Difficult difficult.. - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By existentialpony
  • 2 Post By Laffeetaffee
  • 1 Post By franknbeans
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post #1 of 8 Old 03-09-2013, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Difficult difficult..

My Paint gelding has begun this bad habit of wanting to stay by the fence where the other horses are when I'm trying to ride. He'll walk a bit one way, but then he'll ignore all your cues & go back to the fence. He's neck reined, so I'll turn him right, he'll go about 15 feet, then turn right when I'm asking him to turn left. I was thinking about sending my horses to my grandpa's for the weekend, all but him, & then riding him out alone to see if his problem is the other horses, or if he's just being a butt. He still walks/trots/canters, transitions smooth, stops, backs, but he doesn't want to listen to directions. I rode him today & he did slightly better, but once he fought his way over to the fence, he wouldn't move far from it. Tomorrow I'm going to ride him in front of the barn (small area, like a round corral, but more of a square shaped) alone, to see if he improves any. Any other suggestions on how to fix this?
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post #2 of 8 Old 03-09-2013, 10:51 PM
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Here's what I would (and do!) do when/if my horse starts ignoring my neck reining cues.

I would swap into a snaffle (if you aren't already using one) and start to direct rein him in addition to the neck reining. ie. Reinforce your cue by giving both direct contact on the left rein, and indirect "neck reining" with the right rein. I would also be asking him to bend around your legs-- I'm not sure how "correct" this is, but to ask for bend I will inch my inside leg forward and move my outside leg backward in order to encourage him to move away from those two points. That is, move his mid-section to the outside and move his hind end to the inside, effectively bending his body into that turn.

I would also practice turns and maneuvers in the middle of the arena-- serpentines, weaving, etc.

Hope this helps!
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post #3 of 8 Old 03-09-2013, 10:53 PM
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I should also say... if my horse doesn't want to listen to my cue, he gets a nice one-rein stop to bring him back to reality. ;) He isn't going to get away with doing anything that I don't ask him to do.
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post #4 of 8 Old 03-10-2013, 01:39 AM
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Your horse is gravitating towards the fence and avoiding the rest of the arena because he's decided that over by the fence with his buddies is a good place to be, and out in the arena is bad because he has to work and be alone. A common mistake people do when a horse gravitates toward a certain spot is the rider faces the horse out to the rest of the arena and starts kicking them. So the horse learns that if he's facing the arena then it REALLY sucks because he gets pressured hard.

So the best way to fix it is to reverse psychology. Let your horse gravitate towards his buddies, but wave your legs at him and make him work. As soon as he starts to drift back out to the arena, drop all pressure and just relax on his back. Don't worry about steering him, just let him choose where to go. If he makes a
"U" turn back to his buddies, wave your legs at him until he follows the fence and faces away from his buddies again, and then stop and relax. He'll start to learn that being near his buddies is hard work and sucks, and he'll start to look for areas where he doesn't have to work so hard. So you're never telling him to go to the rest of the arena, you're just making it hard for him to be at the place where he really wants to be.
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post #5 of 8 Old 03-10-2013, 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by paintgirl96 View Post
& then riding him out alone to see if his problem is the other horses, or if he's just being a butt.
So if you decide it's the other horse's fault, what are you going to do?? And if you decide it's not the other horses, how do you know it's *him* being the 'butt' that's causing it, not you to him?? What does 'just being a butt' mean to you & how are you going to deal with it? Not trying to be rude or silly - I'd respectfully consider the above seriously.

I agree basically with Laffee. The other horses are Nice for him to hang out with & what you are asking him to do isn't. Also I wouldn't think of it or try to address it so directly as you are - the problem IMO is not the other horses, or him being a 'butt', or the particular spot on the arena, at the barn, whatever, but that he doesn't want to do what you want him to. One big factor in whether he learns to enjoy doing what you ask is that you reinforce/reward him for it. For eg. when you ask him to move off & he 'walks a bit one way' I'd make a point of rewarding this, rather than just asking for more. Get basic lessons like this established before trying to build more.

Last edited by loosie; 03-10-2013 at 05:14 AM.
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post #6 of 8 Old 03-10-2013, 09:30 AM
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Personally I would work him HARD where he wants to be, and only let him rest AWAY from the other horses. He will soon learn that he really doesn't want to be near them so much if he has to work his butt off there.
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post #7 of 8 Old 03-10-2013, 05:38 PM
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Some people call this 'herd boundness' and it's something that I struggled with for years before realizing that it's not possible (or imo desirable) to remove or permanently overcome a horse's desire to be around other horses. However I did notice that when I'd handle them every day and go places with them away from the others, after a few days those herd-bound behaviors would diminish and fade into the background because the horses got used to the routine of being worked with. Then when I put them back into the pasture, within a few days they'd be herd-bound all over again. And so it goes. The conclusion I drew from this is that daily handling = more focused horse and pasture time = herd bound. It's like a needle on a gauge that never stays the same; it moves toward one end or the other depending on how often you take the horse out away from the others. It may help to think of this as normal rather than a problem that has to be solved. I know that things got better for me when I made that shift!

Last edited by Ian McDonald; 03-10-2013 at 05:41 PM.
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post #8 of 8 Old 03-10-2013, 06:39 PM
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I'm not sure if he's herd bound or just using the other horses as an excuse to avoid work - you remove them and will he find a new excuse such as the monster in the corner type thing or constantly moving towards the entrance/exit
It seems to me that he needs a bit of a wake up call and a reminder that he doesnt call the shots - you do.
If its a steering thing then maybe you could fit in some sort of a side pull into his bridle as an extra to being more forceful with your legs but you need to figure out how to make life by the other horses not a pleasant place to be when its not what you want
I'm not sure how experienced you are with lunge work or liberty work but it can be easier to make a horse move from the ground when they get like this.
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