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Cross Post: Hacking Alone

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  • #21
    Talk to your horse and to yourself. No joke, when I took my greenie out for hack by oursevles I talked the entire time. It settled me down which helped him to relax as well. Plus it kept him focused on me (and hopefully cleared the deer and foxes out of our path!)


    • #22
      Originally posted by BarnField View Post
      I wear my cell phone on me (around my calf with one of those armband type holsters) and I turn the GPS on so that I can be tracked and found.

      I also attach a small luggage tag to my saddle with my name and phone number in case my horse is found by someone else

      Wear bright clothing. Blaze orange now that it's hunting season.
      I do all those things. I also do quite a bit of trotting, because that gives the horse something to think about other than possible spooky stuff. If the horse is a bit nervous, or if I am, I sing. Usually I sing, "Whenever I feel afraid" from The King and I.

      And I try to keep everything forward, confident, and happy. I don't niggle on their mouths for little stuff, I try not to get anxious, and I keep the horse moving in a channel between my aids. The horse's job is to move forward, my job is to select the speed and direction.


      • #23
        I pony my greenies a lot, I think that helps them get out and see the world. once I'm ready to go ride...I approach it the way Tabula suggested: walk 'em like a dog, graze them, jog alongside them...go out and have fun. Teach them to look to me as the Source of Fun and Comfort. Then graduate to riding them over time. I don't think it's best to try to insist on a walk only approach- a bit of moving out encourages them to get a wee bit winded/busy, and leaves less time to look for stuff to worry about.

        I prefer woods to wide open


        • #24
          All of these are good points. I'll add a couple of different ones.

          Walking the horse yourself is good. So is having someone walk with you as you ride. I enlist my husband and have had nervous horses literally stick their noses in his back for reassurance.
          I take my dogs with me too, which seems to reassure my horses, with the caveat that the horses are already really familiar with the dogs. If your horse is unsettled by dogs, obviously this won't help.
          It will be hard but if the horse gets unsettled, I find it's better to go with a loose rein rather than tighten up. (Obviously if a horse is bolting, then that's different.) But if they're jogging and snorting, I think it's better to concentrate on going forward than restraining. Your attitude ought to be, "This is no big deal, lets just keep moving."
          Same thing if they spook at something, I never do the thing of forcing them to get closer or look at it. Just ignore the scary thing - the round bale that wasn't there yesterday, the mailbox, the plastic bag blowing in the grass - and keep moving.

          As far as hunting season, wearing orange, etc., is good. A friend has a big set of sleigh bells that she rides with, it warns hunters and the deer you are coming.


          • #25
            I don't ride out alone often, I'm too muchof a chicken after a couple of bad experiences with my previous horse. However, when I do, I call or text my husband and let him know what route I'm taking.
            Since my husband doesn't really know the trails near my barn well, I printed off a few satellite photos and drew my routes on the photos, including landmarks. That way, if I don't check in at the appointed return time, he'll know where to start looking


            • #26
              I'm no expert, but I have a new greenie OTTB that I've been riding out a bit alone. Like another poster, I don't have a round pen or arena, and my house is surrounded by nice, big open fields that I have to go through to get to woods. I concentrate on getting him to go forward when he gets anxious - in a trot, a circle if need be - just to get his mind back to me. I also pacify myself with equipping myself with as much safety equipment as I can:
              - Stirrup cages: http://www.happytack.co.uk/german-co...dult-333-p.asp
              - Neck strap, to keep me off his mouth if he does something silly but doesn't need correcting by the bit; also great for restoring balance
              - Bright color for the woods; traffic and hunters
              - Waist band with my cell
              - Helmet - ALWAYS

              I also have a neighbor expect my call when I get back (will figure out the GPS thing - that's a great idea)

              I have found that when he's anxious, getting him to trot forward, down the road or in a circle makes him listen to me. If I held him in a walk, I think he'd not do as well, but that could just be my guy.

              When we get home, I put on his halter and take him out into our field for a nice graze. He enjoys that immensely, and looks forward to it. That gives us good bonding time.
              Last edited by Tommy's Girl; Oct. 17, 2012, 05:52 PM. Reason: punctuation


              • #27
                I ride alone a lot - and often split off to go alone if we are riding with a group. I think riding alone is the very best way to become a true partnership with your horse.

                I started riding our youngster, Jess, on real trail rides alone as a three-year-old. I think the best thing I did was never consider it to be a big deal at all. My mare (her mom) rode out happily alone, so I assumed Jess would too, and she did.

                I always carry my phone on my body. I have an app that enables anyone to text findmydroid.gps to my phone, and they will get my coordinates, if I disappear. I bring my dog where I can. I have a carry permit, and I will carry in some places. I really feel no sense of danger, but those precautions make my husband, sons, and mom happy with my solitary rides, which is more than worth the trouble.


                • #28
                  I agree with Tabula on the hand walking. I did that alot with my TB mare when she was younger as I didn't have any one to go out with us and she could be pretty spooky. I took her out about 1/2 dozen times hand walking, always tacked up and after the first few times I would get on her after walking for awhile. If she got goofy due to something in the woods, I would get off and walk her for a bit, maybe do some ground work(stepping over a small branch, backing, walking thru a ditch, whatever was near us at the time). I joined an active riding club and started going on group rides. I would ride out with the group, but if she started to act up, I got off and lead her. This kind turned out to be a good thing as she got to trust me and never became herdbound.


                  • #29
                    Personally, I've never hand walked one before riding out, have just never seen the need.

                    Lots of good tips here and I would add just one more. Don't discount the value of working in groups in an arena, including especially taking advantage of little local schooling shows for w-t and w-t-c pleasure classes. Very valuable for teaching them manners around other horses, for teaching them to stay focused on the rider no matter what other horses are doing, for passing and being passed, and more.

                    Even just working in an arena w/ one or two other horses working randomly is good. Same principles, passing, being passed, passing in opposite directions, just standing on rail while other horse passes you- plenty of good stuff to take advantage of.


                    • #30
                      Hey there!

                      When my pony was still green, I did heaps of hacking out alone. I definitely think is why she isn't herd bound (although she was partly bottle raised so I kinda get why she doesn't seem to like horsey company) and is reliable on a trail. I started with going on *lead rein trails* where I would get a long lead line, even a lunge rope, and walk out by myself. I would pretty much ignore my pony, only ever correcting her when she hit the end of the lead and let her walk along, spooking around but once she realized that I wasn't worried by anything in the slightest, even ignoring her antics she decided there was nothing scary and followed me quietly. I did this once or twice, then I progressed to taking her a trail she was familiar with, lead her like I had every other time then at the farthest point from home, a large meadow I would jump on and ride her around bareback, just walking quietly stroking her and such for about 10mins. then I would get off ad lead home. Once she was great with that, no snorting or spooking I would ride her out the whole way. I gradually progressed to the longer trails, going farther and farther, always making sure she was having as much fun as I was. Only then did I start riding out with others.


                      • #31
                        I recently started riding again, getting some re-training after a 30 year absence from riding (the whole, college, marriage, life got in the way thing). The barn I've been training at is an hour away, and recently was offered the opportunity to ride a pair of 20 year old Arabians owned by a neighbour who's hobby farm is just down the road. We live in the country and there are miles and miles of trails and bush roads to explore. I started off just getting to know the horses, grooming, ground work, etc. In addition to the two arabians, there are two ponies on the farm as well. None of them are worked regularly (adults busy, kids lost interest) and have become pretty herd bound to one another. Before attempting to ride out on the trails I hand walked each of them off the farm and onto the trails. I've now been riding them, for the last month or so 2 or 3 times a week out on the trails for an hour/hour and a half at a time. Still working through the herd bound issues. I had been told the gelding was the more difficult one and the mare was the steady one, but believe that is probably the case if they go out together. Since I can only take one out at a time, I've found the gelding to be very steady and not have huge issues with leaving the farm. He does jig a little coming back to the farm but not bad. The issue is when I take the mare out. He cries out to her until we're far enough away that he looses interest, she doesn't usually answer him on the way out and has gotten pretty good at going out at a nice walk or trot. She is totally jiggy on the way back though, calling out to him as soon as she gets within range of the farm. She also won't stop and stand on the trail, jigging in place and tossing her head when I try to get her to come to a full halt. We've been doing a lot of half halts and very small circles on the trail working on this and she's getting a little better. Unfortunately, it's now getting COLD and I'll probably have to stop riding her until March or April since she gets all sweated up with her antics and with full winter coat it takes forever to get her dried out. I may be able to ride him a little longer, as he only gets sweaty around his girth and between his rear legs, which is pretty easy to dry. I plan on keeping up groundwork and grooming until spring. Hopefully come spring I can start getting her out for some long slow distances for 3 or 4 hours at a time. I can't imagine she'll stay jiggy with that kind of mileage.

                        Not to hijack the thread, but any suggestions would be more than welcomed. I've read every thread here on barn sour/buddy sour horses, horses that don't want to go out on the trail alone, etc. She doesn't exhibit any of the dangerous behavour described in those threads, but I would like to get her to the point where she's just "happier" to be out on her own. The gelding has no problems when I take him out, she calls to him once or twice from the field, which he pretty much ignores, and then go back to grazing. When I take her out he'll call out to her for 15 or 20 minutes before giving up.
                        At its finest, rider and horse are joined not by tack, but by trust. Each is totally reliant upon the other. Each is the selfless guardian of the other's very well-being.
                        (Author Unknown)


                        • #32
                          Wear out their worries leave and come back, in and out of view, for an hour and I bet he'll quit. Literally ride just out of view, then turn around and come back to the barn....keep doing this until they are bored to death with all this nonsense.

                          Over time you stretch that mental rubber band more and more- ride to the mailbox and back on the next time...etc - he learns to quit worrying and she learns that she has no clue which trip to the barn counts


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by katarine View Post
                            Wear out their worries leave and come back, in and out of view, for an hour and I bet he'll quit. Literally ride just out of view, then turn around and come back to the barn....keep doing this until they are bored to death with all this nonsense.

                            Over time you stretch that mental rubber band more and more- ride to the mailbox and back on the next time...etc - he learns to quit worrying and she learns that she has no clue which trip to the barn counts
                            Thanks Katarine -- that's something I can work on through the winter as well, even with just ground work. I still can't figure out why neither of them gets that worked up about him leaving the farm, but they both get worked up when I take her away from the farm.
                            At its finest, rider and horse are joined not by tack, but by trust. Each is totally reliant upon the other. Each is the selfless guardian of the other's very well-being.
                            (Author Unknown)


                            • #34
                              I've ridden alone for most of the yrs I've been riding - 40some. That's the only way you can get up close and personal with much wildlife.
                              With a green horse I've always walked them like a dog. In the woods and fields and down the road. I want to know what they are going to do when they see a kid on a bike, or a dog running loose etc. It provides a lot of teachable moments and it's so good for bonding without much danger to me. I continue to school them in a ring under saddle. Lots of halts and turning and moving hind end and front end. I also put them under voice command. When I think they're ready I saddle up and ride. Sometimes we do alot of standing and watching. I talk to them, pat them. Ask them to walk on. Sometimes it may be just a few strides, depending on what's around us. That's ok in my book. There is no turning around to go home. No bolting or rearing etc. That's why I do so much at a walk. I don't ever want the horse to get the idea that if it becomes afraid, it can determine the outcome. I want them to become confident alone and confident in me and themselves. If it gets really bad, I dismount and lead them until I feel they have calmed down. I also have taught them to let me mount standing on a rock or a log etc and mount from both sides. Harder for the rider than the horse.. I always have treats in my pocket for times like this. Sometimes I have dismounted and moved a branch off the trail while they stand. As the horse becomes more experienced, I'll add new stuff, maybe water or mud etc. The more you expose them to, the safer you and the horse will be.
                              Carry a cellphone and let someone at the barn know where you went . But don't be so afraid of something going wrong. Just take it one step at a time.


                              • #35
                                I've been riding our spare horse out alone the last week, since my "main squeeze" has been off. The spare is buddy/barn/pasture sour; even though she is alpha in the pasture, she is not a confident horse on the trail (meaning she's amazing in a group, but not one you'd ride off alone). We've made a ton of progress in just a few rides. She is picking up on my determination and confidence, I think. Our first trip down our driveway (about 1/4 mile) took about ten minutes, with lots of stopping and a little backing. Today, we did it with only one stop that lasted maybe 2 seconds. I've just been thrilled that she is coming along so nicely.


                                • #36
                                  I agree to check local hunting schedules before a hack since it is November - I think deer season is open in most parts of the country.

                                  Have fun and make sure your cel phone is charged!


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by SanJacMonument View Post
                                    I agree to check local hunting schedules before a hack since it is November - I think deer season is open in most parts of the country.

                                    Have fun and make sure your cel phone is charged!
                                    Moose season here. Fortunately both the horses I'm trail riding are white, so unlikely they'll get mistaken for a moose, but I definitely wear an orange vest anyway. Also have dog tag attached to my saddle with my name/cell# - horse owner's name/cell# and my DH's name and cell#. Cell phone always charged and on my person with GPS enabled in case DH needs to find me (all things I learned here - thanks all!). Now that the snow is on the ground the bears should mostly have gone down for their winter's nap, but bear bells will certainly be a spring addition to the tack. Have bear spray at home too (DH works in the forest so it's a tool of the trade) but wouldn't risk using it around a horse.
                                    At its finest, rider and horse are joined not by tack, but by trust. Each is totally reliant upon the other. Each is the selfless guardian of the other's very well-being.
                                    (Author Unknown)


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by NorthwoodsRider View Post
                                      Thanks Katarine -- that's something I can work on through the winter as well, even with just ground work. I still can't figure out why neither of them gets that worked up about him leaving the farm, but they both get worked up when I take her away from the farm.
                                      because boys are stoopid.


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by katarine View Post
                                        because boys are stoopid.
                                        How did I not think of that?!?!? That is my mantra in life (and I always spell it stoopid too when referring to boyz).

                                        For fear of offending the boyz on the board, my full mantra is: "Testosterone destroys brain cells and causes deafness to the female voice. We can't hold it against them because if it destroys brain cells then they are challenged, and therefore it wouldn't be fair to get mad at them" -- Short form: Boyz are stoopid. That central theory in life has kept me married for 20+ years (yes, he's heard the theory) and kept me sane in 30+ years of working in male dominated industries. (no offense boyz on the board )
                                        At its finest, rider and horse are joined not by tack, but by trust. Each is totally reliant upon the other. Each is the selfless guardian of the other's very well-being.
                                        (Author Unknown)


                                        • #40
                                          One boy has a brain.

                                          Two boys each have half a brain.

                                          Four boys each have a quarter brain.

                                          More than four boys have no brain at all.

                                          As a female with three brothers and two sons, it's about right.