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Horse Not Paying Attention

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  • Horse Not Paying Attention

    We recently just purchased a 12 year old trail horse who is not green, but we think did not get ridden much in the last year. We do not have much history on her. I’ve ridden her in the ring and I’ve taken her out on the rails a few times so far and nothing scares her. The problem is that seems like she is never paying attention to where she is going. We are in a hilly area where most trails have a hill on one side and downhill slope on the other and every time we have taken her out she has either walked straight into the hillside wall or drifted to the edge of the trail until she stumbles off the edge and I have to catch her and pull her head back up. She does not stop herself from going off the trail and sometimes, when I try to correct her when she is too close to the edge, she will resist and get closer to it/trip on the edge. Another family member took her out and the mare backed off the trail and fell into some bushes alongside it. She is is rarely deliberately misbehaving, I just can’t get her to focus. So far I have had to hold her head against the wall side or else she will just drift back over the edge. I can’t figure out how to fix this issue.

  • #2
    Could she be going blind? I'd have her vision checked for sure. Also some horses are just not high on the intelligence scale. Some horses are attentive and reactive, some are just ho-hum, whatever.
    She may not be a good candidate for riding in dangerous places if she's not attentive.
    "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

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    • #3
      Eye sight?
      "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

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      • #4
        I would say vision first, and iif not some pretty scary neurological disorder. Horses simply do not walk off the path like that. Unless she is an OTSB that has never stepped off a race track before.

        It's easy enough to figure out some basic vision tests you could do at the barn then have a vet out to verify.

        Is she an Appaloosa? They can be prone to go blind.

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        • #5
          Yes have her vision checked——-

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          • #6
            Vision check first thing! Then maybe bloodwork to rule out something out of balance. I can see a horse doing those things in a panic, but never in a calm manner. Does she walk into things, seem disoriented, when loose?

            I wouldn't be riding her anywhere risky. Is it possible she has always been a follower? Where she gets no real direction from her rider, but just follows the horse ahead of her?

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            • #7
              After a health check, as others have said, I’d check her training. Did she just follow with a person aboard (not a “rider”). I’d always ridden made horses, I bought my green horse he was good and brave, and coming around a corner on trail would just go straight! Only happened once before I realized a greener horse needs a lot more support by the rider! I hope all the best for your mare.
              "Do your best, and leave the rest, twill all come right, some day or night" -Black Beauty

              http://trails-and-trials-with-major.blogspot.com/

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              • #8
                I raised a SSH that I ponied all over the place, up and down stuff, all over. Under saddle, that mare paid no attention to where her feet went. She would step off a trail behind, she would wander close to the edge and step off a little, scramble, then do it again in 100 feet.

                Sold her to south alabama to a lovely lady who is afraid of rugged trails. Match made in heaven.

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                • #9
                  Some times bending away from the edge helps. Often you want to pull their head away from the edge, but that just makes them swing closer. Push her body away not her head.

                  This is if her eyesight and all checks out...

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                  • #10
                    We had a TWH mare that was raised her whole life in rollings hills of pastures, complete with holes and rocks. I'm a believer in letting horses learn how to watch their feet on their own time and then while being ponied, then while carrying a pack saddle or empty saddle, ect. She was always so interested in everything else that was going on around her she never did watch her feet. I saw her trip and fall down in the pasture. She tripped and fell on my husband at a dead run on a flat dirt road. (Do not ask me why DH was taking the clumsy horse at a dead run; it was not approved by me) When I rode her she nearly walked off the side of a rock cliff when she knocked a rock loose and wanted to see what that noise was down there. She tripped on rocks on the ground, she wallowed through creeks on her chin. Every time she tripped she would bounce right back up happy as a clam and still looking around. I could not sell her fast enough. The lady I sold her to had a total PPE done and rides her all over the arena happily. I'm just glad we all survived. This mare was also not afraid of anything, I never saw her spook in her entire life. She was always ready and willing to go do anything, any time.

                    Horses can and will walk right off a steep trail. Ask anyone that buys dude horses for pack or hunting strings and has to screen those horses. They can certainly learn but it usually involves a wreck and who wants to do that?

                    OP you can keep working on teaching yours cues for shifting where you want her to travel on the trail and keeping her mind more on you and what you are asking, side passes, controlling each foot fall, controlling her focus. It might help but I wouldn't take her anywhere dangerous until you feel positive you can get her mind in the game.

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