03-11-2009, 10:57 AM
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AH! I am very familiar with this problem! The place I learned to ride at had a bunch of gate sour horses.
When it comes time to leave the arena: Walk to the center of the ring and dismount, then hand walk the horse out the gate (just watch your stirrups to make sure they don't get caught.. if riding english run them up). And to avoid the horse's with becoming "center-of-the-ring sour" (it that happens.. seriously), dismount on different parts of the rail and lead them out. I guess my main point here, is no more riding the horse through the gate. Let him know that when you're off the saddle is when he can leave. That means his job is done... if that makes sense to ya. When a horse becomes too gate sour he'll get to the point where he will rush through it with his rider and that could lead to a stirrup/iron getting caught... and you don't even want to know how badly that will end =/ For safety and training, no more riding out the gate! =) If the horse knows you have to dismount to leave the arena, he'll curb stopping at the gate while you're riding... because he knows you will never be on his back when you leave the arena.
When riding the horse: When you ride up on the side of the arena with the gate on it, look at the corner ahead of you, don't look at the gate, and be proactive. You know the horse will stop, so get him good and motivated to move forward... get him in a frame if possible, and just push him through that side of the arena. Don't anticipate it, because he'll feel it in your seat and think he's done. Keep the inside rein firm (not tight) and ready to pull his head out if he starts curling toward the gate. Keep him straight and at a good pace and he should blow right past it.
Making the Arena Fun!: The huge importance to ring work is to NEVER over-work or over-stress the horse. I'm not saying you're doing this, but i've seen this done before... but horse's don't like the arena because every time they enter it it means they get the snot ridden out of them, have to ride in a frame, cantercantercantercanter, jump, barrel race, etc, then as soon as they get out of that place they're done and they get to go home. Our horses all love the arena but I only work them twice a week. The other two time I ride them its very stress free and mentally stimulating (circling, walking over poles, sitting trot/jog, etc). I even turn them out in the arena to roll, then I hang out with them. So they don't see the arena as a badbad working place, more like a "Yay! I get to talk with Mom today!" sort of place. My horses seem to really enjoy our riding because of our level of communication ^_^
Example on the Arena-souring... When I was 15, Skippy! Knew when he was going to get the snot worked out of him. Whenever I put the english saddle on him he knew he was going to have a riding lesson. But whenever I put the western saddle on him he knew he was going to be able to just hang out and have a good time. It blew my mind at the time that horses were that smart! He would literally be in a HORRENDOUS mood whenever I would put the english tack on him!
Soooo... just make it a fun, happy experience, and always put the horse's away happy =) That should help with them enjoying riding in the ring from a mental point of view.. and for preventing them from stopping at the rail, just ride strong past it and don't ride out of the gate. Dismount elsewhere.
I hope my convoluted thoughts help! XD I hope to god I made sense lol!