Stay on the Fenceline! Anyone wanna help me out? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 10-26-2011, 11:23 PM Thread Starter
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Stay on the Fenceline! Anyone wanna help me out?

I feel like this problem is way more simple than I've been making it, I'm willing to admit I've hit a wall.
My mare has been having this major issue with staying on the fenceline. I started working with her on it at the walk and had a lot of success, I managed to get her to really solidly understand by just going around and I'd let her take a step or two off it so that she'd know exactly what I was correcting, then pull her back to the fenceline. She picked up on it quickly now she rarely steps off of it and will bring her nose into each of the corners. Great!

But at the trot she continued to randomly pick spots (for some reason, the same general areas every time, which I distinctly recall no bad thing has ever happened to her in, she'd never spooked there or anything like that, nothing unusual about these spots at all) where she'd just make a sudden sharp turn. So I worked with her the same way, and now at a trot she will stay on the fenceline, rarely straying, and if she does it's quick and easy to correct and gets better all the time. Wonderful!

But then we get up to the lope. At the lope it's the toughest, because she is very athletic (and I am still working on getting back in shape ) and will just randomly dart off straight to the side. I've been very careful to be absolutely sure I am not putting any pressure whatsoever on the outside of her, but she just goes. I try to work on it the same way as I did at the walk and trot of course, but she isn't having it. I'll put my inside leg and rein on her, she ignores it. So I pull on the outside rein, she keeps on going where she wants with her head bent to the fence and eventually can't keep up moving like that and breaks awkwardly to a trot. Ew!

It's generally easy to control her at a lope. She'll turn in neat little circles, properly bent, on a soft neck rein....that's the part that gets me, lol. She's obviously electing that her little shortcuts are the appropriate way to navigate an arena.

I feel like a dunce for not being able to sort out this basic problem. I just know there is a simple answer that's somehow evading what would y'all suggest?

Last edited by rocky pony; 10-26-2011 at 11:26 PM.
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post #2 of 13 Old 10-27-2011, 12:06 AM
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Do you ever carry a riding crop in your inside hand? Do you ever ride her outside the arena, in a big open field? Ever do gradually changing-in-size spirals?
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post #3 of 13 Old 10-27-2011, 12:09 AM
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I've never dealt with this before since most of riding has taken place on the trail (I wish I had more arena time! Jealous!) but I wonder if heading off the rail would help her? Like, if you started mixing it up and asking her to head into the arena to do a circle or a figure-eight or a serpentine or something before she thought about doing it herself?
If I remember correctly, she's a Haffie/Arab, right? Both are pretty smart breeds and I'd imagine that just going around and around the arena has got to get boring for her (even if it's not for you). I know my Arab will start making up patterns or will start just doing them on her own if I have her do the same thing for too long. For instance, when we had access to an arena a few years ago, I really enjoyed doing serpentines with her. However, by the third or fourth repetition, I wasn't even having to guide her anymore - she was just doing the serpentine on her own!

Anyway, maybe her mind is bored?

Good luck! :)

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

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post #4 of 13 Old 10-27-2011, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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I haven't ridden her with a crop as of yet, but I could. I was starting to think of trying either a crop or dressage whip to kind of help me out. I'm thinking pushing her from the inside is definitely gonna be our best bet, since pulling on the outside is only giving me crazy-off-balance-what-on-earth-are-you-doing mode...Can we get another ew, lol

There aren't any open fields available around where we are unfortunately..we have sort of limited space at the moment. But I do try to keep things mixed up as much as I can, I'd say maybe 50% of our riding is in the arena and the other 50% is going around the property, doing obstacles (the BO keeps a designated area regularly rotated with different obstacles), whatever else I can find for us. I'm trying to sort out a way to do some actual trail riding with her again (like Wallaby, it used to be all we had too!) but at the moment there's no way...

When we work in the arena I generally mix it up between going around on the fenceline, doing circles, working on speed control and gait transitions, doing serpentines, picking random points to head to, working on our spins, stops, backups, etc, running barrels or poles, whatever else. I try to keep things interesting for her and she seems to be focused and interested for the most part. If anything I might avoid the basic going round the fenceline too much when we're loping more than I should because I'm at such a loss at this point, hah

One thing I started trying today to sort of trick her into reaching the fenceline in the spots she avoids it was that I'd have her go around normally then have her do small circles in those areas, where she'd have to get in close to it as part of the circle. She was a little confused and fought it at first, but did one nicely in one of her worst spots, so I quit her there. I'm hoping this will kind of help her get the idea, what do you guys think?

The thing I think throws me off the most is that it is always the same few spots, she goes around perfectly (most of the time) around most of the arena but these particular spots send her headed straight across the arena, and she majorly cuts the corners on one end of the arena but not the other.

Last edited by rocky pony; 10-27-2011 at 12:33 AM.
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post #5 of 13 Old 10-28-2011, 10:51 AM
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First of all you always better prevent BEFORE it even happens. When you allow the horse to do "step or 2" just so "it understood what you are correcting" it actually not a right approach IMHO, and teaching the horse it's OK to do it. When my horse takes the canter from wrong lead the best I can is sharply stop it right away, not letting her do stride or 2 "to understand". Wrong -> corrected right away (granted, sometime it does take several strides, but I'm trying my best).

You don't pull outside - it'll just unbalance the horse (and rider) and not teaching the horse anything. Use your inside leg (backed up by the dressage whip right behind it if needed) to keep her on fence line and in same time keep her going forward. I'd practice it on trot first: to yield from you leg (may be whip too in the beginning). As long as you have it straighten out (horse knows what it means when you apply the leg) -> do it at the canter.

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post #6 of 13 Old 10-28-2011, 11:30 AM
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When my horse had issues going deeply into corners, I'd make him circle back and try again until he made an effort at it.

Since your horse does circles well, maybe the same principle would work on the straight. When she starts peeling off to the right or left, act like it's your idea to do a circle and get her right back where she ended up. If she's like my horse, she'll soon figure out that it's way more work to turn off the wall than to just go straight along it
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post #7 of 13 Old 10-28-2011, 12:14 PM
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Are you saying that your horse won't stay on the rail??? I don't know about you, but when I train horses I like to stay on the quarter line (two meters off the rail) so that horse doesn't depend on the wall to stay straight. It also gives you the opportunity to work on latteral b/c you are far away from the wall and you can push your horse toward the wall.
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post #8 of 13 Old 10-28-2011, 03:04 PM
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Or you can make her work her tail off every time she does it and do it immediately. As you approach that spot, turn her tight toward the rail and head the other way. Go a dozen strides then reverse on the rail again. She is now working harder by making tight turns. Be patient and persistant and she will realize it's much less work to just follow the rail than duck to the inside. But, as soon as you've crossed the sticky place, allow her to walk and relax. As you approach again ask for the lope only be sure to go farther this time before slowing or that will be her next trick.
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post #9 of 13 Old 10-28-2011, 03:48 PM
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benign antagonism. horsey wants to go left? you want to go right. and vice versa. you and the horse will eventually find a "compromise" that is straight forward, where ever that may be.
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post #10 of 13 Old 10-29-2011, 02:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks all for the replies! Definitely a lot of great ideas to try that I'm a bit hitting my head over, saying "How did I not think of this?"
I'll definitely check back and let you guys know how it's going and what works well for her.

Originally Posted by kitten_Val View Post
First of all you always better prevent BEFORE it even happens. When you allow the horse to do "step or 2" just so "it understood what you are correcting" it actually not a right approach IMHO, and teaching the horse it's OK to do it. When my horse takes the canter from wrong lead the best I can is sharply stop it right away, not letting her do stride or 2 "to understand". Wrong -> corrected right away (granted, sometime it does take several strides, but I'm trying my best).
The reason I say to do this is both from being taught so and from experience. I find, even more so with this mare than most horses, that if I don't let the bad behaviour "start to happen", for lack of a better term, then I find myself picking at the horse and the only thing accomplished is to frustrate us both. I've not had success with correcting this particular sort of issue immediately, though of course also waiting too long keeps them from making the connection between what they were doing and the correction.
For instance, Merry and I are trotting around the arena and I feel her starting to move her energy off the fence, so I immediately block it with my leg and outside rein. One stride later, if that, she's back moving off, but expecting the block and pushing through it. I rode her for weeks doing this, and definitely no luck there.
The success I eventually had with getting her to stay straight at the walk and trot only came when I started to let her take a step or two off, then immediately pull her back on. The extra work to sort of suddenly scramble to stop what she was doing, while in the middle of doing it, and go the opposite direction seemed to be good motivation.

Last edited by rocky pony; 10-29-2011 at 02:53 AM.
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