Impossibly herd bound...anyone have any ideas? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 05-28-2012, 11:14 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Impossibly herd bound...anyone have any ideas?

I have a 6 year old Thoroughbred gelding who is impossibly herd bound. He had slight problems when I bought him 2 years ago but nothing too bad. But last year I got pregnant with my daughter & couldn't ride much. Now every time I take him out to ride him he refuses to leave the farm if its a trail ride. Or if I'm in the ring he keeps trying to get to the gate, spins around & tries to buck me off. He's not really attached to any one horse in particular & I've tried switching his field every week to keep him from getting used to any one herd. Every time I bring him out I lunge him to kind of wear him out first but so far nothing has worked. I'm thinking of re-starting him from scratch but I have no idea where to start. I'm so frustrated with him that I'm half ready to just give up. Can anybody give me any help please?
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post #2 of 17 Old 05-28-2012, 11:57 AM
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There are about a million and a half ways I've heard of to get a horse over this problem but it seems to boil down to one core concept: Become more interesting than the herd, and herd boundness becomes a non-issue.
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post #3 of 17 Old 05-28-2012, 06:37 PM
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Take him totally out of the pasture with the other horses. Put him in a stall or out in his own pasture outside his comfort zone distance. He will scream and run for a while but eventually he will learn that he isn't going to die by himself. You don't have to worry about him hurting you or "sticking it out" until he is tired.

There is also a new thread started every day on this topic. Put barn sour, heard bound, buddy sour in the search bar and you will get a million responses. ;)
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post #4 of 17 Old 05-28-2012, 06:50 PM
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I agree with the above poster. If you want to be sure he doesn't injure himself, turn him loose in the round pen. Stay out of his way and let him run and scream for his buddies, when he is completely calm ( could take hours). Put him in his stall. This is quite a hard issue to fix, and it will certainly take more than one gallop around the arena. Good luck. After he realizes that you are the powerful herd boss ,and you control the situation ( aka you control when he comes away from the buddies) you should have an easygoing horse.
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post #5 of 17 Old 05-28-2012, 08:44 PM
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Actually, I think this horse is more barn sour than herd bound -- but it amounts to the same thing -- a disrespectful horse that would rather be in the pasture than out with you working for a living.

I would NOT put him in a round-pen unless it is 7 feet high and made solid enough to hold rodeo bulls. I've seen a dozen of them jump or climb out and he could hurt himself.

I would not stall him in this frame of mind because you could turn him into a lathering stall weaver / walker / kicker. I've seen that also happen numerous times.

I would find or build a good, strong, safe place to tie him up and let him stand until he is quiet. If it takes more than one day, just put him back out at night and tie him up again the next morning. I prefer a nylon rope hanging down from a strong tree limb. It MUST have a good SWIVEL SNAP. I prefer a big bull-snap.

I make sure the rope is strong and make sure the halter is tight and high (above the horse's nostrils). This horse needs to find out there is life after leaving his home.
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post #6 of 17 Old 05-28-2012, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Cherie View Post
Actually, I think this horse is more barn sour than herd bound -- but it amounts to the same thing -- a disrespectful horse that would rather be in the pasture than out with you working for a living.

I would NOT put him in a round-pen unless it is 7 feet high and made solid enough to hold rodeo bulls. I've seen a dozen of them jump or climb out and he could hurt himself.

I would not stall him in this frame of mind because you could turn him into a lathering stall weaver / walker / kicker. I've seen that also happen numerous times.

I would find or build a good, strong, safe place to tie him up and let him stand until he is quiet. If it takes more than one day, just put him back out at night and tie him up again the next morning. I prefer a nylon rope hanging down from a strong tree limb. It MUST have a good SWIVEL SNAP. I prefer a big bull-snap.

I make sure the rope is strong and make sure the halter is tight and high (above the horse's nostrils). This horse needs to find out there is life after leaving his home.
I have wondered about methods like this, or high-lining them as I'm more apt to do. Have you found that the lesson carries over after the horse has been back with the herd and had the chance to re-orient himself within their influence? My initial inclination would be to believe that once the horse is turned back out that he'd just forget the whole thing and be even less pleased about leaving the other horses in the future. Actually, I was hoping you could talk a bit about your own observations of the effects (positive or negative) of tying horses up as a training method. :)
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post #7 of 17 Old 05-28-2012, 11:12 PM
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I consider tying one up until he gets happy, relaxed and completely settles (this means his head is down and a hind leg is cocked) to be one of the most important aspects of a horse's training. I think it is so important that I will not even train on one until he is settled. When you try to train one in a less receptive frame of mind, you DO NOT have his mind, his cooperation or his concentration. You have a 'reactive' horse and not a 'receptive' horse. No 'good' learning takes place when a horse is reactive. He will get mad, get 'on the fight', be flighty, look for excuses to misbehave and will argue and fight you tooth and nail. You either have to exercise one until he is ready to drop (not good for minds or legs) or fight him until you win. I can have 3 or 4 productive training sessions with receptive horses in the same amount of time I can fight a reactive one.

I have found that once they have figured out that they are fighting themselves and not you and figure out that there is 'life after standing there', they take less and less time to settle down and actually start to try to learn. You can turn one out, tie it up a week later and in 5 or 10 minutes the horse will drop its head and rest a hind leg.

I used to do the exact same thing at a show or big horse gathering. I would find a 'practice roping' or a 'playday', ask the proprietor if I can bring a horse and tie it up for the evening in an 'out of the way' place. I used to tell them that I would flag for them or work the chute or warm up their second horse by loping circles for them or ???? If I could bring green horses and let them get used to all of the noise and activity. Again, it is so much better for the bottom line of training than trying to fight a reactive, or nervous horse. I have not had one that did not finally 'give it up' and rest.

With horses that I was seasoning and getting ready to haul, I had to get them used to both being tied up by all of the noise and activity and then had to tie them up well away from the activity so they would also learn to be happy with complete separation from all other horses.

Horses do not forget anything. I have taken broodmares that had been pretty well trained 5 or 6 years earlier and brought them back in to ride. When horses got so cheap, I quit breeding 3 or 4 of them and put them back to work as 'trail horses' for the commercial trail string we have. They whinnied and fussed when they were taken from the broodmare pasture, so I just tied them up until they settled down. [They had all gone through this when they were trained initially.] I took them out one at a time and I do not think any of them took more than an hour at most to just stand quietly. 'They knew the drill'.

The main thing we have found is that you get nothing done if you interact with the horse during this time. Each horse has to just figure it out for himself.

We trained a cutting horse mare for a man that had to quit hauling her because she went crazy when you tried to take her from her barn. She could not be ridden down tired enough so that she would not whinny or quit a cow right in the middle of a class. He tried hauling her neighbor horse with her and she still whinnied. We tied her out to an over-hanging tree limb about 150 yards from the barn. She carried on so bad that she made a hole about 10 feet across and about 3 feet deep. Husband had to fill the hole up twice the first day using a big tractor and front end loader. The second day he only had to fill it back up once. About noon on the third day she was just standing there. Husband took a month to get her back solid on a cow because she had been spurred and whipped so much for whinnying they had just about ruined her. After that, they started hauling her and she won a bunch of NCHA money.

I just have never seen a horse that did not gain a LOT from tying them out until they are completely accepted it.

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post #8 of 17 Old 05-29-2012, 09:26 AM
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Cherie- would you ever tie in a rope halter, or only a web halter?
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post #9 of 17 Old 05-29-2012, 11:25 AM
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I've tied them in a rope halter, but if a horse fights it, it will scuff the hair off of its nose and chin. A soft web halter won't do that. Since the object of the lesson is not to make being tied unpleasant , I try to tie a horse where it cannot bang its feet and legs or skin its head up.

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post #10 of 17 Old 05-29-2012, 11:41 AM
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Cherie, would you tie them out of sight of their herdmates? Also, what happens if you need to untie them before they settle?
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