Problems on the trail... help?! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 07-14-2010, 05:11 AM Thread Starter
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Angry Problems on the trail... help?!

Okay, so recently I started riding a new horse. For the past week or so I’ve only been taking him around the trail every few days because he’s been out of work for a while and I want to slowly introduce him back into it. Every time we come to a particular section of the trail where we fork off onto another path to head back home, he spooks. AT NOTHING! He suddenly lunges forward, does a little buck, and then starts dancing around like a maniac until I manage to assure him that all his body parts are still intact and that whatever he thinks is trying to attack him is gone. I can’t see anything that could cause him to spook, and he’s been around those trails enough times to know them by heart. I told his owner about this and she says that “He never usually spooks. He’s probably only being silly”. So… am I doing something wrong? Is there a big scary monster lurking in the trees that only he can see?

If anyone has any suggestions about how I could desensitize him to ‘the scary corner’ I would appreciate it!

Also, I didn’t think I would ever have to say this about a horse but… how do I make his walk slower? Yes, that’s right, slower. I’ve ridden many-a-horse who have had faulty acceleration pedals when it comes to their paces, but when I take this horse out on the trail it’s like he’s stuck in turbo-drive. He walks VERY fast, especially when he knows we’re heading towards home, and it’s frustrating because instead of being able to enjoy the ride I’m spending all my time concentrating on making sure he doesn’t break out into a trot when I don’t want him to!


He knows when you're happy,
He knows when you're sad,

And he always knows when you have carrots.
Pinto is offline  
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post #2 of 10 Old 07-14-2010, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Pinto View Post
So… am I doing something wrong? Is there a big scary monster lurking in the trees that only he can see?

Also, I didn’t think I would ever have to say this about a horse but… how do I make his walk slower?

Well as far as the spooking I would keep walking him back and forth through that spot until he realizes "oh nothing is going to kill me". And if he's too dangerous I would get off right before the spooky spot and walk him trough it. Whatever you do your goal is to WALK him trough it, without him refusing, or spooking. But as soon as he's good walking through it, get back on his back and ride him through it. --- Maybe he's not spooking but if it's the part before you head home, maybe he's anxious/excited or is tired of working?

If he starts to get faster when you are on your way home you need to MAKE him walk by breaking him down. If he starts to go too fast, you need to take his head and bend him around. It might take 100+ times for him to realize that if he starts to speed up you're going to make him bend, or it might take 5. Alot of the work you need to do to make him understand that you want him to go slower can be done in the arena. But then again if it's his first time on the trails in awhile, it's normal for horses to act the way he has.

I remember when my trainer got a horse that would always speed up when on the way back to the barn and he told me, "go ahead, i'll catch up to you in a few", he was out there for a good two hours, just breaking the horse down.

It also adds up to miles, lots and lots of miles.

White Foot is offline  
post #3 of 10 Old 07-14-2010, 09:50 PM
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The trick is to not see the monster too. If you assure him that all is well, you're telling him that there is indeed a monster there. It sounds like you have been able to stay seated no problem, so I would recommend two things. First, take advantage of that big walk. A good 1/4 mile before you reach the monster spot, pick up a good, forward, on the bit marching walk. Get there with purpose. When you get close to the spot, do whatever you need to not anticipate his spook. If you tense up, he'll respond to your body language and spook anyway. If and when he does spook, let him have his moment, do not react in anyway, and then proceed on like it never happened. This method works well with most horses. Can't hurt to try.

As for the fast walking, the previous post advice is good. Turn him back as many times as necessary so as not to indulge his ideas of getting home quickly.

Good luck.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
MyBoyPuck is offline  
post #4 of 10 Old 07-14-2010, 10:03 PM
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^^agreed. Horses generally give us what we anticipate...if we are set for a spook...a spook they will provide. I like puck's idea of making him move forward in a nice, steady walk.

As far as the fast walk, will he pace himself behind other horses? If so, put him in the back and make him rate his own speed. When he walks slow, praise him and give him a scratch.
corinowalk is offline  
post #5 of 10 Old 07-15-2010, 02:04 AM Thread Starter
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Great advice guys, thankyou so much! I will put all those tips into practice the next time we go out :)

He knows when you're happy,
He knows when you're sad,

And he always knows when you have carrots.
Pinto is offline  
post #6 of 10 Old 07-15-2010, 02:07 AM
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with the spooks i find it good to give him a good rub and tell him its okay and show him its just a stick... unless it is a snake or something!!!

Wild isn't bad and it certainly isn't mean wild is equis and that is pure. - Monty Roberts.
xan2303 is offline  
post #7 of 10 Old 07-15-2010, 11:18 AM
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Some horses go slow and you have to gee them up.
Other horses - often the sensitive sort- go fast and you have to slow them down.

You have to get it into the horse's head that the pace it goes at is determined by you and not it. So instead of riding long and low like you Aussies are prone to do - just like your cousins in the US - start riding the horse collected. Keep a light contact with the mouth at all times. Then you keep the horse in check until you allow it to stretch out at your command.

It helps to practice in the arena going as slow as possible whilst still maintaining rythym and impulsion. Then when you are out you've got the horse in check until you allow the horse some head.

Get the horse to take shorter steps but keep up the rythym at walk and trot even later on at slow canter. Lots of half halts. Lots of wow and stands.
And make that horse stand , four square for a minute or two.

Yeh - the horse wants to go home when he knows he can take a short cut - so that is exactly when you want him under control and you want control of that head and neck. He should not want to turn right if his head is straight - if he does then you'll have to be firm, don't give him the rein to turn his head and if he makes a move to turn right then use your legs to get him back left. And keep a crop in your hand to give his butt a little tap, repeat little, on the opposite side to the unwanted turn. But take care otherwise the devil will take it as a cue to take off.

This naughty habit of his can get nasty - because sooner or later he might try a whirl and bolt towards home - so don't let the habit develop. You are the boss, you decide the route - the horse only decides where to put its feet.

Strikes me you ride with the reins too long.
xxBarry Godden is offline  
post #8 of 10 Old 07-15-2010, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice Barry! You sound very knowledgeable.
As you say, it's probably me that's the problem. I do ride and compete English (not stock or Western as I think you assumed, haha) so my trainer would kill me if she saw me riding long and low. I have to admit that I do get a bit lazy on the trail though. I usually just long-rein most of the way because I thought it was good for him to be able to stretch out and enjoy it. Apparently I was wrong! He will be collected from now on. I did try to make him stand on the trail the other day and he started moving off after a few seconds, so I tried it again and then he stood still. I think the key is practice.
He's a very forward moving horse, so even in the arena it takes a huge effort to keep his attention. He's an Warmblood eventer so he can be very high-strung because he gets excited and likes to anticipate what I want him to do, but I will definitely try what you said :)

He knows when you're happy,
He knows when you're sad,

And he always knows when you have carrots.
Pinto is offline  
post #9 of 10 Old 07-15-2010, 09:11 PM
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I have a QH who is decidedly afraid of the tall green swaying corn, we have to ride by to get to my "meadows," this is a long stretch of corn, I hate to get off and walk but this is a long stretch. What would you guys do? It blocks his peripheal vision as well as sways spookily like stephen kings's children of the corn. Usually I sing country music t him but even patsy cline isn't getting through to him and i ride alone,
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post #10 of 10 Old 07-16-2010, 09:32 AM
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Pinto, one of the noticeable differences between riding western and english is that modern english riders tend to ride collected - indeed some even go 'on the bit' out on the trail when mere collection might be more appropriate.

If you have an English well schooled horse, it would have been trained to accept collection and shorter reins held in two hands. By all means give the horse the occasional breather and let the reins go long but when tacked up 'english' ride him english.

If you ride him english on a loose rein the the horse will tend to trip or occasionally stumble, especially those horses which like to lean on the rider's hands.

However, if you are chasing after steers or sheep, fit a Western saddle a western lever bit, allow the horse to balance itself and neck rein, one handed. Horses for courses.

WHen I used to ride the same horse both English and Western - then I'd only ride Western when tacked up Western including the bit and vica versa. The horse would know then how to respond because my weight would be different and so would my hands feel different to him.

I miss Puddy - he could jump like a stag when he wanted to.
xxBarry Godden is offline  

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