Horse Relying on the Fence in the Arena - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 10-21-2013, 07:43 PM Thread Starter
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Smile Horse Relying on the Fence in the Arena

Hey guys,
I'm new at this so just bare with me :)
My new horse is 5 and she has only been ridden on trials and in the round yard. she is super quiet but as soon as i take her into a large arena she doesn't listen to my leg and tends to want to use the fence to guide her. do you guys have any ideas on how to get he to rely on me instead of her.

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post #2 of 11 Old 10-21-2013, 08:00 PM
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How is she on trails? Does she listen to you there? It's not a cop-out to work her in the wide open sometimes too, especially if she is better there. Otherwise practice, practice, practice. How long has she been under saddle and what sort of training has she had before you got her? What are you doing with her now? How long have you had her? What are you asking her to do when she's not listening? What does she do? What have you tried so far to fix it? Both young, green horses and experienced, well-trained horses can fail to listen, but the causes (and solutions) are often different depending on the situation.
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post #3 of 11 Old 10-21-2013, 09:16 PM
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This is a very common problem if horses have been ridden too much in a round pen or an arena. I have seen them so bad about this that when a rider tried to take them away from the fence, they'd throw themselves against it the fence and drag the rider off or injure him.

I have always taken them to a big open field and gone back to square one teaching the horse to follow its nose. Here is a copy of a response I just wrote on a horse with a 'drifting' problem. This horse is basically doing the same thing.
STOP pulling on the inside rein. Most horses start drifting because they WANT to be somewhere else. Then, when their rider tries to keep them going the direction they want them to go, they just pull harder on the inside rein. The result of this is the horse 'over-bends' or 'rubber-necks' and their weight automatically goes into their outside shoulder. The harder a rider pulls, the more they over-bend and the more they drift into that outside shoulder.

The way to fix this is to limber up the other side of the horse which is usually stiff. Sometimes, it is so stiff that the horse drops that shoulder.

Next, teach this horse to do leg yielding exercises yielding to the outside leg on the direction he drifts toward. Always do leg yielding exercises AWAY from the gate or barn or herd that he want to drift toward. He MUST learn to obey your leg.

Finally, when you ride, only use enough inside rein to bend your horse enough to barely see the corner of his inside eye -- never more. If he does not follow his nose, DO NOT PULL HARDER. Use enough outside leg or use a bat on his outside shoulder or do whatever it takes to make him follow his nose. When you pull on the inside rein, you not only support him drifting out but you encourage it. He uses that pull to brace against and it supports him drifting into that outside shoulder. When a horse is trying to drift out, the inside rein should be loose and the outside rein should be tight enough to keep him from over-bending. It actually steadies him.

There is one thing more you can do if he bolts out and gets completely out of control. As odd as it can seem, if a horse is bolting and you cannot turn him at all, take the outside rein and pull him around sharply to the outside. He WILL turn that direction and you can pull him around and get him stopped. This is a safety feature that almost every rider of a bolting horse can do but few riders think to do it.
Hope this helps. Cherie
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post #4 of 11 Old 10-21-2013, 09:55 PM
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Just change things up. Half circles along the rail, circles leaving the rail and rejoining it, figure eights, short diagonals, long diagonals.. serpentines.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #5 of 11 Old 10-23-2013, 05:56 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2013
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thanks guys i will try this :) she was poorly trained but she is so sweet and wants to learn she just doesnt no how to listen to my leg. on the trails shes perfect and she is fine lunging in a open space. its just as soon as we get in the arena she wants to stick to the fence. thanks guys for your help... really interested if you have any other ideas :)
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post #6 of 11 Old 10-23-2013, 11:11 AM
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Do the quarter lines on the long sides, (turn off the short side about 5 meters from the long fence), and if she tries to drift back to the fence, turn INTO the arena, then turn again 5 meters from the long side, until she stays on the quarter line all the way down. Do this in short spurts with your other circles, etc, but try to make a successful quarter line pass the LAST thing you do, so your end is a reward.

I hope this makes sense...

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post #7 of 11 Old 10-23-2013, 12:19 PM
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Purposely ride on the inside track of the arena. That way your horse learns to rely on your leg instead of the arena wall/fence. Our instructor makes us do that on a regular basis. It's interesting to watch them all slowly drift back toward the wall :)
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post #8 of 11 Old 10-23-2013, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys i will try this :)
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post #9 of 11 Old 10-24-2013, 02:21 PM
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Purposely ride on the inside track of the arena.
Do the quarter lines on the long sides, (turn off the short side about 5 meters from the long fence), and if she tries to drift back to the fence, turn INTO the arena, then turn again 5 meters from the long side, until she stays on the quarter line all the way down.
Riding 'patterns' like these are great IF the horse is not already too spoiled and seriously hunting a fence. These are the kind of exercises I use on all green horses. I seldom ride along any fence or barrier. When I do, I spend a lot of time doing exercises like doing a 'half circle and two track back to the rail'.

I do not know how badly your horse is hung up on fences, but they can get really bad about it. Ask Pete, my husband. He has a big scar and a dent in his leg where one of these horses slammed him into the pipe top rail of our arena about 20 years ago. A lady brought me one of these horses one time and she was wearing a big knee brace. She had just had knee surgery from being slammed into a fence and having her knee cap torn nearly off. Her horse was one that would hurt you.

Let me tell you what to do if your horse gets out of control and takes you into a fence. STOP trying to pull or push her away from the fence before you get hurt. Instead, pull her head around to the outside (toward the fence.). This will save your leg and keep you safe. It also works pretty well to help re-train these horses. Any time a horse wants to over-bend and go into its outside shoulder, you can pull it roughly around the opposite direct and then head it the direction you want to go. Most of them quit doing it pretty quickly. Then, you can go back to schooling in a more conventional way like using the above exercises..
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post #10 of 11 Old 10-24-2013, 02:27 PM
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To help YOU focus on helping the horse -

Develop a strong outside leg to block the drifting/leaning towards the fence. (inside hand to outside leg - VERY important to support the horse)

Eye aid - set up cones or ground markers to assist in staying off the wall/fence.

Always allow plenty of time for a session.

Start with walking and progress to trotting before you lope/canter off the rail. When the horse starts to lean or drop a shoulder/hip to the rail - circle IN and put the horse back on the track you were on.

Teach a good solid WHOA.
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