This is how we train a fearless trail horse! - Page 6

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This is how we train a fearless trail horse!

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    10-17-2011, 01:18 AM
Cherie - Thanks for the explanation of your #4 - that makes a lot more sense to me. I would say that may not be for every rider, as some horses being forced to go fast towards a fearful object may rear, but certainly going back and forth past the object makes a lot of sense.
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    10-17-2011, 08:37 AM
Super Moderator
Pat -- actually, they are less apt to rear. A horse rears when you let them stall out and slow down. Moving forward faster keeps all of their feet on the ground. When they are moving forward, they just cannot rear.

We find that rearing is a much bigger problem when people let the horse stop and then argue with it about letting it turn around and leave the scary place. People that are as fearful as the horse, usually tighten up, try to 'hold' the horse from turning, try to get the horse closer so he can look at the scary thing and, in reality, set the horse up for spinning around or rearing and then getting more fearful.

Letting a horse stop and look just sets them up for more stopping and looking and more fear reactions. Keeping the horse 'responsive' and busy just does not give the horse time to be reactive. It just works so well to keep them busy and moving.

I hope this clears up the confusion. I could have been a little more articulate.
    10-17-2011, 09:27 AM
Originally Posted by Tianimalz    
I cannot help it makes me frown a bit that most horses don't get to show their personality, instead it's trained out of them. Most are told that at all times under saddle they have to be quiet with their heads down and done exactly what their told and are not allowed to use their intelligence to question it. Like I've said, it shines to me more of ownership, than the friendship I've seen be allowed to shine in some horses when given a chance.

Like I've said, their is a difference between a good horse who does whet they're told, and one that doesn't ever have a chance to ask differently.

But that is my opinion, I can hardly change it, and it's only worth as much credit to someone else as other people are willing to give it
When I ask for a half-pass at X when dressaging around the arena, it means do it NOW. If you had a horse who was allowed to "question" every movement, you'd have a pretty lousy dressage horse. Same goes for trail rides. When I ask for a rein-back randomly while headed home on the trail, I don't give a hoot if she'd rather keep going forward, towards home. Halt and back-up NOW mean just that. I don't call that a dead horse who's had her personality trained out of her, I call it a trained horse who knows her job. In spite of all of that, and all that dressage training in pure, blind obedience, she is still very alert and aware on the trail, but not balky or spooky, and pretty handy at keeping you and her out of trouble.

Obviously you can train your horse however you want but characterising all of these horses who have been trained to be obedient, as Cherie described, as not being "allowed to show their personality" is, quite frankly, making a huge assumption.
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    10-17-2011, 09:37 AM
Originally Posted by Cherie    
Thank you Wild Spot and Sahara and the others that actually understand and have ridden a good trail horse or a good ranch horse. A good well-trained saddle horse is not a 'dead-head'. I hate dead-heads -- except that I keep a couple around that I can put total dummies on and I know they will baby-sit even the dumbest rider that is doing everything wrong despite three people telling them not to.

Don't tell me that a horse is a dead-head just because he does not give you resistance and have his own agenda. Don't tell me a horse that you can run out after a steer that needs doctoring and rope and doctor him all by yourself (with the help of your horse, of course), is a dead-head. Don't tell me that a horse that carries a complete stranger up above timber-line in a place so steep and rough that a person would be hard-put to walk, is a dead-head. You get in places like that, you don't need a horse that wants to stop and sniff around or turn around to look or stuff.

I think that the people that actually think a horse loses its personality and its 'trained out of them' {choke} have just never ridden a good, well-mannered trail horse or a good ranch horse in their entire lives. How in the world can resistance and arguing be mistaken for personality?

I have never seen a well-trained trail horse or ranch horse stumble over a snake or anything else. But I can tell you that when I have a well-trained horse stop dead in his tracks, I know there is a real serious concern and I am smart enough to not force him forward. I KNOW there is something there. I never have to wonder if he is just looking or sniffing or if there is really a problem.

I had that exact thing happen about 5 years ago. I had a really solid ranch horse bow up his neck, stop and back up a step. I told my husband, who behind me, to help me see what was wrong because I knew something was wrong. About that time a Western Diamondback that was over 7 feet long and bigger around than my 200# husband's forearm raised up above 3 foot tall grass and started to rattle. His head was over 3 inches wide. He was the biggest Rattlesnake I have ever seen. My horse was probably 2 feet from his head when he stopped.

So no! A well-broke horse does not lose its personality or character. I just know there are an awful lot of people that have never ridden one.
Ok so thyen what happened. Do you run like hell or back up slowly hoping the snake doesn't notice you?
    10-17-2011, 09:42 AM
If you let a horse look at things, then you are teaching him to be afraid of everything that is new and telling him that things should be looked at instead of ignored.

This! Times 10! I hate being told to "Let him look at it, let him see it's okay". I've always thought of it as counterproductive. You've given me a new way to explain to people why I don't let my horse stop and look at everything. Great post!
    10-17-2011, 10:06 AM
Super Moderator
Ok so thyen what happened. Do you run like hell or back up slowly hoping the snake doesn't notice you?
I backed him up another 5 or 6 steps. I sure did not let him put is nose down to 'check it out'.

I have never had a horse snake bitten despite living all my life where Rattlesnakes and Copperheads are plentiful. I have had several friends that have had horses bitten by Rattlesnakes and 100% of them were bitten on the nose. Curiosity got them.
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    10-17-2011, 11:56 AM
[QUOTE]actually, they are less apt to rear. A horse rears when you let them stall out and slow down. Moving forward faster keeps all of their feet on the ground. When they are moving forward, they just cannot rear.

Of course moving forward will prevent the horse from rearing; however, we are talking about spooking here. My experience has been that riding is an adventure that at times isn't predictable. A horse is an animal that has reactions to the living environment and at times needs to stop and gather themselves at other times needs to straighten up and move forward.

In the end, its a judgement call for the rider. When you finally saw the snake you agreed with your horse. When you tell your horse to move forward past something spooky, your horse agrees with you out of trust. Trust between the horse and rider takes time in the saddle to build. Everyday you ride that trust is built or broken. I feel there is more than one way to accomplish that bond between horse and rider. There are different training techniques because there are so many different types of horses and riders out there.

For me, I'm not running towards a spooky thing on my horse - if it works for you great. Happy riding!
    10-17-2011, 02:31 PM
Very interesting thread...I am a new owner of an appendix AQHA and recently came off in a 'spook/spin'...a wire on the ground was the culprit. My mare also refuses to cross water, even a rivlet 6 inches wide..she is a city girl and likes to keep her feet dry. Recognizing that I did not have the knowledge to fix this, I put her into 30 days of training with a good trainer. I had the chance to watch her work with my mare on a long trail ride and it was amazing that the trainer was able to get her to walk (not jump) across several puddles and wet areas...not to say there was not an argument however. I bought the mare as a trail horse, and she was advertised as such...but I can't imagine the trails she was ridden on, this girl is worried about lots of stuff. I am hoping my trainer can do some more magic with her. This tread is very helpful and I will share it with her.
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    10-17-2011, 06:38 PM
Cherie, I pretty much agree with everything you said and can see how confidence effects a horses behavior. I sent you a PM with your thoughts on something
    10-20-2011, 02:43 PM
I think this is a great topic, and I agree that "stopping for a look" can cause more problems than it solves.

I personally prefer a mix-match method of not allowing the horse to spook in the first place by keeping his attention on me and his job. Then also some small desensitizing to common objects that are "scary" to reinforce a spook-in-place.

The reason behind that is simple. Sometimes you can feel that a spook is going to happen, you notice the signs of it coming and can take action to prevent it. Like riding on past it then back and forth until it is no longer a big deal.

But in the same notion, some spooks you never catch on too before they happen. Life is full of surprises and no matter how much the horse trusts you and follows you as a leader, I don't think we can override natural instincts. Only lessen them to manageable levels. That is why I also do some desensitization for spooking in place. If the horse is startled to the point of spooking before you can manage to take control -- like deer coming over a hedge at you, or a boar charging out of the underbrush-- the horse will be more likely to spook in place instead of bolt off with/without you. Then once the rider realizes what is happening, they can take control to overcome the fear and "get over it."
Pat Miran likes this.

spooking, trail horse

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