Barn Sour Question - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-08-2013, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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Question Barn Sour Question

I discovered that my horse is barn sour. Nothing too horrible, she just gets jumpy and tries to turn around, but I want her to be more comfortable with it. My plan was to just take her for little walks away from the barn, each day getting a little farther away. Then riding, getting a little farther each time, etc. Does this sound effective? The way we would have to walk is in a ditch along a busy county road, so I couldn't do any lunging or anything.

Thanks for reading!
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post #2 of 7 Old 04-08-2013, 09:08 PM
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From what I've heard/seen it has worked for some people and some others it hasn't.

Another thing I have been told (and I've done so myself with a older horse) is to go on a trail ride and if the horse wants to turn around and go back to the barn, then let the horse to back. But the second he gets to the barn work him. Whether its you lunging him or making him work in small circles just work him. And then offer the trail ride to him as a place of rest.

You want to give him the idea that when he wants to run back to the barn, hes going to get worked and the only time he gets to relax and enjoy himself is when hes on the trail.

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post #3 of 7 Old 04-08-2013, 09:58 PM
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One thing that contributes to a horse being barn-sour is that most people go for a ride, then, as soon as they get back to the barn, they feed the horse. That would make me barn-sour! Try feeding before the ride, or giving the horse a good workout once you get back to the barn, and feed later.

Also, I disagree with taking it a little at a time. Take the horse out and ride until you are done. In my experience, once you assert control, barn sour horses normally start acting better as the ride progresses, especially once they get out of ear-shot of the other horses.

Secondly, I NEVER go faster than a trot when heading back to the barn. I normally walk from the time we make the turn back. There's little chance of a horse getting out of your control at a walk.
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post #4 of 7 Old 04-08-2013, 10:09 PM
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If you are concerned about riding away then by all means take the horse for a walk but before you do, place a pan with a small amount of feed in it about the place she really wants to turn back. Each time set the pan a little farther away. After a few times she'll start looking forward to it and less about the barn/horses. When it's a good few hundred yards away, then do the same only ride her there. She'll be looking forward to her goodies.
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post #5 of 7 Old 04-08-2013, 10:30 PM
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Also can just sit her out. Literally.

Don't battle with her, just sit on her and if she moves off in right direction, let her go, but no praise/pets.

If wheels towards barn, turn her in your direction and just sit.

And agree with not dragging this out.

Feed idea is good but I would not do the little bit each time and further, as I would get her to where I felt like feeding, do it, and then ride on.
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post #6 of 7 Old 04-09-2013, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, I'll try something and see how it goes. Thanks everybody!
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-10-2013, 04:30 AM
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I think it's important to first consider why horses are 'barnsour' or 'buddysour'... or more appropriately barn- or buddy-sweet. Firstly they're prey animals that live in a herd. They're 'hardwired' to feel insecure when alone without a trusted, respected leader. They're also hardwired to be nervous about strange places, etc. Also very often, they don't enjoy their 'work' for humans, for many reasons. So I would be working on changing the motivation for the behaviour.

Working with the horse in a respectFUL but firm & clear manner to develop a strong relationship with them as a worthy leader is vital. Also while that will make it more likely for the horse to accept & enjoy working for you, ensuring first & foremost there isn't anything that causes the horse pain/discomfort, such as a badly fitting saddle, and being more positively, not just negatively reinforcing, which can include tactics such as saddle suggested - some feed on the trail at strategic points, going out to a Nice Place to graze, going to meet other horses... etc.

Starting out making the 'tasks' you require easy for the horse, not asking too much is important IMO & one reason why I would be inclined to start out doing short walks/rides.

Horses live in the present, don't have an understanding of 'consequences' for events of past or future, and so learn by *instant* association. That's one reason why I strongly disagree with the idea of allowing them to go home but then working them at the barn. The turning around on the trail without being told has been & gone & forgotten by then - you've already reinforced the horse for it's behaviour way back when. Also even if the horse could associate the punishment at home with the 'crime', considering the motivation - safety in numbers & in a known environment, that usually tends to outweigh the punishment - doesn't make the scary Going Out With A Human any less of a worry. Thirdly, you're only achieving anything with punishment if it's done in such a way that the horse can learn how to avoid or 'switch it off'. Therefore another reason punishment needs to happen at the time of the 'misdemeanor' & cease the instant the 'bad' behaviour stops. What's the horse doing at home to be punished for?? Doing as it's told? How does it learn how to stop it? Lastly but not at all least another reason why I disagree with 'working' a horse in punishment relates to the second common motivation for the behaviour - Work with humans is a Chore. I strive to make it Fun to do as I ask, so the horse can enjoy the ride or 'work' as much as I do.

As horses learn from instant association, I don't believe feeding a horse when they return is a positive reinforcement of 'barnsourness' any more than working them at home is effective punishment. It - and more relavantly, getting off, quitting Work when you're home is further reinforcement of how nice the barn may be tho!

Last edited by loosie; 04-10-2013 at 04:39 AM.
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