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Huh. This is new. Thoughts?

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  • Huh. This is new. Thoughts?

    I have a very hot, very reactive, more than a little nutty mare. She's off the track and last raced in August. She was turned out on acreage from Aug - Jan, and has been deemed "sound" by the vet following a round of IRAP in a stifle. She's been in 5 day/week work for about a month now.

    We do a lot of work out in the field--goals are an even tempo without rushing, straightness and, when we're lucky, stretching over the topline. IOW--basic basics. We do a LOT of walking, some trotting and recently, a wee amount of cantering. She feels good when we're out working and the walk is true.

    I realized today that she'll walk in front and trot behind when we're going back to the barn. It's an evasion as I've insisted in not trotting or jigging back to the barn. I also realize this is probably my fault, as I thought it was just a short, quick walk. A short quick walk isn't the goal, but I thought she was at least WALKING. Not so, according to the shadows. And once I saw the shadows, what I was feeling made a whole lot more sense.

    Once I figured out what was going on today, we essentially serpentined back to the barn, with lots of standing and waiting, which worked out okay. Any other ideas to discourage this weird in between gait? This mare has a lovely stunning walk and the absolute last thing I want to do is lose it.

  • #2
    I would have done what you did....maybe some baby shoulder fore. When she is good, try a few straight walk steps on a loose rein.

    Can you also walk around and past the barn? So you don't just go back to the barn and be done. I've also gone back to the barn and then right back out again...keep her smart self guessing.
    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


    • Original Poster

      Due to the layout, it's a little tough to walk up to the barn and keep going past it...but I'll take another look and see if we can't be a little creative. She doesn't get out of work when we land at the barn--usually we will do a little bit in the arena, or we will work on standing quietly when the arena isn't workable. (Standing is TORTURE for this horse. I AM SO MEAN.) And I do A LOT of turning around and heading back out--hopefully up a hill!--when Dove provides the "wrong" response to the "just don't lose your mind already" question on the way back to the barn

      I've just never had one that tried a running walk (or whatever it's called? I really have no idea) as an evasion tactic. This girl is smart and tough and has certainly been a learning experience!


      • #4
        I tend to trail ride in the afternoon, and my hot opinionated nutty mare does the same tralk (I just made that up) if I consistently ride her back to the barn, dismount, and feed her. If I ride her back to the barn and then put her to work in the outdoor, it seems to quell the jigging a lot, because she isn't saying, oh hey this means I get to have dinner!! and hay!! and see my friends!

        If she insists on jigging, I make her go on the bit and do shoulder in/shoulder out and leg yields all the way back to the barn. That tends to get her mind off of food and socializing. If she is good and walks like a nice sane horse, though, she gets a loose rein.

        Custom Painted Saddle Pads and Ornaments


        • #5
          I would get off in the field where you are riding most of the time and handwalk her back for a good long time, to avoid any potential issues developing. After you've walked away from the barn a bit/facing outward. Mix it up and never let her think that "back to the barn" always means "done" -- or that "halt near the end of the field facing the barn" means work is over too. I always keep a peppermint or something in my pocket as well to give them once I'm on the ground so they learn to associate the dismount and pat with a different reward besides going back to the barn.


          • #6
            My mare did this to me when I first got her. Her walk is SO lovely, but then she has to go and spoil it like that! So frustrating. What my trainer had me work on was really activating and quickening her hind end in the walk. We'd work lots of shoulder-fore, leg yield, and turn on the forehand. Whenever she threatens that evasion now I just think a step or two of TOF, and she's back to her great walk again.
            Reasons I'm crazy, #37: I went out shopping for a pony and came home with a 17hh OTTB
            ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


            • #7
              how far out were you?
              I often dismount in the back of our property and walk back to the barn.

              or, hehehehe, I'm mean in a passive aggressive way sometimes.
              I might, on day when I'm feeling somewhat stubborn, mmake horsie walk backwards all the way. (or at least walked backwards for a time, then tried a frontwards walk and as soon as a jig starts...back to walking backwards.)
              Walking backwards puts on some nice butt and loin muscles too. hehehehe
              Last edited by purplnurpl; Mar. 27, 2013, 07:12 PM.
              Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


              • #8
                or, hehehehe, I'm mean in a passive aggressive way sometimes.
                I might, on day when I'm feeling somewhat stubborn, would have made horsie walk backwards all the way. (or at least walked backwards for a time, then tried a frontwards walk and as soon as a gig starts...back to walking backwards.)
                Walking backwards puts on some nice butt and loin muscles too. hehehehe
                I do something along these lines. The hotter and more determined the horse is, the longer it will take the first few times. My gelding was VERY barn sour when I got him, now he can walk back to the barn on the buckle.

                Any time the horse chooses to speed up and go without you, you have to find something that is more work for the horse. NOT with a punitive attitude, just more work. (Backing, serpentines, figure eights, lateral work, turn 180 degrees on forehand followed by ENERGETIC 180 degree turn on haunches, etc. but never with you thinking it's punishment.) My attitude is just, OK, you've got a lot of life to you, we're going to do these exercises with some LIFE! When the horse decides s/he can ease up, get soft, and walk for a moment, turn toward home. It might only be two steps, and then the horse amps up so you go back to work.
                It can take a lot of repetitions with a very determined horse, and sometimes several days of it, but eventually the horse will learn that it can let go-even if it is still excited- and give you a lovely calm yet energetic walk on the buckle.

                Plenty of people mis-interpret Ray Hunt saying, 'Make the right thing easy, and the wrong thing difficult'. They have a horse basically saying, 'I am having difficulty' (manifested by the horse not being able to turn loose mentally, and walk back to the barn)...and so they put more mental pressure on the horse when it is doing 'the wrong thing'. Bill Dorrance says, 'You don't want any part of making things difficult for the horse'...and he's actually saying the SAME THING as Ray Hunt. You have to do this without putting any additional mental pressure on the horse. You DO add some extra work for the horse- that physical work is what helps the horse think maybe he could try something else. Adding mental pressure, along with the physical, makes it harder for the horse to find the relief of the 'right answer'.

                I think 'Passive Aggressive' can describe the feeling really well. You aren't getting aggressive with the horse or outright mad at him. You are taking a lead, adding some extra work, setting it up so the 'right thing' has plenty of relief without amping the horse up when it is doing the 'wrong thing'. Do it right, and you're working on lateral work, changing bends, whatever with the horse in a nice, non-lazy manner...win, win, rather than frustrating and vengeful.


                • #9
                  Mix it up and never let her think that "back to the barn" always means "done"
                  Also very important! My mare was pretty insistent that she wanted to go back home, until I set it up so there was more work there, before we were done. Sometimes, I tied her, saddled, for an hour while I went and did barn chores or made a business phone call or two. Then, I rode her for 10 or 15 minutes, then put her away. Or, we just worked a bit harder than what we'd been doing previously, when we got back to the barn. But the whole, I WANNA GO HOME thinking disappeared when there was usually more work at home to do. Now, I don't have to work her, she's mostly given that attitude up.


                  • #10
                    Hahahha, I am a big meanie too. Ask my horse how I abuse him so by making him STAND and omg, WAIT. Then, OF ALL THE NERVE, finally make it back to the barn....and WORK???

                    Since I have a six gaited OTTB (try and hold back your jealousy) I totally get what you mean. He not only W/T/C, he also paces when he gets through his HUGE walk but knows he is not allowed to trot, racks when he breaks from the canter and goes all llama and doesn't want to slow down, and tranters if I am not paying attention to engaging his hind end or he's uncomfortable. Hell, I can do GAITED shows with my OTTB, they really can do everything! ROFL!

                    But to your point, I do what others have suggested - I bring him back to a pure walk or halt, unscramble the marbles, perhaps incorporate turns and serpentine-y type things, all very calmly, usually while I am cruelly laughing at him. I don't view it as a significant issue really, just a detail of obedience. He doesn't do it when focused on work or to get out of actual work, it's just an "I'MONTHETRAILPOINTINGTOWARDSHOMEAND EVERYONE'SEATINGMYFOODIKNOWIT!" thing to which I reply, well, too dang bad.
                    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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                    • Original Poster

                      So glad to know I'm not the only one with a majikal gaiting Thoroughbred!

                      We do a LOT of "your offer is acceptable" training. You want to evade the halt by going sideways? Okay, we'll go sideways...until *I* say stop. You want to evade walking in the field by trotting? Okay, we'll go out and trot hills until you can maintain the walk. You want to keep scooting forward instead of standing? Okay, we'll canter a nice big circle and try the halt again at the same spot.

                      The field where we work is about a mile away from the barn, so a bit of a hike to walk back. I also *never* hop off right when we get back--we always do a little bit of work in the arena if it's ridable, or at least work on the halt and standing relaxed if it's not.

                      It sounds like we're on the right track, though, and I appreciate the input. We'll keep doin what we're doin and eventually Miss Mare will get that it's really just faaaaar easier to walk


                      • #12
                        When ever the flat footed walk stops, I turn the horse around, reverse direction and walk about 30 feet, turn again back to the direction we were going originally. Rinse, repeat. They figure it out that not flat foot walking makes going where ever we are going take a really, really long time. Most of them get the point in a few rides. Works for jumping straight up in the air and exploding too.
                        Unrepentant carb eater