They've got separation anxiety, which is why they freak out when you take them away from the herd. Their sense of security and familiarity has been taken, and where they once didn't have to watch their own backs, they now have to do it themselves. I've worked with a few horses that had this, but it's their confidence and attention you have to boost. They've become dependent on the herd and forget what it's like to be independent. Some horses are just well.. dependent, of course, depending on their backgrounds and social rankings in the herd (Omegas, subordinates and young horses will often bear traits of separation anxiety ) but I'm sure there's something you can do to help give your horse that sense of security and self confidence that will make them feel less uneasy when you're on your way out.
Talking to the horse and remaining confident myself yet composed and relaxed while I worked with them, did it for me. Because as soon as you become nervous yourself, the animal soaks in that energy and gets worse. You have to teach them that you're not just their owner, but their leader and friend that's going to be there as their support and safety.
Another thing I did were attention exercises in which they had to follow me about in a meandering fashion about the arena, doing a sort of obstacle course. I started it first on the lead rope.. and then I took off the lead rope and made them follow me over the obstacle course without me touching them. Anytime they got distracted or looked away, I'd gently move them back and make them do it again. If their attention was away from me and I said their name and they came back, I was always sure to give them big praise, especially once they were done walking the obstacle course with me just following without having to be corrected. It teaches them to focus, to look to you for guidance and to learn to be relaxed even when away from the other horses. Another thing. I'd often change up the obstacle course at times just to make sure they were paying attention and truly following, rather than doing it by memory, and once done.. again, I praised. Simple games such as "follow the leader" can do wonders for the attention span and bond between you and your horse as well as their own confidence. Perhaps you should give it a try. I've had some of my friends do it with their horses after i discovered it, and they said it really did help settle their horses down and get them to focus as well as relax.
another note: Don't run the obstacle course. Walk it. The point of it is to keep the horse relaxed, focused, boost their confidence as well as their sense of security in seeing you as their leader and friend. Once a horse recognizes that they're okay when away from the herd, they're able to relax and their anxiety goes away. And once the animal is relaxed and focused of course... your partner's got their head in the game and it should make things a deal easier to do.
Last edited by Hennessy; 09-25-2011 at 05:34 PM.