Problem with trail riding - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 08-10-2013, 05:09 AM Thread Starter
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Problem with trail riding

A week ago I fulfilled my dream and bought my very first own horse. It is a 10 year old warmblood mare and she is calm, loves to cuddle and I bought her as "fool proof". However, I wanted to ride her out in the nature a bit last sunday. She tried to turn around and go home again, but kept calm and I could just turn her around and ride on. I thought that maybe she was just trying if she could get away with that stuff. But on thursday I wanted to ride her on a trail again and she did the same stuff. At some point, she freaked out, walked backwards and tried to rear. The worst thing is that I couldn't get her to move on, so I had to ride back (I didn't return directly to the stable though, but rode a bit down another path).

Before I bought this horse, I tried her twice. Both times I rode her in the arena and in the nature. (once alone and once with another horse) She didn't show any signs of disobedience back then. Since I had a vet check done before I bought her and the saddle fits, I don't think it is a health problem. When I'm riding her in the arena, she is completly normal. The horse is on the field every day and so far I haven't moved her to a new stable, so she is not in a stressful situation either. When I come to the stable, she whinnies and comes running in trot, so I doubt that she just can't stand me.

I have been riding for about 16 years and also trained young horses, or horses that were out of shape and not used to having to work, but I never had that kind of problem. I am one of the riders that easily get scared, that is why I wanted to buy a "fool proof" horse.

Did any of you have a similar experience? Did any of you have a problem with a horse that was disobedient outside and did you solve it?

Thanks for your advice!
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post #2 of 20 Old 08-10-2013, 05:32 AM
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Hi there! I am by no means an *expert*, and I'm sure the more experienced horsepeople here can help you more than I can. But I'll do my best!

IF its definitely not a health problem, and she's definitely not in any pain, then you should work on riding her away from her home every day. But don't just ride until she throws a temper tantrum; stop before she can work herself up and go back. The next day, try going a little farther, but stop again before she gets jazzed. And of course it's important that you stay calm too. You know that there's nothing dangerous where you're riding, so don't let her convince you otherwise.

If you're not comfortable doing this in the saddle, it's perfectly okay to start by just leading her out in her halter and lead rope, and trying this from the ground. I think that's where I would start, just in case. But you certainly don't want that behavior escalating beyond where it already is.

Just be patient with her. It sounds like she's getting to know you nicely, and if she's a good girl in the arena, she can be a good girl on the trail.
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post #3 of 20 Old 08-10-2013, 08:02 AM
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I am no trainer, but this is what I would do.Make the barn where she works and the trail where she rests. So, work her HARD, then take her out. Just go a little farther away from the barn each time. If she acts a fool, go back to working her again, then try again. Be careful to end each session on a positive note. I personally switch it up every time I ride, just to keep my horse guessing what I will ask. Sometimes we work first, then go out, sometimes we go out first. I also would encourage you to dismount away from the barn. Make it a nice place to be, and the barn not as nice.
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post #4 of 20 Old 08-10-2013, 08:39 AM
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Totally agree with MyBoyFortune. That would be my way to proceed as well.

One week ownership is a very short time, you don't know each other much. You have to build the trust, both ways. Take your time and enjoy the process. She doesn't put her total trust in you and maybe she's mirroring the fact that you don't totally trust yourself either. The thing is, the horse knows.

I think you found a good horse, but give it time. Everytime you're with her, you're either training or untraining her. If you're unsure of how to deal with some behaviours, please consider getting the help of a trainer.

Having a horse is a wonderful thing. My motto is: "it's never the horse's fault". Therefore when I don't get the expected result, I have to re-assess what I know, do, feel. A never ending learning curve.

Good luck and keep us posted on how it goes. And pictures would be nice too!
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post #5 of 20 Old 08-10-2013, 08:48 AM Thread Starter
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Hi everyone and thanks for your advice :)
The problem with working her hard is that she hasn't been ridden much during the last half year (the previous owner is building a house and has small kids at home), so I want to take it slow and don't ride her too long or too intense. Because of all that spare time in the field, she is also a little too fat. Next week she will also get a massage by a professional horse masseur, to assess if her muscles are developing evenly or if she's very tense in some parts of her body.If she needs it, I will also have a chiropractic come and I'm also planning to take training lessons, but I wanted to wait a little, until she is fitter and can take more intense training. Also, it's very easy to find trainers for dressage or show jumping here, but hard to find someone who advises or helps you with trail riding :(
I know it's not the horses fault, but I couldn't help but be very disappointed about her behavior in that situation. There are challenges with every horse, but I didn't see that problem coming (not at all, since she has been used for trail riding before).
I will post some pictures :) She's actually a very pretty horse.
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post #6 of 20 Old 08-10-2013, 09:20 AM
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If she is out of shape, it will take much less work to make it hard for her. That just makes your job easier. Don't baby her too much. She will not ever get fit if you don't push her a bit.

My horse is one who tests me every single time out. That is just how he is. I am guessing, especially since she is new, she is testing you. Be firm and make her do what you say. That is the ONLY way she will learn who is the boss.

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post #7 of 20 Old 08-10-2013, 11:14 AM
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I agree with most of what was said, except maybe the part about untraining. You have to realize you are ALWAYS training!. You are either training proper action or improper action, but training just the same. You need to learn how to that horse needs to be taught what you want her to do as not all horses learn the same way. You do need to work on ground work to establish your leadership in the herd. The more you prove to her that you can move her feet the more she looks to you for guidance and safety. She will become more relaxed as soon as she learns to accept you as the herd leader and protector. She will learn that as long as you are around that she doesn't have to think and worry about her surroundings so much therefore focusing more on you and what you are telling her you want from her. She will be all the happier as well as you once that happens, til then she is competing for the leadership role to see if she needs to be the leader and protector. If she becomes the leader she will hurt you to make you do what she wants you to do just like she would any other underling in her herd that doesn't listen.

Hope this makes sense as I am not a professional trainer either, but am a trainer due to owning and working with my horses.
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post #8 of 20 Old 08-10-2013, 11:20 AM
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I totally agree with franknbeans here. Make the trail a good place for her to go I had the same issues with my gelding doing the same things. Always remember if she has enough energy to misbehave she has the energy to do the right thing too. Best of luck this is a common issue with horses so don't be discouraged. The sooner she sees you won't let her get away with it the better.
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post #9 of 20 Old 08-10-2013, 11:28 AM
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I dont have a problem with any of my guys being barn sour. However, I have two small kids so most of my riding and training happen right here at the barn. When my guys get to go out its a nice relaxing reward because they arent having to work hard compared to what I do with them in the pastures and round pens.

Now, my husbands horse is quite the arse out on the trail because he wants to come home asap. My husband doesnt ground work his horses or ride around the barn so to him when his horse gets home he gets turned out and thats it.

I firmly believe in making the barn the workplace. This is where hard work and concentration are key. When you decide to take them out on the trail its a lot less demanding.

Shorty * N * Opie
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post #10 of 20 Old 08-10-2013, 11:38 AM
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No such thing as a fool proof horse. They're always going to have an opinion and if they think they can try to take over, they will.

The horse sounds a bit barn sour, could also be lacking in confidence in your leadership. I suggest doing some groundwork with her to establish a relationship and some boundaries. You're new to each other so you can't assume she knows what to do - she certainly isn't assuming anything in your favor!
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