This is how we train a fearless trail horse! - Page 18 - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #171 of 299 Old 07-25-2012, 07:37 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Buffalo, NY
Posts: 77
• Horses: 0
Thank you! That was so helpful! I know it must have taken a while to type all that. I appreciate it:)
justxride97 is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #172 of 299 Old 08-16-2012, 05:45 PM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 182
• Horses: 0
Originally Posted by trailhorserider View Post
Great post Cherie! I love reading your posts (I saved a similar post you did from a long time ago on training trail horses).

Since trail is what I "do" I really try to learn all I can.

I seem to have a knack for riding nervous/high strung horses and I think it's because I don't feed off of their fear. It's not that I don't get afraid, because there is always a time and place that I can get scared too. But I "don't sweat the small stuff" and get bent out of shape if the horse jumps at something or worries a little or refuses to walk or gets jiggy. I just have gotten to the point that I let that stuff roll off, do the best I can to control the situation and keep riding.

I see so many people get scared, tense and even mad at their horses because the horse gets a little scared/nervous and it just escalates the whole problem. It goes from a tiny blip on the radar to all-out war.

I usually let my horses stop and look at scary things for a moment or two and then attempt to ride on like it is nothing. Most of the time that works for me. I will keep in mind that perhaps I should just ride on like it is nothing to begin with. Sometimes a horse has so much fear of an object you can tell that if you just ride on past the horse will try to flee from it. If I feel that is going to be the case I let them "look" until I feel we can ride past it without fleeing. It seems like those few seconds lets the horse settle a bit instead of doing a knee-jerk reaction.

But in any approach, the rider needs to take the attitude that whatever the scary object is, it is nothing at all and not project nervousness to the horse.

Thank you for the great advice.
Great stuff.... I to have a similar style with riding horses.. sure.. you at times may hit the ground... its life. its riding horses. but being relaxed and your horse seeing and feeling you relaxed goes a long way...

I TOO Initially allow my horse to stop and take a look at things that he is afraid of, but once he has seen this once or twice. I encourage him after that to ignore such things and move along..

I allow my horse to skirt around such things and dont insist he goes rite close every time. he knows I will allow him to keep a little distance when passing these objects.

The writer above you is right, in keeping the horses head pointing where you want to ride and discourage the horse from looking all around... they are correct in keeping your horse moving as the horse approaches things that he is unsure of.... practise quietly talking to your horse and he or she over time will hopefully learn to trust your voice and manner in riding..

You should work on teaching your horse TRUST in you....!

With trust you can open your horses mind to all sorts when the horse trusts you with its life...!

Enjoy your journey.... take a seat... as this journey may take a while..(smilies)
canterburyhorsetrailrider is offline  
post #173 of 299 Old 09-26-2012, 06:37 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Southwest Virginia
Posts: 1,440
• Horses: 0
i am currently undoing what i did to my 4 1/2 yo mare. i trained her based upon some advice that several different trainers gave me and if you can't stay calm and relaxed and sit deep in the saddle you don't stay on when she gets spooked or agitated. they told me to let her stop look and smell . woo boy was that a massive mistake! i had two babies within two years so i didn't get to do much riding. i am back to working with her on the ground seven days a week. several hours a day. and so far she is doing fabulous at paying attention to me. once in a while she will take her attention off me and i will quickly ask for something and then she starts focusing again. we are going on a trip this weekend and i an going to put cheries method to test. i no longer let her even glance at something she is afraid of for a split second. it hard and very complicated undoing this awful habit i taught her but because it was my fault she developed this habit i feel now that it is ten times more important that i correct it.
Posted via Mobile Device
toosexy4myspotz is offline  
post #174 of 299 Old 09-27-2012, 02:25 AM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 43
• Horses: 6
Cheri that is excellent advice for a "horse" rider, but would never ever work in the world of mules. Yes, you still need to be the dominant one, and command respect, however, with a mule, you must "convince" him that there is no boogie monster. You have to change their mind about being scared, otherwise, you will be fighting a loosing battle. You WILL NOT win. You have to let them look and check it out and decide for themselves that they are not in danger. And if you can't convince them that whatever it is that they are afraid of is not gonna eat them, then they are going to get the heck outta Dodge and you are either with them or you're not. They are all about self preservation. First and foremost. And if you happen to get a good minded mule, then one or two scary monsters terminated, and you will have one the best riding animals. They also "watch" where they step. Hence the reason for such sure footedness. And the reason they are used in the Grand Canyon, they would never step off the side of the cliff! Just saying'.......
bsms likes this.

If it's not half ass, it's just a horse!
luvlongears is offline  
post #175 of 299 Old 09-27-2012, 02:30 AM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 43
• Horses: 6
Oh yeah, and I meant to ask you, How would you go about teaching one to go through water, like a creek or river? You would have to ride straight at it and not be able to go around it? If you did go around it, wouldn't you then be teaching the horse to go around things he didn't like? and you can't really go around a creek? So when your horse balks at that how do you handle it? Just curious. We live right by the Santa Ana River and ride through it quite often.

If it's not half ass, it's just a horse!
luvlongears is offline  
post #176 of 299 Old 09-27-2012, 08:46 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 5,995
• Horses: 0
Almost laughed my a$$ off at your assessment of mules. Your mules have trained you --- not unusual, by the way. I've trained hundred of them, used to raise them and love them dearly. The last time the horse market went in the toilet was in the 80s. 350,000 horses a year were being sent to slaughter. We kept our mares, bought a very gently Spanish Jack and raised, trained and sold mules for about 8 or 10 years. We were selling $5000.00 mules ($1500.00 weanlings) out of AQHA mares when there were only lunk-headed obnoxious mules around that had to be handled with chain halters and scotch ropes. I was not new to mules. I had trained quite a few over the years as a public trainer. I learned how to get along with them way back in the 60s and 70s when well-bred mules were rare.

Mules are very different and sooo much smarter and they do take longer to train. It is even more important to establish good leadership with a mule than a horse. When you learn how to establish who is in charge, a mule will go through fire for you. I ride a green colt through a running creek on about ride 8 or 10, sometimes much sooner and seldom have to have one follow or be led by another horse. I used to wait a few more rides on a mule just because it takes a little longer to establish good forward impulsion, which is the key. If I was going to ride a green mule and I knew I had to cross water before I really felt I was ready to, I always had had a good halter and lead with me so I could snub him to another horse or mule if I had to. I preferred to have him ready to ride through water ahead of any horses. They follow horses very well but it takes a lot more training skill to teach them to be the front horse/mule. This was always my goal when I trained them.

There are many keys to getting a fearless forward going mule. It is even more important to establish good leadership very early in the relationship. It is even more important to have VERY GOOD forward impulsion established early in their training. They are natural born followers. They would prefer to stop a think about what they don't understand. This is what they do by nature. This is what donkeys do. If you want a mule to ride forward like a horse (and they will), you have to establish very early in their training that they need to trust you and not their natural instincts. If you want a mule to lope like a horse (and they can), you have to establish a good lope on the first few rides or you will be fighting a losing battle trying to teach one to lope later in life.

I am constantly telling people that "Horses are creature of habit. The rider/trainer has to make sure they are good habits!" This is even more true of mules. Whatever kind of relationship you establish and whatever kind of riding habits you establish (like stopping and looking at everything) is even more set in stone in a mule. I used to retrain a lot of horses that were very spoiled. It is a lot harder to retrain a spoiled mule (some bad habits are impossible to get rid of). It is a lot harder to change their way of doing things -- like stopping and looking.

As for so few good-minded mules -- I cannot even remember one I raised that I would even start to consider to be bad-minded. They were real sweeties. They were easy to catch, tied anywhere, led good, loaded in any trailer and never tried to jerk away or bolt (a real common mule trick if you have ever been around them). The last mules I trained are now well over 20 years old and I still know where some of them are and their owners still love them and would not think of selling them. A couple became top team roping mules and could hold their own in open team ropings where everyone else rode horses.

I really suspect that you have babied yours, fed into its insecurities and not been a strong enough leader if you are having all of these problems. It really sounds like your mule is pretty thoroughly 'in charge'. You would have to convince me otherwise.

visit us at
Cherie is offline  
post #177 of 299 Old 09-27-2012, 09:17 AM
Super Moderator
Join Date: May 2012
Location: CT USA an English transplant
Posts: 24,587
• Horses: 3
Very good post. It concerns me how many horses are spending their lives only working in a menage or going to a showground. In the UK we mostly have to ride on busy roads to get anywhere so our horses have to have a good grounding in accepting everything they need to pass - coping with traffic is only a part of it as spooking at a plastic bag, barking dog or large rock can send you under that truck thats going by. Anything more than a bounce off the ground and landing back in the same spot is unacceptable so they are trained like that from day one, even on a lead line that running away from anything isn't allowed - once they learn to run away they will do it again.
I have seen people 'rush' horses past thing they dont like rather than making them face their demons - this sort of thing encourages bolting. Sometimes its better to dismount and lead the horse to the scarey monster and make it stand by it - I will give treats for good behaviour in this type of incidence. Standing by scarey thing = treats works better than being whipped for being afraid of something they dont understand.
Our young horses are never taken out on their own until they are confident with the world outside the yard/barn. A good steady buddy gives them so much reassurance. A serious mistake with a green horse that suddenly finds itself out of its depth in a situation and a rider that isnt as experienced as they thought they were can scar it for life. There is a huge difference in challenging a horse within its realistic capabilities for dealing with things and pushing it so far out of its comfort zone it panics
Being relaxed but always in control is so important. They pick up on fear and tension in the rider. I have known lots of horses that spook at things because the rider expects them too and yet when ridden by someone who isn't aware of that horses dislike of something they will frequently not spook at that thing at all.
If you are constantly saying 'my horse doesn't like red bricks and will never get over it then you are training your horse to dislike red bricks by accepting that fear.
Missy May likes this.
jaydee is offline  
post #178 of 299 Old 09-27-2012, 07:29 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 13,394
• Horses: 0
Originally Posted by luvlongears View Post
How would you go about teaching one to go through water, like a creek or river?
Well if it were a small mule.... my Dad had the rather dubious practice(he survived it, surprisingly) of picking up my donkey's back feet & wheelbarrowing him wherever he wouldn't go the conventional way!

**Please note, I'm not advocating anyone try this at home!!
Missy May likes this.
loosie is online now  
post #179 of 299 Old 10-01-2012, 12:05 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: BC
Posts: 452
• Horses: 2
Today my new boy, Ed and I went on our first off property (trailered to) 12 mile trail ride. There were several small groups strung out along the way. I'd planned to ride with a certain group but we found they were walking too slowly- I was always pulling on his face or zig zagging so as not to crowd the horse in front. Fiinally I decided to just let him go comfortably, which is a pretty forward walk. There were 2 times I thought it safer for me to hop off and in which some riders were passing us on the road which then continued to be a trail...he wanted to join them and started cantering sideways on the road...ugh. Had a hard time bringing him down, he was fighting me. Not til they were out of sight was he calmer. The other time he just did not like some boulders/car in shadow/whatever and after 6 tries I decided to walk him and remount. All the other attempts by him looking at something for a moment or two, went fine. I could feel him relax, breathe, and move forward. THe most interesting spooking episode was with a chicken sign we had passed in a group on the way out...on the way back we were alone...he was fussing about it and he did that backwards thing with me circling him and finally he went off in a trot toward it and passed it. We spent 75% of the 12 miles alone. We would join some groups for a few minutes and then end up passing them with his big walk. I was really pleased with this first effort after some of the quirkyness I have seen off property. I think this ride was a good step in getting a better feel for him. I am looking forward to more trails soon as we are moving to a lake-side barn.
livelovelaughride is offline  
post #180 of 299 Old 10-07-2012, 11:41 AM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 1
• Horses: 0
My horse seems to spook at everything including her shadow or the wind blowing the leaves so they move ? does anyone have an idea what i could do to make her behave better ? and she will just start trotting on her own . any tips ?
McCurdy33 is offline  

spooking , trail horse

Quick Reply

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
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Dog train my horse, or horse train my dog? momo3boys Horse Training 3 04-29-2011 11:49 AM
fearless? sophielou10 Horse Riding 20 04-16-2010 08:18 PM
Fearless and under stimulated filly. riccil0ve Horse Training 4 08-13-2009 01:54 PM
Our fearless leader Spyder Horse Forum Support Help Desk 51 05-11-2009 11:20 PM
How do you train a horse to go on the bit? Please help!! Emma7442 Horse Training 34 02-23-2008 03:51 AM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome