Whats your way of working with a herdbound horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 04-25-2011, 12:08 AM Thread Starter
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Whats your way of working with a herdbound horse?

Just wondering what peoples methods of working with herdbound horses are. You know, how you got them over it and used to being rode again? Sorry if I didn't phrase this right lol. We went through this with my little Spirit when we got her at the rescue, she had been left alone with 2 other horses for 2 years. I'm just curious what different types of methods people use. Maybe I'll request trying one with the other two horses
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post #2 of 6 Old 04-25-2011, 12:22 AM
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My horse is still struggling with this and now it's too hot to deal with so i'm sending him to a trainer for a couple weeks to freshin his memory. However, I was able to get him to go around the neighborhood by himself after one day of hard work. I just refused to go back like he wanted and made him do circles anytime he tried to turn around or stopped without me asking. Is this what you mean? Like a buddy sour horse?
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post #3 of 6 Old 04-25-2011, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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Yes exactly :) Spirit would throw a temper tantrum whenever she left her two buddys. Pawing the ground, stamping her feet, tossing her head, calling to them, trying to pull loose and go back by them, that sort of thing. Shes improved 80% I'd say in the 3 weeks weve been working with her. The only thing now is that shes still a little nervous and doesnt like to stand completely still if shes away from the farm. She listens very well though, and won't try to run back or anything.
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post #4 of 6 Old 04-25-2011, 01:18 AM
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Well that's good. A buddy sour horse is like dealing with a two year old who just doesn't understand you. It takes a lot of patience. Just be careful taking her out of her comfort zone. I got a little carried away and took my gelding out way too far and he threw a few crow hops. Nothing that I wasn't able to fix but oyu have to be sure to fix it immediatley or she will walk all over you. That's the best way for her to test you. How far does she have to go until you just give up. And then she will do it everytime. Have you tried giving her a little more structure? Pasturing her a bit less. Maybe keeping her in a stall at night and pasture her seperately? That could also be the problem.
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post #5 of 6 Old 04-25-2011, 01:35 AM
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Personally, I feel like most herdbound horse issues stem from the horse feeling like the human that's leading them/riding them/working them/whatever isn't a strong enough herd leader/protector and therefore, the herd is a much safer place to be.
I used to think that theory was all hooey until I started working at my summer camp where I have my pick of 12 very herdbound horses. I could take almost any of them out by themselves (there are one or two that it would be dangerous to try taking out alone, just because of how unpredictable and green those particular horses are) and have a nice ride. But, I guarantee you that if one of my (highly inexperienced) assistant wranglers tried the same thing, they would not get farther than the edge of the woods.

I figured out that the trick is to act like you know what you're doing, all the time. You have to be thinking 4 steps ahead of your horse at all times and it's really helpful to have a respectful on the ground relationship too. You have to be prepared for anything the horse might do and turn it around into the behavior you want.
Like, if your horse starts spinning because he/she doesn't want to keep going, you keep that horse spinning until they are asking to stop and you let them stop spinning with their head in the direction you want to go. Basically, every evasion technique they think up turns into your idea. And you CANNOT give up without winning something.
If your horse spins (using that example again) around a few times and you decide "hey, this is a little scary, lets go back to the barn" and let that horse spin around to the barn and head back there, you are going to have a much harder time the next time you try to take that horse somewhere by his/herself. Now, if your horse spins and you decide "hey, this is a little scary, lets go back to the barn", but ask your horse to keep spinning until he/she is asking to stop and you let him/her stop in the direction you want to go, get the littlest step in the direction you wanted to go, THEN go back to the barn, you've rewarded your horse for doing what you asked and you'll have a much easier time of it the next time. After that first victory (which will most likely be the hardest won) it'll usually get easier and easier, if you keep your goals small and are prepared to make them even smaller if it becomes obvious that your goal for the day, however small, was actually too big.

Another important bit is that you have to think positively! If you start out thinking "well, I'm scared, and I want to get into the forest today but I don't think Fluffy will be ok with that so if she acts a little crazy, we're going back!", you will fail. But, if you go out there with an attitude of "I may be scared but I am the best gosh darn leader Fluffy has ever had and we are gonna take one step into that forest and we're gonna have fun!", I am willing to bet that things will go much more smoothly.

I am by no means pro but I have fixed my fair share of very herdbound horses with this method so I feel pretty confident with it. My mare used to be terribly herdbound and while she's not perfect, I can, and do, take her out on trail rides multiple times a week by herself with very few issues. Sometimes she'll test me a little bit but she knows that she will never get away with trying to take me home (her thing is turning around to go home when she thinks I'm not paying attention, she used to back up like crazy, and rear when I'd try to redirect her, but then I got a crop and she soon learned that backing up randomly is not so much fun) so she might try to turn around once, get pulled back into line, and never try again for the rest of the ride.

Hopefully that all made sense. :) And good luck! Herdbound horses are no fun, I totally totally understand. Just think positively, have a distinct easily attainable goal, be prepared to make adjustments to your goal depending on your horse's response and your response (if you're terrified, don't push it to a place where you can't handle it anymore), and be confident!

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 04-25-2011 at 01:38 AM.
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post #6 of 6 Old 04-25-2011, 04:19 PM
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My 4yo gelding was real heard bound. I was riding with the horse he was sticking to out on trails and carrying sweeties.. every now and then id push him to go ahead of the other horse and reward him..
Eventually, i could ride in the school without the other horse with sweeties.. and now hes heading out on hacks alone with me for the first time ever! hes on his toes alot, and whinnys so much! but hes good. i dont carry sweets anymore unless im teaching something new. everything he does good for me now hes rewarded wit a scratch and pat, which i done before and after giving him a sweet.

The idea for this is to have spirit build her confidence with you. at the moment shes probably thinking shes in a bit of danger when being separated from the herd.. do you have a field in sight of the other horses? id try working with her in there until you feel confident to push her boundaries a little bit more... SLOWLY does it, your building confidence for you and her, it will take time.

For your next big step, take her out around the block for 10-30 mins just walking so she realises she will be coming home. If she speeds up when she realises shes on her way home, slow her down and take her back at her own pace. even stop her and turn her around for a few steps if she doesnt keep to your speed. Please remember though, as soon as she realises shes heading out on her own, she will more than likely try turn back around, just bear with her, but keep her under control. DONT let her go home. just keep calm and turn her the direction you wish, then reward when shes doing what you like...

This is exactly what i done with my boy. and i have never noticed such a difference! hes a hell of alot more confident with me, and i am with him! and also because of this he looks forward to being rode to go out and 'see the world', and hes more forward! which is great because hes just began his education!! So much easier when hes willing to learn !!

GOOD LUCK .... Ill keep checking back for updates xxx

Gipsy gold does not chink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark... <3
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