Riding Problems - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 04-10-2012, 09:38 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Ohio, USA
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Riding Problems

I still have yet to update my journal but I am having some difficulties riding Matt. (The sweet fifteen year old part Morgan I am leasing. Keep in mind he has not been ridden in a very long time.) I took him out to ride yesterday, which would be the third time I rode him, and we started out fine. The owner of the barn where I am leasing had her horse out there as well and was lunging(?) him. Matt didn't seem to mind. We kept to our half of the arena and they kept to their half. I walked him for a while, trying to keep him going deep into corners and against the rails and not all over the place like he seems to prefer (I can already tell this is getting better from the few times I have ridden him.) We went into trot and it went fairly well, compared to the first two times. It was much smoother and put together, I think I was doing my part well and he was doing his part well. He was in no hurry or rush and we could keep a good pace. We went back and forth between trotting and walking.
Then the owner got up on her horse and we walked next to each other with our horses. Finally, the owner left the arena with her horse.
At that point is when he started acting out. He kept trying to go to the gate (which is something he has done a little bit of before but never this bad.) When we would trot away from the gate, he would go slow and would not go in a straight line, trying to curve his way around to the direction of the gate. If I did get him to the other end of the arena, when we turned around, he would trot super fast and then begin cantering towards the gate. We were just an overrall mess and I'm not sure how to deal with this. I know the horses are very attached to each other but we should be able to still ride without him freaking like that, you know. I'm usually quite gentle so I am trying to be firmer with him, forcing him to go the direction he doesn't want to go and stopping him if he goes into canter.
I'm just having trouble containing him with this happens, and I need some help. How should I work on this? Am I doing something wrong? Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated as I am going back out there today.
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post #2 of 3 Old 04-14-2012, 02:33 AM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Virginia
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You are right to be consistent with him. This is an irritating thing that many horses do to some degree, especially school horses. Keep telling him no and if at any point you feel he is being extremely unruly, get off immediately and scold him however you prefer. The whole attitude you need to have in your mind is that you can provide the safety that he needs from a leader and he needs to be worried about you, your seat, and your cues to do anything. This is also true on the ground. Get right back on after a scolding and repeat the process. Sometimes it takes jumping off and looking them in the face and telling them NOO to get them to realize that you are the important one in the situation! Trust building will help, because it sounds like he is not taking you very seriously. After 3 rides, this is totally understandable. Spending time with him - as in grooming, hand grazing, or even taking a chair into his pasture, or hanging out in his stall will get him more aquainted with you and you can start building trust from there. If he is not going to take you seriously then take the steps to make sure he wants to choose you as a leader so that he listens to what you want and doesnt make stupid decisions like acting out if his buddy leaves the ring. Hope this helps :)
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post #3 of 3 Old 04-18-2012, 07:15 AM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Missouri
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Ahh... those horses that can't stand to be alone.

It's perfectly normal as horses are herd animals. But it's a right pain in the side.

The best thing to do is make it more work to be near the gate. Every time he tries to run towards it, tight circles and figure eights no bigger than 10 meters.

This is not really the same thing, but my horse once thought he could spook at a pair of deer running past the indoor. He spooked pretty badly and then refused to go in a corner. He'd do as you described.. bending away from it and running the opposite direction. Well I didn't like that so I made him do 10 meter circles in the opposite corner on the short side.. and slowly we'd creep closer to that corner just doing 10 meter circles (about 5) and then I'd let him go large and we'd cut across the arena and do it the other way.

He never spooked for deer or shied from that corner again.

The key is making their poor choices more work. Circles are hard, figure eights, serpentines, weaving, leg yields, shoulder in, haunches in, side passing.. lots of transitions. Anything that has him rethinking being by the entrance. Then all pressure goes away when he turns his nose from it or travels away from the gate. You make being from the gate pleasant. A nice stretchy trot or a walking break.

Another approach is to act like nothing has changed. Just serpentine from one end to the other, then do figure eights so you aren't really ever by the gate and only let him have walk breaks when he's coming past the gate (in a dressage arena, that would be letter M going to the left, and H going right)

And a third approach, if you have a friend that rides with you, ask them to leave and enter the arena multiple times and be gone for extended periods of time. And just continue on with your workout. Eventually the horse won't care, because you (the leader) don't care.

And a fourth approach, ride when no one else is there (but someone on property so you aren't completely alone.) Horses that are alone cope with it over time. Then when another horse is added, and then leaves, it's not much of an impact.

Hope these tips help you.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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