Just plain stubborness - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 10-04-2009, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Just plain stubborness

Okay, so Ice is officially back in riding condition, his legs are healing up, I have his hackamore, we've moved on to working in the arena for good. Great.

Now about his hang up on the gate.....It's getting a little ridiculous. He mounts up fine, stands perfectly by the block and waits for me to get both feet in the stirrups before walking off. He halts, turns left/right, and backs up on cue, knows all of the voice cues, and in general is very well behaved. HOWEVER, usually we start by walking along the right rail of the arena, turn in towards the middle and cross through the barrel pattern we have set up, and then Ice decides he's had enough of the arena and decides to head towards the gate. If I would let him, he'd probably canter there, but I make him walk until we get to the tip of the barrel pattern, and then stop and start backing him up. At this point he starts tossing his head, circing backwards, sidestepping....anything he can think of to get me to release the pressure and let him go forward.

Yesterday, we fought for almost an hour. It never escalated beyond what I described, although he would, at intervals, swing his butt around in a really fast turn in an effort to knock me off balance. I know this because after each time he would dead stop, crane all the way around to eye me, and one time he even nudged my boot! I finally dismounted after making him back all the way up to the top of the barrel pattern, and then we walked around the arena in the way that I wanted to do (weaved around the poles, crossed over some ground poles, and circled around a barrel) before we finally turned in.

So my question to you guys is how can I "fix" him? He's absolutely WONDERFUL heading out, I just wish he would be wonderful and want to work for more than five minutes! He behaves this way whether there are other horses in the arena or we are alone, and I've had plenty more experienced people ride him and they have the same fight. Is there anything else I can do, other than what I'm doing?
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post #2 of 9 Old 10-04-2009, 11:22 PM
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It sounds like he just plain is bored of arena work...can you trail ride at all? I hate to be a downer, but he may need a couple of months worth of just trail riding to refresh his mind, and get out of his arena sour attitude.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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post #3 of 9 Old 10-05-2009, 01:59 AM Thread Starter
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I've never been out on the trails with him at all.....the trail is like a 20 minute ride from where I board along a busy road, and I don't want to take him out if he's just going to act up.

He's never done any kind of real horse work, so as far as I know the only experiences he's had in an arena have been with me, and they've all been like that....
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post #4 of 9 Old 10-05-2009, 09:50 AM
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I agree that the arena is boring to him and riding out in a pasture or trails would help alot. With my guys sometimes riding in a pasture or trails is not an option (to wet, or raining or whatever) and I occasionally get the gate-friendly rides. My one mare had this problem for a while to where I'd ask her to canter around the arena and she'd do a sliding stop at the gate and wouldn't move forward.
I talked to many trainers to find different ways to fix it and choose the way I thought would work best for her. I knew exactly where she'd stop and when and how fast. At the second that I felt any slowing down I'd keep asking her to go and give her a good little tap on the hindquarters with my reins or my hand. And I'd get harder if she continued to stop. Soon she realized that she had to work harder by the gate (I'm always have her speed up or do something "special" at the gate..of course surprising her with the nope let's just walk).
I also made it a habit not to dismount close to the gate. I'd dismount far away and have her back through the gate. This has definitely helped alot for her
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post #5 of 9 Old 10-05-2009, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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His arena work has consisted of exactly what he's done....maybe six or seven times altogether. The very first time I brought him in the ring he did that, so I don't know how he could be bored with it! lol.

Between the top of the barrel pattern (its a blue barrel) and the gate it may be thirty feet.....I already don't let him past the blue barrel, and his choices are either to do what I want him to do (which would be turn around and head back in to the arena) or what he thinks he wants to do (which is either continually back up, turn in circles, stand in place, anything except going forward). Once he's up and walking/ trotting around the arena, he's perfectly responsive, stopping and heading towards the gate is not the problem, its anytime he thinks we're heading towards it....in other words, any time I want to double back and not just go left or right. I already don't dismount at the gate, since there's grass over there any way and I don't want him trying to graze.

So I guess if trails are what I need to be doing, even though Ice has never done them, how am I supposed to handle him if I have to dismount? I'm 5'2 and he's 16 hands, so hes just tall enough where I can't give myself a leg up if I want to dismount and hand walk him for a little bit. I do really want to take him out on the trails, but if he's just going to act up after the first five minutes like he does in the arena, and then I have to go back to the barn....that won't teach him anything except he gets to go home when hes bad.
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post #6 of 9 Old 10-05-2009, 04:47 PM
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I have ridden 6 horses this morning, none of them had an attraction to the gate. However, in the past all of them wanted to go to the gate to one degree or the other. Here's a few things I do to avoid horses "leaning to the gate".

If I think the horse needs to be warmed up before I mount, I'll lunge them just inside the gate. The gate becomes a place to work. That in itself makes the gate less attractive.

While riding, if a horse wants to go to the gate, I let them. In fact if they want to lope to the gate I'll speed them up to get there. Once there I'll make them work. Lope circles at the gate, do rollbacks, spins, backups- anything to keep their feet moving. You may have to get very assertive to keep the horse working. Once the horse has 'broke' a sweat and is breathing a little harder I'll ride him away from the gate and stop him to rest and regain his breath. If he wants to go back to the gate I'll let him go to the gate and work him again.

If the horse has gotten out of doing work by going to the gate, you may have to do this multiple times. Most horses soon learn the gate is not as attractive as they once thought.

A couple of other things I'll do to lessen the attractiveness of the gate- I nearly always mount up just inside the gate. I never get off near the gate- I'll always get off on the other side of the arena, loosen my cinch, let him stand for a few seconds (or minutes) and lead the horse to the gate.

If you try to work a gate sour horse away from the gate, you make the gate even more attractive. Make the gate less attractive by making it (the Gate) the place to work.

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post #7 of 9 Old 10-05-2009, 04:57 PM
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^^ This is exactly what I do with mine, word for word. Works like a charm. I always mount near the gate and dismount across the arena as well, just to "remind" them every ride.

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #8 of 9 Old 10-05-2009, 05:40 PM
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Try to make the arena work fun for him, easy, with lts of praise and variation. Play with him there rather than work. It's a fun place wher he wants to stay. Be crazy r whatever, just as long as it's fun for the both of you. Whenhe finds ut fun to be there, introduce the work as a new game.

Don't stay too long. If he can work for 5 minutes before going out, work him for 4 minutes. Eventually he'll start waiting for you to say you'e done, rather than wanting to go there y himself.

Good luck.

Always keep your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.

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post #9 of 9 Old 10-05-2009, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Rod View Post
While riding, if a horse wants to go to the gate, I let them. In fact if they want to lope to the gate I'll speed them up to get there. Once there I'll make them work.
Normally Rod, I would totally agree with you, except Ice's last saddle experiences were the ones where he was racing, so letting him go "balls to the wall" wouldn't be very smart for me, nor for him, because there's a potential he could hurt himself since he hasn't used those muscles to that degree in a little over a year and a half.

My method for working him is every time we go out I set a goal for myself, just some stuff I want to get done before I call it a day, and I don't want to get off before its done.....Yesterday it happened to be get to the barrel near the back of the arena. We were ALMOST there and then he decided he wanted to throw a fit....I know he doesn't spook at the barrels because he's walked by them before without problem, never even looked at them sideways....And as I said, we fought about it for almost an hour before I finally just had him back up till the center of the arena because he wouldn't go any other way except in full circles trying to knock me off.

This may have had something to do with the TWO other horses in the arena, but I'll have to wait till Wednesday to tell for sure. Tomorrow the chiro and the farrier are coming out, so we'll see if she can find anything in her follow up visit (his initial eval was last week) and see if maybe a trim will shape him up.

I'm going to talk about taking some lessons to see if that will improve his demeanor some, but I was told today that at this point, he's turned out by himself because he's such an ass with other horses.

Last edited by justsambam08; 10-05-2009 at 06:48 PM.
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