My Mare Won't Take The Lead
My 4 year old Paint mare just got back from training. I realize round pen training and the obstacle course stuff the trainer did was important for her to learn. He was impressed on how well she trained and how she took to saddle, bit and lead. She will not go out on a ride by herself. She will follow another horse any where, keeps her nose at their butt. I've tried twice to get her out from behind the other horses when we are trail riding to lead out by herself, she refuses. If there is new terrain she seems to lose confidence in crossing even a flat pasture by herself. She is an ophan, she was hand raised from a month old and has had pasture mates, other horses, all the time. I know there's the pecking order thing and that is there. I've started on small rides, riding out with her pasture mates in sight. We have two geldings, also paints. She is such a beautiful, sweet horse and puts her heart into it in the round pen. The trainer was happy about how calm she was and learned her ground manners so quickly. I don't want her to be a follower, she's not learning anything that way or practicing what she's learned.
What can I do with her to help build her confidence?
Your problems are exactly why we take horses with 3 or 4 rides on them and head out on the trail without another horse. We take EVERY horse out by themselves because they never develop as a trail horse or in any training without pushing them to accept their rider as their leader.
You want this horse to lead and she NEEDS YOU TO LEAD.
Don't take her out with another horse. Go out by yourself -- preferably haul her to a strange place and go by yourself. Then, PUSH her to go where you want her do. Do not tackle a water crossing or a really difficult obstacle that first time. Be prepared to spank her butt if she refuses to go forward. Go forward FASTER if she just sneaks down the trail looking at everything. Read my article about making a trail horse. It is a 'sticky' at the beginning of this training forum. It will work.
I guarantee that this will work. In 50 years it has never failed for me. We take 8 and 10 year old geldings that have never been out of an arena or out by themselves and go straight out to the woods with them. Within 30 minutes, they are skidding down steep banks, going over dead-falls and just about anything else I can find. I wait until I know I have enough 'forward' in a horse to cross water the first time.
Horses are creatures of habit. It is a shame that she was not taught to trust her rider by her trainer, but it is not too late to teach her now. She has just made a habit of not being brave or forward by herself. Now, you have to teach her that. When she stalls out, warm her butt up. She'll go forward if you do not accept her stopping or turning around.
Mare won't take the lead
I used 'lead' the wrong way in describing what's going on with Kodah. Thank you for the direction. I started her today, it went pretty good in stops and starts. When the other horses would call out for her as we were riding out, she would stop and try to turn around. I kept her pointed the way I wanted to go. We've had a lot flooding out here, as we got close to water, she would stop, look it over. I could feel her relax, her head would go down and I could get her moving again. I trotted her out over the road so the horses were not in sight and onto a dirt road, the fields were soaked on both sides so I kept her on the road trotting some more. On the way back she stopped, each time I got her to move forward and stay on task. I had to spin her around to the right in a circle to keep her from going to grass and moved her forward. I walked her home and kept her tied and saddled away from the other horses for about 30 minutes. She stayed calm, pawed the ground a little. Practice, practice, practice, right? Thanks again, appreciate it.
Even though I do agree with Cherie, I have a word of caution. Mainly for others that might read this thread. It seems as though you, Boots4ACowgirl, do have enough confidence to tackle this yourself and go out by yourself. If you don't and are nervous, your horse will know it. You can be setting yourself up for a disaster.
Most horses don't like going out alone. It's because with herd animals, there is safety in numbers. We just have to show them it's okay to be alone. As long as you have confidence, your horse will sense it and be more secure about it. It won't be easy at first but it does get better. You can also stop your horse when you're leading and let the others pass.
I also want to comment on the leading/following issue. Some horses prefer to be out front, in the middle or in the back. When you ride with others, rotate who is in front, middle and back. Works best with two or more other people. The one in back passes the other two to be in front. The new one in back passes both to be in front and repeat. Each time someone changes, take longer turns in staying in the that position.
Here's a tidbit, when you are in front or back, notice the horses ears. The one in front will have its ears forward and the one in back will have them back the majority of the time. I hadn't noticed this until someone pointed it out to me.
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Great work! You're getting "tuned in" to her and she's getting tuned in to you... Keep up the good work!
Horses sense a lot from the rider. Last weekend, a horse broke away from a handler at our barn and my Quarter horse and I were in the right place at the right time to get around him and drive him back in through the gate.... My horse quickly sensed that we were in a "situation" and got his motor revved up for the task. :-) After it was done, it only took a minute or two for him to sense that the situation was over and just that quickly he became my dear, quiet trail horse again. They have an absolutely uncanny ability to sense OUR state of mind...
My Mare Won't Take The Lead
Thanks for the additional advice, I will use it and keep it in mind. My confidence isn't an issue on Kodah. I just want her to be a good riding horse, my husband has kids that visit and I have grandkids and I want them all to be safe on all of our horses. They wont' get to ride Kodah on the trail just in the practice arena. They are all beginners and so is she. But thanks again. I've been reading posts in different categories and I am learning a lot.:D
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