Does not want to go forward on trails :(

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Does not want to go forward on trails :(

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    06-26-2008, 10:38 AM
Does not want to go forward on trails :(

Looks like Jemma finally got used to trails so much that she doesn't want to go forward anymore at some point. She walks some distance but then she decides it's enough work for her and try to turn back to walk to the trailer. If I don't let her she backs up. It was getting worse this week (quite lot of fight yesterday). I tried to move her hindquarters in circle up to the point she realizes we are not going to go back, then we move. Or I let her back up to the point (again) she realizes we are not going to turn and go back, then we move. What is frustrating is that she still keep trying it all the time. Not fun!
Any other ideas how to make her over that stage?

She's not tired for sure, not scared (at least doesn't look like, no snoring or snything although she may not be that sure), and nothing bothers her (like tack and all). Also she was fine on trails for while and now she's kinda getting worse every time (for last 3-4 rides or so).

Using other horse with me is NOT an option as it's very hard to schedule the time with anyone. Plus it won't teach her to move forward on her own.
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    06-26-2008, 01:04 PM
Ok well I had a almost similar problem with the percheron I rode acouple days ago. I was on her outside of the arena waitin for my trainor to shut the arena gate so we could go, and all of a sudden Maxy just really wanted to go back to the barn. She backed up turned went forward everythin, because she wanted to go NOW.

When she turned her head, I turned it the opposite way. When she backed up, I drove forward then stopped. Durin all this time I was reinforcin my actions with a good firm "NO!". Believe it or not she actually stopped, and it only took about 2 minutes..

I think you should do the same, just don't give in. I mean it sounds like either she is just bein a turkey, or she is scared of somethin on the trail.

Just be firm and don't give in.
    06-26-2008, 03:13 PM
Sounds like good old-fashioned barn sour to me. Doesn't want to work (and the trail is work to her, even if it's pleasant for you). Home is just more appealing than leaving. You have to convince her it's worth her while. Make home a lot more work and then head out as far as you can to dismount and lead back. She will see that as the "clocking out of work" point and with repetition she will willingly leave.

Ride out, dismount and loose the cinch, let her have some grass, to make it pleasant. Then walk her back, get on and ride the poo out of her at home, and leave again to "clock out".

There are ooodles of ways to deal with this, and I'm sure you will get lots of them here. I'm just mentioning the tip of the iceberg. At least it's fixable training issue.
    06-26-2008, 03:57 PM
Thanks, folks!

Do you think getting off and walking her forward is a good idea? I did it when she REALLY was scared of mud and water in beginning (3 months back when we just started), and it's fine with me, but I don't think it's great idea to do it in this situation.

Brandon, yes I'm trying not to give in. :) I know you do it once and she'll try to take advantage all the time (plus she's that type of horse, which LOOKS for your weakness). Just wondering, how did you drive her forward? I tried using my legs, but she still keeps backing up.

Barefoothooves, I cannot turn home and work there. :( I actually trailer her to the park, because I have no place to ride around home (except the ring). I don't think she was scared, looked more like stubborness to me (work, flies, and all that). She didn't do it before as she was busy with what's on trails (something new). Now it's not so new anymore and feels to me she just simply doesn't want to work.
    06-26-2008, 04:37 PM
Kitten, In my opinion getting off your horse is the absolute wrong thing to do. It is exactly what he wants even if you remount and ride him at home or back at the trailer.

The more you let him get away with this the harder it is to get him over it. You need much more assertion and if necessary, a training whip. He needs to understand that you are in charge and decide where he goes and when. He needs to learn to respect you - that you are the "Alfa Horse". If he is stopping from fear or pain, then that is a different thing entirely; but if it is because of stubbornness then it is up to you to correct it.

To quote Teddy Roosevelt, "Walk softly but carry a big stick". He needs to have a bad habit broken. You are not going to beat him with it - just use it to reinforce your aids.
    06-26-2008, 04:37 PM
Hi Kitten_val,
I misunderstood that you weren't at home. Still, the concept is the same. She associates trailer as quittin' time. Even if you DID have to lead her across some obstacle and get back on, then go back and stay on, and go over it,again, you could count it as a victory, IMO Horses are smart, and yes, getting off might seem like you caved, but if you still insist she go back over it, she's not really won.
    06-26-2008, 08:51 PM
Thanks a lot for all suggestions!

Iridehorses, I agree with you about getting off in such situation. I was wondering, because some other people (around the barn) suggested that, but in my opinion it teaches her to behave even worse.

There is nothing wrong with getting off in some situation like going through the "scary" obstacle. I consider it more as help (she can see me crossing over and it looks less scary) than as win (especially since the horse should do it anyway - with me or without :) ).
    06-26-2008, 10:10 PM
I agree that there's no problem getting off and leading her past something that is scaring her. Especially when you consider the alternative is to rage an all-out war with her on her back trying to get her to go past! Not something that you really want to be doing!

The suggestions given about are really good - try them and see how it goes :-D I don't think you'll cure this problem overnight, its going to take a long time to get your horse out of this habit.

Have you tried going with another rider who's horse likes trailriding? Perhaps it might be worth trying?
    06-26-2008, 11:52 PM
Well the reason I didn't mention gettin off the horse to get her to go, is because:

1) I think she will feel that she won, and that givin attitude means gettin YOU off her back.

2) I was affraid it would become much harder to control her, because it may lead to a tugga war.

Also when she is backin up are you happenin to pull the reins back and say whoa? Because if you are then that may be abit of the problem. I just kick and cluck, and make her go forward.. maybe even turn her a few.

Course when we where by the arena I also used the arena as a physical barrier and just kept turnin her into the direction of the arena and every time she turned to the path I would turn her back to the arena..

She keep workin her, and I think you will be able to break her of this habbit.
    06-27-2008, 08:49 AM
Kitten, the next unpopular thing I'm going to tell you is NEVER get off your horse to lead it past a scary object such as a rock or water or anything.

As you are leading your horse and he spooks forward you run the risk of being trampled; if he pulls back you run the risk of being dragged. Even if neither of these things happen you have taught him (as Brandon mentioned) that "if I act scared, she'll get off me".

Teaching your horse to go forward should never be a battle either because that will only prove that the scary object really is a scary object and he needs to learn that it isn't. What you need to do is take the time to circle him in front of the object and each circle getting smaller and smaller until you are facing it. Let him make the decision to look it over. If he backs up, circle again. Sooner or latter he will stretch his neck to examine it - let him but don't try to move him forward; hold your reins out to each side to keep his head focused on the object. Believe it or not he will eventually move forward.

If you are at water, let him bend down to sniff it or put his foot in it. Just keep your reins out and be ready in case he decides to leap it. After he has gone past or over it, bring him back and do it again until he is totally comfortable. This will establish trust in you as a rider that he is safe with you aboard.

The last mare I had to teach to ride trails was a 6 year old that had never been out of an arena. She spooked at nearly everything and the first hour was a matter of teaching and patience. It took over an hour to cover what should have been 15 min of riding. By the time we got back to the trailer, she was the lead horse and was crossing streams, mud, and bridges like she was doing it her whole life. She trusted me that I was not going to get her into trouble. I never raised my voice or kicked her to go forward, I just made her focus on the trail and let her make the decision.

If you are alone, that's fine. If you are with others, make sure they know that this is a training exercise and some things may take time. Stick to your plan regardless of the "advise" that you may get from your riding partners.

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