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Stop & Look or keep 'em walking?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by Hinderella View Post
    Lots of good advice here, thanks again.

    She is actually a pretty smart mare. To tell the truth, it's more often sounds than sights that startle her. But I haven't wanted to try earplugs with her, to tell the truth I just want her to get more miles and more relaxed, since she's not naturally nutty.
    When I first got my mare, I hand walked her on the trails and threw objects such as rocks and large sticks into the woods to get her accustomed to sudden noises.

    I also found a large branch with leaves and dragged it behind her, touching her legs and such. Under her belly, etc.

    Another hand walking exercise.
    Drag ground poles in the ring. Get a sturdy rope, tie the ground pole and loop it once around your horn. Don't tie it. In case she panics, you can simply let go of the rope.

    I led my mare with the ground pole behind, letting the taut rope rest on her rump. If you have leaves you can drag the poles through, even better.
    MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"
    http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/f...wo/009_17A.jpg

    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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    • #22
      attack squirrels!

      The sound spook thing tickles me! In my part of Virginia there's like a million grey squirrels in the woods. They jump around in the crispy leaves and scares us....they sound like SASQUATCH walking thru the forest!! Really! and they scurry faster as you get closer. I always jump when one crunches leaves near us so I don't blame the horse! It must be instinctual to look and get alarmed when you hear FOOTSTEPS of something obviously huge in the woods......and it tickles me when I see it's just a big footed squirrel!!
      So horses ridden in the woods in Va. are sometimes more used to it. Mine just look....but then...so do I!!!

      Comment


      • #23
        I took one of my best falls because of one squirrel. One!

        Was on my QH at the time, riding in the same pasture he lived in practically 24/7. So I know darn well he heard squirrels before..lol

        We were going down a small hill, the squirrel made a noise in the leaves, he totally ducked to the right and I somersaulted off.

        It happened soooo fast, all I know is that I landed flat on my back with my head by his front feet and my legs facing away from him.....
        MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"
        http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/f...wo/009_17A.jpg

        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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        • #24
          My dead quiet mare that I had as a kid spooked hard once at a squirrel and bolted. I, of course, was riding bareback in a halter and a leadrope. She bolted up the hill toward the barn, at which point I realized she was going to swerve hard and there was no way I could stay on. So I bailed. This placid, normally sedate creature, had her tail flagged high and her head high like an arab, snorting.

          Who knows.

          I've always been taught to keep them working past it. Leg yield toward it or what have you but not let them look at it. Horse needs to realize that you will tell them what is scary and what is not scary.

          Can't say that I've always DONE that successfully, but that's what I was taught

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          • #25
            My horse startled in the barn driveway yesterday.

            Offending Noise: The click of the tractor ignition.

            Really? You heard that?
            My step father was waiting until I had mounted up and departed before he started the tractor, but as we got to a safe distance, he clicked the ignition to the warm up position and: flinch.

            I swear.
            Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans

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            • #26
              Brought my horse home to my house for the first time Sunday. He's extremely scared of trailering, we wanted to give him a little practice. So I hand grazed him and walked him all around the yard. He suddenly saw a wooden box, empty (we put the generator under it when we need the generator) by the side of the house. He spooked, jumped straight up in the air, and pooped! I told my husband that the box scared the s&*t out of him!
              What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

              Comment


              • #27
                Leg yield toward it or what have you but not let them look at it. Horse needs to realize that you will tell them what is scary and what is not scary.

                Can't say that I've always DONE that successfully, but that's what I was taught
                I was taught that too, but found it didn't work very well. Mostly you ended up with a horse convinced you were a blind and deaf idiot because you clearly didn't notice things that were going on- therefore you can't be trusted- therefore the horse needed to make decisions about when to run away because you obviously never saw the scary things...

                If you instead acknowledge that yeah, it's there, I see it, it's NO BIG DEAL, see, check it out yourself, that's much more reassuring to the horse than pretending it doesn't exist.

                As you and the horse build up a history of trust and communication this kind of dialogue can take place without any apparent interruption of what the horse is doing- all done in minor shifts of body weight, flicked glances, and changes in muscle tension.

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                • #28
                  Originally posted by oliverreed View Post
                  He spooked, jumped straight up in the air, and pooped! I told my husband that the box scared the s&*t out of him!
                  I had a jumpy little Arabian who would fart when he spooked
                  Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans

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                  • #29
                    For me it depends not only on what is causing the 'spook' but what type of 'spook' you are getting.
                    If it's a simple flinch and the horse realizes quickly that no harm is coming his way, I just move along. I rarely will go out of my way for the horse to sniff something unless it is a perpetual issue.
                    Yesterday two hen turkeys were on the trail ahead of us and I got a freeze from my boy. I let him stand there for a minute because I knew the turkeys would probably fly up when we got closer, but this way they could walk off the trail. It kind of worked, one still flew up but the horses were more cool with it since they'd had a chance to look.
                    If it's a genuine "i'm scared of this" and I can get past safely I will keep moving. Nine times out of ten, the next time past is better or a non-issue.
                    Now, if it's a bear or a rattlesnake on the trail, I am fine with the stop and look and turn around go the other way approach... at a walk of course.
                    Your surroundings are important too. Recently DD and I headed out for a ride, but not 1/4 mile from our house the neighbor was standing behind some evergreens chainsawing the lower branches off. My boy was a little startled to see tree branches just falling off of a very loud tree (the guy was behind the tree, so you couldn't even see him!) but DD's horse was absolutely terrified to the point where "stop and look" became "stop, levade, crow-hop and spin" and she ended up in the middle of the road, then got him off into the middle of a new neighbor's front yard (great way to meet the new neighbors) so we quit trying and went a different direction. I was slightly worried that the next time we went that direction that there would be an issue, and both horses were lookie-lookie when we got to the trees but managed to walk quickly by unscathed, so the ride back was a non-issue. So, no harm done on the aborted ride, but trying to fight the issue in that situation could have gotten someone killed. btw, DD's horse was bought as an eventer, not a trail horse, so he has his challenges on the trail. Hopefully no xc courses have people chainsawing tree branches down or he will get a big E!
                    Last edited by oldpony66; Jun. 28, 2012, 10:54 AM. Reason: spelling!

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by wendy View Post
                      I was taught that too, but found it didn't work very well. Mostly you ended up with a horse convinced you were a blind and deaf idiot because you clearly didn't notice things that were going on- therefore you can't be trusted- therefore the horse needed to make decisions about when to run away because you obviously never saw the scary things...

                      If you instead acknowledge that yeah, it's there, I see it, it's NO BIG DEAL, see, check it out yourself, that's much more reassuring to the horse than pretending it doesn't exist.

                      As you and the horse build up a history of trust and communication this kind of dialogue can take place without any apparent interruption of what the horse is doing- all done in minor shifts of body weight, flicked glances, and changes in muscle tension.
                      Yeah, I was taught the "don't let him look at it" as well and it does NOT work for my horse. I prefer letting him know it is no big deal and agree that the dialogue gets pretty short hand after a while.
                      What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #31
                        OldPony, I know just what you mean about mysteriously moving trees. The arena at our barn is next to a small section of woods. The neighboring homeowner was toting his Christmas tree into the woods for disposal, and all the horses in the ring just lost it...after all, trees are NOT supposed to move on their own.

                        I took Mahindra out for a short trail ride alone last night, and she did well. Nothing to look at, fortunately. Except grass...we need to spend some time renewing the idea that "you can eat on the trail....when I SAY SO" She walked by the pastured horses with no interest, and met up with another rider and her granddaughter (who was on foot) who came out to meet us without a blink.

                        Of course, for those of you with experienced trail horses, that stuff is all old hat. But since we've had very little time out there, every good trip is worth a gold star

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                        • #32
                          I thought of this thread during my lunchtime ride today. We had just crested the hayfield when I saw a neighbor barreling along the road at the bottom of the hill with a tractor, baler and wagonload of hay. My horse faded to a stop to take it in and then just stood there, gazing back and forth over the valley. Since we were in a spot which affords a gorgeous view of the farm I left him alone. He rested a hip and we stood there in the sunshine, a fresh breeze in our face, just watching the world for a good 5 minutes before he decided to move on. I like a horse who can appreciate a good view.
                          Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans

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                          • Original Poster

                            #33
                            Originally posted by SmartAlex View Post
                            I like a horse who can appreciate a good view.

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              I don't let my horse look at anything "scary". IMO that is just acknowledging that the "thing" is worth looking at and is potentially scary. That method tends to work well for my horse. The same goes with any "scary" footing like mud or water. I don't let him look or sniff, I just keep him moving. If he is focused on going forward, he isn't focused on spooking.

                              Now if there is something like a deer, a plastic bag, balloon, etc, something that could move towards the horse, make noise, or actually DO something to spook the horse, I will usually give my guy a a chance to look, analyze, and decide its ok.

                              ETA: I've also had my horse for a long time and can read him pretty well. I know the difference between, "Ooo, lets see how big of a deal I can make out of this" ears and "OMFG THAT THING IS GONNA EATTTTT ME" ears.
                              He has also started to really trust me and has figured out that if I say "go forward" the thing usually isn't worth spooking at.
                              come what may

                              Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

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                              • #35
                                Originally posted by SAcres View Post
                                Now if there is something like a deer, a plastic bag, balloon, etc, something that could move towards the horse, make noise, or actually DO something to spook the horse, I will usually give my guy a a chance to look, analyze, and decide its ok.
                                I do this too. If something is coming up behind us unnoticed, I will turn my horse's head enough so it is his field of vision on one sde or the other and say "Look". It reduces those suprise attacks.
                                Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #36
                                  Hmmm. I have been letting Mahindra look at footing, like puddles or mud. But she never seems scared by it, she just wants to know what she's getting into. She's never refused to go through any footing once she's taken a look. Even when we're in the arena (which often has a giant puddle) she has to check it out the first time through, then she's fine. Although in the arena, she will often give me a look that says "why are we trekking through this muddy corner when there's perfectly good dry footing right nearby?"

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    I let Grey look at footing too. He has been historically scared of soft footing because he fell one time. He was three when he had a brat moment and stumbled into a soft grave in the yard sinking up to his stifles behind. Two years later when I began riding out he was still so timid about footing changes he would not step off the asphalt onto the shoulder. I mean he would suck back and leave if he thought the going was too soft.

                                    We worked on that alot. There were days we didn't get anything else done other than walking across 5 feet of soft earth. It was a long road sometimes. Last week I took him into the woods, and he soldiered through a long soft spot hidden in 3 foot talk grass without hesitation. He trusted me and I trusted the trail. I was so proud of him.
                                    Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans

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                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by kasjordan View Post
                                      I kind of do both. If it's a stump or a mailbox etc that horse is worried about, I might walk over and let them sniff. If it's some sort of commotion, like a farmer plowing a field or kids on a trampoline I try to act like nothing's going on and they better keep their butts moving because I said nothing's going on.
                                      Depends on what it is.
                                      This. Both my boys like to check out unfamiliar things - once they walk up to it and give it a once-over, then they're both like "oh, okay - no prob" and keep going. If it's something that they KNOW they don't need to be worried about and they're just being silly, or if it's something that could be dangerous, I keep them moving.

                                      Originally posted by Huntertwo View Post
                                      Since your girl sounds level headed and doesn't react much, I'd let her stop and check out the object that she is apprehensive about.

                                      It doesn't sound like she is trying to get out of work, so I don't buy the "You're rewarding her" from the other riders.

                                      As you mentioned, when she is curious about something - You stop to let her check it out and she is fine after that.

                                      Curious, but not to the point of freaking out over something.

                                      That's a good trail horse.

                                      But as another poster mentioned - If it is a big deal scary monster situation, I just look forward and keep walking. Stopping to let her look at something that I know is not going to change her mind (scary vs curiosity), is setting her up to spook.

                                      She does better if I don't stare at the scary monster object. If you don't look, and don't tense up, then your mare will take your cue.

                                      Good luck.. She sounds like a great trail horse.
                                      This too.
                                      Life is short. Ride your best horse first.

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                                      • #39
                                        It's more of a "feel". My Arab isn't spooky at all--she's more inclined to stare, then try to eat the object. Most horses you can allow them to look, as they'll get inquisitive or just plain bored, and be ready to move on. I see no reason to push the horse forward, as it's just asking for a pressure situation. ("Can't move forward, can't move backward, AHH!!!) Granted, you don't want to sit there for hours, but calmly asking the horse to move forward after a minute of watching is okay. If the horse is still blowing and skittering around the object, keep at it.

                                        It's quite hard to tell you what to do without seeing the situation at hand. Once you learn the pony more, you'll know what's right for him.

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by Arab_Mare View Post
                                          It's more of a "feel". My Arab isn't spooky at all--she's more inclined to stare, then try to eat the object. Most horses you can allow them to look, as they'll get inquisitive or just plain bored, and be ready to move on. I see no reason to push the horse forward, as it's just asking for a pressure situation. ("Can't move forward, can't move backward, AHH!!!) Granted, you don't want to sit there for hours, but calmly asking the horse to move forward after a minute of watching is okay. If the horse is still blowing and skittering around the object, keep at it.

                                          It's quite hard to tell you what to do without seeing the situation at hand. Once you learn the pony more, you'll know what's right for him.
                                          I think a lot of it has to do with how much tension you can feel in the horse, also. Most of my trail riding has been on camp horses after a summer of kids (so they've had plenty of time to ingrain all kinds of bad habits and then the staff find out I can ride a bit and go 'HAVE A HORSE!' and give me one of the ones with 'tude) and there's a big difference to me in how the horse feels under me when it's a mostly relaxed 'huh, what's that? You mind if I have a look?' where the horse would probably continue on nicely if asked to do so and 'OMG! HORSE EATING MONSTER!!!!' and 'hey, if I make a fuss, you'll let me get out of this stupid trail ride because I'll freak you out!'

                                          The former horse gets to look for a little bit and then we continue on, the middle horse I generally try to keep them mentally busy while gradually getting closer to OMG SCARY THING[1], and the latter horse just gets to march on past and stop trying to get out of work. (To be fair, the latter type often pull other things also, stuff that intimidates total newbie kids, so you get their number pretty quick.)

                                          [1]- The worst horse I've ridden with this problem was in an arena on a schoolie, actually. He was CONVINCED that any deer on the hill above the arena were waiting to get him. If you didn't ride properly and keep him focused on you it was not at all uncommon to find yourself suddenly halfway down the length of the arena wondering when he'd learned to teleport. (If you caught on before he spooked you were fine, but if he got a spook in then you'd have to work him up to using the full space again - maybe do a couple of laps cutting across halfway between where he'd spooked to and where the deer were, then closer, etc. If you tried to just make him go all the way after a spook his brain stayed in the 'OMG!' mode.)

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