How can i keep his focus?
 
 

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How can i keep his focus?

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  • Keeping horse listening and focused when free lunging
  • How to keep horses attention

 
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    06-16-2010, 11:00 AM
  #1
Weanling
How can i keep his focus?

How can I get my horse to focus more on me than on everything else?

When I ride alone Phoenix is generally fine, he mostly pays attention but can be a little absent minded. When I ride with anyone else it's like i'm not even there. His mind wanders and he spends the whole ride looking around and generally not paying attention.

Last weekend I rode in the small field we have at the barn with two other horses. One gelding who Phoenix knows and gets along with and a mare. He spent the whole time turning himself practically inside out to try and play with the mare. He ignored my aides and when I took him into trot he got really choppy and was either really fast or barely moving.

I don't mind that he wants to be friends with other horses, that's fine, but how can I keep his focus more on me and what we're doing? Are there any exercises or figures I can ride to get him focus back on me?

It's annoying because when I ride alone he's doing really well, learning to listen to really tiny aides and my seat but then it all goes out of the window the minute another horse or person come into view.
     
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    06-16-2010, 11:09 AM
  #2
Showing
Totally inexcusable behaviour, and you need to nip this in the bud pronto.

When we're working, and yes, EVERY ride is considered work, my horse is to focus on me and what I'm telling him. Not worry about what other horses are doing.

Your horse apparently doesn't see you as being in charge. This is something you need to establish with him, or he's always going to ignore you whenever he sees any of his buddies.

There aren't any particular exercises to 'fix' this; you need to be firm and expect his cooperation, not ask for it. If he misbehaves, there needs to be consequences.
     
    06-16-2010, 12:27 PM
  #3
Weanling
Yes. Definitely.

It's annoying because when i'm on the ground lunging him for example his focus is 100% on me. He turns one ear towards me and get his head down and works. When I ride it's the complete opposite, like he can't see me so he forgets to listen.

I probably do need to be more firm, so i'll try that. I tried trotting him round and past his buddies but he went straight into trail mode and forced himself in behind the lead horse whilst completely ignoring me.
     
    06-16-2010, 12:30 PM
  #4
Started
Yes, you don't need exercises... you need discipline.

I had a mare that was always worrying about where her buddies were and wasn't paying attention to me. She would literally stop in the middle of the trail and whinny for any horse in the area. I fixed it in one ride.

Every time she stopped and whinnied, she got smacked once on her haunches with the dressage whip that I carried. They were good firm smacks too. Tapping them lightly won't work.

In any case, after doing that consistently for one ride she got the idea. "If I do this, I get smacked, so I won't." I didn't really have to use the whip on her again, but I made a habit of carrying it just in case she reverted.

It isn't a matter entirely of punishment either. I wasn't just being mean to her, I was telling her that I needed her attention to be on me. After that she became much better at listening to my cues and putting more trust in me because I had proven to be a strong leader for her.
     
    06-16-2010, 12:36 PM
  #5
Showing
He can see you when you're on his back. Horses have a larger area of peripheral vision than people, and they're able to see at least part of the person who's riding them.

It doesn't matter regardless, since he knows you're there. That should be enough to keep his attention focused.

My horse doesn't get to ignore me. If he's doing something I haven't asked for, then we do a series of patterns. We continue to do them until I have his full attention.

Acting like I don't exist just means more work for him. It also means he may or may not be subject to a smack with my crop, depending on his attitude.

You've allowed him to be this way because you're not being firm enough. I love my horses, but they're to do my bidding when they're working, not as they please.

The good thing is that this is fixable. The bad thing is that since you've already established that you'll back down if he insists, it's going to take twice as long.
     
    06-16-2010, 12:51 PM
  #6
Started
What you need to do is get him thinking about you, which can take anywhere from 5-30 mins. Keep him thinking about "oh what are we going to do next mom". Once his ears prick forward or he's looking at something else, bend him in a circle. Keep doing this until he realizes "it's way easier to listen to my mom than to look at other horses".
     
    06-16-2010, 01:14 PM
  #7
Yearling
Try to use the 6stride rule. Aftere 6 strides you change what your doing either gait direction speed etc this will ensure he is listening as your constantly changing.
     
    06-16-2010, 01:16 PM
  #8
Weanling
I'd find random patterns and exercises to keep him busy. I know if I do the same thing every day or jsut do a normal trot around the arena lope around it after he gets bored and will get alittle pissy.

So Id constantly be working him, especially if you see his mind wandering off then trot him in a circle and bend his nose in, make him listen to you. Theres alot of diffrent things you can do though.
     
    06-16-2010, 01:46 PM
  #9
Yearling
Heres the thing, its easy to be a good boy and listen to you when there is no one else around and no distractions. Personally I would work his butt off every time his attention wandered. Disengaging, circling, backing, flexing, patterns, anything you can to keep him moving and eventually he will realize its a lot easier and less work to listen than ignore you. You said he forced himself in behind the lead horses and ignored you, that is COMPLETELY unacceptable. Do you free lunge him or use a line? I would introduce him to every distraction imaginable. Lunge him in a field on a long line with someone riding in the same area, or right next to his field mates. Tie another horse up in the round pen(if its big enough) and every time his attention goes anywhere but you work his butt off. Ride him in a field with someone else so he is contained if he should blow up and you come off, and don't let him get away with a single iota of inattention. Every time you go near him think of the most dominant alpha mare you've ever seen and become her!
     
    06-16-2010, 02:12 PM
  #10
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eolith    
Every time she stopped and whinnied, she got smacked once on her haunches with the dressage whip that I carried. They were good firm smacks too. Tapping them lightly won't work.
I could try this, he's a little terrified of whips but I guess I could give it a go and hope he doesn't kill me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Speed Racer    
The good thing is that this is fixable. The bad thing is that since you've already established that you'll back down if he insists, it's going to take twice as long.
i think the good thing is is that he's only done it once, I don't ride very often because he's had back issues and i've only ridden twice with other people so at least that's a plus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by White Foot    
What you need to do is get him thinking about you, which can take anywhere from 5-30 mins. Keep him thinking about "oh what are we going to do next mom". Once his ears prick forward or he's looking at something else, bend him in a circle. Keep doing this until he realizes "it's way easier to listen to my mom than to look at other horses".
i bet he deos get bored so if I keep him guessing he might be more focussed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaggiStar    
Try to use the 6stride rule. Aftere 6 strides you change what your doing either gait direction speed etc this will ensure he is listening as your constantly changing.
I'll give this a try too!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacksmama    
Heres the thing, its easy to be a good boy and listen to you when there is no one else around and no distractions. Personally I would work his butt off every time his attention wandered. Disengaging, circling, backing, flexing, patterns, anything you can to keep him moving and eventually he will realize its a lot easier and less work to listen than ignore you. You said he forced himself in behind the lead horses and ignored you, that is COMPLETELY unacceptable. Do you free lunge him or use a line? I would introduce him to every distraction imaginable. Lunge him in a field on a long line with someone riding in the same area, or right next to his field mates. Tie another horse up in the round pen(if its big enough) and every time his attention goes anywhere but you work his butt off. Ride him in a field with someone else so he is contained if he should blow up and you come off, and don't let him get away with a single iota of inattention. Every time you go near him think of the most dominant alpha mare you've ever seen and become her!
i both free lunge and lunge on a line with side reins. And both ways he's very focussed. I could ask for someone at the barn to ride when I lunge him to see what he's like.
     

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