Have you every over worked your horse?
I was wondering if anyone has ever worked their horse too hard and then experienced behavior issues?
I went on a 1.5 hour trail ride, which was at a decent incline. We did some loping and it's been a while since my boy has loped much. After we returned and cooled down, I was invited to go on a 1 hr walk on the trail. Being that I can't do trails alone yet, I try to take whatever opportunities I can to ride with a partner.
This trip was not very good. He wanted to go home so bad and he reared several times. We were walking at a slow pace, but he was just so aggravated about going out again. Once the trail turned back towards home, he was fine (but very tired).
I feel like it was a mistake to take him out again. The girl I rode with said that he needs to learn that when it's time to go back to work, then he must work. I agree to a point, but I wonder if I just made him too sore. We didn't lope for more than a few minutes off and on, but it was still more than he's done in a while.
Do behavior issues arise when you push too hard?
Yes, at horseshows. But I only ask my horses to do what I do myself. Sometimes I work 60 hour weeks.
I often do that as an "anti-barn sour" exercise: ride out on the trail, ride back to the barn, and then ride out in a different direction. Even with well-behaved horses, riding a "star pattern" (what some people at an old barn called it) occasionally keeps them well-behaved by keeping them guessing and they never rush home.
2.5 hours in the saddle is not "overworked" unless he was really out of shape. But horses do like to be lazy, and I imagine without work he was tired. Just have to work through it with various barn sour/ trailer sour training techniques. Lunging at a canter or trot when you first get back to camp helps.
I did our first endurance ride last year. coming into the vet check at the halfway point you have to take all your tack off, and we got a 40 minute hold/. Myhorse was prancing around ans snorting at the other horses, having a fine ole time watching the other riders, then I grabbed him and throught the saddle back on. His eyes rolled back and he was like, "whoa here wait a miniute, lets talk about this, " What the hecks going on. He so didnt wanna head back out. But you gotta just keep doing it.
Consider it like it being 5:00 quitting time and as you are heading out the door, the boss comes over and asks you to put in another 2 hours overtime.
It's all in his training. His job is to do what you want - not what he wants. My typical weekend trail rides are 3 - 5 hours and sometimes we end up back at the trailers to go out in another direction. My horse has to comply but it took training to get her past the reluctance to go back out.
On the 2nd ride (the rearing one), he tripped MANY times. I could just tell he was exhausted. With more and more exercise this should get better. He has an amazing running walk and someday I hope to do endurance riding.
I was happy that I was able to keep him going and force him to mind me even though the rearing was scary for me being a newby. Hopefully, next time he will know that he can't get away with behaving that way. Thanks for everyone's imput!
If your horse were truly exhausted, you'd have more than tripping problems.
This is why I love this forum. I am always learning something new! You are right. He definitely wanted to be done with that trail and be back with his lady friends- eating, and relaxing! :)
Oh yeah! I did it last week and he called me out on it big time. A few Saturdays ago, my horse was being a drama queen in the ring. He fought me for a good hour before finally giving in and producing some very nice work for the next 30 minutes. I decided to reward him and go on a nice trail ride. He seemed into it, but decided at the very end that he was done with the ride and tried to bolt home. When I protested, he threw in a few good bucks and some airs above the ground. I was able to stick it out, but he made his point very well. No more overwork for him!
Yes, I have overworked my horse, no it did not cause behavioral problems. The problems some people have with their horses is not that they are overworked, but that they are soured from being "overschooled"; worked and worked and worked and worked on the exact same things over and over and over every ride.
OP, a 2.5 hour trail ride that consisted of mostly walking with a bit of trot/canter thrown in there wouldn't over-work an average horse, even one that was out of shape. He was being flat out disrespectful and I'm glad that you kept going and ended the ride on a good note with him behaving well.
With all that being said, as riders and caretakers of the horses, it is our responsibility to decide when they've had enough and when they are just being bratty and react accordingly. That takes a lot of years and many miles in the saddle to learn. However, I am confident that you handled this situation properly by making him continue on. You didn't hurt him, either physically or mentally, and it's unlikely that he'll act as bad next time.
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