Help with behavior on forest trails - Page 2

       The Horse Forum > Training Horses > Horse Training

Help with behavior on forest trails

This is a discussion on Help with behavior on forest trails within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

Like Tree16Likes

LinkBack Thread Tools
    04-21-2014, 08:21 PM
You handled it quite well, she didn't get away from you. Sometimes when I lead a horse somewhere and am not sure how the horse will behave under different circumstances, I put a regular lead on and also a chain either under the chin or over the nose. That way if the horse is behaving I can just use the lead rope but if something happens (like what did to you) I can switch to the chain and still have some control.
I often did this with young warmbloods when teaching them to lead, they were big babies as yearlings and quite full of themselves and I did not want them to ever learn they could get away from me. I wanted them to be well halter broke so took them all over the place but still wanted some control over them.
Do you have someone there who has a quiet well behaved horse that you could go out with for the first couple of rides just to help get your horse used to trail riding.
I just bought a nice mare and she has been trail ridden but never out by herself, so I have just started taking her out for some rides and I take a lunge rope with me (just in case). We've had 3 rides so far and no problems.
Sponsored Links
    04-21-2014, 08:56 PM
After I finished my post , I got thinking what I would have done if I was riding and met you on the trail, leading your horse. I would have stopped and chatted with you and I would not have ridden off and left you with a horse that was so upset.
I'm sorry that this had to happen the first time you took her out. It would have been a great opportunity for her to have a positive experience if the rider had just stayed with you til she settled down. If it had been me I would have stayed with you and even gotten off and walked with you until you were ok by yourself or we arrived back at the barn.
I hope this doesn't discourage you to trying again. Trail riding is great.
    04-21-2014, 10:13 PM
Super Moderator
One of our number 1 rules here is:

NEVER do anything new with a fresh horse!!!!

This means that if you want to introduce anything new to any horse of any age, ride it hard and do the new thing AFTER that long, hard ride.

The other thing that would help you a lot would be to find a suitable place to tie her out as far from the barn and her 'comfort zone' as you can. You cannot tie her to someone else's trees, so find a place on your stable grounds that is OK with the owner. The farther away from the barn and her friends as you can find is going to be the best place. She may have to stand tied for several hours before she gets quiet and settles down. Don't mess with her at all when she is learning to be away from the barn. Just stay where you can keep one eye on her.

Tie her to something that is higher than her withers and somewhere that she cannot get hurt.
    04-22-2014, 01:11 AM
I am an experienced trail rider with a horse that I usually ride on the trail, but I rarely go out alone. I would strongly recommend riding out with some one else. Preferably with an experienced horse. It would make things a lot easier for your horse if he had a herd member with him that he felt he could trust.
    04-22-2014, 09:26 AM
Wow, I just have to say thank you for all of the thoughtful, helpful posts here. You have given me great advice. I literally want to like each one of them since it seems like there is a useful nugget in everything that's been posted. Here's what I'm taking away:
1. Have appropriate equipment (rope halter, longer lead, dressage whip and oh, I'm adding gloves to my list too, I almost never do anything serious without gloves and I didn't have any with me- dumb).
2. Work my horse first, then go exploring
3. Bring someone with me

I do have a question though, regarding the recommendation to bring an experienced horse out with us. Things actually seemed to be going fine before another horse was out there- it was the introduction of another horse that seemed to "flip the switch." I get that it was probably being left behind by the other horse, but theoretically, it seems to me that that shouldn't be an excuse to act up. I suppose the idea is that going out with a "been there, done that" trail horse first allows us to eventually work up to being out there alone?

One other question/reaction- I think there was some suggestion about practicing leading in the arena. The thing about that is that she is a perfect angel- stays at the shoulder, will halt and walk on with or without a leadrope, lunges beautifully, will free lunge on a circle, etc. So it's hard to think about practicing leading in that environment since she just goes about her business there. I think one thing I could do is practice some of the leading exercises out of the arena, away from the barn, but not necessarily in the woods where the space is so confined. Does that seem useful?
    04-22-2014, 10:13 AM
Sounds like a good plan!
Posted via Mobile Device
    04-22-2014, 10:45 AM
Originally Posted by egrogan    

I do have a question though, regarding the recommendation to bring an experienced horse out with us. Things actually seemed to be going fine before another horse was out there- it was the introduction of another horse that seemed to "flip the switch." I get that it was probably being left behind by the other horse, but theoretically, it seems to me that that shouldn't be an excuse to act up. I suppose the idea is that going out with a "been there, done that" trail horse first allows us to eventually work up to being out there alone?
You've gotten some good advice here and it sounds like you did a pretty good job in a pretty tough situation.

Your horse was in your words, "up" when you took her out. The nerves started there. She was following the leader ok until another horse showed up that was heading back to her comfort zone and she kind of panicked at that point. LOTS of repetition will cure that and being ponied off another more experienced horse will help her in the beginning. I like to pony the horse alone first, and then have someone pony the horse with me on her next and then just start letting the distance get a little bigger between the horses each ride.

The other thing is the arena rider's nerves. Most arena riders get very heightened awareness outside of the arena and the horse feels the tenseness and is thinking, "If she's scared and she's the leader, what on earth do I do?" or something like that. Then you start to feed off of each other. So, if you can borrow an experienced trail horse that's really been there and done that, so you can ride and get your nerves under control it would help a lot.

The ground manners thing. This is where I learned to appreciate my Carrot Stick and rope halters. When she's trying to barge over you, letting her have it with your stick or a dressage whip while backing her up FAST will really help put an end to that. The minute she starts to go past you on the way back to the barn, she gets to go backwards as far and fast as you can go until she starts focusing on you and not the barn. You're going to be tired and disgusted before you're done and she'll be an emotional wreck until you firmly establish that YOU are in charge and set the pace and direction. The problem is, when they start getting all worked up and emotional, they can't learn and they have a very hard time listening or focusing. You're going to have to work her through that, so that you can get to the point where she doesn't feel the need to go to that place in her head. You're going to have to learn to read her really well, so you can stop the emotional flight before it gets started.

You mentioned that you worked her for 10-15 mins and still couldn't get her attention. I have worked a really emotional horse for 45 mins just to get her to look at me. Out on the trail you need to be really focused on what you want from her in order to communicate it and get through the flighty response. Figure out in your head what you will do when she starts to get silly. For instance, first I'll back her up and once she gives me one or 2 steps, I'll stop and praise her. Then I'll start over and ask for 5 steps. Once she's backing and not losing it, I'll ask her to move to the side, shoulder yield, both directions. Then I'll ask her to sidepass 3 steps. Then 5, then I'll back her 5 steps. Basically you're getting her to think about moving her feet rather than the barn and getting her focus back on you.
Woodhaven likes this.
    04-22-2014, 12:10 PM
IMO, the issue you had with the other horse was that it appeared and DISAPPEARED, which made your horse anxious and want to go with it. If you go out with an experience horse you should be fine. When I take out someone inexperienced I keep checking in with them, and let them know that we go at their pace. If they want to go home, we do……always at a walk.

You could work with some (hate this word) bomb proofing in the arena too-that will accomplish a few things. You will learn better how she reacts in different situations, and will learn how to better keep/get her attention back on you. You can do this on the ground to start with, then work under saddle. It is good for both of you, and teaches you to have control of those feet, which is really important on the trail, especially in close quarters. It will also help teach her that stepping on you is NOT an option.
    04-22-2014, 02:16 PM
DA, FranknBeans, thanks for the additional explanation on using another horse- makes sense.

If anyone is interested, here is the fire breathing dragon before our ride today

We warmed up in the outdoor ring, then did some simple and relaxed walk/trot stuff up and down the long driveway to the barn. Made some big circles around some of the outdoor paddocks, and figure 8s between trees and picnic tables. I didn't have the time to devote to the trails this morning, but this was a nice ride. I have to remember that even just riding along the driveway used to freak her out similarly, and now she's just fine. As someone above said, repetition is the key!

Quick Reply
Please help keep the Horse Forum enjoyable by reporting rude posts.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Broke my Black Forest saddle. Off the trails for awhile. :-( SailorGriz Trail Riding 30 05-29-2014 09:22 AM
Looking for intel on Scioto forest trails in Ohio Joe4d Endurance Riding 1 06-04-2012 02:18 PM
Broke my Black Forest saddle. Off the trails for awhile. :-( SailorGriz Horse Tack and Equipment 4 05-15-2011 11:18 PM
Shenandoah National Forest trails horseluver250 Trail Riding 6 09-13-2010 01:29 PM
Forest Roperchick Horse Stories and Poems 0 02-01-2010 12:38 AM

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:56 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0