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This is how we train a fearless trail horse!

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  • I panic when my horse looks at something
  • When will my green horse stop spinning on hacks

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    10-08-2011, 05:25 AM
  #11
Green Broke
Most of what you have posted I agree with, however I don't agree with not letting horses look at things or investigate things.. My horses are allowed to look, they must keep walking but they can look all they want. I want the to enjoy going for a ride, not do it because they have to.

I normaly introduce my horses to traffic in long reins, you have a lot more control and the ability to make the horse go forwards.
Reeco was introduced to hacking out in this way, I must have walked miles with him in long reins, but the first time I sat on him we spent 5 mins in the school and then went out on the roads.

He is utterly fearless out on a hack (be it on the roads or on the tracks). He has been an absolute nightmare to break and has taken me close on 9 months to actually get on him, he had a severe fear of anything behind the eyeline and heck it took 6 months to be able to long rein him without him panicing, but now that we are on him he hacks out on his own perfectly, even in the heaviest of traffic.
TBH with him in perticular I'd rather he stopped and looked because his reaction is normaly to bolt! So pushing him faster is not a good idea.

Yesterday we went out for a hack and unfortunatly Reeco lost his back end coming down a hill in slippy mud, however because he was allowed to stop and get his footing back and just stand and calm for 30 seconds, he then walked on forwards happily and without panicing and bolting off on me.
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    10-08-2011, 07:59 AM
  #12
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
I know that you are absolutley right, and I wish I could do what you said about riding forward when the horse starts to get worried. I know that this is what would help Mac when he gets worried on the trail (which he worries a lot, though he isn't so much spooky as worried).

What is holding me back is that he has got me off 5 times by making incredibly sudden and unexpected spins. I'll be going along and thinking it's all going swimmingly and the next thing I know, he has kind of dropped out from under me as he bounced off his planted front legs and wheels, almost always to the right. Well, I get thrown forward and he spins out from under me. He's a bit downhill in build to begin with and if I am trotting and posting and he catches me on the up part, I am toast. At the canter he's done it and nearly pitched me. At the walk I can usually ride it out. And he's spun MANY times that were near dumpers for me but I stayed put.

SO, though I know I need to push him harder and faster forward, I find I just don't have the faith that he will stay going forward and not spin on me so fast that I'll hit the dirt , , again. (and I am not so young, either).

This is the only thing that I feel is't right between he and I . And we have worked on riding past scary things a lot and at the walk, he seems to be willing to be lead by me, but I just cannot make my mind and body commit, really committ to FORWARD! Like you say is required. I am not sure if I can block out the apprehension and go.

Not much you can do about that where you are, but just thought I'd put that out there.
My horse had the same issue, he had been abused and was pretty spooky, he is starting to trust me and relax but he did the quick spin and sidways spring on stupid things, like a turkey feather in the trail. I ride with a horned Aussi so I never came off but probably would have in an english.

I know you can't desensitize them to everything like the OP said. But what I did was teach my horse to freeze when scared instead of bolt. Then you have a chance to collect him correct him and move on.
I call it the oogy woogy drill. On 12 foot lead I back him up then letting the rope slid ein my habd I run at him waving my arms OOGY WOOOGY WOOOGY, he used to rear and roll his eyes back but not anymore, as soon as his feet stop I stop, next day Id use a plastic bag, or a beer can with pebbles in it, always something a bit different. Same thing let him spin in circles around you but as soon as he quits moving you stop, repeat on both sides.. You arent going to make him never afraid, but you can teach him to stop instead of bolt. Last couple big trail rides he has really come around, now he stops and looks and I give him a tap or two escalating to a pop on the withers with the reins to get him moving again if needed. He has learned he isnt getting out of it. Even if I have to get off and lead him he is going where I say. I have had him sincce July and every ride has gotten better.
     
    10-08-2011, 10:40 AM
  #13
Super Moderator
This is how people process this. But, it is absolutely wrong as horses do not look at it this way.
Quote:
Most of what you have posted I agree with, however I don't agree with not letting horses look at things or investigate things.. My horses are allowed to look, they must keep walking but they can look all they want. I want the to enjoy going for a ride, not do it because they have to.
They do not keep going forward because they have to. They go forward because:
1) they trust you as the leader.
2) with you as their trusted leader, they do not feel that they have to examine things.
They are not only perfectly happy letting you decide for them. They are A LOT happier because they do not have to worry about anything.

As far as TL goes:

I would do two things right away:

First, I would get a deep seated stock saddle with big swells on it for trail riding.

Let me explain where I am coming from. I am 65 and have horrible balance any more. My back is so bad I can no longer lope a horse and sure cannot work a cow any more. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Degenerative joint (disk) disease and severe Scoliosis. My MRIs would pass for a 90 year old with a bad back. My Dr. Says I should not be able to walk much less ride. I have two younger brothers that have had multiple spinal surgeries and are complete invalids. I am convinced that my insistence to keep riding as much and as long an I can is the only reason I am walking and for sure, still riding. My Dr. Just shakes his head. On top of my back problems, my hips and knees are also about gone. My hips were both injected about a month ago. Again, Dr. Just shook his head.

So, you cannot still ride with a greater handicap than I have. Somewhere in this degeneration of my body, my balance went out the window. I have taken a couple of pretty hard falls in the past year. So, I am riding a saddle with a deeper seat and looking for one I like better. I have always ridden a saddle designed for reining training, but they are not deep enough and I can't stay in one any more.

Secondly, are you making your horse suffer any consequences for spinning around? You should! If your horse ducks around to the right and you don't go off, You should instantly snatch her head to the left, kick her her in the right ribs and spin her 3 or 4 times to the left. I have found that when I do this with a green horse, they hesitate and start 'spooking in place'. You cannot stop a horse from being a horse. They are a prey animal and are 'hard-wired' to keep themselves safe. It is our job to constantly remind them that we are in charge, that they need to trust us completely and that we will not accept spooking and bolting.

These are the methods I have not only used to make good trail horses, but they are the methods I have used to train horses for CLEET certification for horses to be used as police horses to work in riots and big crowds. If you can train a TB or TB type horse for police work, a trail ride in the woods should be a piece of cake.

Like a good trail horse at my house, a police horse is never shown a 'booger'. They are just taught to trust their rider and follow directives given by that rider. They are never taught to examine things. That is the last thing you want them doing.

[If it makes you feel any better, your horse is a superb athlete. It takes a really athletic horse like a cutting horse to do a 180 so fast that it 'drops' in the front end. This is one of the things we look for in a good cutter or cowhorse.]
     
    10-08-2011, 11:47 AM
  #14
Green Broke
Mona is a spinner when she spooks and she's fast. I can't sit her spins and neither can my sister (who is 10x the rider I am). Darn QH genes.
2 things I've learned this past year are
I anticipate Mona's spooking which makes her spookier, and I give her too much time to react to what is scaring her.
I've stopped looking for demons on the trail (I can't anticipate everything anyway), and when I feel that Mona is about to spook I push her forward instead of stopping. Nothing dramatic just a nudge with my leg. She doesn't spook near as much as she used too.

Cherie great post.
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    10-08-2011, 12:36 PM
  #15
Foal
I agree with your post mostly as well. The one exception I would say is that I am a little more careful before I dismiss my horse when she won't go forward (not spooking, that she doesn't do very much).

A year ago I was riding on unfamiliar trails, and there was some downed barbwire partially covered with leaves. I didn't see it, but when my horse stopped, I just figured that she had a "mentally stuck" moment, so I urged her on. She went because she trusted my leadership, got caught in the wire, went down on her knees and I rolled over her shoulder unharmed. She struggled to her feet and was frantic for a minute before I stood up and calmed her down. We walked back to the trailer. She had multiple cuts on her legs and one on her lip. She still trusts me, and goes where I ask her to go, but if she ever hesitates that strongly, I look around before asking her to move on. I like that she has a mind of her own, and a sense of self-preservation that will keep me safe as well if I let it.
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    10-08-2011, 09:28 PM
  #16
Trained
I too agree with your post mostly, Cherie. Some very good advice I reckon. I think there is a huge difference between doing what you suggest when a horse already trusts you as a worthy leader - and as you say, never asking anything of a horse they're not ready for - and following that kind of approach if you're not confident &/or your horse isn't confident of you. For eg. Apparently ignoring the horse's own 'opinions' and making a horse work fast when they are afraid is just asking for trouble in many situations, I reckon. Not to mention barbed wire, electricity, snakes... IOW, real dangers us humans may not be aware of.

I also agree with faye that you can indeed 'have your cake & eat it' and allow a horse to explore & check things out too. Many do enjoy this, IME. While I agree it's important to train them to follow your instruction, including ignoring stuff when you say, I don't personally want to knock the natural curiosity out of them either & disallow it completely. While I also agree that forcing a horse to approach a 'scary' is not helpful, if the horse wants to 'investigate', I generally allow them to.

I also think desensitising a horse to a variety of stuff is far from futile(depending how it's done of course!). It's not about getting them desensitised to everything they're ever going to see, but I think it helps them to learn to trust that they're safe in your presence & generalise that trust in the face of wierd & wonderful situations and it also helps them - and their people - know what to do in the face of their fear.
     
    10-08-2011, 10:42 PM
  #17
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherie    
This is how people process this. But, it is absolutely wrong as horses do not look at it this way.
They do not keep going forward because they have to. They go forward because:
1) they trust you as the leader.
2) with you as their trusted leader, they do not feel that they have to examine things.
They are not only perfectly happy letting you decide for them. They are A LOT happier because they do not have to worry about anything.

As far as TL goes:

I would do two things right away:

First, I would get a deep seated stock saddle with big swells on it for trail riding.

Let me explain where I am coming from. I am 65 and have horrible balance any more. My back is so bad I can no longer lope a horse and sure cannot work a cow any more. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Degenerative joint (disk) disease and severe Scoliosis. My MRIs would pass for a 90 year old with a bad back. My Dr. Says I should not be able to walk much less ride. I have two younger brothers that have had multiple spinal surgeries and are complete invalids. I am convinced that my insistence to keep riding as much and as long an I can is the only reason I am walking and for sure, still riding. My Dr. Just shakes his head. On top of my back problems, my hips and knees are also about gone. My hips were both injected about a month ago. Again, Dr. Just shook his head.

So, you cannot still ride with a greater handicap than I have. Somewhere in this degeneration of my body, my balance went out the window. I have taken a couple of pretty hard falls in the past year. So, I am riding a saddle with a deeper seat and looking for one I like better. I have always ridden a saddle designed for reining training, but they are not deep enough and I can't stay in one any more.

Secondly, are you making your horse suffer any consequences for spinning around? You should! If your horse ducks around to the right and you don't go off, You should instantly snatch her head to the left, kick her her in the right ribs and spin her 3 or 4 times to the left. I have found that when I do this with a green horse, they hesitate and start 'spooking in place'. You cannot stop a horse from being a horse. They are a prey animal and are 'hard-wired' to keep themselves safe. It is our job to constantly remind them that we are in charge, that they need to trust us completely and that we will not accept spooking and bolting.

These are the methods I have not only used to make good trail horses, but they are the methods I have used to train horses for CLEET certification for horses to be used as police horses to work in riots and big crowds. If you can train a TB or TB type horse for police work, a trail ride in the woods should be a piece of cake.

Like a good trail horse at my house, a police horse is never shown a 'booger'. They are just taught to trust their rider and follow directives given by that rider. They are never taught to examine things. That is the last thing you want them doing.

[If it makes you feel any better, your horse is a superb athlete. It takes a really athletic horse like a cutting horse to do a 180 so fast that it 'drops' in the front end. This is one of the things we look for in a good cutter or cowhorse.]
I am not competition for the most 'bunged up" rider out there. I am pretty much a fat middleaged housewife who has a decent seat but certainly no cowgirl type. Mac is athletic and can spin marvelously. The thing with him is the way that he will do this with no real warning. I get warnings that he is worried about something, sure, and I bring his attention back to me. But the times he's spun and put me off have all been so utterly out of the blue it's shocking. Just when it seems everygthing is going so well . . .

I do need a better saddle, though, and I think I will start looking! (I love treatinf myself to new tack.) I ride Mac in a show saddle, actually, not a deep seat. (Billy Cook).

The part Cherie wrote about consequences is something I will put into effect. If I can get after him , I will. In the past I had just been recoving myself (if I was half off) and just going on as if nothing happened. But I think I need to change that approach.

He doesn't spin hardly at all for his owner, but of course, she has tons more self confidence and has been riding since diapers.

So, I thank you for your feedback . I will go out and give it a go. Just getting less and less willing to put myself in the position to hit the dirt.
     
    10-08-2011, 11:11 PM
  #18
Weanling
Good post, I'm trying to become more of a confident leader with my horse so he can get on better on trail. Like today, I took him out walking on the trail just to cool him off and stretch out my legs; we came to an open field with picnic tables in and he stopped to look so I took him over and lunged him right next to the tables. On the way back he didn't even look at the tables.
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    10-09-2011, 05:57 AM
  #19
Trained
100% agreed.

I have always done the leg yielding thing when my horses want to look at something. I have to say you are one of the first people I've found who do the same! It just makes sense to me. And produced the best trail horse I've had. My last horse wasn't great, too inherently spooky, but manageable. I think my new girl will be good with miles on her - once she learns to keep her attention on me and not everything else!
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    10-09-2011, 07:56 AM
  #20
Weanling
If you ride with a strong enough focus, and are any good at using the more basic aids to make that focus a reality, excessive or long term spooking problems just don't happen.

Looking at things doesn't matter imo, as long as the back, legs and most importantly the feet of the horse aren't influenced in any way, and remain obedient, the rest of the horse can do whatever it wants

Out of interest cherie, what type of saddle do you use now?
     

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