Help - Herd Bound Boy

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Help - Herd Bound Boy

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    05-22-2010, 10:57 AM
Help - Herd Bound Boy

In January I purchased a 7 year old Canadian gelding named Hugo. The previous owner could not give me details on his training except to say that in his knowledge the horse hadn't been ridden in at least a year. I tried Hugo out in a field across the road from the barn after watching the owner hack him around and he did quite well apart from a small fit of cantering when I didn't want the first time we were facing the barn again. Other than that he was very well behaved. He didn't push, he followed me easily, he stood for tacking up and took the bit happily.

When I got him home, he bonded very quickly to my arab mare and her yearling colt. I also have a pony mare that he either ignores or walks up to and bites before walking away. My colt has now been sold so Hugo is constantly at my arab mare's side in the paddock.

The problem I'm having is that whenever he gets removed from my mare (whether she gets taken out to ride or to pasture from their stalls before he does or if he gets taken from the stall/paddock for anything) he starts screaming and dancing around and will pull/push violently if he's being led. It doesn't matter if he still has the pony mare nearby/with him because he doesn't care about her at all.

I've previously broken horses of herdboundness by simply removing them from their herds for extended periods of time until they understood that they weren't going to get eaten just because they were alone. This is not a nice way though, I do know, and I would like a friendlier approach if possible. I am working alone with these horses though and do not have a friend/helper who can hack out with me or lead the other horse.

Suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated. I just want to be able to lead/ride my horses without fear of getting trampled by Hugo's determination to get back together with my mare.
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    05-22-2010, 11:33 AM
I have recently had a similar problem with both of my own. Here is what I did that really helped:

I got one on a lunge line and worked, worked, worked them near the barn where the other one was. It works even better if you can do change of direction on the lunge line when the horse is closest to the barn.

Then, the key part, is to lead them away, and let them rest for a little while. Just like 30 seconds to a minute. Then you lead them back to the barn and work them again. Go ahead and work them in to a bit of a sweat if necesary. Eventually they should start really relaxing when away from the barn for their rest breaks. Dropping the head, licking lips, relaxing a back foot, etc.

You can also do this in the saddle. I didn't, because my mare has developed a rearing issue with the barn/buddy sour thing, so I prefered to start from the ground. It will take doing this several times, and they will probably always need a "reminder" session now and again, but this is what worked for me.

Hope this helps
    05-22-2010, 12:17 PM
I also have a horse that was herd bound, usually a loving and gentle horse, but she became so herd bound that she just about ran me over to get back to the herd.

Here is a link to Pat Parelli's instruction about herd bound horses... I have used this method and it really works.

I hope this works for you. Good Luck and Happy Trails
    05-22-2010, 02:15 PM
I have a herd-bound horse, but now it's my little sister's problem since I bought a new horse . She needs a little humbling .

When I was training him to not be buddy-bound/barn-sour, I just kept at him and at him and at him. If he tried to go back to the barn, I yanked on the reins. I MADE him walk slowly to the barn. Of course, my know-it-all sister is now trying to ride him, and he's gone back to being barn-sour.
    05-22-2010, 03:57 PM
I would suggest also to take the horse to the point away from the herd that he STARTS to get upset then take him back. Each time increase the amount of time he is away by asking him to do something - in hand bridle work or something that engages his mind. When the horse is calm and responsive at that distance I would increase the distance and start again with a brief amount of time away and build. I would continue this process until the horse is no longer showing signs of being buddy sour. The key is to really focus on your horse and his performance and he will learn to focus on you and give you his attention. Think of it as your horse letting you know he has free time. Ask him, can you walk, chew gum, rub your head, pat your tummy, hop on one foot....until you have him so busy doing what you are asking he has no left over time to worry about his buddy. Don"t just make him sweat, make him better at something.
    05-23-2010, 11:22 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions!
I find when I work with him in the arena he will be panicky and paying more attention to the lack of his friends than to me, but after 10 - 15minutes he usually starts to relax with just me, though is still uptight. I will try some of the suggestions you guys have given me. =) I just want to be able to ride out on the trail without fear of him bolting for home or worse.
    05-24-2010, 11:10 AM
I totally agree with reining trainer. It is more than just exhausting him, but engaging his mind, making him think, gets him a lot more focused.

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