Our first "on the road" adventure
 
 

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Our first "on the road" adventure

This is a discussion on Our first "on the road" adventure within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

     
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        03-19-2010, 07:29 PM
      #1
    Weanling
    Question Our first "on the road" adventure

    So I now realize that I have minimal experience with dealing with a horse in a brand new environment. It's so funny, I can lead Frida pretty much anywhere on the barn property, and she follows me respectfully. Today was a beautiful day. I took Frida out of the pasture, and she was a little miffed, kept calling out to her pals, and well, on top of that she is in a pretty heavy heat. A girl decided to help me out, hopped on her horse and we all decided to go out for Frida's first walk on a long, country road. Maybe because it was beautiful, but there were plenty of cars and motorcycles. The change in footing got Frida nervous, and then, well then there was the automobiles. I didn't want to restrict her head too much, but I didn't want her walking all over me either. I kept backing her up, sometimes I even stood in front of her and led her while walking backwards, jiggling the rope if she got too distracted. She did not like the cars at all, I tried to keep her going, but would also back her up, make her yield, or do tight circles. Her head was pretty high, body tense, a couple of times I saw the prancy arab come up in her. She was licking and chewing quite a bit though. Towards the end, she was blowing out and began to try to graze a bit. I'd give her a treat if she managed to stay in check while a car drove by, meaning she listened to my cues and stood still, or kept walking by me respectfully. Overall, I'd imagine she did very well. I plan on doing this a couple times a week, but always ponying her up with a seasoned horse. Any advice on how you would deal with the situation? As I said, I'm fairly new at this hacking out business, so I do need plenty of ideas and suggestions on this phase of desensitization. Thanks
         
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        03-20-2010, 01:38 PM
      #2
    Weanling
    BUMP
    Any advice on how you would deal with the situation? As I said, I'm fairly new at this hacking out business, so I do need plenty of ideas and suggestions on this phase of desensitization.
         
        03-20-2010, 03:04 PM
      #3
    Super Moderator
    Did you go all the way down the road? When I first introduced Lacey to the road, I ended up only going maybe a football field away from home (not sure how many feet/yards/miles that is, haha). Each successive time I took out we went a little bit further.

    The main thing I was trying for was to keep her calm enough that she could listen to me fully. I did not want her to get too agitated because then, imo, she'd just go into self preservation mode and any new thing would be met with "OMG" and fear instead of calmly checking it out and creating a good experience for the next time we saw that object.
    At least in Lacey's world, when she starts trying to eat, that's her way of saying "I am SO pushed over my limit right now, I absolutely cannot handle this." Of course, if Frida is a little piggy and tries to eat all the time just to get away with stuff, that's not what's going on. But if she's anything like Lacey in that respect...

    So, my advice would be to take her out again, but go smaller! As soon as she starts tensing up, give her something to succeed at: take two more steps down the road, circle, if she wants to sniff whatever it is, let her! Do something to get her mind moving, and then turn around and go home. The next time you go out, go a little bit farther past that place, rinse and repeat. Haha eventually, you'll end up going the entire way, calmly.

    Alternatively, you could just keep going all the way and she'll most likely calm down eventually, but when I was reteaching Lacey about the road, I felt much more comfortable with the way I outlined. =)

    Also, now Lacey and I can ride all the way down the road and she's totally fine. A few things still scare her about it, but most of the time she just plods along like it's no biggy and before, everything was a HUGE deal. There is hope!

    Good luck!
         
        03-20-2010, 09:47 PM
      #4
    Weanling
    Yeah, the whole experience was fun but strange. She is definitely a nervous eater. If I were alone, I would've done it the way you had. I took her further because I was with a calm horse and rider. It's odd, seeing that flight response come out in her. I kind of felt like it was something I had to let ride out - I mean, if she had pulled those antics in the ring, she would have a very sore bottom. She didn't bolt, but she was slightly frenzied. I was thinking that seeing as how I don't have too many opportunities to go out with good company I might stand with her in the open field that runs along the street...and walk her back and forth as cars come and go. In her turnout, there is a road that leads up to an adjacent boarding facility, and she pays absolutely no mind to the trucks and cars that pass there. I just want this to be a good learning experience, but I don't know that discipline should be involved if she is truly fearful? I mean, apart from what would come if she tried to move ahead of me or prance a bit? I didn't want to try and discipline a honestly confused horse, but I also want her to remember there are boundaries when I am the one leading her...
         
        03-20-2010, 10:24 PM
      #5
    Green Broke
    I definitely wouldn't discipline when she's scared, but correction is still vital. Allow her to be scared but still expect her not to push in to your space or run over you. If she does do what you were doing, make her back up & stand.

    I'd definitely go about it the way Wallaby outlined too. Even if the next time you take her out all you do is take her to the edge of the road and stand there with her for a while until she can handle the excitement better. Make sure you finish on a good note though. If she's stood and let a car go past without any fuss, maybe call it quits for that day, although of course it is up to you to decide which good note you want to end on.

    I'm not sure that I would do it from her pasture though, being that it is her home and safe place you probably won't see the same behaviours.

    Gosh I hope even half of that made any sense.
         

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