Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Orange County, NC
Separation anxiety, herd bound, barn sour....a very common, extremely frustrating situation that takes time, patience, and some trail and error to overcome. Trust and respect are important and part of the answer, but always keep in mind that we can never fully be a substitute for the herd.
In my experience, there can be two separate problems to overcome and I work them differently.
1) Your horse just wants to be with her buddies.
2) Your horse is afraid to be away from her buddies.
I always look at the horse's body language and eyes to get a feel. Horses that are truly afraid tend to be very on edge, stiff, and wide eyed. Also, you typically don't see #2 in herd lead horses that already have a lot of confidence.
For #1, I always work the horse to get their focus off their buddies, even if it is something very simple. My goal is to instill that there is a time for buddies and a time for me, and when with me, I must get the focus and respect and I will not give in.
For #2, I start with close, short rides and lengthen the distance, time and new 'stuff', but always sensitive to the tension in the horse. The goal is to build not only trust, but experience and self confidence being away from the herd. Walking in hand works well with some horses, pushing along under saddle, or pats/rubbing on the neck, etc. for others...you have to see what works best for your horse. Patience and praise, always.
In either (or both) cases, I always end on a good note and never rush to return them to their buddies.
On the sixth day, God created the Quarter Horse.
On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.