Building Horse's Confidence (in the arena)

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Building Horse's Confidence (in the arena)

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  • Building confidence in horses
  • Horse confidence building

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    05-05-2011, 12:10 AM
Building Horse's Confidence (in the arena)

Flash has come into spring after having the majority of the winter off with a rather annoying gate sour issue. After I mount up, he will throw his head; bulge his shoulder out; attempt to take off to the gate and just generally be a big turd about being ridden unless he is on his way to/at the gate.

Pain has been ruled out - this evening one of his field mates was being ridden in the arena so I decided to hop on and see how he would be with another horse in the arena. He was much better - no bad behaviour. He did pitch a tiny fit when first asked for the trot but he got over it.

I know the general attitude towards gate sour issues is to work him where the gate is, only allow him to rest/dismount at the other end of the arena - I already do these things. The footing in the arena hasn't been very great to work him very hard near the gate, but when he acts up I have been working him harder and then allowing him to walk out calmly only when moving away from the gate.

However, what I am really looking for here is confidence building exercises. It is clear to me that when he is alone, he isn't confident - I know there have got to be some people in here experienced with this (maybe should been in the NH section? If so, feel free to move it admin).

Thanks in advance.
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    05-05-2011, 03:20 AM
Well maybe this will help. I usually have found that working them in front of the gate doesn't do much good either. I find they get that way when your not as strict with them. So just try to be more in charge and expect more. Maybe you already are though. As far as confidence building just do confidence building exercises. Walking over tarps, through water, etc. I'm sure you know a lot of them.
    05-05-2011, 08:54 AM
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The only confidence he lacks is confidence in your ability to make him go a different direction than he would rather go. I, too, (or is it three), have not had much luck with working a horse at the gate. I've had a lot more positive response by not letting a horse go anywhere near the gate. I want him to know that I am in charge and as long as he acts anxious to get to the gate, we are not even going there. As soon as a horse speeds up going toward the gate, I just fold him around on the fence and go the other way. I have had horses that I made change directions a hundred times until they walked quietly, head down and relaxed toward the gate. Then, I ride them to the farthest corner and sit on them there for 5 minutes before I dismount, loosen the girth and lead them out.

If a horse acts anxious when I stop and stand at the far end, I will get off and tie it in the far corner -- maybe for hours -- until it is standing there relaxed and resting a hind leg. [This, of course, could be impossible in a 'public' arena or an arena made of portable panels, but it sure works here at home.]

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