Cars - What's the best way to get a nervous horse used to them?
   

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Cars - What's the best way to get a nervous horse used to them?

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  • Taking horses out on the road for the first time
  • How to get a horse used to cars on the road

 
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    06-19-2010, 09:40 PM
  #1
Started
Cars - What's the best way to get a nervous horse used to them?

Iíve been given lotís of advice on just how to get Jaxxon used to cars.

Iíve been told to tie him close to the road... which Iím hesitant to do, in case he freaks out... so Iíve already put that suggestion Ďbehind meí.

Iíve been told to take him to the highway and just let him get used to them zooming around... which I donít want to do because thatís jut a disaster waiting to strike.

Etc...

Iíve narrowed my Ďchoicesí down, and am going with the one I find most comfortable for both me and Jaxxon... Iím walking him a few times a week about half a mile and back. The road I live on isnít a busy road, so weíre lucky to be passed by more than five cars, and they all slow down for us. Some stop to say Ďheyí and, after explaining the situation with Jaxxon, theyíre willing to let him get close to smell of the car. We usually see a motorcycle/dirt bike or two, a four-wheeler, etc... (family) and they always slow down or stop and let Jaxxon get close and see whatever it is and wait for us to go on ahead before going on, so as to not startle him.

My dilemma, however, is my reaction to the vehicles. Iíll admit, I do get a little nervous when one goes by, because I think Ďwhat if Jax decides to totally freak and jump in front of the car/truckí (my neighbor lost a yearling a few years ago like that... he was leading the horse, a truck and trailer came by, and just like that the horse freaked and reared into the trailer and broke itís leg and had to be put down... he was a really promising stud-colt, too...). I donít want that to happen.

Thankfully, Jaxxon just Ďflinchesí backwards when something goes by. Sometimes heíll Ďflinchí, sometimes heís fine.

But my problem is... when a car is coming, should I stop walking, get off to the side of the road (if Iím not already there), and pet and reassure Jaxxon and let him watch the vehicle as it gets close and passes us (this is what Iíve been doing)... or should I ignore the vehicle and keep walking and let him get used to them like that, on his own (Iíve done this once and he really got nervous and tried to hide behind me).

Iíve been told by different people to do both, and both sound like ok methods, but I dunno which is best?... I can see the reasons for both methods... by me stopping and reassuring him, it gives him confidence, but may take longer for him to become completely ok with vehicles... but by me keeping walking and paying no attention, it shows him that Ďhey, itís nothing to get all uptight aboutí...

So... any advice?
     
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    06-19-2010, 10:08 PM
  #2
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Britt    
But my problem is... when a car is coming, should I stop walking, get off to the side of the road (if Iím not already there), and pet and reassure Jaxxon and let him watch the vehicle as it gets close and passes us (this is what Iíve been doing)... or should I ignore the vehicle and keep walking and let him get used to them like that, on his own (Iíve done this once and he really got nervous and tried to hide behind me).


I do a lot of riding on fairly busy roads and through neighborhoods and, if walking in hand, I suggest ignoring the cars, I.e. Continue like it's no big deal. If he wants to hide behind you at first, that's fine. Over time, he'll get his confidence from you.

You're right to not tie close to the road, but if you have a safe place where you can take your horse on a lead and let him graze closer and closer to the road, that works well for most horses. They love to eat and eventually totally ignore the cars flying by.

Also, like with most horse monsters, if you have someone with a seasoned, experienced horse that you can take out together, that's great. We always want our horses to trust us, but in my experience, they always trust another horse even more (and faster).
     
    06-19-2010, 10:51 PM
  #3
Started
In the yard, I can take him up close by the road and let him graze. Our yard is big and we have a good place behind the mailbox that's open except for a flowerbed... Lol. I'd have him on a lunge-line while he's grazing... I let him out on a lunge-line every other day or so and sit in the yard with him for a few hours to let him graze. I can just take him closer to the road and hope some cars go by, lol...

My cousin Tamara owns a 25-ish year old 'been there, done that' retired-from-riding Arab gelding. Nothing hardly ever phases him and he's an old gentleman horse... very solid and good with other horses. We walk Mo and Jaxxon together sometimes... we can start doing that more.

I just don't want to walk Jax with Mo all the time... when my other gelding, Dakota was still little, I walked him alone a lot and it helped out bond... so I'm wanting to do that with Jaxxon, but my cousin and I could walk our horses together about three/four times a week.
     
    06-20-2010, 01:15 AM
  #4
Banned
When I ride, and I hear a car coming, I just point my horse to the side of the road, and tell her easy as the car goes by. I kind of get freaked out too when a car goes by, because the mare I ride is naturally a little more spooky than the trained horse. And the roads I ride next to have a lot of city slickers traveling on them to get to their weekend cabins on the lake. Not to be steryotyping, but those mercedes fly past our horses at probably 50 miles an hour, not realizing how bad a horse can spook. I try to keep her as far to the side of the road as I can. And I find that warning the mare ahead of time helps keep her calm.
     
    06-20-2010, 02:11 AM
  #5
Green Broke
To be perfectly honest it sounds like you, much like most people, are actually creating whatever fear you believe to be present. Has anything happened specifically to make you believe he is afraid of cars? Most horses have seen vehicles their whole life - and in virtually every case I've seen, it's the rider/handler tensing up that is creating the fear as most horses don't care a wit about cars. I've had them be "looky" if the vehicle is hauling something, and certainly they tend to get nervous if a deafening dirt bike goes roaring past, but I've yet to have a young horse "scared" of cars. There just isn't anything to scare them - they've seen them before, they aren't noisy and they don't do anything "scary" when they go by so it's not your standard horse monster.

I just think people make a big deal out of vehicles when the horses are content to ignore them. I was riding Jynx in a field this winter, and we wanted to thank the neighbour and he was coming down the road on his quad. I was so busy thinking about catching up with him, it didn't even dawn on me until later that I stood two feet away from an idling quad on a completely greenbroke 2 year old who'd never been off property before. She wasn't scared because I never gave her a reason to be scared. Justus also has no fear of quads, dirt bikes and snowmobiles. The only horses we own that DO have issue are the ones where something bad has happened - they like to chase us so the older trail mares actually go neurotic when they see a dirt bike or a quad because of so many bad experiences.

I take my horses out and ride, plain and simple. I've never had an incident yet, and when they do get nervous because a school bus or a tractor is coming towards them, we just end up in the ditch. They certainly aren't going to jump in front of what's scaring them! You can't let one freak accident ruin it for you - people die riding horses every day, so why isn't that stopping you from riding period?
     
    06-20-2010, 06:37 AM
  #6
Trained
Latte occasionally takes exception to cars - She has pulled back a few times when a car goes past out at the farm.

I ponied her off Bundy (Who couldn't care less) along the road the first few times - We have an industrial area to go through so there are lots of trucks. The first few times she jumped but Bundy just plodded on and she took her lead from him.

I am of the 'ignore them' school of thought. I will pat and reward only when they are NOT spooking.

First time I rode her up the road I kept my reins loose but tight enough that I had a hold if she did anything, and just looked ahead and kept walking. She was fine with oncoming traffic. She scooted forward and started trotting when the first one came from behind but I just asked her back to walk and kept going.
     
    06-20-2010, 06:41 AM
  #7
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacabreMikolaj    
I take my horses out and ride, plain and simple. I've never had an incident yet, and when they do get nervous because a school bus or a tractor is coming towards them, we just end up in the ditch. They certainly aren't going to jump in front of what's scaring them! You can't let one freak accident ruin it for you - people die riding horses every day, so why isn't that stopping you from riding period?
It's not necessarily the cars themselves, but where and how you encounter them. I'm sure that most of us folks that ride in/by the road ride in very different environments, from a nice country road with little traffic and ditches to narrow roads and bridges with a lot of traffic and very little/no shoulder, and it really does make a big difference to the horse and how you ride (safely).
A horse isn't going to just step in front of a car, but what does happen is that something else near the road spooks the horse into taking that one step into the traffic. Also, there are a lot of just inconsiderate drivers out there (someone mentioned city slickers). I've encountered two types while in the road. The ones that just fly by you a foot away at 50 mph (they do this to bicycle riders, too), and the ones that actually want to try and scare the horse by beeping their horn, yelling, etc (usually teenagers, sorry to say). My experience is that most motorcyclists are very understanding, perhaps because cars can also be their 'enemy' on the road.
Finally, find out what local/state laws apply to you. It may give you some confidence to know what your rights are. Laws vary from area to area, but around here horses have the right of way (from the early 1900s years) and when I'm riding in the road in a high traffic area, I actually ride in the middle of the lane (like a motorcycle) at the suggestion of the Department of Transportation. I've found that it forces cars to slow down, give you more room, and pass you at a reasonable speed. Some people may get annoyed, but I'm not shy about telling them that they are inconsiderate, dangerous drivers that shouldn't be on the road to begin with.

Keep practicing. Try not to be (too) nervous, but do be careful and watch for developing situations that can be very dangerous knowing how your horse may react.
     
    06-20-2010, 10:19 AM
  #8
Started
Thanks guys.

The reason I say he's scared of cars is the way he acts... even when I'm perfectly fine with the vehicle, because it's a family member or someone I know is going to slow down, he still flinches back smetimes...

Plus, before I got him about three weeks ago, he'd never been around moving cars. Never been walked on the pavement, etc... Never really been handled any more than just petting or brushing.
     
    06-20-2010, 10:39 AM
  #9
Yearling
Well, our arena is next to a busy highway and every time we take a horse to that arena for the first few times, they freak every time a car goes by. After a few rides in the arena, they chill out and get used to it. We also have a field that's by the highway and horses turned out there tend to be a little more car-proof. Just really all it takes is the horse has to get used to the cars, and the best way to do that is to make them experience cars frequently. In places like a field next to a road, gives the horse security of their field while being introduced to the scary cars. That way they're not completely freaked.
     
    06-20-2010, 07:45 PM
  #10
Foal
I would just ignore the vehicle. If your horse begins to act up and get truly scared, then you can pat him and reassure and continue.

For your first rides, I would suggest going with one or two other horses that are accustomed to vehicles. Horses get a LOT of confidence from being in a herd.

Sounds like you are doing a good job so far!
     

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