a willing confident partner - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 09-30-2011, 02:45 AM Thread Starter
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a willing confident partner

Hi everyone, I am looking for some advice or shared experiences on making a wonderful trail horse. Blitz (who is recovering from an injury) is my Trail horse; he is a 5 year old solid paint geldino. SOme of you may remember my previous posts about false advertising and ending up ith a crazy horse. Well we have come a LONG way in a year, he is still a little nervous and unsure of himself; slightly buddy sour. BUT he is very gentle and safe on the ground-will never bite, kick, buck, or get pushy. He is a big suck. Our biggest problem is our breaks (a one reined stop does the trick) and getting him to cross NEW creeks and mudholes, especially when riding out by ourselves. He really does seem to loves the water when in it, he loves to paw it and splash me (maybe because he is wet I have to be too? lol) I am wondering what are some of the best exercises to build a truly reliable, confident, and willing trail partner? I ride out on my own quite a bit and this is when he is most goofy. You see thoses horses that dont hesitate to do anything or go anywhere and appear to love their jobs--how much of this is trained, and how much is natural talent/personality? Any stories form those who have trained many a horse? Ever had a horse that was a lost cause only to be turned around into something great? I look forward to MANY responses (lol).
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post #2 of 12 Old 09-30-2011, 05:25 AM
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going faster and/or going in static circles. never met a horse that didn't benefit (mentally, and in most cases also physically) from one or both of those 2 things.
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post #3 of 12 Old 09-30-2011, 05:49 AM
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You seek the qualities of a mature horse in a young adolescent.

What will slowly give you the qualities you seek will be mutual memories acquired over years of riding together out together.

As you notice a particularv phobia in the horse then you must work with him so as to negate his fears of it. Often that means getting off the horse and working in hand.

But you give the horse some of its courage - it was born with fear.

At 6 many horses go thru an excitable stage but most come thru the other side.

Be patient
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post #4 of 12 Old 09-30-2011, 06:34 AM
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Your horse will improve with age, and exposureo all things. The more he sees water,mud, etc.... obstacles he fears will become less and less of a problem as they become more routine. Remember the first time you drove a car and how nervous and excited you were? Well that is him with creeks etc. As you have said he is hesitant yet loves it. Just give him time and plenty of exposure to things he is nervous about and he will relax more and more.
If he has come this far in one year imagine how wonderful he will be in two years. Great job.

Last edited by Annnie31; 09-30-2011 at 06:37 AM. Reason: spelling
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post #5 of 12 Old 09-30-2011, 07:00 AM
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Sounds like you have come a long way with him - many would have given up.

Just like people, some horses are just naturally more confident while others are more cautious. Confidence can be built by experience and a confident rider. As your horse gains experience and becomes confident that his rider will not put him in danger, he will become a better trail horse.

I don't think there is anything special for you to do except to do more of what you have been doing.

My current trail horse, Bonnie, is 14 years old and the best trail horse I've owned in quite some time. There is nothing that she has refused to do on the trail. There have been times that she will come across something that will make her stop, look, and snort but if I give her a little leg, she will go on. We've crossed running water from rivers that were deep enough to wet my saddle, we've had to jump fallen logs, we've walked over snakes, and we've had to make our own trails through some heavy undergrowth with me swinging a machete. All this in a bosal.

It's all come from a confident, experienced horse and she is only getting better. Just keep doing what you are doing but try not to put him in a position that is too much for him to handle at his stage of training.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

It's not always what you say but what they hear.
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post #6 of 12 Old 09-30-2011, 09:25 AM
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While Blitz is recovering take him for walks. Pack a lunch for both of you and just have pleasant times together. This builds trust. Trust is what will help get you thro the mud puddles and creeks. From the horse's view, that mud puddle could swallow him up. Their vision doesn't see and know what we see and know.
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post #7 of 12 Old 09-30-2011, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Annnie31 View Post
Just give him time and plenty of exposure to things he is nervous about and he will relax more and more.

Sometimes the get better, regress a bit and then fast forward to even better.

Time is a great teacher.
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post #8 of 12 Old 10-01-2011, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone! you have all given me confidence and make me feel like I am doing a wonderful job! The BO is really impressed at how far he has come since last fall. He was a horse that wouldnt stand tied for more than two minutes, and panic if up by the barn by himself. Now I can hang a hay net, bring him up to the barn he will much a bit, and fall asleep. He will now pick his feet up when i reach down, before I even touch him, and will walk out in the lead on a group trail ride with his head low and relaxed. I am aiming for this as well (eventually) when out alone. And I no longer take no as an answer from him, and just turn around. We will get through what ever it is no matter how long it takes. I am learning patience, and confidence. I have been watching some really neat desensitizing exercises on youtube (ideas of what to build/use) and am also going to try ground driving (so that my voice commands will be more concrete), plus who doesnt want to ride their horse out in the winter to drag back a christmas tree! He will now lunge with out a whip and only off of a mild voice command and direction from a leading arm, if I step back and bring up the other arm he will stop turn in , and go in the other direction. He will also stop and walk to me on a whoa, gumming and chewing with a lowered head. He now comes running in from the pasture when called (or did before he was injured, lol) I think that if he improves this much year by year, by the time he is ten--he will be a natural mountain pony (and honestly, I havent been working him that much, maybe a few times a week). I have gotten of and walked him through, over and around things that make him nervous, and if he starts acting too goofy, he get lunged on the spot, or is made to back, yeild, and flex from the ground untill his attention is on me. I have just realized, in writing this, and in your kind comments, how much we have accomplished, and that we have a wonderful relationship. Pretty good for a young horse who previously was only rode around in an arena, and sat in a pasture for a year before I purchased him! We will get there!... Now on to my husbands horse, lol. The problem is, he spoils her
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post #9 of 12 Old 10-01-2011, 06:36 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
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You have a horse that has willingly accepted you as his leader. We've seen quite a few members on the forum that wish they could accomplish what you have. The only criticism I would make is the fact that you get off him and walk around things that concern him. As hard as it can be sometimes, I never, ever, get off my horse - the training has to come from the saddle.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

It's not always what you say but what they hear.
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post #10 of 12 Old 10-01-2011, 10:21 AM
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I agree with Barry's comment about the horse being young, yet, and you're describing a goal that comes with maturity. Also agree with Iridehorses, exactly. I have a 6 year old that I'm working on for a trail horse. He and I spent 3 years on the ground work while I was waiting to get him to the trainer for under-saddle work. Some of the things that we did were putting feet inside muck buckets and standing, walking over and under tarps, tying things to the saddle that bounced or rattled, walking through puddles, and learning how to play horse soccer with a horse ball on the ground. He was taught in the round pen that if he stops moving, the scary thing will stop (hoses, bouncing stuff, whatever - I would stop spraying or take off the bouncy thing). So, once I even tied a Superman cape out of a 8x10 tarp around his neck and sent him off in the round pen. It was hilarious - he wasn't bothered by it, took off running, did maybe a couple of laps, and stopped in the middle looking at me as if to say, "Okay, what now?" That showed me that he trusted me enough to put up with whatever I might ask. Now that we're under saddle, we ride out alone so that trust is critical. When we approach scary/new objects he might slow down and snort, but he rarely stops and has never balked. We learned the "one more step" command at 1 year old and he will take one step at a time, which earns praise and a brief rest/release of pressure. Usually that's all it takes for him to decide that the scary thing is okay.

A funny moment to share - Once we encountered the neighbor's huge tractor loaded front and back with hay bales on spikes, with a 11-bale round bale carrier - a huge rig tthat looked nothing like a tractor from our angle of approach. I asked him to walk on, and he turned his head back to look at me eye to eye as if to check to make sure that I really, really knew what I was asking. I cracked up, patted him on his face, said "one more step" and off we went. I love that fella!
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