Strange Horse behavior - Page 2

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Strange Horse behavior

This is a discussion on Strange Horse behavior within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    12-04-2008, 04:01 PM
Thanks guys, that is what I am heading to the barn to do, relax with her as close as she feels comfortable.
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    12-04-2008, 06:00 PM
When I ride, I ignore scary things.

I am a huge fan of approach and retreat in the right circumstances (trailer loading!), but sometimes (like at a show!) it's not practical. So my horses are trained to trust me, and think about me, when I'm on their back.

When I find a scary area (like the side of the arena near the road with the cars), I work there exclusively. Every day. And we do circles and a LOT of bending and stopping and backing and when they flip out (which they will) you just stay calm, and continue to ask them to do whatever it was that you were doing. If you were circling and asking for a shoulder in, you just CALMLY and PATIENTLY continue to ask until she does it. The horse will soon learn to pay attention to YOU. This is why horses are 'spooky', or why they get silly under saddle. Because they're not putting all of their attention on you.

Another thing I do is use that area as the rest area. When my horse is tired and huffing, I'll take him to the scary area and ask him to stop. They learn REAL quick that this is a good place!

I like desensitizing (which is approach and retreat), but I think all the desensitizing in the world doesn't do a thing if the horse doesn't learn to pay attention to you at ALL times and trust you to take care of them. I don't care if my horses are scared of cars when I'm off of them as long as they're as docile as a lamb when I'm on them. (funny thing is, when YOU stop caring about scary things... so do they. Lol!) They learn to trust me, and to look to me for their safety. You can desensitize her to the woods all you want--and when you go to a different show, with different woods, she'll be scared all over again.

Which is why I teach my horses to be confident--in ME. ;)
    12-05-2008, 08:54 AM
Thanks guys. Yesterday I took her close the scary end, let her choose where to stop. Fed her hay, stayed with her the whole time, she did not try to flee. Then I tacked her up and let her choose which way once in the arena to go. She choose the scary way!! We just did some simple circles and figure 8s walking and trotting then stopped. She was really good except when I made her stand for a few seconds she got agitated and started backing. (think this is because the other guy riding her backs her when she acts up on the trail) but she got over it very quickly.

    12-05-2008, 02:43 PM
Glad to hear everything went well!
    12-05-2008, 04:43 PM
Thanks appylover,
Mayfieldk I agree she needs to be confident in me, that she can trust me. Her trainer who also bred her, raised her, was a very dominant strong rider with a very different style than me. (very strong rein contact and spurs) I think that really freaked her out when I tried just asking her with just a little cluck and light squeeze and I prefer to keep a light rein. But we are learning about each other and growing. By the time she is used to me she will be ready to sell and have to deveop a new relationship. I am hoping by then she will understand that she can trust someone without a heavy hand
    12-06-2008, 12:33 AM
I have issues trying to understand what you're saying. Are you a path or a trail when this happens? Or is it an arena? What does the area look like.

It sounds to me like it's a trust and respect issue. She should know that regardless of how scary something is, she needs to rely on you for safety. She needs to know she has to respect your space. For safety reason if she is really bad I would spend time with her one on one and take her in areas she is going to find questionable but not as scary as where you are trying to take her now. Work your way up. Make sure it is indeed true fear and that she is screwing around with you.
I owned a gelding years ago who had the spook down to an art. It was nearly impossible to know if he ever was truly scared or pushing me around. I eventually found out he was pushing me around and I had to settle our differences. Once we got passed that point, we never had issues again.

Because you don't know each other well, you might actually putting her in overload. I would not be riding her until you figure things out. What is her feeding like? How much work is put into her every week? Tack fitting, injury? Also working with her on a lunge line in that area if it's big enough might be an option. Get her to work there to the point where she eventually settles, you would be surprised how quick of a fix this is when done properly.

Good Luck.
    12-06-2008, 07:40 AM
My two geldings, actually I have been working with her since June and we have been through a lot. (I know that's not a lot of time) She came to me from my sister's trainer, she had too many horses and no money. She has been trained in dressage and jumping and was pretty quiet and easy going. She was underfed and we had lots of issues once she got some good nutrition in her. She went from dead quiet and agreeable to very unpredictable.

Then she got a cut on her side that made it impossible to ride her for a month. I spent of time with her during that time just bonding.

She has from day one always come running to me and for the most part is pretty good on the ground except certain areas when I walk her she would fly up into the air. For the past month or so she has pretty much completely relaxed. I have been trailriding her and she goes anywhere and rarely shies at all. I decided it was time to get back in the arena and get back to work and took it very slow but she kept bolting acting up in the same area of the arena. Its not really scary, just a few trees.

Trouble is she is not my horse, she is for sale and I need to get her back to ring work so I can sell her. I have a few people interested but since I don't have any really good jumping, ring work video it has sort of made it difficult and I don't want to sell her until she is more settled. However the owner is desperate and I am paying all her bills in the meanwhile. (have well over $2,000 into her right now) She is probably only worth about $3500 in today's market.

Its a shame since she is an incredible jumper, mover. Anyway thanks for everyone's comments hoping for a good day in the arena today and to get some good video.
    12-10-2008, 11:27 AM
She senses the ghosts in the woods!
    12-10-2008, 12:17 PM
I think that Mayfield has hit the nail on the head. I would work in the scary spot, feed in the scary spot, do what ever it takes, including working hard then resting in the scary spot ( love that one ). You said that horse was maninly an indoor horse, everything outside is going to be scary. You've gotten some really good advice here and I'm glad to hear it's been working out.

Please keep us updated!
    12-10-2008, 12:20 PM
I also agree with Mayfield on this one. This is what I have done and it has never failed me. I work the horse in the part it is comfortable and let them relax in the scary part. If my horse spooks or starts to act up I correct it and then continue on with my exercise. The trust and attention has to be on you.

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