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Problem with trail riding

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    08-10-2013, 01:27 PM
  #11
Green Broke
This is a trust issue IMO, I suggest just taking her for a walk on the trail, let her enjoy her walk, and find peace with being away from the barn.

She's scared. Give her time.
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    08-10-2013, 05:58 PM
  #12
Yearling
Has she been on trails in the past? She could need more exposure. In another thread it was commented that arena horses that are perfectly minded in the arena can blow up on a trail too many new sights and sounds.

Are your riding alone? That is uber scary even for seasoned horses. Can you ride with a friend who has a horse that is seasoned on trails? If yes, that is your lead horse and your horse will learn from it.

You can season a horse on the trails without a buddy, but you need to work harder and be prepared to force your will and ride out the tantrum. However, if it is fear from the unknown (opposed to barn sour) you can't outride a tantrum in my opinion. Horse will win. Fear is too big a motivator.

If it is fear, and again, if you can't teach through the example of another horse, mimic the trail in the arena and in the very nearest outside portion of the arena. Start on the ground and when your horse is comfortable with the obstacles and items, move to saddle.

To begin to trail proof Sam, in the round pen or enclosed area, I set up chairs, tarps, open umbrellas, bag on sticks... he was not on halter. I opened an umbrella about 8 feet from him (auto opening - woosh) and he froze and pooped. But, by the fifth time he didn't even blink.

You also want to consider mimicking vines, leaves, sticks, crunchy sounds. Definitely want to mimic vines along the legs and tree limbs that grab tails.

There are plenty of books on how to season a horse for the trail. That is how I learned some of my tips.

I just don't want you to write the behavior off as barn sour without evaluating whether it is flat out scary stuff. Think about where your horse spooks on the trail. Picture it. Are there shadows? Unusual sounds? Are you walking into a tunnel made by trees? Does the sun come across the trail and create a halo optical illusion? Are there wild animals, even deer, that your horse may be unfamiliar with yet smell? Does it widen, open? Sam is more comfortable in a thick of woods than crossing a meadow (of course) but consider that also. Are you too exposed?

Trails are scary. Trails alone are frightening. Get a buddy. Take a ride. Evaluate the horse's reaction. You can move to solo riding Once she builds her trail confidence. You can begin dropping buddy by first taking the lead and asking the buddy to hang back farther than necessary. As long as she is stepping out, let the distance between the horses increase. If she starts getting twitchy, shorten the gap until she settles. Try to increase it more and more.

Once she is comfortable with the lead and at least four horse lengths of distance between her and the buddy, you can try some of the familiar and comfortable trails solo.

Some horses, this process is 1 ride. Others many many many more.

Good luck. Report back!
     
    08-10-2013, 08:51 PM
  #13
Trained
Easy enough to weed out if this is her testing you or her being genuinely scared. Hand walk her to the same area and see if you still have a calm horse, or a prancing nutty one on your hands. The thing is, the solution is the same. Keep taking her out on short hacks until she starts to enjoy it. Ride her out after an arena workout, so she starts to associate it with an opportunity to cool down and take a breather. My horse had to be trained the same way. He was never a big fan of hacking out alone. He went from not being able to ride past his paddock to riding a 10 mile hunter pace alone within the span of 3 years. It takes time to develop the relationship, so be patient and try not to worry too much about it.
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    08-11-2013, 03:42 AM
  #14
Foal
Hi!
The previous owner mainly went on trail rides and did a bit of basic dressage. So yes, she is supposed to be trail proof. I tried her twice (also on a trail) and she didn't even move an ear (once together with another horse and once alone). It's difficult to tell for me, if she's scared or not, because the first time I went on a short trail ride AFTER I had bought her. She wanted to turn around and go home again a few times, but she stayed calm and I could easily make her walk on in the right direction (away from home). I thought that she was maybe a little insecure or that she was testing me. However, when I went riding the 2nd time, she actually stared at a few "things" (e.g. Kids riding their bikes, a person jogging). She wanted to go home again, but I didn't let her and at some point she stared at something and I couldn't convince her of moving on. Then she backed and attempted to rear. However, in between these moments of "staring at something" she was calm and I could ride her with long reins.
I decided that the next times I will only go out together with another horse, but unfortunately the other horses at the stable aren't exactly good trail horses.
     
    08-11-2013, 12:09 PM
  #15
Yearling
Last summer my riding pal was on a horse brought to the barn for schooling. The 5 yo gelding was broke and they were tuning him up and trail exposing. We had been riding about two hours. The wind had been kicked our of the horses. We were heading down the trail that would begin the trip back to the barn and we stumbled on a deer about 75 yards up on the fringe of the trail. Sam yawned. But this gelding FROZE. And the gelding and deer started a stare down. No coaxing would get him to move. I started to move up to lead and break the spell (hoping to get deer to move) and out the the blue the gelding bucked turned and reared and started In a get me the he!! Out of here bucking lope. My pal disengaged the rear and the calamity ended.

But that gelding was a train wreck.

There is a lesson there somewhere. About stare downs. Don't trust them.
     
    08-11-2013, 12:20 PM
  #16
Green Broke
I don't believe in short strolls and stopping before she gets upset. She will want short strolls all the time. You have to ride with a purpose and push her past when she gets upset and she will get over it quickly and quit testing you. If she starts to go up you need to turn her and keep her off balance so she can't rear. If needed you may just need to keep doing circles or a serpentine and keep her going. Once she sees who is boss she shouldn't be as much trouble. If she gets her way it can escalate quickly and it will be harder to get her past the point and she will never leave the barn.
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    08-11-2013, 06:23 PM
  #17
Weanling
Horses are as different individually as people are, but in both there are some generalities that exist. Horses will respond to a firm, gentle, consistent hand, just like people will, unless there is something wrong besides discipline (pain, physical or mental health).

There are also as many ways to cure a problem as there are people to ask about it.

You can break a horse the old cowboy way and be riding him in an hour, or you can easy break a horse until he's 6 years old before you saddle him. Both will work. Just depends mostly on your temperament (and physical conditioning), desires, and purposes for the horse.

My take on what you originally posted is that you have a horse that is trying to sort things out with a new rider, a new stable, new horsey friends, new smells, etc. You also have a rider (you) who is trying to sort things out with a new horse, and you are a little afraid of him, by your own admission. Since you have some level of fear of what the horse may do, you are probably going to have to do the "easy breaking" method (metaphorically), in which you work slowly and patiently with your horse until either he winds up training you or you train him. Regardless, a horse should learn to be obedient to the rider even when scared. Especially when scared.

If it were my horse, I would likely put on a pair of spurs and he would learn fairly quickly that he must trust me and do what I say, even when scared or nervous. Not that I would be rough with him or with the spurs, but my experience tells me that horses learn quicker when the rider wears and uses spurs properly. To my thinking, quicker learning equals less time in the danger zone, for both rider and horse.
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    08-11-2013, 06:35 PM
  #18
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenrie    
Horses are as different individually as people are, but in both there are some generalities that exist. Horses will respond to a firm, gentle, consistent hand, just like people will, unless there is something wrong besides discipline (pain, physical or mental health).

There are also as many ways to cure a problem as there are people to ask about it.

You can break a horse the old cowboy way and be riding him in an hour, or you can easy break a horse until he's 6 years old before you saddle him. Both will work. Just depends mostly on your temperament (and physical conditioning), desires, and purposes for the horse.

My take on what you originally posted is that you have a horse that is trying to sort things out with a new rider, a new stable, new horsey friends, new smells, etc. You also have a rider (you) who is trying to sort things out with a new horse, and you are a little afraid of him, by your own admission. Since you have some level of fear of what the horse may do, you are probably going to have to do the "easy breaking" method (metaphorically), in which you work slowly and patiently with your horse until either he winds up training you or you train him. Regardless, a horse should learn to be obedient to the rider even when scared. Especially when scared.

If it were my horse, I would likely put on a pair of spurs and he would learn fairly quickly that he must trust me and do what I say, even when scared or nervous. Not that I would be rough with him or with the spurs, but my experience tells me that horses learn quicker when the rider wears and uses spurs properly. To my thinking, quicker learning equals less time in the danger zone, for both rider and horse.
Spurs make a difference. Simply legging a horse is akin to "politely asking" your child 10 times to pick up a toy. A spur is a little more like a sharp "do it NOW" tone to your voice on the second request.

Ask first. Tell second. Spurs allow you to tell.
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    08-12-2013, 02:55 AM
  #19
Foal
Thanks for your advice again. I theoretically prefer the faster way too, because I think that a horse just HAS TO be obedient, especially when you're on a trail ride, where literally anything can cross your way. However, as tenrie mentioned, that doesn't really work, if I tend to be afraid, because if she acts up and gets really crazy, I know I would be scared.
So far I haven't stabled her in a new place, so the only thing that is new to her, is me. However, I will move her in September (because the place where she is now doesn't have an indoor arena). Initially, I wasn't insecure with her at all, but I know that if I would ride her on a trail now and she only as much as attempted to stop, I would get tense.
I am thinking of returning the horse to the seller, since I didn't get what I wanted to buy. On the other hand, there are issues with every horse and other than the lunging issue, there haven't been any challenges so far. I can lunge her without a whip in all 3 gaits and I can also ride her normally in the arena.
     
    08-12-2013, 04:56 PM
  #20
Weanling
I really don't think the issue is the horse, and unless you buy an old horse with little left to give, you're probably going to have the same issue. My advice is to stick with this horse and ride her daily in the arena, doing a variety of exercises until you begin to know her and are confident in your ability to handle her. Then try the trails. I think you just moved a little too fast for your own good.

I am not particularly a proponent of "desensitization training" in an arena setting, because, in my experience, horses just learn better on the trail doing the real thing, however, YOU may benefit from giving the horse desensitization training in the arena. As you learn to get your horse to do a variety of unusual tasks, like crossing a tarp, or backing around or over a log, YOU will learn how to handle your horse and your horse will learn you can handle her.
     

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