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Can you fix herd bound?

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  • Can you fix herd bound?

    There's a tall TB mare for sale. I haven't seen her conformation as yet, but this part of her ad,

    "She is very herd bound will not hack out without another horse."

    Gives me pause. All things being equal (say she has the right conformation and moves well), is this something you would consider? Is this something that can be fixed or will this horse always find hacking out stressful?

    I'm looking for someone to train in dressage, competitive trail riding, etc.

    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

  • #2
    It can be fixed in most horses but takes a lot of work and very, very consistant handling. It is relatively simple in terms of the idea.....you make being near the herd/buddy where the hardest work is done and out on a trail where rest, relaxation, rewards come along. Sometimes this means you get 50 feet away from the buddy and your horse begins to get fussy....this is where you stop leaving the buddy and reward the horse for being this far away. You then go back to the buddy (or as near as is practical) and do hard work there. You gradually expand the distance the horse is willing to go quietly and it won't take a reasonably sensible horse long to figure out that being near the buddy is connected to work while being away gets connected to rewards of some kind. Work can be things that are not necessarily physically hard (although that won't hurt either) but require the horses full attention. Rewards can be pets, scratches, getting off for a few minutes and loosening a cinch, some hand grazing or a few horse cookies, a bit of grooming....things the horse likes. It is important to make the contrast as clear and sharp as possible. This also works for barn sour (work at the barn, relax away), one that wants to dive to the gate in the arena (work at the gate, get off and relax at other areas around the arena) etc.
    Colored Cowhorse Ranch
    Northern NV


    • #3
      Depends on the horse. My first mare went out on her own, but was always anxious, looking for any trail buddies. Pretty much never grew out of it.

      Mare #2 was very herd bound in the beginning. She, however, responded quite well to ground work and wet saddle blankets. As time wore on, she became my steady-eddy trail partner.

      Good luck!
      When people show you who they truly are, believe them. Maya Angelou


      • #4
        very herd bound
        gives me pause - a friend has a TB mare with such anxiety issues that even a year of rehab has made not a dent: she can be (sort of)trail ridden but hasn't the feet for it, touch the reins & you are destined for dirt & mare has no sense of self preservation whilst putting you there

        (& no, she cannot go anywhere alone, live alone etc)

        (OTOH mare is almost fat for the first time in her life & probabely thinks she's in heaven)


        • #5
          Most horses I've worked with have proven 'fixable' but I second it often takes a good while. One mare that lived here came with the habbit of completely losing it with the slightest separation stimulur. With her it was extreme she didn't just freak when she was taken away from her group but even when one single horse was removed from her group and she was allowed to stay with them.
          We got her to the point where she would hold on to her nerves for long enough to take her to the stocks and scan (so a good 4 minutes total), she would even munch a bit of oats there but you had to stay with her, she still couldn't handle being all by herself for as little as a minute and this (4-5 min.) turned out to be her ultimate serenity span to be away from her group.
          Froh zu sein bedarf es wenig...


          • #6
            There are so many TBs on the market right now, it is a buyer's market. I wouldn't buy a herd bound problem unless I thought the horse was clearly better than every other option I had. As others have said, it is possible to break a horse from herd boundness, but depending on its severity, it can be very challenging. I've seen a fair amount of broken tack and hurt people thanks to the behavior of their herd bound horses. I would pass on this horse.
            Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


            • #7
              I have worked with extreme herd bound horses successfully. I start by making sure I do not stable a horse next to its turn out buddy. I own my own farm and can put horses wherever I want. I frequently change stalls and turn-out partners. This is so my horses get used to having several different friends and don't get overly attached to just one.

              Then I start with TTouch and TTEAM ground exercises to teach the horse to focus his/her attention on me. I often use treats to reward the horse when their attention is on me.

              I take the horse through the "playground for higher learning." which is an obstacle course designed to build the horse's self-confidence in little baby steps so the horse is not over-faced.

              I reward the horse for staying calm often with food because chewing has a calming effect on the horse.

              In some situations I will use clicker training to really get the horse's attention and keep the attention on the task at hand rather than the other horses.

              When the time is right and I think the horse can handle it I will turn them out by themselves well away from the other horses. THIS CAN BE DANGEROUS OF COURSE! I go out and work with the horse and feed him/her about five times a day. I also watch them like a hawk to make sure they don't get running dangerously. I do my ground work or clicker training out in the pasture. The work I do out there teaches the horse to calm itself.

              At this point I may add in some of Carolyn Resnick's "Waterhole Rituals" which aid in bonding and focus.

              Once the horse can be calm when turned out by itself his/her self-confidence increases enormously!!

              I don't resort to working a horse overly hard near the other horses because I think this undermines trust.

              Just because a horse is herd bound in one situation at one farm doesn't mean they will be the same way somewhere else. . . and sometimes it does.
              Good luck!


              • #8
                I'd stay away from that one.

                I have a friend with a herdbound horse. It is one huge pain to deal with. The horse isn't ridden outside of the arena except by her trainer.

                Probably it is fixable. But since I don't know how - and, I respectfully submit, neither do you - I'd leave that mare alone.
                I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


                • #9
                  I guess it depends on what you want to do. I hack out alone alot so this would be a deal breaker. I think it is very hard for some horses to be confident alone. It just goes against their nature. This would also make me suspect she would have confidence issues in other areas as well.


                  • Original Poster

                    That's what I was thinking, but I thought I'd make sure my reasoning was good. One of the things I want to try is competitive trail riding, and on top of that I want to use hacking out as a form of relaxation after ring work. That doesn't relax a horse that is tense on the trail.

                    Thanks, guys.

                    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


                    • #11
                      Herd bound is a total PITA. If it's bad enough to mention in the ad, it's likely bad. I have one that's herd bound to one horse in particular. When he can't see that horse, he gets very anxious. This includes just turning away from his buddy when we're riding in the arena. He's improving, but some days are still a little hairy. Why buy something you know has a problem when the market is jam packed full of good horses without issues?
                      "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer


                      • #12
                        Not easily -I would pass, especially for what you want to do with her.
                        "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


                        • #13
                          Pass.....It sounds like her problem may be dangerous.

                          It can be fixed, but it is NOT easy.


                          • #14
                            It's not an easy fix. I have one that used to shake, sweat, have diarrhea, and would do a quiet whining whinny under his breath the whole time he was being ridden alone basically *in our arena* - nevermind hacking out. The only reason I continued with him is because while he was absolutely freaking out, not just being a brat, he was *trying to behave as best he could*.

                            4-5 years later he is fine at home alone, fairly good at show grounds out alone, will go out on hunter paces and xc alone... but yeah.. we had a lot of issues to work through and needed to get a ton of mileage. And he still can get tense, but now it's something we can work through in our warmup generally.
                            2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com


                            • Original Poster

                              Yup, I'm going to pass on that one. I'm going to test ride this OTTB on Sunday http://www.horseclicks.com/horses/k54wfd/ He was bought as a project and now he's got to go. He moves pretty well http://www.classicbayeventing.com/#!__tj I like his walk - it's quite relaxed.

                              I saw this ad and it plays right to my love of drafty types http://www.horseclicks.com/horses/jrrb1q/ but it has no name or telephone number. I've sent an email inquiry but I don't know that I'll hear back.

                              He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


                              • #16
                                TJ looks cute... good luck!
                                I'm not really at the top of my game today. I'm not even exactly sure what game I'm supposed to be playing, in fact... or where it's being held...

                                My horse's antics iamboyfriend.com


                                • #17
                                  I have one too.

                                  He is a beautiful Morab gelding that, until I got him, was kept with an old (36 yr old) mare without any problems. He was ridden on trails without any trouble, by himself!
                                  Mare had to be pts, owner is now disabled, so I got him.
                                  He has turned into the biggest pita in the world. Married up to one of my mares, to the point of rearing up as an avoidance.
                                  There is no way to separate them, so in both of our best interest - he is now for sale or trade FOR A MARE!!!

                                  I have tried to explain his issue in the ad, and hopefully someone who doesn't have mares will be interested.
                                  No, he doesn't buddy up with geldings; only this 1 darn mare....


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by TimeBandit View Post
                                    He is a beautiful Morab gelding that, until I got him, was kept with an old (36 yr old) mare without any problems. He was ridden on trails without any trouble, by himself!
                                    Mare had to be pts, owner is now disabled, so I got him.
                                    He has turned into the biggest pita in the world. Married up to one of my mares, to the point of rearing up as an avoidance.
                                    There is no way to separate them, so in both of our best interest - he is now for sale or trade FOR A MARE!!!

                                    I have tried to explain his issue in the ad, and hopefully someone who doesn't have mares will be interested.
                                    No, he doesn't buddy up with geldings; only this 1 darn mare....
                                    With a horse like this I would ONLY turn him out by himself. As a matter of fact, a paddock where he can see (but not touch) others would be best. Then I would spend time trying to get him to buddy up with ME.

                                    A lot of these herd-bound types can be improved by putting them on individual turnout.


                                    • #19

                                      I have only 1 pasture and no means to divide it up. He just sealed his fate earlier today - he knocked down the divider in the run in between the big horses and my mini mare. He chased her all over to the point that she was covered in foam!
                                      He is on borrowed time now. I have no use for him - and it is a very bad feeling.
                                      The little mare seems to be doing ok. I sponged her off, and shut the door to the big horses so they are not able to get in by her.


                                      • #20
                                        My HIGHLY social & frequently "herd bound" mare is out in our yard by herself. And despite the fact that she can be very vocal when she wants, and the neighbours horses have been screaming at the new arrival, I haven't heard a peep out of her. Nor does she seem to care at all that she is alone (we do have goats/a lamb but they don't travel with her to the front paddock).

                                        Anxiety issues are very different from being a social butterfly, I think that's something that is very hard to tell until you live with the horse for a bit.
                                        "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
                                        Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
                                        Need You Now Equine