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This is how we train a fearless trail horse!

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    02-08-2012, 05:34 PM
  #111
Weanling
KiWi Can you hear the sound of my hands clapping?
     
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    02-10-2012, 10:50 PM
  #112
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherie    
When people start talking about wanting to let their horse see everything and want him to check everything out or they want to get off and longe their horse a while until HE decides it is OK to go on I think of this kind of situation with two old cowboys like the ones in the Ace Reid cartoons. I see something like this:

Picture two old cowboys gathering a set of heifers on a rough pasture and bunch of them make a break for the heavy brush.

Zeke: "Hey Jim Bob! You need to cut across that draw and cut off those heifers before they git to the brush! I'll go this way to turn them to the corral."

Jim Bob: "I will, soon as I longe my horse a while. He don't wanna go down that steep draw. He's sceered of somthin. I don't want him to git upset. I'll be there soon as he's ready."

Zeke: "That's OK Jim Bob. Pet him a while and tell em it's OK. We kin always come back tomorrow and try to git em in. We'll call off the trucker and tell em we couldn't git em in today and he'll have to come back tomorrow to load em.

When horses have a job like Police horses and working ranch horses do, obedience is never optional. We don't ever lower ourselves to the level of a horse and 'argue' with them. We make ALL of the decisions and we expect a horse to just DO what is asked. A rider with this attitude get a lost less 'attitude' out of the horses they ride. Horses just respond by trying to do everything that is asked.
I think that's the problem. Horses nowadays generally DON'T have jobs. They often aren't rode every day, and if they are, it's for perhaps an hour at a time or less. And a lot of them aren't worked with any high expectations. I see a lot of people getting their horses out every day to ride in circles around an arena for an hour. People don't ride horses anymore out of necessity, they ride them because they enjoy them. Because they oftentimes want a friend, not a working partner or source of transportation, and they don't want to force their perceived friend to go down that steep draw if it doesn't want to.

If we all used horses because we had to, if horses had a job and had higher expectations set of them, we probably wouldn't see a lot of the problems we do. I know every horse I've ever had, even the super lazy ones, are a lot happier, quieter and more willing when they get worked every single day and have a job to do. I truly do believe that horses are a lot happier and will try a lot harder when they know what's expected of them, when they know they have a job to do, and especially when they know they have a leader so they can do their job without worrying about what's going to eat them.
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    02-18-2012, 05:43 PM
  #113
Trained
Well, it is all good advice - but nothing is w/o exceptions. I believe horses to be extremely intelligent animals (an IQ far above that of a dog, for reference), and just like people, ya have to get to know them as individuals.

I rode cow horses for years..on cattle on working ranches. I have extremely talented buckskin which I have had since he was a yearling (he is a senior now). When he was younger, you could put him on cattle in roughest or the smoothest terrain .. and if you were willing you would learn a thing or two about pushing cattle from him - he knew his stuff! He didn't spook, didn't buck, didn't do anything but do his job to complete perfection. But, go down the road for a Sunday outing w/o a job in sight...and you might better make arrangements in case of your demise. He was extremely spooky when asked to just simply go "down the road", and he was sure there were black helos coming to get us, every time! The old boy was raised on the range and knew how to "stay safe".....which didn't include sniffing the monsters, but did include being on extreme high alert every second out of a "safety zone" w/o a job. And, his vigilance paid off…he was always the dominant horse when in a herd, and he was a fantastic "leader" - no one ever got hurt on his watch!

If one did not take the time to get to know the buckskin and they had ended up w him somehow w the intended purpose of trail riding....they would have had serious problems and may very well have not learned how talented he was. I hate to think what would have become of him under those circumstances.

Pushing the buckskin and showing him who was boss on a pleasure trail ride was -worth your life. You couldn't "win" w the buckskin....at very best you could come to an understanding. I had actually had pro trainers comment on how I should handle him and "take the reins".....so, I just let them "show me how it’s done". The buckskin showed them. Like I said, I had him nearly all his life...I knew him inside out, and knew it wasn't my riding skills at fault. No one ever got it over on the buckskin on a trail ride. BUT, now, thanks to a little grade filly....he doesn't even spook at umbrellas!!! Not even mailboxes, flags waiving, or houses! WOW!

When the buckskin was over 20 he was no less spooky than when he was 2. He was retired from cow work, which meant he could only be ridden in a controlled situation (e.g., an arena). At his age he had seen it all before, it didn’t matter...he just spooked at the smallest of things no matter how many times he had been "habituated" to a particular thing. I mean, you had to be careful about the sound of candy wrappers around him - and he spooked at buildings of any sort, including houses! But, surprise!!!! Nooo more! I wish I had known what he needed when he was 3 – which was a fearless little filly w zero cow sense to show him the way!

I bought the young grade filly for my daughter (my daughter later lost interest, now the mare is my pride and joy). I had no history on the little filly, but I would guess she was orphaned or weaned way too early. She was ignorant of even the very basic "herd manners", way underweight, but she was clearly very, very bright - I could see she had potential and would make a great partner - if someone gave her a chance. She was a follower, the extreme opposite of the buckskin. Since I was going to put my young daughter on her, I played with her a lot to see what she would spook at...which was very little in her "safety zone". The buckskin left dodge every time we started one of our "play sessions". In the beginning, the buckskin would try to “move her” away from the “dangerous games”. She ignored him – she doesn’t get “herd language”. A first for him…no one ever ignored his orders! Because the filly was so food oriented, I started clicker training her (on the ground only). The buckskin would watch us from a distance. After about 3 sessions, he actually came within 20 feet to watch…always at the ready to get gone. As time went by, he finally got close enough that I could offer to include him in the games. After about 3 such occurrences.....he just pushed the little filly out of the way and wanted to be front and center! I was amazed! So, I included him as much as I could - the filly was/is my main focus. THe filly was far more "advanced" at the games, which clearly irritated the old guy. His competitive nature wouldn't let him be outshined by some little upstart. We "played" with umbrellas, flags, pop guns, horns, bicycles...you name it. And to my shock...the old buckskin became calmer and calmer...until he was CALM - solid as a rock!

So, show'n em who's in charge and making them keep going down the road - ordinarily will work. If the horse is smarter than you are....it may very well not. It shouldn’t chip away at your confidence, don't get rid of the horse, look for their talents and find another way!
Beling, tbrantley and Bellerose like this.
     
    02-20-2012, 06:01 PM
  #114
Green Broke
Just reading this for the first time, fantastic post! Someone had mentioned bravery, and yes, unfortunately that is a huge part of it. You have to have the courage and conviction on a young horse to be confident enough to push him through it.

Jynx is a spinner. The first couple of deer we encountered as a youngster, I had her spin hard under me. It only took a couple times for me to know what she was a tendency to do and shut her down HARD when she hears a noise and reacts. I do my best to keep her moving and thinking, and being ready to shut down whichever side she may take a liking to spinning towards. She is very much a horse who needs a confident leader, or she'd turn into one heckuva spooky monster. As long as I ride her firmly forward, she forgets about whatever she's spotted mighty fast. If I hesitate for a second and let her look, I'm setting her up to spin.

Zierra is a high headed spooky Arab and yet a good trail horse in her own sense. I swear I've tried since the little snot was 4 years old to turn her into a dependable trail horse, and she just has her own ideas. She never balks, never refuses and rarely spooks except for these little "flinches" that happen constantly. I'll never understand how a horse can be so afraid and yet so confident in my leadership that she'll forge any terrain I ask of her without hesitation. She's always the horse to lead the pack when nobody else can get their horse past something, and yet every little bird or squirrel makes her "flinch" her body. It's quite weird! She's the only horse I've ever had such an issue with.
     
    02-27-2012, 06:55 PM
  #115
Weanling
Some great advice there and perfect for me as I'm a big trail rider thanks!
     
    03-04-2012, 12:55 PM
  #116
Weanling
Hey everyone, some great advice here! I just have a question to ask and any info would be greatly appreciated. My current ride is a sometimes jittery, often spooky 12 year old Standardbred gelding. I do keep him under control and try my best to keep his attention focused on me, but I just have one problem. To get to the trails from where he is boarded, you have to ride for about 20 minutes up a dirt road. He's pretty good when cars drive by, but only if they're going slow. I would love some info on how to make him pay less attention to the cars.. but that isn't my question. This dirt road is also home to some heavy machinery (dumptrucks, backhoes, etc) and he is ABSOLUTELY terrified of them! He starts shaking, jumping from side to side, and immediately wants to turn around and bolt away. Any info on how to help him overcome his fear? Thanks!
     
    03-04-2012, 02:39 PM
  #117
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaLover    
Hey everyone, some great advice here! I just have a question to ask and any info would be greatly appreciated. My current ride is a sometimes jittery, often spooky 12 year old Standardbred gelding. I do keep him under control and try my best to keep his attention focused on me, but I just have one problem. To get to the trails from where he is boarded, you have to ride for about 20 minutes up a dirt road. He's pretty good when cars drive by, but only if they're going slow. I would love some info on how to make him pay less attention to the cars.. but that isn't my question. This dirt road is also home to some heavy machinery (dumptrucks, backhoes, etc) and he is ABSOLUTELY terrified of them! He starts shaking, jumping from side to side, and immediately wants to turn around and bolt away. Any info on how to help him overcome his fear? Thanks!
Is it possible for you to ride with someone else that has a horse that isn't afraid of machinery? Having another horse there to set a good example should help your horse be less reactive. I know it's hard, but the most important thing for you to do when he freaks out is to stay calm. If you are nervous or showing fear that will only make matters worse because you are his leader and if you are scared he is going to revert to running. When I first got my mare I actually had someone drive a car back and forth past me on the county road while I was leading her and then I did the same thing riding. We also went out in groups quite a few times before I even tried a solo ride. Hope this helps.
     
    03-04-2012, 05:32 PM
  #118
Weanling
Have you seen the sending exercizes some trainers do. They send the horse back and forth between themselves and the arena rail. At first the horse is reactive and tries to avoid the rail or rushes by it. It's like a Chinese fire drill. When I was a fireman I didn't care much for heights. We had a training excise one day where we climbed a ladder against a three story high building, ran across the top of a flat roof, went down another ladder, ran around the building to the first ladder and repeated the exercise for about a half hour. Pretty soon it didn't seem like anything. Same thing with the heavy equipment. If you can, ride by it at a distance and go back and forth past it. As your horse reacts less and less pass closer and closer to the object. It's similar to the sending exercise. Sometimes people overreact too. I don't know how many times I have seen a stressed out person struggle for an hour to get a horse in a trailer and then slam the door shut and drive off. The next time it's the same thing all over again when what they should have done is back the horse out and load him about twenty five more times before driving off. It's all about repetition and handler confidence. This is not pertaining to you at all but confidence or lack of is transmitted immediately and constantly through the rider's body to the horse. Dogs can actually smell fear which is secreted through our adrenal glands. I have no doubt that horses can too.

When I was training my driving horse I had my wife assist me in the arena driving our truck. First I got behind her and let the horse chase her. Then she drove past him in the arena, then passed him coming towards him. Finally I drove him next to the truck. We did the same thing on our 1400 foot long driveway. The first time we went to town a school bus drove by and he didn't pay any attention. I don't know what he might have done if a semi had passed him at speed though.
bellmcc likes this.
     
    03-04-2012, 08:16 PM
  #119
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaLover    
Hey everyone, some great advice here! I just have a question to ask and any info would be greatly appreciated. My current ride is a sometimes jittery, often spooky 12 year old Standardbred gelding. I do keep him under control and try my best to keep his attention focused on me, but I just have one problem. To get to the trails from where he is boarded, you have to ride for about 20 minutes up a dirt road. He's pretty good when cars drive by, but only if they're going slow. I would love some info on how to make him pay less attention to the cars.. but that isn't my question. This dirt road is also home to some heavy machinery (dumptrucks, backhoes, etc) and he is ABSOLUTELY terrified of them! He starts shaking, jumping from side to side, and immediately wants to turn around and bolt away. Any info on how to help him overcome his fear? Thanks!
What are you doing when or before he gets upset?
     
    03-04-2012, 09:11 PM
  #120
Weanling
Going out with someone else usually helps a little bit, but everyone seems to have such a hectic schedule and most of them hardly ever ride their horses :/ .. and I'm not going to lie, I definitely am the type of rider that looks out for scary things up ahead so I can spot them before my horse does and I DO get nervous if it's something big because I need to hop off and pull him somewhere off of the road so he doesn't go ballistic.
     

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