Problems with the arena gate - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 07-25-2011, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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Problems with the arena gate

I have had Lucky about 2 weeks now and he's almost perfect but about half the time I try to ride him past the arena gate(while in the arena) he turns his head sharply towards it and if I don't basically get in his mouth and almost haul his head back to the other side, his body will follow his head and we end up standing at the gate. Once there its a fight to get him to move off again. I have to get in his mouth, give him a few good kicks, which result in us doing a few circles while he tries to go back to the gate and I try to not allow him to do so. I have gotten pretty good at not allowing him to get over there at all. However he is a pretty soft mouthed horse and I hate hauling on his mouth to get him to turn back. I cue him with leg and he just ignores that completely. Only at the gate. He goes great off leg pressure and very light contact everywhere else in the arena.

So I am capable of not letting him get his way and go to the gate, my question is whether I could be doing something better? Or if there are any exercises to get him to stop it other than just riding him past and not allowing it?

I never take him out the gate when he does this. If he rides past fine then we will stop on the other side, I dismount and we go out. If he's being too stubborn about it and we have to leave for some reason I ride him to the middle or other end then dismount. Any tips or tricks?
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post #2 of 14 Old 07-25-2011, 12:10 PM
Green Broke
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You are definitely on the right path with making him go past the gate, and never dismounting by it.

Since you have only recently gotten this horse, it is very possible that his previous owner dismounted at the gate, or let him stop there on a frequent basis.

Keep doing what you are doing, and he should hopefully realize that you will not let him get away with stopping.

Something else you could add is dismounting at the other end, and then walking a random amount of times around the arena before exiting. Don't do the same amount of times though, as he may pick up on that.

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows. --Epictetus
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post #3 of 14 Old 07-25-2011, 12:19 PM
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I know you feel as you are being harsh but he will give up the fight and then you will not have to be harsh. His reward is when he dose what he is supposed to and you quiet being harsh to him. It really is not as harsh as you think. So keep up the good work.

live for the moment.
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post #4 of 14 Old 07-25-2011, 01:24 PM
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If you have to 'correct' a horse many times (lets say more than 5 or 6 times in two different rides, you are just 'nagging' and 'pecking' at him and not being tough enough on him. You want him to give up the behavior --- not just barely go where you want with an argument nearly each time.

Some other things you can do to prevent / cure a gate sour or arena sour horse is to never stop -- even somewhere else in the arena -- and lead the horse directly to the gate. Stop at the far end of the arena and sit there on him for no less than 5 minutes (time it with a watch) or until he completely relaxes and rests a hind foot if that takes longer. If you can do it (sometime you can't in a busy public arena), dismount and loosen the girth, replace the bridle with a halter at the far end of the arena -- far away from the gate and tie him there for a hour or more.

When I get in an arena sour or gate sour horse. I make sure ALL of my turns and reversals of direction are away from the gate and not toward it. For instance, if I am tracking to the right (rail is on my left), I will leg yield to a point 25 or 30 feet away from the rail but parallel to it. Then I will reverse toward the rail. Do many change-ups. Do not do things the same way each time and do not do them in the same place. Horses, being the creatures of habit that they are, learn routines and patterns very quickly. So the less you do that they can possibly anticipate, the better you are going to keep a horse's focus on you and the less apt they are to want to 'drive the bus'.
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post #5 of 14 Old 07-25-2011, 01:43 PM
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You need to anticipate the problem before he ever starts to misbehave. Hold him tighter with your inside rein, make him bend, put your outside leg on him as you approach the gate. If he shows the slightest hint of wanting to act up there, kick him on and make him go. Don't react; be proactive and let him know from the start that this is not acceptable.
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post #6 of 14 Old 07-25-2011, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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I do all that, Bubba but to no avail. Unless I really haul on the inside rein he still whips around toward the gate. And in order to get him to listen at all in this situation I have to have the rein tight enough his head is fully turned inside and he still fights it. Or he circles toward the inside quick like and we end up doing 2-3 circles before he gives in and goes on straight again.

Thanks for the responses! I shall have to try some of them and possibly be a tad rougher. I am correcting this almost constantly so I am probably nagging and not being quite harsh enough.
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Last edited by Dresden; 07-25-2011 at 02:03 PM.
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post #7 of 14 Old 07-25-2011, 01:55 PM
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Yeah, in line with Cherie's post, to work really hard near the gate, rest really long far away from the gate. Dismount at end of ride far away from gate.
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post #8 of 14 Old 07-25-2011, 03:11 PM
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I agree with what some people have posted about working near the gate. If that is where your horse wants to be, make him work really hard while he is there. Do roll backs, circles, whatever you want. Just make him work. Once he gets a little tired and looking for a rest, go to the opposite side of the arena or where he doesn't really wont to be and let him rest. You will probably need to repeat this several times every time you ride before he gets it. Also, like many people have said, make sure he doesn't get to associate the gate with rest. When your done riding, get off and loosen his girt, take off leg wraps, and take off the bridle away from the gate. Basically, once you firmly associate the gate with work and not rest, he will no longer want to be there.
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post #9 of 14 Old 07-25-2011, 04:08 PM
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As you near the gate make certain you are using your inside leg (especially the thigh) to push him into the outside rein. Be certain to keep the outside rein about 3 inches away from the shoulder - at about wither height. Then do an immediate squeeze/release on the outside rein and bring the outside rein in towards the shoulder. In effect you are asking for a shoulder-fore (SF).

The result, when properly performed, is that the horse's shoulders are slightly inside of his hind legs, and as long as you don't release either rein he can not "look" outside. Plus your outside leg is VERY slightly behind the girth, so he can't swing his butt out either. The inside leg at the girth also prevents him from swinging his butt inside the arena (and hence he would be able to look at the gate again), in this SF position.

It also has the effect of getting his hind end working harder - so he will start paying attention to YOU and not the gate.

Problem solved.

Dressage is for Trainers!
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post #10 of 14 Old 07-25-2011, 04:30 PM
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I agree with the others Get him to work and move his feet near the gate, Do circles w/t/c and go back and forth along the gate for a few minutes and then take him away from the gate and let him rest. Keep doing this until he figures out that being near the gate means he has to work.

And like others have probably said always dismount in a different spot in the arena so he doesn't associate the gate as being done.
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