• Welcome to the Chronicle Forums.
    Please complete your profile. The forums and the rest of www.chronofhorse.com has single sign-in, so your log in information for one will automatically work for the other. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Chronicle of the Horse.



Forum rules and no-advertising policy

As a participant on this forum, it is your responsibility to know and follow our rules. Please read this message in its entirety.

Board Rules

1. You’re responsible for what you say.
As outlined in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, The Chronicle of the Horse and its affiliates, as well Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd., the developers of vBulletin, are not legally responsible for statements made in the forums.

This is a public forum viewed by a wide spectrum of people, so please be mindful of what you say and who might be reading it—details of personal disputes are likely better handled privately. While posters are legally responsible for their statements, the moderators may in their discretion remove or edit posts that violate these rules. Users have the ability to modify or delete their own messages after posting, but administrators generally will not delete posts, threads or accounts upon request.

Outright inflammatory, vulgar, harassing, malicious or otherwise inappropriate statements and criminal charges unsubstantiated by a reputable news source or legal documentation will not be tolerated and will be dealt with at the discretion of the moderators.

2. Conversations in horse-related forums should be horse-related.
The forums are a wonderful source of information and support for members of the horse community. While it’s understandably tempting to share information or search for input on other topics upon which members might have a similar level of knowledge, members must maintain the focus on horses.

3. Keep conversations productive, on topic and civil.
Discussion and disagreement are inevitable and encouraged; personal insults, diatribes and sniping comments are unproductive and unacceptable. Whether a subject is light-hearted or serious, keep posts focused on the current topic and of general interest to other participants of that thread. Utilize the private message feature or personal email where appropriate to address side topics or personal issues not related to the topic at large.

4. No advertising in the discussion forums.
Posts in the discussion forums directly or indirectly advertising horses, jobs, items or services for sale or wanted will be removed at the discretion of the moderators. Use of the private messaging feature or email addresses obtained through users’ profiles for unsolicited advertising is not permitted.

Company representatives may participate in discussions and answer questions about their products or services, or suggest their products on recent threads if they fulfill the criteria of a query. False "testimonials" provided by company affiliates posing as general consumers are not appropriate, and self-promotion of sales, ad campaigns, etc. through the discussion forums is not allowed.

Paid advertising is available on our classifieds site and through the purchase of banner ads. The tightly monitored Giveaways forum permits free listings of genuinely free horses and items available or wanted (on a limited basis). Items offered for trade are not allowed.

Advertising Policy Specifics
When in doubt of whether something you want to post constitutes advertising, please contact a moderator privately in advance for further clarification. Refer to the following points for general guidelines:

Horses – Only general discussion about the buying, leasing, selling and pricing of horses is permitted. If the post contains, or links to, the type of specific information typically found in a sales or wanted ad, and it’s related to a horse for sale, regardless of who’s selling it, it doesn’t belong in the discussion forums.

Stallions – Board members may ask for suggestions on breeding stallion recommendations. Stallion owners may reply to such queries by suggesting their own stallions, only if their horse fits the specific criteria of the original poster. Excessive promotion of a stallion by its owner or related parties is not permitted and will be addressed at the discretion of the moderators.

Services – Members may use the forums to ask for general recommendations of trainers, barns, shippers, farriers, etc., and other members may answer those requests by suggesting themselves or their company, if their services fulfill the specific criteria of the original post. Members may not solicit other members for business if it is not in response to a direct, genuine query.

Products – While members may ask for general opinions and suggestions on equipment, trailers, trucks, etc., they may not list the specific attributes for which they are in the market, as such posts serve as wanted ads.

Event Announcements – Members may post one notification of an upcoming event that may be of interest to fellow members, if the original poster does not benefit financially from the event. Such threads may not be “bumped” excessively. Premium members may post their own notices in the Event Announcements forum.

Charities/Rescues – Announcements for charitable or fundraising events can only be made for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. Special exceptions may be made, at the moderators’ discretion and direction, for board-related events or fundraising activities in extraordinary circumstances.

Occasional posts regarding horses available for adoption through IRS-registered horse rescue or placement programs are permitted in the appropriate forums, but these threads may be limited at the discretion of the moderators. Individuals may not advertise or make announcements for horses in need of rescue, placement or adoption unless the horse is available through a recognized rescue or placement agency or government-run entity or the thread fits the criteria for and is located in the Giveaways forum.

5. Do not post copyrighted photographs unless you have purchased that photo and have permission to do so.

6. Respect other members.
As members are often passionate about their beliefs and intentions can easily be misinterpreted in this type of environment, try to explore or resolve the inevitable disagreements that arise in the course of threads calmly and rationally.

If you see a post that you feel violates the rules of the board, please click the “alert” button (exclamation point inside of a triangle) in the bottom left corner of the post, which will alert ONLY the moderators to the post in question. They will then take whatever action, or no action, as deemed appropriate for the situation at their discretion. Do not air grievances regarding other posters or the moderators in the discussion forums.

Please be advised that adding another user to your “Ignore” list via your User Control Panel can be a useful tactic, which blocks posts and private messages by members whose commentary you’d rather avoid reading.

7. We have the right to reproduce statements made in the forums.
The Chronicle of the Horse may copy, quote, link to or otherwise reproduce posts, or portions of posts, in print or online for advertising or editorial purposes, if attributed to their original authors, and by posting in this forum, you hereby grant to The Chronicle of the Horse a perpetual, non-exclusive license under copyright and other rights, to do so.

8. We reserve the right to enforce and amend the rules.
The moderators may delete, edit, move or close any post or thread at any time, or refrain from doing any of the foregoing, in their discretion, and may suspend or revoke a user’s membership privileges at any time to maintain adherence to the rules and the general spirit of the forum. These rules may be amended at any time to address the current needs of the board.

Please see our full Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Thanks for being a part of the COTH forums!

(Revised 1/26/16)
See more
See less

how do i bomb proof my horse? Help!

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • how do i bomb proof my horse? Help!

    I recently bought a TB mare that I love that has so much potential as a hunter except one thing--> She is smart, calm, cool, and collected, but gets anxious in open fields.

    What are the steps to working through the problems to make her into a fox hunter. Is it really just repetition, repetition, repetition?

    I am currently walking her down the same path everyday and have been doing so for the past 8 days, but it doesn't seem to get any better. I know each horse is different, but is this process something that takes months or years and what else can I do?

  • #2
    try this

    some are more confident in a group
    more hay, less grain


    • #3
      tb's decompress mentally when they can move forward. the kiss of death for a nervous tb is to be forced to walk. go for trot hacks and wear your saddle tite and helmet.
      chaque pas est fait ensemble


      • Original Poster

        I think you are right as she seems to be more comfortable at a trot when she is nervous, but what do people do when they train horses for fox hunting... Everyone always says.... "oh, I totally bomb-proofed my horse" but what do they literally, actually do to achieve this wonderful state of bomb-proofness


        • Original Poster

          also, wouldn't it be bad training to teach her that every time she is nervous it is okay to trot off? There has to be some way to show her fields aren't scary and is it really just repetition. What is the secret trick to bomb-proofing


          • #6
            To get my TB ready for hunting I did lots and lots and lots of rides with other horses. For him, the challenge was following. When I first got him he would throw a tantrum if he wasn't in the lead. Not a great attitude for a foxhunter.

            Going out with a steady eddy to get your horse used to the fields will likely help. My last TB (a mare) had a really hard time with open fields. She was on full alert when we started going out in them alone. She calmed down considerably with other horses.

            I agree that TBs do better when they are moving, but I have a few other suggestions for you:

            - Use a one-rein stop to get your horse to stop and focus back on you. Even if you need to stop a hundred times the first few days your horse WILL figure out that she doesn't want to stand with her nose to your stirrup.
            - Just walk. At the beginning I used to just walk my TB. Mostly on a loose rein. Once he understood that we were going for a relaxing walk, he would stay relaxed. If I started to trot or canter he'd get wound up.
            - Hand walk your horse. I frequently hand walk my OTTBs when I first get them. It seems to reassure them. I walk them in a bridle and will incorporate some work in hand.

            Good luck!
            Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
            EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


            • Original Poster

              That was really helpful, especially the part about actually getting off the horse and walking them in a bridle. Never thought of that...

              Is the consensus that most horses are able to be desensitized with enough repetition and patience? And if so, is this a process that takes months or years (I know each horse is different) but how long do most slightly anxious horses take?


              • #8
                My OTTB was on stall rest when I got him. What was a sweet horse turned into a nightmare. That was understandable. He was 3 and had so much energy. However, when his stall rest ended and he was turned out for a month I started to try to hand walk him around a ring that was attached to his regular paddock. He nearly killed me every time I tried. It wasn't until he was turned out with another horse that he calmed down. After the first few rides in the ring we went on a trail ride with the barn owner. She was a former eventer and so trail riding with her meant mostly not walking. We walked and trotted at first. My horse loved it. He got a little nervous but the combination of having company and not being forced to just walk made him much more comfortable. Of course now I do have the problem that he does not like all walking trail rides. He thinks trails are for trotting and cantering. But at least he's not nervous.
                "But if you buy them as ponies aren't they cheaper?" - Favorite non-horse person quote.


                • #9
                  This has worked for me for the past 12 years :

                  TURN OUT
                  And lots of it.
                  In huge huge open fields, where most horses go out for the first time and say "Oh my GAWD where's the fence?"

                  (seriously, so many horses are stabled in small paddocks, it is no wonder they get a little agorophobic in the field).

                  Then I start to leave them out overnight. After a summer of wildlife tramping through the fields, all sorts of noises, and plenty of places to gallop to, they pretty much calm down.

                  Then I start leaving each horse out alone (sorry, my pet peeve is herd-bound horses. I absolutely cannot STAND to have a horse worry at the gate or pace the fenceline when you take away his buddy. All my youngsters have learned how to tolerate being alone, and hey, when there is all that grass to eat, who cares about a buddy).

                  PLAY WITH THEM ON THE GROUND

                  No . . not Parelli.

                  But be in a safe place and get your horse used to using his "thinking brain" instead of his "reacting brain". I have found this is easier on the ground than in the saddle. Once you have thrown everything at them for a few months, you can try this riding.

                  I put all sorts of obstacles in the arena, tarps, plastic bags, a mailbox on a post. Things your horse will come across in the real world. How can you expect your horse to be calm around these things on a trail ride when he cannot experience them on his relaxed "home turf"?

                  (Oh, but don't try putting carrots in the Big Scary mailbox to help bombproof them. I have one gelding that will drag you off the rode to molest black mailboxes. He swears it is a carrot-feeding-box and has to check each one out. Can't rightly explain to the neighbors why there are horse teeth-marks on their mailboxes!)

                  Flap tarps, set free whispy plastic grocery bags. Enlist friends to bring over strange dogs. Have kids ride motor scooters around the outside of the arena.

                  Anything you can think of. I take down people's election signs that they had in their yard (after the elections, duh) as one of my horses just HATES those little colorful plaques that get poked in to the ground.

                  Somedays I mix it up and put these things out in the pasture. A pile of tires in the corner of the arena becomes boring after a week or two, but when you put the exact same tires in the pasture . . well, that's something new to spook at.

                  You just have to keep "setting" your horse up, not to "Fail" and to spook, but to be ALLOWED to react. Over time, the reactions get smaller and smaller. And you can learn to judge each individual horse. Does he rear when he is scared, jig, turn a whirl? It is nice to know this BEFORE you get him out on the trail. . .

                  I know people who just take their horses out and expect to learn as they go. I'm too much of a coward for that. Too much can happen in the real world if you discover your horse it totally phobic of trash. I'd rather do it in an enclosed arena with other people around.


                  • #10
                    LYR - Wonderful post, a lot of really good info. As for the OP, unfortunately, you don't get the luxury of knowing "how much time". They are all different and some of them never get it. At my barn:
                    Irish gelding - 10 years old - now leading first flight. 4 years ago was dangerous to ride downhill, absolutely had no idea how to cope with his body when the world wasn't flat and 2 years ago was not honest to his fences.
                    OTTB - 9 years old - quiet, quiet, quiet. I can put anyone on this horse and send them out in 3rd flight for a glorified trail ride. Or I can tack him up as a staff horse and ask him to rise to the occasion. He has had an injured hound draped across the front of the saddle and carried it out for 20 minuted to get to the road. Came that way - didn't have to train him.
                    Chestnut TB/holst. mare - 9 years old - will never hunt has had every bombproofing, desensitizing, repetition, allowed to grow and age - it's just not in her. She would hurt herself or her rider or it would be a miserable day for everyone.
                    My own staff horse -10 years old, had done the job for 3 years before I got him - just now (we are approaching 2 years together) we are in tune - often we are an extention of one another when hunting. We've learned each others habits and cues and come to speak softly more often than not. Doesn't mean we don't have an off day or an awkward moment, but I trust him and that takes as much time as at takes.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by weebs07 View Post
                      also, wouldn't it be bad training to teach her that every time she is nervous it is okay to trot off? There has to be some way to show her fields aren't scary and is it really just repetition. What is the secret trick to bomb-proofing
                      The trick to bomb-proofing is to EXPECT your horse to be bomb proof.

                      EXPECT the horse to behave as normal.

                      When she starts getting anxious, pleasantly tell her, "I know, I know life is hard, but you still need to behave. Now carry on and walk past this [insert worrisome object] here like a normal horse. Yeah yeah yeah whatever, get over yourself and walk on."

                      Then pet her when she does.
                      The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                      Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                      The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                      • #12
                        I have never hunted(hope to this fall). I think there are some very good suggestions posted here so far. For my TB mare, I did tons of bombproofing stuff at clinics and then at home. She was a show hunter initially and could be spooky. This all changed when I moved her to another farm and put her on pasture board and less grain. She was pastured by herself for several years after my gelding died. I had started using ear pom-poms when she showed, and have continued to use them. Probably don't really need to any longer, but hey it's a cheap crutch. I have done lots of group trail rides which I think helps alot to get the horse used to being in groups and changing spots in the line or moving at different gaits. I was trail riding recently with another boarder at the farm where my mare lives. We rode the horses out to one of the back fields and her TB gelding was getting very "up". What I tried is to move the horses over to the woods line and had her ride along the trees and I rode on the outside next to the big wideopen spaces. This really helped her horse settle. My horse also used to be a little more up in the wide open and I found the boundry of a fence or woods line helped to settle her some. I also did trail walks with the tack on, and if the mare seemed settled would then get on and ride for awhile. If she got antsy, I usually got off. I did this as I was by myself, didn't have any steady eddies to start our trail riding with at the show barn. This actually was a blessing in disguise as she is totally non-herd bound. She doesn't care if horses come or go. She is bonded with me, and doesn't need to catch up with a group that moves off. Good luck working with your horse.


                        • #13
                          Set off some bombs - silly!
                          ... _. ._ .._. .._


                          • #14
                            My short answer - there is no such thing as a bombproof horse

                            But the advice you've gotten here is a good start to a 99.9% bombproof horse!


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                              The trick to bomb-proofing is to EXPECT your horse to be bomb proof.

                              EXPECT the horse to behave as normal.

                              When she starts getting anxious, pleasantly tell her, "I know, I know life is hard, but you still need to behave. Now carry on and walk past this [insert worrisome object] here like a normal horse. Yeah yeah yeah whatever, get over yourself and walk on."

                              Then pet her when she does.
                              I think this attitude helps a ton. You can show a horse a million things, but there's always that million-and-one'th thing they never saw before. The better technique is "no matter what might be around, pay attention to me and follow my instructions".

                              And I highly recommend the group trail work (and ring work!). Do planned work with a friend, trainer, or neighbor who will cooperate. Practice passing, going opposite directions, standing while the other person trots or canters. Practice jostling each other, accidentally getting too close, etc so that doesn't upset your horse (we run into each other all the time, and it doesn't freak anybody out - but I know some friends whose horses lose it if they get bumped).

                              Think of hunting situations: I've only gone twice, but I remember standing with the hilltoppers and there came the hounds and first flight... at a gallop, right past us on both sides. Three of us had green horses, and three of us were practically galloping in place as our horses wanted to join the run. But we all held our positions. Or what if the master sends different riders out to hold different positions around some cover - you need to be able to go a different direction than the other horses sometimes, or a different speed. You need to be able to hold your position in the group, you need to be able to go from a canter to a halt and back to a canter without a battle, etc.

                              Then there's terrain - hills, mud, water, low hanging tree branches (my mare used to be afraid to go under them!), thorny bushes poking you....

                              So maybe make a list of all the specific skills you need to learn, and then get some friends together and practice each skill. Start at a walk, take turns in the different roles.

                              When you feel ready, try some hunter paces.

                              It could be a fun project, something you could spend at least several months on.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by weebs07 View Post
                                it really just repetition.
                                It really just IS repetition and putting in the saddle time consistently. My TBX came to me at 13 with a background in dressage and minimal experience riding in the open. For quite awhile going into a field meant jigging, head tossing, etc.. If I let him canter he would get very strong. I did let him do alot of trotting but it would take him awhile to settle. Needless to say at that time I never dreamed foxhunting would be remotely possible in our future

                                Now 5 years later he will hack out alone in fields, jump XC, haul out alone to new trails etc... basically go anywhere in the open completely calmly and quietly. We've hunted a number of times in the last few years too. It's just taken alot of time spent riding in similar settings and getting him used to everything. I've spent the last two years getting him quiet about riding in groups, particularly jumping XC behind other horses and going through fields at the canter and gallop behind others. 4 years ago I would have NEVER cantered him through a field if I wasn't in front.

                                If you have a horse that is been there done that you can go out in the the fields with that remains calm and quiet it helps tremendously.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by weebs07 View Post
                                  There has to be some way to show her fields aren't scary and is it really just repetition. What is the secret trick to bomb-proofing
                                  Time and wet saddle blankets.


                                  • #18
                                    Liver Yang Rising is my new hero. I/we all do those things 'without realizing' that's what we're doing (just had 2 new OTTBs down in my arena - someone left a big tarp behind when they delivered fencing so we were walking and trotting and cantering over it and through it.) But you put it very eloquently.
                                    Indeed. Your horse just needs time in the tack. Treat her like she's a good horse. She'll become one.
                                    * www.huntersrest.net -- Virginia hunt country's best Bed-and-Breakfast-and-Barn.


                                    • #19
                                      I second the "expect them to be good"

                                      This is my first season out with hounds, on a horse I never thought would leave the ring. Expect them to behave, praise them, and keep going.

                                      Trust is everything. Even the big chickens will comply when their rider exudes confidence (fake it 'till you make it). As long as they have a strong sense of preservation, and a good heart it will come in time.

                                      Forward always helps. The large group gives her confidence. Although we're still figuring it all out, it gets better (almost) every outing.

                                      Good luck!

                                      Learning to stand...