Preparing a Horse for Solo Rides
   

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Preparing a Horse for Solo Rides

This is a discussion on Preparing a Horse for Solo Rides within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    • 2 Post By Chevaux
    • 2 Post By gssw5
    • 4 Post By Cherie
    • 1 Post By trailwalker
    • 1 Post By AQHSam
    • 2 Post By Joe4d

     
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        08-18-2013, 10:47 PM
      #1
    Yearling
    Preparing a Horse for Solo Rides

    I want to ride my 6 yo gelding solo on trails. Up until this point I have always ridden on trails with at least one more horse. The last few times I have tried to ride him solo on short and easy trails at the campground. He obeys, but I can tell he is highly anxious.

    At the barn he works solo very well indoors and outdoors in the arena with no fuss. In the pasture, he usually settles down in a few minutes.

    I find I can't ride as much when I try to rely on others. Or, they do one ride in the morning and have no interest in a second ride later in the day. I feel like I drag my horse camping so it can hang out in the stall.

    What advice can you give me for off barn riding solo so he is not as anxious?
         
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        08-18-2013, 10:57 PM
      #2
    Banned
    Just keep doing it. Take him out alone as much as you can, anxious is ok and somewhat normal to start with but you need to just sit and ride and ride like your in the arena, let him know he can relax. However if he starts rushing and getting overly worked up (don't get off him unless he's being more horse than you can handle I.e. You are going to get hurt!! Last resort is to get off) ride him home and work his butt off in the arena. Anxiety out on the trail can quickly turn into bad behavior. Ride him out to where you want to be, get off let him rest and relax and ride quietly home. Again, if he wants to rush home or back to his buddies, take him there, work his behind off (I find counter cantering is good for this) right where he wants to be.....he will soon decide that going out on the trail is better than rushing home.
         
        08-19-2013, 12:44 AM
      #3
    Green Broke
    Here's a couple of things that have worked for me when putting the solo miles on: I will spend time going back and forth over a short section of trail numerous times (and I mean numerous) just walking along quietly. The purpose is really a type of desensitization process; once they're calm doing that then I add a little more distance in the loop and so on. I realize it's not very exciting for you but it helps the horse build up confidence and expand its comfort zone by going over familiar territory. In short order, the loops disappear and you are on a proper trail ride. The other thing I do is I will sing to a horse if it looks like it is starting to get tense. Pick a song that has a slower, relaxing tempo. The purpose is to give a little reassurance that they are not truly alone, to subtly bring focus back on you, and to keep you from tensing up (which is transmitted to the horse). Keep putting those miles on and you'll succeed.
    Boo Walker and Charley horse like this.
         
        08-19-2013, 05:59 AM
      #4
    Weanling
    When you ride the trail make sure your riding and not just being a passenger, do things that keep his brained turned on to you. Ride in circles, practice yielding, go over some logs, go around trees, do lots of transitions whatever you do keep your horse engaged so he does not have time to worry. They can only think of one thing at a time so if he thinking about you he can't be thinking about being worried. I like the singing idea, I sing on the trail I ride with an ipod with a little speaker attached to my belt loop. Singing keeps you breathing and when you breath you relax. Have fun and be safe.
    Cherie and Charley horse like this.
         
        08-19-2013, 06:52 AM
      #5
    Yearling
    My horse is pretty good with riding alone, but when he gets distracted by horses in paddocks etc I'll give him something to thing about - I'll weave, half halt, circle, walk-trot transitions and, if he is really worked up, halts and backs.

    Perhaps you could try using trail riding alone as a reward after a hard arena session?
         
        08-19-2013, 07:22 AM
      #6
    Weanling
    Great tips everyone! AQHSam I am going to be doing the same thing this fall riding solo.
    I think I am going to start out w/short distances first and work our way up to longer rides..^^^^Following all advice above^^^^^
    Be sure and let someone know you are out and about that way if something happens you have a life line to help.
         
        08-19-2013, 08:01 AM
      #7
    Super Moderator
    This and buddy sour problems is why we start our horses out alone and add other horses later instead of the other way around.

    We do exactly what gssw5 does in addition to riding faster and riding off trail in rougher footing. I would not recommend backing up. When you keep stopping and/or backing up an anxious horse, you are just asking it to start rearing.

    We think forward impulsion is the most important part of training and maintaining an obedient riding horse used for any purpose -- particularly trail horses.

    If you live near long trails and big areas, pack a lunch and ride for 6 or 8 hours. You can get a confident trail horse in one day. Just bring plenty of water for you and ride where there is water along the trail for your horse. We get colts used to carrying saddle bags (usually horn bags) and having stuff pulled out of them and head out for the roughest canyons south of the ranch. We keep a good halter and lead-rope under our bridles and can stop and tie up a horse any time. We carry a cell-phone (only works on the high points) and someone always knows where we are going.

    People come to us with their problem trail horses and they are always amazed how quickly it works to ride 'em harder and faster and cover more ground. We tell people to look up -- not down and focus on a place well ahead of them and ride there with a purpose.

    If you ride on long rides and ride hard, be sure you have good wool saddle pads or blankets and a good clean mohair girth. It is our experience that you can sure gall one with anything else. Lift the horse's front legs and pull them up and forward to pull skin out from under the girth and keep an eye on them.

    Happy trails. Cherie
         
        08-19-2013, 09:26 AM
      #8
    Foal
    I ride a lot alone for a lot of the same reasons as you plus I have gaited horses and its hard for me to find people to ride with that don't want to just walk all the time. Like everyone else said you just ha ve to keep riding. Sweaty blankets and saddle sores make good trail horses!!
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        08-19-2013, 10:00 AM
      #9
    Yearling
    Thank you EVERYONE for the great tips. This will come in handy on our next trip in a few weeks. I will work on frequent sessions throughout the weekend.
    Charley horse likes this.
         
        08-19-2013, 02:43 PM
      #10
    Green Broke
    Just do it, it will get better each time, horse starts acting up make him either think or crash into a tree.
    I've got one that needed to crash into a tree a few times. Get off the trail do figure 8s around treels, step over logs, back out on trail. Hang in there it will get better. Worse comes to worse just lead him from the ground. But not BACK to trailer, keep doing the trail you planned n doing. I walk and or jog with my horses quite a bit when I first get them and take them on trail the first few times.
    Charley horse and kbg7506 like this.
         

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