"Rushing" on the way home? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 09-18-2011, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
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"Rushing" on the way home?

So this might be something that will never change and I'm resigned to it's never changing but I figured I could at least post here to see if anybody has any good ideas. :)

My mare, Lacey (26 year old Arabian mare who's under the impression that she's really a 2 year old with the life experience of a 26 year old), is probably the world's second best trail horse. Nothing spooks her, she has a great stop, she's brave, dogs jumping and barking at her just cause her to stop and not move until they're back under their owner's control or they've decided she's not interesting at all, she has no fear of bridges and water crossings, etc.

Only problem: on the way home she rushes.
She rushes on the way out too but not as badly. She doesn't misbehave while rushing, she'll still stop dead if need be etc, she just walks really fast. If I don't hold her in a smidge, she'll walk and then maybe throw in a few trot steps and then decide to start trotting if I don't correct her but I always do correct her, and she's ok with being corrected, no issues there.

It's become extra worse now that she's discovered that she can do a flat walk and and therefore be "walking" but walk at trotting speed. So basically, if I ask her to slow down from a flat walk - she stops. She acts like on the way home we go from having four gaits available to us (walk, flat walk, trot, canter) to three (flat walk, trot, canter).
The other problem is that she does not have a real cue for flat walk so I can't practice it with her and teach her that flat walk and walk are not the same thing. And she won't flat walk if I just have her speed up her walk. She only flat walks when she wants to be somewhere else than where she is.

I've tried making her do circles and things, just to get her thinking but that gets her even more worked up. Then she starts rearing and really refusing which is a fight I'm willing to win (and always do) but I dislike doing so because it flavors the rest of the ride and the next one (basically, she doesn't get over it and fights harder the next time with even less provocation).

My current system is going on long enough rides that she is nearly exhausted on the way back. For instance, this last Friday I took her on a 4 or 5 mile ride where she jigged all the way there and flat walked until we got back to the last mile or so since that was a mile of pretty steep uphill trail. By the time we were back home, she was walking perfectly normally and slowly (of course, as soon as the saddle was off and I had hosed her off, she was trotting next to me as I led her). I feel like maybe a few more of those and we'll be set, maybe.

There's also a loop trail that I'm dying to try out but a 5 minute section of it is next to a very busy road that has a sidewalk but I'm nervous about Lacey staying on a sidewalk and not accidentally stepping off it into traffic... She's really great with traffic though so it might be fine... There's no bike lane either. :(

I also don't turn her out as soon as we get home. She gets to hang out for at least ten minutes before being turned out.
I should also probably say that she's currently off her Mare Magic (which she neeeeeds) and her behavior is generally much improved when she's on it. I ordered a pound of it off Ebay and it's just not here yet. But she still likes to rush home, Mare Magic or no.

So basically, if anyone has any good ideas, I'm totally open to hearing them.

Sorry for the novel!

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 09-18-2011 at 02:22 PM.
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post #2 of 13 Old 09-18-2011, 02:24 PM
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The ride for my boys is never over when we get home. When I get home we go into collected trot work and circles or even ride back out a ways again. They never equal home from trail = rest. Doing this I've never had a problem with a horse rushing home.

Getting home and hanging out even if she isn't turned out in pasture is just reinforcing the rushing home.
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post #3 of 13 Old 09-19-2011, 05:27 AM
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circling will likely work, but make sure you aren't actually traveling anywhere while you're circling. easy way to make sure you're not letting the horse get away with widening the circle when it wants too is to pick an object on the ground that isn't going to move and make sure you go around it. you don't really have to be doing a perfect circle, as long as you aren't travelling anywhere. and whenever she wants to rear, keep her on the circle and push her much much faster.
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post #4 of 13 Old 09-19-2011, 07:14 AM
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The two most effective anti-barn sourness measures I've used are riding a "star" pattern: going home and then going back out in a different direction, or going to the arena for a bit of dressage work after the trail ride. I don't find this necessary after every single ride but I do it often enough to keep the horse on her toes, so she never knows whether we're really finished when we turn back for the barn. When she was younger, she would make more of an effort to rush and get pissy when I held her back. This sort of behaviour guaranteed a butt-kicking dressage session in the arena.
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post #5 of 13 Old 09-19-2011, 09:29 AM
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My forse horse would litterlay wanna fly home when he saw the barn, we'd ride a trail near my land and a break in the trail he could see the barn, he'd fight and wanna trot canter home. I wasnt a good enough rider to stay on a trotting draft cross so Id get off walk him to barn put him in pin then run him on a lunge line till his tounge was hanging out. Go back on the trail, and do it again. Only took him two sessions to figure out walking where I wanted to go was way easier than trotting and running where he wanted to go.
Unless your horse has issues, a 4-5 mile ride is nothing to a horse. I generally ride 12 miles every weekend for a normal ride. Most horses still have plenty of energy and I am 220lbs and riding a smaller horse.

I just got a walker and took him on our first big camping trip trail ride there was alot of commotion and other horses around. He just prefered to move out at a gait. Holding him into a slow walk got him worked up. Yeh I guess I should correct it, but his gait is smooth so I just him go. This horse hasnt been rode much and was underweight outa shap, now he is over weight outa shape, I figured he would tire out but 16 miles in and he still wanted to canter up the hills and move out at a fast gait, so I just let him do what he wanted.
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post #6 of 13 Old 09-19-2011, 10:17 AM
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The good news! Your horse is not barn sour.

The bad news! You need to work on 'micro-managing' her gaits. And, 'jigging' is completely unacceptable -- whether coming or leaving.

Teach her to 'give you her head' and come to a complete stop WITHOUT disengaging her hind quarters. Some people call this a 'one rein stop'. I just call it 'teaching a horse to give me its head' while keeping its hind end in one place.

This maneuver, 'taught correctly', is like installing an 'off button' on any horse. When a horse has been taught this correctly at ALL THREE GAITS, you can slide your hand down a rein and begin taking the horse's head to your knee and he will 'lock up', stopping on his hind end and will stand there perfectly still until you ask him to go on.

If you do this every time a horse 'breaks gait' on his own and every time the horse 'rushes on' faster than you want, EVERY HORSE will slow down and/or quit breaking gait. I have done it for years (probably 45 years at least) and it is so effective that I teach it to every horse I ride. It is not just a great emergency brake to use in a life threatening emergency but a great training tool when done right.

If you do not know how to teach this maneuver to a horse, let me know. I have posted it before, but I think I saved it on my computer, too, and will post it again.

When taught and executed correctly, it WILL NOT make a horse 'rubber necked' or 'noodley'. It will actually help you teach a horse to stay between your reins and your legs.
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post #7 of 13 Old 09-20-2011, 02:39 PM
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I had one of those weird horses that stepped right along when leaving home and dog walked on the way back. As we approached the driveway he'd pick up speed at the walk, not to come home but to go farther down the road. I was always concerned someone might think he wasn't well treated here. He loved to be going somehwere.
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post #8 of 13 Old 09-20-2011, 06:15 PM Thread Starter
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Cat- I never thought of that!! I'll definitely start making her do more when we get home instead of just letting her sit...

Christopher- I've tried that one and it just makes her even more worked up. :/ Then, she gets to a point where she refuses to go forward and starts running backwards, which is technically "ok" since she's usually running backwards away from home, but I'm still not ok with that. I've taken to riding her on the trail with a crop handy, just in case, so I can encourage her forward better.

Silverspear- That's a good idea! There is a way that I could go that takes us past home and back out... Tricky! I'll try that!

Joe4d- I know 4-5 miles isn't much, but it is over really really mountainous terrain. And my horse is 26 so I work hard to not over do it because at her age over doing it could have serious lasting consequences. I do plan to start riding her farther and for longer, we're still in the conditioning process (which I could probably forgo with a younger horse but because of her age and because we ride on asphalt and concrete, I feel the need to condition her carefully).

Cherie- She does a good ORS, and that actually does work really well with her. It's just something I never think to use! haha I'll have to remember it next time! I do need to micro-mange her more. I have a tendency to just kinda let her go along and do her thing as long as she's following "the rules" (aka, going forward, not spooking unnecessarily, responding to my aids when I give them etc) but I really need to stop being a passenger so much and work on being a rider.

Saddlebag- Lacey's like that too, sometimes. She gets bored with a trail after going on it a few times and then she starts this whole "HOME!!!" thing. I'm trying to start taking her more places and farther so that each trail won't be as predictable and it'll be more fun for her. She really loves going for a ride, most of the time. haha

Thanks for all the replies! I appreciate them all!

Good news! That trail ride (the one I mentioned in the OP) must have flipped a switch in her brain. Today we went on a much shorter ride (maybe 2 miles) and she walked slowly the whole time, stopped immediately when I asked her to, and was generally well behaved. Maybe it was because it's my birthday (how would she know? haha) but maybe a longer trail ride was just what the doctor ordered!

I'm going to try to start riding her on longer rides more regularly and getting her out more because this reaction of hers today made me remember that when she gets bored with a trail, she gets this way more. When she's not bored with it and interested by her surroundings, she's a lot more excited to be out. So I'm going to try to get her more excited about being out by taking her more places. I wonder if the stores nearby would have a fit if we wandered through the parking lots... hahaha

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #9 of 13 Old 09-20-2011, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Wallaby View Post
Christopher- I've tried that one and it just makes her even more worked up. :/ Then, she gets to a point where she refuses to go forward and starts running backwards, which is technically "ok" since she's usually running backwards away from home, but I'm still not ok with that. I've taken to riding her on the trail with a crop handy, just in case, so I can encourage her forward better.
thats a pretty serious disobedience and can lead to rearing pretty quickly. whenever she gets like that try turning a sharp 180 degree turn and quickly driving her on with a crop/over under.

it can be very frustrating when a horse rushes where it wants to go but balks and backs everywhere else so try to stay patient with her. doing circles and keeping her feet going forward at all costs will definitely help.
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post #10 of 13 Old 09-20-2011, 10:16 PM
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Wallaby, practice this at home first. When you walk in a circle pull your rein to turn her but release as soon as her inside front hoof starts coming off the ground. Do this with every stride. She will start dropping her head which relaxes her. You are working with her stride instead of against it. The release as the leg is lifting is important. You will also begin to feel her topline lift. The try this when she's wanting to hurry on the trail. This should be done at the walk only.
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