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HunterJumper3D 07-18-2012 07:18 PM

Herd Bound Horse-Please Help!
I just moved my horse X to a new barn. At this barn they have beautiful grass pastures, so I decided to keep him on outside board. He is in a pasture that's probably no smaller than 10 or 15 acres that he shares with 6 other horses. He has been at the barn for 4 days and he is getting progressively more and more herd bound. Today he made a fuss about leaving his pasture, then he would not tune into me and respect my personal space, he was not focused when I was riding him and he even tried to run out the arena gate back to his buddies a couple times. He was screaming his head off, he even got a bit hoarse. It got to the point where I had to put a lead chain on him or I would most likely have ended up with a couple of broken ribs. I understand that he is in a new place where he is insecure, but he is not acting spooky or scared, just completely disrespectful. I just don't know how to correct him or deal with him, let alone fix the problem.
Please help! :) thanks
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lives2hope 07-18-2012 08:16 PM

Well I would start by some round pen lessons I would keep him in a working trot anytime his attention veers away I would chase him into a canter, anytime he talked I would give him a little pop in the butt with the lunge whip and have him canter. When he starts to focus on you I would ask him for a walk, if he then starts looking for the other horses or talking again I would get right after him. I wouldn't stop until he was docile and paying attention. At that time I would saddle him up and work him. I would (if I could) work him away from the view of the other horses. I would do this twice a day for a week. I would get the respect on the ground before I got into the saddle. If he started talking in the saddle I would give him a little swat with my crop (or turn him in some circles), just a reminder he is suppose to be paying attention to you not them. After the week was up I would move him into a pen closer where he could see the other horse and start all over again. I have personally found it easier to work on herd bound issues away from the other horses at first. That is one of the ways I would handle it.

The other is taking them for a trail rides, when they start to talk or turn around I make them gallop, if they give me any refusals I spin them over and over then make them gallop I like using hills and making them run a lot. If they try to throw me well you got it they get too run some more! When they calm down I walk them, if it's summer time I will find a really nice patch of grass and get off and reward them with that treat. In the winter I pack treats to give them after they start giving me their undivided attention. I always make them walk back! If they start picking up their pace on the way back, I turn them and make them start going back again. I have found that the biggest key is not to let them have a couple days off until the issue is resolved. I have found when giving the herd bound horse a couple days off they tend to take giant leaps backwards.

That is how I have handled it but I have to say I am super curious how others do so I will be paying attention to the other answers.

HunterJumper3D 07-18-2012 08:22 PM

Thanks for your response, however the farm does not have a round pen, could I just have him on a lunge line?
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lives2hope 07-18-2012 08:30 PM

Yeah that would work you always have to improvise, I prefer using the round pen when working out issues and chasing rather then lunging. But I have used lunge lines for this before and worked just fine.

HunterJumper3D 07-18-2012 08:35 PM

Ok I'll try it, thanks! :)
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HunterJumper3D 07-19-2012 05:33 PM

If anyone else has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!!
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Cherie 07-19-2012 11:11 PM

Your horse is not insecure. He has just found a taste of real 'herd life' and he likes it. He has 'bonded' with other herd members and now, his security is with them. If there are any mares in this herd, it will be even worse to get his attention.

Many horses go through this when they get turned out with a herd of horses. They LIKE it and they want to stay with them.

The best way I know to get a horse to accept being with the herd AND being away from their herd is to tie them up well away from the herd and let them fight it out. Let them scream and paw and throw a fit and do not put them back until they are standing quietly. It is best if you can tie one up well away from the herd. It may be a full day or even two or three different days to get the horse over it.

Once they get quiet and find out that they are going to go back to their herd, they usually get OK with coming and going and start minding again. As long as the horse is reactive and upset, you are not going to get their attention and they are only going to keep on being 'reactive'. They have to get settled and quiet in order to learn and become 'responsive'. It is just how they are.

Just be sure to tie one in a safe place and either tie it to an over-head tree limb or tie it higher than its withers. This tying exercise accomplishes several things. It teaches patience; It teaches respect for a halter and lead-rope; It teaches that a horse can be alone and be OK; It teaches that there is life and a return to the herd after separation.

This is the same thing a trail or ranch horse has to learn when they ride with other horses and then are separated from them and have to be ridden off by themselves.

Since all of our horses live out in big pastures with herds of 4 to 10 head, we go through this will all of them and they all get over it. We just tie them up until they do.

MacabreMikolaj 07-19-2012 11:21 PM

I just want to chime in that I LOVE Cherie's advice because as the owner of a mare who is ONLY herdbound at shows, I know how absolutely futile and even dangerous it can be to try and "ride" it out of them. We were recently at a show last weekend and had no access to a round pen and even worse, it was hotter then heck out.

I used the same method lives2hope suggested with dismal failure. Absolutely ALL I accomplished was making my horse learn to BOLT forward as she flung her head up wildly every time she screamed because she knew I was going to wallop her and make her canter. This just escalated into her slipping on the grass in panic, absolutely DRENCHED with sweat in 40 degree heat, and still screaming and freaking out. We'd reach a point where she'd work nicely for 30 seconds and I would reward her and as soon as I rewarded her, she'd scream again. I ended up tying her to the trailer where she threw an ENORMOUS tantrum, nothing I have EVER seen from my utterly docile and quiet mare before, smashing herself into the trailer, pawing furiously, screaming and hauling back and finally reared up so high and threw herself so hard into the trailer that she snapped her halter and went tumbling to the ground.

Of course, I CURSED that I wasn't smart enough to bring her rope halter however that will be EXACTLY what is happening at the next event. I fully intend to locate a little rodeo close by that my best friend wants to compete in and Jynx is going to stand tied in her rope halter all freaking day long until she learns how to behave.

Best of luck - I know exactly how infuriatingly frustrating this can be. And the worst part is that often, you flat out CANNOT get their attention no matter how much you beat, cajole or beg them to behave. I think Cherie has extremely sound advice because a horse in THAT much of a panic is a danger to you and to himself. Let him throw a tantrum on his own until he figures out its a waste of time.

PunksTank 07-19-2012 11:40 PM

Similar to the tying thing - the way I work it is my round pen is just out of earshot of the barn, if they get too herd bound they get put in the round pen and wait - they hoot and holler and scream and everything, but they can do that all day if they want it's not getting them anywhere. When they are calm again, go and spend time with them, work them a tiny bit on the ground, groom them and make them feel good and spend some 'quality' time with them. Sometimes when they're alone down there and you come they start up again - immediately leave. They need to learn to accept your company or deal with being alone. Once they're calm being alone and just with you bring them back to their pasture with their buddies. Repeat this process for a few days, by the end they'll be fine because they know they get to go back when you're done with them. :P
I prefer this method because then you don't have to worry about the dangers of tying them, but it's less convenient as not many people have a paddock they can do that with.

Considering you don't have a round pen, do you have any small paddocks separate and further away from the others?

DancingArabian 07-20-2012 12:05 AM

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Groundwork groundwork groundwork.

Control your horses feet. Make him yield and turn back up. Make him run where you want. If you can work him in the field a little bit and stay safe, do it there too. Get a rope halter and use gloves. Crack the whip the second his ear is not turned to you and don't be afraid to smack him if he needs it. Keep a whip at all times if he gets pushy and get his attention. Ack on you whenever it slips away.

Good luck and stay safe!
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