My mare won't lead on a trail ride, but today went solo??
I've been a big wimp about taking Gem out solo to the trails. I ride her alone all the time in the arenas at the barn with nobody around, but thats different. My biggest problem was her complete lack of leading skills on a trail ride. She just plum refuses to go in front. She even hates going beside the leader on a wider trail and has all these stall tactics to get her nose behind that lead horse's butt again. Once back there she goes off in lala land and I swear stumbles on every single rock, limb and root she can find. She just doesn't bother to pay attention when she is behind another horse.
Well, anyway I finally put on my big girl pants and after work hooked the trailer up (with a lot of cursing and frustration especially when I found out that I had indeed hooked it up jsut fine after 15 mninutes, but didn't think it was and spent another 45 minutes trying to redo it, ugh), loaed up my princess horse, and headed to the trail head. My hubby new exactly where I was going and I texted him right before I got on so he would know where to find me if I never returned. I was nervous expecting her to do her 180 degree spin and refuse to go, but nope. She went forward ears ahead and checking back to me every so often and was happy and content!! She wasn't perfect and shied at things and such, but nothing like when asked to lead with another horse. I was soooooo happy and gave her huge hugs and kisses and pats.
But why would this be? Why will she go out all alone, but refuse to lead on the exact same trail???
Sounds like she's rather 'sleep' and not pay attention. Need to get her attention on you and where she's going and out of the other horses ass. Get her working, pop her ass if you gotta, just get get her paying attention
She doesn't see herself as a leader. It is easier, even in the herd, to be a follower. Let another horse take that responsibility, it's easier to keep an eye on the leader than be the leader. This is natural to her.
My mare doesn't like other horses behind her. I guess she thinks that they will be as obnoxious as she is and try to nip her on the butt.
Then why not place her where she is most comfortable which may be at the back of the line. One way to find out is to let her chose her place. Less stress for her. Think of a kid behind you in school that liked to yank your hair. Wouldn't you rather be sitting behind that kid?
I let her go in the back for the most part. It is just that I do get tired of staring at my hubby's gelding's butt the entire ride :) I make her go out front for short periods so that I can enjoy getting to lead for a bit, plus it makes her wake up and use that smart brain of hers.
It was the thing that held me back from going out solo. I had images of her being a terror and spining and backing up etc..but she wasn't like that at all. She earned major brownie points.
You make me feel encouraged. Maybe my horse will be ok alone.
One good thing about following your husband; he gets the spiders in his face.
If your horse goes into lala land when following a leader then should she spook it could be a bad one. You need to keep her mind busy. Horses that remain alert don't spook nearly as badly, if at all, as the dreamers.
My horse is/was exactly as you described your horse. He would MUCH rather not ever have to lead if he could avoid it.
When he was first with other horses he would go real slow, hoping and allowing the other horse behind him to pass him.
And almost the whole time he was first he kept looking left, then right, then left etc etc FOR things to spook at. Fun ride, NOT!
The first year I spent just getting to know him and was put in front a lot because the others I rode with didn't want to go first. Needless to say those rides were nerve wracking and he spooked a lot and I fell off several times.
The second year I spent on getting him over this and rode with people who allowed me to work on him going first. We did a lot of the leap frog game and other than that I kept him busy working and concentrating on me while he was first.
This year, year three he now goes first without any problems what so ever. He would rather be anything but first, no doubt about it, but, we have worked on his confidence enough that he will do it safely.
Now on the flip side of things I was always able to take him out by ourselves without the problems we had with other horses.
My theory on why is this:
When he is first with other horses it's a huge responsibility. He, my horse, thinks he has to be the leader, cause he is the leader and he takes that responsibility seriously. He wants to keep alert and vigilant for any and all predators and lead them away fast, or, to get away faster than them so he survives. I am not sure which.
When he is following behind the leader he lets them do all that worrying and even when they spook he has no reaction from it because he sees they haven't been eaten. (Some other horses feed off other people's horse's spooks, my boy never has thankfully).
But, when we go out all by ourselves he has always been MUCH better. He is a bit more alert than if he was following another horse, but, all in all he does real well.
That's because he letting me be the leader and not depending on the other horses on the ride. He is more actively listening to me and putting his trust into me.
This is why when I go out with others I had to step up and keep his focus on me rather than on the other horses and what they were doing.
The more you keep your horse's mind engage while riding with or without a group, the more he's thinking of what you want, rather than what he can spook at.
Its really common and just down to the way horses recognise one horse as a leader just like in a herd and the others happily all tuck in behind because they feel secure and comfortable like that.
We try to regularly change over so all our horses get a chance in front, make sure everyone allows a good distance between each other so no chance of kicking or biting - though we don't get any of that - strictly forbidden!!
When we had a lot of horses to work and when my children were young we had to ride one lead one to excercise so its important to me that all horses are trained to safely walk alongside one another
Well done you for getting the courage to go it alone
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