Fist Time Riding in a Field
So yesterday I decided it was time to ride Koby around the perimeter of a large field behind the outdoor arena. He has never really done trails or anything and can be kinda spooky. I have been doing a lot of groundwork to gain his trust and have done some desensitizing exercises with him to help with his spookiness. As we were on our way to the field, Koby was doing great! His head was low and relaxed and he wasn't tense. However, the closer we got to the field, the more excited and nervous he got. So I stopped him and backed him up a couple steps to get his brain working again. He was still really worked up but I decided to just let him try and work it out on his own. We made it about 200 yards and it felt like he was going to explode. He was jumping at everything and wouldn't listen to me anymore so I turned around and walked back. When I got to where we started, I made him walk some circles. Then we started walking the field again. We made it about 250 yards or so and turned around and went back again. I continued this process about 3 times and each time we went a little farther, and each time he was a little more calm. Was this the right thing to do? I just did what I thought might be best and I am going to try to go a little farther today. Do you guys think he would be calmer with another horse with him? Or should I just go solo again? Any advice is much appreciated! Also, any tips for helping him trust me more would be great! Thanks!
That really depends on you. If are confident and can use that to help your horse go for it.
But I would normally suggest an outing or two with a confident horse and rider. If he isn't taking a read off of you he will most likely take it off of a confident horse. He needs to know that it is ok.
Edit... I think you are doing great by just getting him out of an arena. They shouldn't be dependent on walls of a roundpen or arena.
I would second an outing with a good solid horse that is pretty unflappable. That said I have a horse that can be a nervous nelly. We have worked up to trails by doing the same thing you are doing. I would get him sort of tired out in the ring, then take him out for a little hack and then turn around before he got nervous. That way he associates being calm with going back to a safe area (the barn or ring). You don't want him to get the idea that being worried about stuff get him a trip back to the riding area or the barn. I would also say do this stuff on a day when you are both feeling relaxed. I would not advise doing this just because its tuesday and on tuesday you work on trail riding. I would wait until you are feeling relaxed. I would also laugh at my horse when he spooked at things, I would tell him "you are being an idiot thats a rock, its not going to kill you". It did nothing for him but it relaxed me, because it was a rock and it was not going to kill him. Just my experience and I am sure the pros will be along soon.
I deal with this in a different manner.
First off, why should the horse be worried about being ridden in the field? You would think nothing about turning him out there and he certainly would not be 'frightened' of being out there.
When a horse starts to get excited, which I suspect he was more than frightened, then the not so experienced rider will tense up expecting something to happen and this will make the horse both tense and nervous.
The experienced rider will be ready for anything to happen but if the horse gets a bit excited then they will correct and set it to work at a trot or canter, as if working somewhere different was the absolute norm. Fear would not enter into it.
Try to relax more and think of what you want to do as pictures in your mind. Think of your horse being totally calm and whilst thinking these pictures sing or him to keep you breathing.
Riding there with another horse would be a good thing for you to realise your horse will be as good in the field as the arena.
Under the circumstances you did the correct thing.
I think you did it perfectly. The fact that he was more calm each time suggests this method works well for him. I used that same technique on my horse, and we've been confidently running around in large open spaces ever since. Great job!
I took him out again yesterday and figured out his problem! The cows! I don't know why it didn't cross my mind before but there is a big field with about 10 cows in it right next to us. I took him out with my friend and her horse and we lunged them for about 20 minutes, then hand walked them down the field. They were super antsy the whole time so we rode in the arena for a while. Koby was doing fine in there so rode them out to the field and both horses were fine. As long as we stayed clear of the cows. Apparently Koby likes them a little too much. ;)
Any chance Koby is a TB? They HATE cows! Mine thinks they are monsters from the grave.
@MyBoyPuck ~ No he's a quarter horse and he's done team penning before with his previous owner and I heard he loved it! I'm thinking he's just getting himself too excited. I took him out again today and he didn't even bat an eyelash at the cows :D
Hey now, my TB likes cows ! :)
I agree: If you tense up and expect a problem, there will be a problem. :) Good luck.
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