Advice for horse that gets high strung when nervous.
Ok, my new horse, Memphis is a 6 year old TWH gelding. He is broke to ride, but has been known to bolt. He is super sweet, submissive and can get a little nervous. I've had him for a little over two months. I have ridden him around my place a few times and have done lots of groundwork. I have also been teaching him one rein stops and lateral flexion. When I ride him it's in the round pen, around the driveway, in the little piece of woods behind my house or in my outdoor arena. I have walked/lead him a lot. He has been doing really well and I am very happy and I really, really like this horse!! Last night I walked him up the road to my neighbors house. He was really calm all the way there. This is the first time I have walked him there. She has two mares that are kinda brats. The one was squealing and striking at him and even reared up and bit his neck over the gate. The whole time he stayed calm and cool. I was there for 10 minutes and then we walked back. He was totally different on the way back. He was all energetic and trying to walk ahead of me. I stayed calm and when he would start to get in front of me, I would either disengage his hindquarters a couple times and then I would continue walking again until he would get ahead of me and then I would repeat. Or I would correct him with a bump on his halter and say easy. When we got to the edge of the woods there is an old tree stump there that he has never seen before from this view. He got scared and spun around to bolt but when he felt the end of the lead he stopped(good thing) I let him look for a second and then walked on passed it. Did a little lunging back and forth with a lot of stop and turning because then he got all wound again. Did that until I noticed change, he dropped his head and licked his lips. Started walking back again, he still was a little wound so I gave a sharp quit and bumped the halter and lead. And said snap out of it!!! Lol. And he finally seemed to get over it. So we walked back to my house. So do you think I did the right thing? Is there something I could try differently next time? I just want to make sure I don't mess up cause like I said, I do really like this horse!! Also wondering especially, what would be good to do if he ever does this when I am riding him?? I ride him with a snaffle, either loose ring or D French link which he seems to like much better. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give :)
The lunging is a good idea. Also circling and bending. Put him to work when he gets nervous to take his mind off whatever makes him nervous.
Rather than yank on his halter, as soon as he starts getting ahead of you reverse direction. This will result in a yank but you are going somewhere. He'll be reluctant because you are now going away from home. That's ok. Walk about oh, 10 yards or so then promptly reverse direction, heading for home. Now he's happy as he's heading home, except again you reverse direction. What this does is getting him paying much more attention to you. Keep your focus on where you are walking and not him. He'll learn to stay back because he is watching your shoulder to see what you're doing. As soon as you turn he'll be right with you and it will no longer result on a yank on his halter.
treat him like a lead mare when he gets to close, pop him with the end of the lead line, and yell "BACK OFF"!
but you did good , from the saddle I have never been a fan of alot of circling, seems to just wind them up more, The goal is to make them think not react. I dont think a horse needs to think to spin circles, he's just reacting to you pulling his head around.
Instead of circles in middle of trail, do them off the trail, around stuff, figure 8's around trees, step over a log, a ditch, small bank, something that makes him have to watch where he is putting his feet.
I am kinda having the same prob. My horse is known to bolt either when he gets scared of something or decides he is going home. He has been doing really good lately and hasnt bolted home at all....but, yesterday was horrible! He seems to get scared of something and then EVERYTHING is scary! Then the more scared he gets the more high strung he is and just wants to run. He is not a young horse and has been trail ridden everywhere and been to shows and depending on the day he is bombproof. So far I have been doing circles and figure eights until he calms down but it doesn't seem to be working. Thanks for the great post TrailRiderr, maybe we can get help for both of us!
Oh and we should definitely NOT going trail riding together, can you imagine!! Lol!
A lot of trainers will tell you to move the hindquarters when the horse loses focus, but sometimes we need to move the front when leading the horse. When the horse moves ahead he no longer thinks of you as a dominant being but when you reverse direction you are now back in that dominant position. In the herd a lesser horse would never step ahead of a dominant one unless it was looking for trouble.
You have to decide if he's really scared, or just being a dork. If he's really scared, he doesn't have faith in you as his leader, so you adjust the way you're riding/handling him to be an assertive leader.
If he's spooking for sport, you punish the spook. Make the work that follows the spook not worth it. circles, lateral work, backing etc. and make him reconsider that next time.
I'm flabbergasted that you would let your horse get close enough to get bitten and would say that your handling skills need work.
And horses are not dogs. They do not need to go for "walkies" like a dog.
Only time is if horse is needing to be kept in stall for medical reasons.
But just to do it, is asking for problems.
And if you can't control him on these walks?
I imagine your handling skills in general are not good.
As for the lunging? If this is TWH, they interfere with themselves more when being lunged, because of their movements. And because of that, you also end up with more back problems as in circles that tight, they are cramping one side when moving.
Horse should be kept so throatlatch is at your shoulder, and should be working on keeping pace with yours, stopping and standing quietly when you stop, and moving off nicely when you walk off with horse.
Constant stopping and standing still under saddle and from ground, makes horse listen for your cues.
Faye~ Yep that sounds a lot like my guy! And no, I don't think either one of us would have on a trail ride together with theses two lol!
I think that he was genuinely scared of the stump. It didn't help that his adrenaline was way up!
And I know he doesn't need to go for walks. This is what I enjoy doing with my horses. He is new and we are getting to know each other. Plus I wanted to see how he would handle a little bit of traffic. Don't see the big deal, but thanks for your opinion. And as for the biting, I shouldn't have let them get so close and I felt really bad. I was standing back letting them do their smelling and investigating and was shocked when she reared up over the gate and bit him. And I did control him, he listened and I stayed calm, I was just curious if I could have handled it differently. :/
Saddlebags, thanks for the advice... I will try that next time, good idea!
Joe~ I thought the same thing about circling. It does seem to get them more wound then anything. I will remember to do that on the trails to get his focus back.
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