Oh my gosh a ditch!
My TB Romeo will do absolutely anything in the world i request of him, no matter how stupid my request is (like jumping too far out) he always saves my butt. EXCEPT over a ditch on a trail ride. He. Is. Petrified. GRANTED, he will go over them, ONLY if my sisters horse goes first. I want him to get over this silly fear, but i dont want to beat him because that is how he lost trust in his last owner, and our relationship is already so strong. Help? Its not a HUGE issue, because he still does it. I would just enjoy less of a frantic reaction.
I envision him standing with front legs spread apart as he looks down at the abyss, butt up in the air deciding if he should put all his energy into leaping high or heading for home. Been there. He's not sure what a ditch is. He could sink out of sight. The grass conceals where his feet would go. My silly boy would stop dead at first, survey the situation and either tip toe across or take a flying leap. I just grabbed lots of saddle. But on the way home we could be cantering and he'd cross it like a pro. The funny thing with this horse, he wasn't ever in a hurry to go home. When he hit another trail he had to check it out. More than once we had an argument about going home as I had commitments and he wanted to check more trails.
Ride him down to the ditch.
Ask him to cross over.
If he refuses: lunge him near the ditch.
Mount and try to cross again.
If he refuses: lunge again.
Mount and try to cross again
Keep doing this until he goes over it. ALWAYS make sure you get back on before trying to cross.
Some horses will follow you over in hand, but not under saddle.
The lunging is teaching him that not crossing equals more work than going over like a good boy.
This is how i taught my mare to go onto a trailer btw ;)
Whats odd, is when we school cross country, he jumps ditches fine. He just doesnt like the ones on the trails. Odd boy. But i agree with Saddlebag! thanks guys!
i would walk him back and forth in front of it so he can see it out of both eyes.
then walk him up to it with nice loose reins and a light seat. let him put his head down to look at it if he wants to, but do not let him turn away from it. you are going to have to be persistent until he crosses it. from the walk he can even step into the ditch if he wants to.
When you do get him to cross, keep taking him back over it until he walks calmly over it.
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I just watched a Chris Cox ground training program, and he was working a 2yo over and around obstacles, including a ditch. I suggest you copy his training bc it was really a TRUST exercise. Use LOTS AND LOTS OF PRAISE as a reward for his efforts. Use a shallow ditch FIRST. Decide where you want your horse to go down into it, and where to exit. Lunge him to a halt at the bottom. Then walk him to the exit point and lunge him out. Pick different places and demand that he go exactly where you want him to, meaning he can't just jump out after you've asked him to go down. Don't worry if he doesn't listen well, at first, just ask again, and repeat so he understands what you want from him.
Spend numerous sessions here until it's boring and blasse for him.
Find a deeper ditch, preferably one that starts shallow and goes deeper. Do the same exercise, except you will want to enter where it's not too deep. Chris said it's important that the horse experiences success, not fear, so take your time, and try not to ask him to exit where he might slip.
I'm pretty sure this will translate to the ditch on the trail that troubles him. =D
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