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Letting them run

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  • Letting them run

    How do you deal with fear of letting your horse run around? A few years ago my horse was galloping around in his turnout and he fell. I saw the whole thing, and I think it really put a fair amount of fear in me. I have control issues...like I hate to not have it.....and I can remember the day he was running that I knew he was in one of those mindsets where he was not paying any attention to safety but I couldn't calm him down and sure enough he wiped out...ended up with pretty nice injury.

    He is a TB and he is known to have moments where he just loses his mind. More on the ground and lunging than when I am on his back. He is really pretty good under saddle. I KNOW I need to let him run as much as possible to keep him from having those moments where he does lose his mind.....but I have such trouble not feeling like I am going to throw up the min he starts to get excited either on the lunge or in the turnout. I am not afraid of my own safety really....my fear is def more that he is going to hurt himself.

    So any advice on how to get myself over this fear. I am the one handling him on a regular basis since he is in my backyard. I force myself to turn him out and lunge him in my ring.....but really, really want to get to a place where I don't get butterflies in my stomach every single time I go to do it...or every time he runs around. He has only been in my backyard for two months....but I have owned him a long time. This fear has only popped up in the last two or three years...after those couple of scary incidents.

    He is a tough one because he can be calm calm calm calm and then BAM he just has a nutty burst and he is like a different horse.

    When I lunge it is in a small enclosed space with good footing and I wrap his legs and use a bridle so I know it is as safe as can be....but my brain just can't get past that jumpy nervous feeling.......I want these things to be fun....not stressful.....I wish I could have that attitude when I am lunging him that we are playing together....not that I am waiting for him to try and kill himself

  • #2
    Wow. Really? How do you KEEP him from running?

    Comment


    • #3
      I think you're talking about two different issues. Running/playing in turnout to some extent is normal, especially for a TB. I have seen mine wipe out a couple times and they have yet to come in with even a scratch from it- most of the time they just get back up, make sure no one saw, and keep playing I figure it's a good way for them to learn their own balance and how to turn, and I would prefer they would figure it out on their own than with me on their back!

      If he's getting out of control on the longe line though that is a different issue. Correct longing is not a way to blow off steam like turnout is; it's a way to get your horse listening to you. With the young TBs I work with, if they are getting overexcited on the longe line, we go back to smaller circles/parallel longing where I have a little more control and we do a lot of transitions to get them listening to me. Correctly introduced side reins often help with the attention and limit their ability to really explode as if they do go to buck they hit the end of the side reins and it becomes somewhat self-correcting.

      Comment


      • #4
        I used to board a barn where the owner was like that - the horse couldn't be turned out because he would go crazy, and because he never got turned out he always went crazy...it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        I think the only cure is to be prepared at any time that the horse may be injured - whether it's in his stall, in turnout, on the lunge or under saddle. It happens...some horses are just prone to injury.

        Personally I love watching my horses gallop in turnout, and sometimes I'll cluck them on when I turn them out to try to get them to gallop around. The first few times on new pasture is always like the Kentucky Derby, but after a few days the novelty wears off and they just walk out. So I think that the more you turn your horse out, the easier it will be for both of you.

        To be honest, all of my mare's self-inflicted injuries have been "non-running" injuries - corneal abrasion from unknown source (but probably her herdmate's hairy back); lacerated nose from never found sharp spot in the dry lot; cuts and abrasions on legs from breaking through an electric fence and knocking the arena drag over; etc. although I'm sure she could hurt herself by running as well...

        Comment


        • #5
          The best thing to do? Turn him out 24/7. Larger turnout is better than smaller.

          I've don't know too many TBs who, after being confined in a stall for any amount of time, don't buck, run and play when turned out.

          Make your turnout as safe as you possibly can and give him a sedate pasture buddy whose not likely to join in if he gets silly.

          That is truly all you can do. But horses that are kept out 24/7 are much less likely to have that 15 minutes of pure silliness when first turned out than stalled

          I suspect this won't help your anxiety, but a horse is MORE likely to hurt themselves in a stall than turned out. And more likely to injure themselves under saddle.
          The plural of anecdote is not data.

          Comment


          • #6
            The best way to get horses to behave in turnout is 1) leave them out all the time (or most of the time) and 2) put them with a sensible friend. It also helps to have a very solid turnout routine, i.e. Dobbin goes out every am at 8. Routine is reassuring to horses. Some horses do not do well with private t/o and are much safer with a friend. Is this the only horse on your property? If so, I that would explain the behavior. Horses are herd animals and rely on their companions for security and reassurance. For particularly flighty horses that have had to be up in stalls for extra time due to weather or other issues, or for layups I don't see anything wrong with giving a sedative or a calming supplement as a temporary fix.

            As far as calming your nerves, I don't know any good solutions for that. Horses are flighty animals and prone to maim and injure themselves even in the best of circumstances.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              He does have a companion. A pony who is very calm. The problem really isn't him...it is me....I know that. I have been turning him out as much as possible with the pony. I used to lunge him in sidereins...back when I did some dressage. I think I still have them somewhere. Maybe I will try and find them. What gets tough is when the weather is bad...like when the hurricane hit....or when I get really busy at work...I feel like he gets that pent up energy and then I get anxiety waiting for him to let it out. In an ideal situation I would have a nice big field with a run in that I could leave him in all the time....but that is NOT what I have....I know there is no real answer to this other than turn out and lunge the damn horse I guess I just needed to confess and maybe get yelled at a bit I think it is good that I don't have human children because I would probably be the mom who never let her kids go anywhere

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
                Wow. Really? How do you KEEP him from running?
                I guess what I should have said was giving them the opportunity to run when you are a nerotic worrier

                Comment


                • #9
                  If you turned him out all day, every day, you would not have to lunge him before turn out.
                  http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How much is he out? Horses who are out all the time rarely even do the run/buck/kick thing. Leave him out, and your problem is solved. He is a HORSE. You can't make his life 100% safe. I'm guessing you don't have kids?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You should try to give up any ideas of control and accept the fact they ARE GOING TO RUN. They ARE GOING TO FALL. They ARE GOING TO GET HURT. It is the nature of the animal and of owning them. My horses in my pasture regularly wipe out and I make note of bloody scratches etc. So long as there are no major wounds, all is ok. My boarded horse...same thing. Heck, he crashes when I ride him!

                      Your fear is a control issue. You can not control loose horses. All you can do is control what you can do if they get hurt. Have your vet help you put together a good first aid kit. Have them teach you how to treat a variety of wounds; know when you can handle crap and when you need to call the vet. Then turn your horse out and accept you may or may not be treating an injury later.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think a lot of the time in the winter, they are just trying to warm up. If they have a stable blanket and and turn out rug, they are less likely to be cold. Also if you put a couple of flakes of hay right next to the gate, mine usually stop and eat it, even if there is a field of grass ahead. Once they eat a bit, they usually calm down. Also a fat,older, lazy turn out partner is an advantage. They just won't run that long and the other more energetic types will stop also. But even my 27 year old TB takes a good turn now and then.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Houdini1220 View Post
                          I guess what I should have said was giving them the opportunity to run when you are a nerotic worrier
                          I don't know. Somehow you're going to have to force yourself. Thoroughbreds are bred to run...they love to run. We used to egg ours on and even the QH would join in. You can't protect them from everything, my heart horse broke his femur just getting up. Let him run.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I say ease him into it, and then acknowledge you cannot control him, and tightening your grip will likely make things worse.

                            Story: My 10yro Arab is a retired show horse; he did Scottsdale and all that before coming into my possession. He has some lumps and bumps, but is functionally sound; he just can't stay sound when asked to perform at the A-level.

                            When I got him, his only experience outside his stall was lunging and being ridden, and when ridden, only in the arena--not even walking back to the barn from the arena. He wasn't kept in a 12x12 box stall, thankfully, but a 24x24 paddock.

                            Having had an Arab before, I assumed his needs would be much like hers. She needed to be turned out at least once a week to roll, gallop, and play--then she was good. Being less than half her age, I knew my new boy would need freedom even more. Thing is, I knew he hadn't been turned out in years. I didn't want him to get hurt, but I also didn't want to get hurt.

                            I eased him into turnout. After about 2 weeks with me, I took him to the smallest arena and lunged him first. Then I took his halter off and sent him on his way. for the first minute or so, he trotted circles around me, confused and lunging himself. When I ducked out of the ring, he was puzzled for a few--then realized he was free. Buck, fart, kick, gallop, spin, repeat (but not necessarily in that order).

                            Gradually I increased his turnout locations and started removing the pre-turnout lunge. Now he is happy as a lark in the huge, acre-sized ring, galloping, rolling, kicking, knocking over jump poles, turning on sprinklers, and otherwise causing mayhem.

                            At first, it was like he didn't know how to take care of himself--he fell a few times, he turned a corner too late and hind legs hit a fence, but never really hurt himself (though I held my breath every time! gah, the heart attack). Thankfully, goofy boy is a smart boy and he learned from his experiences. He now plays safely, and runs off The Stupids on his own. I do wrap his front legs as a precaution.
                            SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
                            CP Trilogy 2002-2015
                            My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hmm, I've been trying to link a video to my horse's first turnout (I actually have it recorded; he was so cute), but I can't find a way to directly link it. Best I have is a link to one of my blog posts that has the video embedded in it. He's so cute...IMO.
                              SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
                              CP Trilogy 2002-2015
                              My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Houdini1220 View Post
                                He does have a companion. A pony who is very calm. The problem really isn't him...it is me....I know that. I have been turning him out as much as possible with the pony. I used to lunge him in sidereins...back when I did some dressage. I think I still have them somewhere. Maybe I will try and find them. What gets tough is when the weather is bad...like when the hurricane hit....or when I get really busy at work...I feel like he gets that pent up energy and then I get anxiety waiting for him to let it out. In an ideal situation I would have a nice big field with a run in that I could leave him in all the time....but that is NOT what I have....I know there is no real answer to this other than turn out and lunge the damn horse I guess I just needed to confess and maybe get yelled at a bit I think it is good that I don't have human children because I would probably be the mom who never let her kids go anywhere
                                What do you have for turnout, and what is your routine? Even a small turnout is "turnout", although it won't stop horses from running....so tell us what you have and your current schedule -- personally, I wouldn't think lunging before turnout (if that's what you do; it was mentioned above) would help at all. A horse that is fit can run for a long time...10 minutes on the lunge isn't going to tire it out, and the lunging before it's allowed out might cause it to be even worse.

                                As for the running in winter to keep warm - I don't know...my horses love to run and be silly when it's cold. They love to gallop in the snow...I think they are just having fun.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Our horses live outside 24/7 with access to their stalls. We rarely have any fireworks. Rather than keep them in when the weather is bad, we just keep them out. Even in ice and snow they have done much better with continuous access to their freedom. The horses that get turned out only a few hours tend to get more riled up - IME. Two of our horses are OTTBs and they are beautiful when they get running, but it's rare. Here's a link to my horse stretching his legs! Freedom Flying
                                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Now I feel like a bad horse owner, 'cause after that first second to make sure nothing is broken, I laugh when my horses tank it being goof-balls.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Bogie View Post
                                      Here's a link to my horse stretching his legs! Freedom Flying
                                      Beautiful!

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by GoForAGallop View Post
                                        Now I feel like a bad horse owner, 'cause after that first second to make sure nothing is broken, I laugh when my horses tank it being goof-balls.
                                        This is the mindset I need to get in!!

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