slow her down I had a serious fight on my hands.

                What worked for us was a variation of some of the previous ideas, thought I'd share in case it helps anyone. I kept her on a loose rein when headed home, and as soon as she broke out of a walk I quickly turned her around and made her canter a ways AWAY from home. Asked for a walk, turned back for home on a loose rein, and if she broke out of a walk rinse and repeat. I never tried to hold her back, just let her make the mistake and quietly turned her and cantered every time.

                She didn't tend to get as wound up because we were moving away from home at the faster gait, and once she figured out that speeding up and misbehaving got her both more work AND moving in the wrong direction she gave it up pretty quickly. Occasionally she would have a day, and I'd just have to turn her around once, and as soon as I did she'd be like "oh crap, that's right, I hate this game!" And she would settle right back down.

                Sorry this got so long, it's surprisingly difficult to explain in writing, and brevity was never my strong suit! Hopefully it will help someone, I remember how frustrating it was to deal with those tantrums (not to mention scary at times!). I found it a fairly simple and effective method to use with a green horse that didn't have many "buttons" installed yet to use.

                Happy trails!


                • #48
                  Originally posted by LovesToRun View Post
                  I kept her on a loose rein when headed home, and as soon as she broke out of a walk I quickly turned her around and made her canter a ways AWAY from home. Asked for a walk, turned back for home on a loose rein, and if she broke out of a walk rinse and repeat. I never tried to hold her back, just let her make the mistake and quietly turned her and cantered every time.
                  Same strategy here, except I did the short jaunts away from home first and then gradually increased the length, and then went on to the loose rein walk with stop and back two steps (instead of canter away) whenever the horse broke into trot.

                  The other thing I did was that I "followed" the walk with my seat and weight, and was very definite about encouraging him to stay in walk that way. But the second he broke I also very definitely sat deep and halted and backed as smoothly as I could so as not to just add to his anxiety.