dealing with a herd bound horse
 
 

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dealing with a herd bound horse

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  • How to handle a herd bound horse
  • Dealing with heard bound horses

 
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    11-19-2008, 05:42 AM
  #1
Trained
dealing with a herd bound horse

Im sure most of you have heard about my new mare by now :) from what I can gather she has pretty much been stabled her whole life. I was initially worried that she wasnt going to do very well in a huge paddock and a herd of horses.

Boy was I wrong lol from day 1 she has proven to be hugely herd orientated. Well im not sure if its the herd or if its jarred (my wb gelding). For example, if jarred finishes his dinner and is let out first she will stop eating and pace and kick around in the yard until you let her out. Or, if im doing groundwork with her and take her away from the others she just will not concentrate. If she can't see him/them at all its like her brain stops functioning completely. Its really driving me nuts.

Its been raining for a week now so I havent been able to do anything except groundwork but trying to get her attention long enough to get anywhere is next to impossible. If I do stuff with her right near where jarred is she is a perfect angel and really picks up things quickly.

The thing is I will be riding her soon and I want to sort out this issue before I start riding her. I need her to focus on me not where jarred or the others are. And I can foresee going for trails alone being a huge problem.

What can I do to deal with this issue?? Im guessing she is so herd bound because she has never been part of a herd. She is an incredibly sweet, submissive horse and she latches onto people and other horses very quickly. I've had her 2 1/2 weeks and already she comes galloping up, neighing when we get there and she follows me around like a lost puppy and is constantly whinnying at me :) its very cute but I think this is part of her problem. She even gets more nervous when im not visible but then when im there she relaxes and eats calmly. All this is spelling huge issues I think. I've never had such a herd bound horse before therefore I've never had to deal with it so im all ears
     
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    11-19-2008, 06:04 AM
  #2
Weanling
Sounds like you have it figured out!

Some horses can get to be more dependant on other horses! It happens!

I would keep going the direction you seem to be going already! The fact that you picked up on this behavior, and have worked yours once already and found out that "out of sight= no mind" is great. Keep working with your horse when the other is out of sight, or take em where she is out of sight from the attached one. I know it will throw a wrench in your progress as you will get ill ground manners, but a few times of one on one direction without "distractions" of the horse yours is dependant on, and she will get the idea.

I deal with the same problem occassionally. If I am not out there to work my filly, then she latches on to her mom who is in the next stall over. I get the whole hot headed reactions, running fence lines screaming, just as if she was just weaned yesterday. So I take her to one of my round pens on the other side of the barn where she can't see mom, and mom can't see her. I continue steady ground work through the fit, and after a couple days, things are back to normal!
     
    11-19-2008, 06:09 AM
  #3
Trained
Retraining an ottb is a task that I think will attract many wrenches in our progress I think lol I figured it was going to be a case of riding through the storm ;) another thing im sure there will be plenty of haha

Thanks for your advice
     
    11-19-2008, 08:36 AM
  #4
Weanling
For one thing, you hafta make her realise that YOU are the herd too. Ever notice how as long as the horse has one buddy from the herd they are ok, but all alone with only a human they get nervous? She doesn't know that you represent the same safety and comfort that the herd does.

First off, you need to spend alot of time with this mare, and for no 'reason'. You need to spend time with her in the pasture, just hanging out, sitting in the grass and doin nothin while she grazes. You also need to take her out for long walks, (also gives you a chance to desensitize her to the goblins around if you want to ride off-protperty with her), letting her graze but telling her where to graze maintains your alpha status. Also, letting her eat with only you around makes you part of the herd. I would recommend at least twice a week, for an hour or more. This better aquaints her with your company and makes you part of the herd, so she will be as comfortable with you as with a herd mate.

Also, you need to slowly train her to be away from the other horses. For instance, when you take her out to hand-graze her, let her see the other horses, but encourage her to graze. If she wants to sniff noses with the horses on the other side of the fence, let her. We are going to babystep her away from the others. (Altho this method takes time, it works, I had 2 arabs that had never been apart and I did this and after about 3 months I could seperate them with no anxiety). Eventually the other horses will get bored and graze, and so will she. Then, when she has been grazing calmly by herself, put her up. Next time, go a LITTLE farther away, letting her go to the fence and whinny at her friends, but also let her realise that she is allowed to graze on good 'yard' grass, and her stomach will take over. Let her graze quietly for awhile, then put her back. And each time you do this, only put her back once she has grazed quietly, don't put her back while she is buggin about the other horses. And, each time you do it, try and get her to go a little farther away, too.

THis technique also works with teaching them to let other horses leave them. You walk away with the other horse, and you walk right back. You walk away, and you walk right back. Away and back, away and back. Once the horse gets it in their head that buddy will be back, they learn not to fret. Seperate your horse for a little while, then reward them AFTER they have become quiet by being turned back with them.

If she pitches a fit to be with the other horses, and you give in, YOU have taught her how to get what she wants. Now teach her that she hasta quiet down to get what she wants, and once the lightbulb clicks in you will find it much easier.

Oh, and she sounds like a magnitizer, so I would never untack her in the same spot, she will magnitize to it and ignore you to get back to that spot.

Herd bound and barn sour are always magnitizers, so you hafta keep them guessing as to where to magnitize to.

ANd don't think just because she is 'sweet and submissive' means she considers you alpha. And if she isn't listening to you, then she doesnt'.

Hope this helps!
     
    11-19-2008, 10:35 AM
  #5
Banned
Jazzy, how long have you had her? How long has she been in with the herd?

It could be something that only will last a month...but remember horses ARE herd animals and some of them, given the choice of you or another horse...they'd take the horse.

Sonny used to be totally herd bound. He'd gallop (a full fledged gallop) away from me even if I walked in the pasture with no halter or lead rope. He thought I was going to seperate him from the herd.

Here is what I did that worked reallllly well.
I arranged two days that I could go up for a good 4-6 hours each day. I did NOT ride nor did I do much. I went out, and caught Sonny, then brought him over to the gate. I gave him a cookie, then took off the halter and I left the pasture. I waited probably 10 minutes, then went back and caught him again, then I took him outside of the pasture, then put him back in. I did not go past his comfort level (though once outside of the pasture he was fine). He slowly realized that even if I remove him from the herd for an hour, he still will get to go back with them.
Remember, Sonny at the last stables was kept in a private pasture...so he was all alone.
So I defiantely recommend the above...it worked for me. Me and Sonny are to the point now where I can call him, and he'll turn around (most of the time) and look at me...not coming yet but hey that will be next
     
    11-19-2008, 02:00 PM
  #6
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzyrider    
im sure most of you have heard about my new mare by now :) from what I can gather she has pretty much been stabled her whole life. I was initially worried that she wasnt going to do very well in a huge paddock and a herd of horses.

Boy was I wrong lol from day 1 she has proven to be hugely herd orientated. Well im not sure if its the herd or if its jarred (my wb gelding). For example, if jarred finishes his dinner and is let out first she will stop eating and pace and kick around in the yard until you let her out. Or, if im doing groundwork with her and take her away from the others she just will not concentrate. If she can't see him/them at all its like her brain stops functioning completely. Its really driving me nuts.

Its been raining for a week now so I havent been able to do anything except groundwork but trying to get her attention long enough to get anywhere is next to impossible. If I do stuff with her right near where jarred is she is a perfect angel and really picks up things quickly.

The thing is I will be riding her soon and I want to sort out this issue before I start riding her. I need her to focus on me not where jarred or the others are. And I can foresee going for trails alone being a huge problem.

What can I do to deal with this issue?? Im guessing she is so herd bound because she has never been part of a herd. She is an incredibly sweet, submissive horse and she latches onto people and other horses very quickly. I've had her 2 1/2 weeks and already she comes galloping up, neighing when we get there and she follows me around like a lost puppy and is constantly whinnying at me :) its very cute but I think this is part of her problem. She even gets more nervous when im not visible but then when im there she relaxes and eats calmly. All this is spelling huge issues I think. I've never had such a herd bound horse before therefore I've never had to deal with it so im all ears
I once owned a horse like that. That's one of the main things I focus on with my 2 youngsters. I never work with them near other horses or even on the property to get them used to being with me and away from the herd.

I would continue working your mare out of sight of any other horses. It will take time but she will adjust, she will just have to. By spending time with her one on one even if it is simply groundwork, she will learn to trust you which is one of the biggest issue with herd bound horses. They don't trust you and don't feel safe outside the herd.

You don't even need to work with her when outside the herd, just take her out for walks away from horses. My babies are always taken away where there are no other horses in sight. I would stay out on that walk until I saw signs they were settling down with me. Once they started to settle then did I turn around back to the barn. It takes time :)
     
    11-19-2008, 02:01 PM
  #7
Showing
What I want to add is just take some brushes and go out. Let her graze and chill Let it be enjoyable for the both of you and she will slowly settle and adjust.
     
    11-19-2008, 02:43 PM
  #8
Yearling
You've only had her 2 1/2 weeks, they need time to get to know you and adjust. I know when you get a new horse you want to get at it, but your asking a lot. Some just need more time adjusting to new owners and surroundings.

The others have given you really good advise. Keep working with her and let her come to realize that you can be a herd of just two.

Another thing I found with really insecure/sensitive horses is once they bond with an owner that bond runs pretty deep. Be patient.
     
    11-19-2008, 08:16 PM
  #9
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by G and K's Mom    
You've only had her 2 1/2 weeks, they need time to get to know you and adjust. I know when you get a new horse you want to get at it, but your asking a lot. Some just need more time adjusting to new owners and surroundings.

The others have given you really good advise. Keep working with her and let her come to realize that you can be a herd of just two.

Another thing I found with really insecure/sensitive horses is once they bond with an owner that bond runs pretty deep. Be patient.
i thought I would be better off nipping something like this in the bud. All im really asking her to do is focus for a few minutes :) she's had it very easy since she arrived other than some short lessons on leading properly and a few manners issues.

Don't worry. I am being and will continue to be patient ;)

Thanks for all the advice everyone :)

When I was out there this morning I took her breakfast and put it out in the paddock about 50m away from the yards. At first she didnt want to come but I had some hay with me as well so she more inclined to leave. I also had my iPod and some brushes as mentioned. I have been trying to spend a lot of time with her but its hard when you have 4 horses to spread the love out sometimes. So I figured we would go out and have some time.

The purpose of the ipod is my voice. If I have my ipod one while im brushing I sing away and the horses always listen to me and keep an eye on me. Probably due to my really bad dancing & singing lol I thought it might get her focusing on me rather than jarred. Initially she was neighing a lot and looking over that way in between mouthfuls of food. I gave her brush and then stood there and plaited her mane for the day (i plait it because its so long and thick and she sweats a lot under it considering its so humid here). She likes having her mane done and usually falls asleep. She didnt fall asleep but she did settle and eat her food. A couple of times she let out a little neigh but she didnt bother looking up for those

I figure ill just do little bits and pieces like that with her each day for now

Thanks again
     

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