Let me disclaimer this by stating that I fully understand it is our own durn fault for letting the sourness get this bad! It's an issue we've started to work on, but we're not "there" yet. That said, help me fix it
Zonie is VERY buddy sour and flips out when Dixie is out of his sight (even on the other side of the house). Dixie and I are signed up for a ground work clinic at my trainer's because little miss thang and I have some respect issues to work through. I do not foresee any issues trailering Dixie to the trainer's.
My concern is Zonie. How can I keep him from killing himself in the corral while we're gone? Should I do some groundwork with him beforehand?
My method is called the "Tree of Patience", or Clinton Anderson now sells a Patience Poll (same method).
If your horse will stand tied, start here. Go to your local tire shop, ask for a inner tube. Loop the inner tube over a tall tree limb. Tie a lead rope threw the looped inner tube and attach your horse. (This really works best with a rope halter, a flat one is basically pointless for this method.) This way if the horse pulls back, there is some give. Must be high enough if the horse rears up, he will not get a leg over the limb, but not low enough for the horses nose to reach the ground. Tie both horses where they cannot see eachother or tie one where it cannot see the other horse in the pasture. The first day let the horse stand there until he stands still (might take all day). As soon as the horse is not pulling, pawing, etc.... turn him back out to pasture. The next day same thing (usually doesn't take very long the second day) until the horse stands still. Repeat daily, after a few days, do this saddled.
The goal is for you to be able to lead the horse out of the pasture, saddle him, tie him, and him stand there quietly (again I emphasis unable to see the buddy horse) until you come back to get him, whether that be 15 min or 2 hours.
Once this is accomplished start riding the horse alone, headed away from "home" leaving from the tree after being tied 15-30min. ALWAYS LET SOMEONE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING AND HOW LONG YOU WILL BE. If riding on a road, if possible, have someone follow along in a vehicle.
When the horse is riding away from home easily, start riding with a buddy but making your horse move away from the other horse (walk on opposite sides of the road, ride in a creek one horse in the water and one on the bank, make your horse go around a tree to the left when the other rider goes to the right...) just make your horse do something different than what the other horse is doing.
After this is going smoothly, start riding away from the other horse. (After a road ride together take different routes home, take trails that will cross but not riding together, ride opposite directions in your own pasture.)
It can be a quick process or a long one, depends on the horse. It has worked many many times for me and for people I was helping.
This is Clinton Anderson's "Patience Pole". Only $900 (Ha!) for non club members. But it gives you the general idea.
If you could get hold of some old telephone poles, you could construct an frame like a swing set to tie the horse in the middle like you would a tree limb. Or you might be able to attach something to the top of one pole that would swivel (like the picture) so that the horse doesn't get tangled or wrapped up.
In the meantime, we've come up with a different plan that may or may not work LOL. Here's how it's going:
First thing in the morning, we feed them their grain and turn one of them out. Yesterday was Dixie, leaving Arizona behind to pitch a royal fit because Dixie wandered off down the hill where he couldn't see her. I wanted to wait until Arizona calmed down to turn him out but we had to leave. I didn't just open the gate though and this is what made me quite happy: I drove him away from me with the end of the lead rope and waited until he stood still. I opened the gate but stood in it, blocking his exit. Every time he would paw or throw his head or turn away, I would drive him away until he got to the point where he stood calmly. I stepped aside and waited. He stood. I finally said "Ok, you can go," and pointed to the pasture. He tore out of there like his butt was fire (I was out of the way by that point).
Today, we turned Arizona out first. Dixie's a little upset but I'm 99% sure it's because she's mad she isn't the one turned out, not mad that Arizona isn't there LOL. At first Zonie stood at the pasture gate where they usually go down to the greenest grass. You could see his inner turmoil... "Graze on the yummy or stick by my girlfriend?! What to do what to do!?" Now, Zonie is sort of hanging around in the pasture connected to the corrals but he's slowly wandering farther and farther away. In about an hour, we're going to bring him in and turn Dixie out until he calms himself. It takes a long time though because he's one of those athletic quarterhorses LOL!
That sounds like a super plan! My favorite thing about horse training is that MANY MANY different lesson can teach the same message! It never gets boring! Each horse is different and responds to differnent lessons, its amazing how smart a horse can be on one lesson, and but stumped on another, then watching that lightbulb go off and all the sudden your horse/person relationship is just a little stronger...... awesome!
Side note: I use the Tree of Patience lesson for all types of messages: getting used to being tied, buddy sour, patience in general, a young horse learning the weight of a saddle without rolling on it (they have to be used to being tied there already!), getting used to hose/fly spray, giving a bath.... and the list goes on. Its a great tool if you can find a way to construct one.
We're definitely going to look into something similar to the patience pole for various lessons. :)
So I have an update lol. We turned Zonie out first and he hung around the corral area. After about an hour, we gave Zonie a little bit of hay and then turned Dixie out. She went to the other pasture and Zonie stayed pretty calm. He called a couple of times, but I didn't see him trot or canter around his corral like he tends to do. No bucking farts either. After about 45-60 minutes, Dixie wandered down the hill where Zonie couldn't see her anymore. He was looking toward where she was, but no calling and no tantrums.
So, I went out with the lead rope and stood in the gate like I did yesterday. Today, no pawing, no throwing his head. Only occasional looks toward where he last saw Dixie. Each time he did that, I got his attention back right away. After about 3 minutes, I stood aside. He could have walked through at any time, but he didn't. He stood still, looking to me, glancing toward the pasture, but focusing on me. Finally, about a minute of that, and I pointed and said "Go on, go see your girl." He walked calmly out, got away from the gate and slowly trotted out to the pasture. Yay!
I put the lead rope away and look out at the horses. Guess who is still watching me? Yep, Zonie. So I walk out and walk around looking at flowers and not paying them any attention. I then did the "walk away with pretend lead rope" thing, and Zonie walked right to me and followed me a few feet. I patted him and told him he's a good boy. Hung out for a couple of minutes and then came back in.
I'm pretty happy with today's results. We'll do the same thing tomorrow and from now on, they will get separate time a couple of times a week so that we don't find ourselves back to square one :P