Dangerous Barn Sour Gelding - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 08-28-2012, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Dangerous Barn Sour Gelding

I have been asked to post this topic by my friend...
She has a barn sour 3 year old quarter horse gelding, Cocoa. Cocoa used to go crazy when he couldn't see his mom, Girl. He was weaned but after a while he was in the pasture with her and she is now his buddy. My friend has been working with him and has made progress. She used to be able to take him up and down the road by himself with no problem. Until yesterday... He went a certain distance away from the house and went running back no matter what my friend did. Every time he got to that point he always ran back. He even ran back and almost got hit by a car. He threatens to rear and buck and just goes crazy. He has never done that before and my friend can't think of what to do. Is there any safe but effective way to fix this? She has no round pen and the only place she can ride is on the road until she gets to the path through the woods where all her trails are. I don't know why he is acting like this, he did the same thing today. He hasn't had any bad experience and my friend is always gentle with him so I don't know what his problem his. Any advice? I don't want to see my friend get hurt but she would hate to have to sell Cocoa and buy a new horse because she is so attached to him.
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post #2 of 28 Old 08-28-2012, 11:37 AM
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Sounds like Cocoa needs some remedial training. If your friend isn't able to do it, she needs the help of someone with the proper skill set.

How many horses are at the barn? If it's just Cocoa and his mother, it's not so much him being barn sour as buddy sour.

Time for your friend to stop being so gentle with him. If he's going to act up, he needs to know there are consequences. If she's been letting him get away with it, she's just reinforcing his bad behavior.

Getting a new horse won't solve the problem, because what happens when the new one starts acting like a dink because your friend thinks she can 'love' a horse into behaving? Sell that one too?

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post #3 of 28 Old 08-28-2012, 11:47 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Speed Racer View Post
Sounds like Cocoa needs some remedial training. If your friend isn't able to do it, she needs the help of someone with the proper skill set.

How many horses are at the barn? If it's just Cocoa and his mother, it's not so much him being barn sour as buddy sour.

Time for your friend to stop being so gentle with him. If he's going to act up, he needs to know there are consequences. If she's been letting him get away with it, she's just reinforcing his bad behavior.

Getting a new horse won't solve the problem, because what happens when the new one starts acting like a dink because your friend thinks she can 'love' a horse into behaving? Sell that one too?
He is with 2 other horses, his mother and a stallion named Poco. My friend doesn't know how to discipline him so that's why I'm here by gentle I meant she never was mean to the horse she is more than willing to confront his bad behavior but just needs to know how. My friend doesn't think she can 'love' a horse into behaving :/ where did I ever say that in my post?
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post #4 of 28 Old 08-28-2012, 11:52 AM
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Her best bet would be to either send him away for training or board him somewhere with a roundpen and SAFE access to trails where she can work this crud out and get him in the right mindset without endangering herself or other people. When I was younger I'd fight it out on the road with my Walkers, but they were car smart. My current gelding isn't car smart at all (much like your friend's horse) so I will no longer put myself (and the drivers) in danger by trying to fight this out on the road.

Barn/buddy sour horses generally just need work IMO, they need long rides with lots of things to do and they need a strong, confident rider. The problem comes when you are stuck riding in really unsafe areas (along a road) with a horse that is only thinking about getting home, it makes it really dangerous and very difficult to work a horse through this issue.

I will ride my gelding on the feeder road and the little bit of a dirt road I have access to and that does help a little bit, but he still gets dumb next to the highway because what he really needs are LONG rides away from the house. If I want to do that I will be walking him a mile down the highway to the trail or the gravel roads.
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post #5 of 28 Old 08-28-2012, 11:56 AM
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This may be the easy way out but,I have seen this several times . It seems to me if that independance isnt put on them early on,obviously post weaning, it is really difficult for about half of these babies. If at all possible, I would take him to the nearest stable for a month or two. It doesnt have to be the best most expensive barn, but just a very secure place , do self care and go there to work with him daily. He is gonna freak at first(most likely) but eventually, he will work into a new routine, and make new friends at the new place.Hopefully they will have a round pen and an arena and you will have a chance to work with him, and actually put some "boss" on him. Meaning, let him KNOW who is boss, It is very very difficult sometimes to work threw a problem when your afraid to get hit by a car or your head knocked off by a tree limb, and that is the absolute first thing he needs to know is 1) HE CAN TRUST YOU TO MAKE GOOD DECISIONS= right now he only trusts mom and 2) that YOU ARE THE BOSS= and what you say is what will happen whether he likes it or not , thats why they invented arenas and round pens, not because they need a place to put the bleachers, but no have a safe place for horse and rider. That is what I would do, seperate ,seperate and seperate! To build his confidence in himself and you, the only thing he trusts is MOMMA!!or if possible send him to a trainer for a few months that would be the absolute BEST solution for you and the horse.If you cant afford that than the other. Hope it helps
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post #6 of 28 Old 08-28-2012, 11:59 AM
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CountryChic -- How often is your friend working with Cocoa? He may be a horse that needs consistent regular work to help him absorb his lessons and season him. Sporadic handling will do nothing for him. What does your friend do when she works with Cocoa? I've heard you say she doesn't have an area to ride, however, there are many groundwork exercises she can work on just using her yard. I think, as a matter of fact, that she should concentrate on these exercises to help Cocoa learn to accept her as leader and follow her direction. Once these are hand then she can start heading out down the road again. What does the mare do when Cocoa is taken away? If the mare is creating a "fuss", that can be distracting and disturbing to a youngster. She, also with regular handling of Cocoa, may learn that he will come back and to accept his departures quietly. Please tell your friend to work safely, work patiently and work persistently and improvement will happen.
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post #7 of 28 Old 08-28-2012, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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She works with him daily and he was fine with leaving his mom. His mom doesn't care and doesn't even bother to watch him be taken out of the pasture. I'm not sure excactly what she does when she works with him but I've trail ridden with her on Girl and Cocoa is completely fine. He was doing good without her company until all of a sudden. I know she can't take him to a barn or a trainer. She wants to take him to an arena that is in town and ride him around to see how he does.
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post #8 of 28 Old 08-28-2012, 05:11 PM
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Horse is spoiled. The fit throwing is because he doesn't want to do what he is asked to do.

He is also about the right age to decide he has a mind of his own, and use it.

He has figured out your friend can't control him. And the arena will more than likely do little good, as this is not the location as much as the horse/owner.

Without knowing your friends skillset, I hesitate to suggest the things that I would do.

The fact that this horse is whirling and bolting, and whether this is occurring a battle of wills, or just happens the moment horse decides to go home, makes a difference.

A trainer, for both horse and friend, is the best. I would imagine her experience is not well rounded and she needs work as much as horse does. If she doesn't?

She will end up seriously hurt.
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post #9 of 28 Old 08-29-2012, 12:40 PM
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This is just an idea but... Have friend try doing some heavy groundwork with Cocoa while he's in the pasture or near his mom. Then lead him somewhere where he can't see her and let him graze or eat some hay/tidbits. Continue doing this at least once a day until he is more comfortable away from his mom. Hope this works:)

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post #10 of 28 Old 08-29-2012, 02:44 PM
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Coming from someone who has always had horses with issues being barn/buddy sour I know it can be very frusterating and dangerous at times. This horse is spoiled and is basically throwing a tantrum like a little child would do if he doesn't want to leave his friend's house. Your friend needs to either toughen up and tell this horse whos boss or get someone who can treat him like the 1000 pound animal he is and stop that nonsense.

How experienced is your friend? Does she have a trainer or other experienced horse person to help her?

Anyways - she is going to need a roundpen to really work with this horse. Tell her to bulid a round pen with poles and poly tape/wire. Its very inexpensive and works well.

Coco does not trust your friend nor has any respect for her and only tusts/respects his mother, if he trusted her.. he would not throw such a fit. Your friend needs to start over with this horse and bulid its trust and respect.
Always remember!!
-Don't allow him to push her around. She is going to have to be tough for the first few times, but once he realizes whos head of the herd. It will get much easier to control him. If she needs help with that, look online at how to control a pushy horse. It will take me to long to write it.

Now, your friend will have to have the experience and the attitude to really get this horse where he needs to be. She cannot be whimpy and scared. Regardless of what he does, she needs to keep her footdown and tell him whos boss, otherwise she will just keeping going backwards with this horse and will probably get hurt herself. She will have to be on his every move, because this horse will try to take advantage and if she lets him - Coco will just get worse. So before you even read on - Ask her: Are you confident you can do this? Do you have the experience? Do you know what you are doing? If she said no to any of these, she should not be handling a green, spoiled 3 year old horse.

To start, Get the horse on a lunge line for now if she doesn't have a small roundpen or small paddock to lunge him in. Start with sending him in the direction SHE wants him to go in. Do not ever let him decide. If he goes to turn or change directions without her telling him to do so she better be right on his tail snarling, making him go back the other way. For now don't worry about voice commands. Just keep his feet moving, do NOT let him stop,change directions, or slow down without her asking him too. If he speeds up, for now, fine let him. But do not let him slow down. If he does, get right on his tail. Again, do not worry about voice commands at this time, just keep him moving using body language. After about 5 minutes, stop all energy. Put whip down and turn away from him. He should eventually stop and turn into her. Praise him for this and then pick up your whip/lunge line and send him in the other direction for about 5 minutes. After that, stop, let him come to you and praise him. Stop work for that day. Bath him, give him some loving, let him graze on the line, etc. But no more working for that day.
Do this everyday for about 2 days, then start adding voice commands. Walk,trot,canter,whoa. Each time you add something new, do it once a day for 2 days, then add something else to it. This will keep his mind engaged and won't keep lunging a mindless boring circle. Once he is listening to her body language and voice commands you can start undersaddle work.
I'm going to stop there, let her work on that and see where she gets. If she has any questions or needs help, contact me.

Also- do NOT ever be afraid to contact a trainer if you need help. I am no trainer and all the advice she will find online may be helpful, but maybe not perfect for her situation. If she knows she cannot do this by herself and needs help.. Get the help. Right now I am at a trainers with my new gelding I just bought because, he has some issues that I felt would be good if I got someone with more experience to help me handle. And i've had plently of years with horses and I still admit that sometimes I need help.

Last edited by justhorsinaround1; 08-29-2012 at 02:53 PM.
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