Candy doesn't 'bolt' as such, but I have noticed that on the way home she becomes very excitable and will ignore as many aids as she can. If I ask for trot she automatically speeds up and enters canter without me asking. When she does this I use my voice and pull her into a one rein stop and she becomes very fustrated and wound up. Once she has halted for 3 seconds I release the rein and make her wait. If she goes to walk off I pull her into another one rein stop. She has only just turned 4. Am I doing the right thing? I don't want to make her hard in the mouth by pulling all the time, and I don't want her to establish a habit of running away with me everytime she freaks/gets excited...
To me it sound salmost like an issue of "going home". A lot of barrel racers get that way. Once they start seeing the end coming near, they get excited and start to pick up the pace to get home.
This can go with anything we spend a normal pattern doing. Perhaps changing direction up and throwing the horse for a loop when its time to "go home", by going a different direction then what you normally would, or by holding off going that same direction you would at a stop for a short period. I agree.. you dont want to have to pull her face to calm her!
I'm interested to hear suggestions too. My paint is this way, the only difference she's like that when we going away from trailer on trail (she's much calmer when we are going back to the trailer :-) ). And in 90% it's IMPOSSIBLE to do the loop on trail (as it's too narrow). I try half-halts, but she doesn't listen much (and I too don't like to use one rein stop all the time).
Half halts will work, if you horse isn't 'listening' then THERE is the real problem, not them being barn sour.
You need to be alpha with your horse. If not, barn sour, buddy sour, no matter what if you haven't trained your horse to listen they won't.
For barn sour I have a few techniques.
One, take them for a LONG ride, WAY away from home, miles. Then, when you turn them back, and they want to run, let them (safely, of course) but make sure you are far enough away they will get tired long before you get home. When they wanna slow down and rest, don't let them! MAKE them run all the way home, even once they are tired. This can be a quick fix, worked wonders on a barn sour horse nothing else worked on.
Two, when ridin home, and they start speeding up and everything, put the tiniest chink in ONE rein (not both, just one)and keep it there until they stop and walk quietly, do NOT release until they do this, and then release IMMEDIATELY when they do. Now, they will likely start rushing again, then 'chink' again, (pull the rein in just enough you see thier eye, and hold it there by holding the rein against the pommel or the cantle of the saddle) and do NOT release until they relax and walk quiet, and when they do release immediately. It may take a time or two, but they will figure it out, and when they get rushing agian, 'chink' again.
Three, when your horse speeds up going home, turn them around. Let them go as fast as they want the other way, but let them know the ONLY way they are headed home is at a walk. I have done this with some horses, but some find that spinning around to become a bad game.
Also, always let your horse know that they are safe, and can eat and drink away from home. I also took all my horses on long walks and let them graze in hand before I took them off property (riding), so they can see that they can get food and water away from home. They also learn to accept me as herdmate on the trail that way.
I personally like the 'chink reins' method best, but there are a few others.
I need to disagree with DarkChyld about running your horse home. I find the practice completely unsafe for you, your horse, and any rider you come up on. It is also giving permission for your horse to act up even if you make him continue when he wants to stop. In fact, you are teaching him to run and building up his stamina let alone obstacles, roads, other riders, etc along the way home.
It takes more time and too many people want a quick fix but the way I do it is to turn him around and walk back out every single time he starts to jig or speed up. If possible I'll turn him in circles or back him up for 20 or 30'. The concept is the same as DarkChyld in that you are making it uncomfortable for him to do it his way, but this is a safer way to do it.
It takes time and patience. I would plan on taking a LOT of time getting back to the barn or trailer. If you are riding with someone, be sure they are going to be patient with you.
Each time he regresses and you don't correct him, makes it harder and harder the next time. There is no such thing as "I'm too tired to bother this one time". Every time you are in the vicinity of your horse, you are training him - every time you mount your horse there is a lesson, good or bad.
Whenever my mare bolts on me (very rarely now) I urge her on and make her go as fast as possible until I want her to quit... make it seem like the bolting was my idea and we slow down when I want to slow down, not when she wants to slow down.
I agree with IRH. If the horse is doing something it shouldn't, there should be consequences. In this example, if the horse speeds up turn around and go the opposite way the horse wishes to go. Horses are smart creatures. If disobeying you doesn't get the horse what it wants why would it continue the behavior?
You should NEVER run your horse home. That is a dangerous habit to get in to. I would highly recommend you not do that, ever.
Bolting, shying, spooking, etc. are all fear based responses. It's not meant to get one over on the human. The horse truly thinks something is going to kill them. Just because we don't think it's anything doesn't mean the horse does. Remember, horses are prey animals and if they don't spook or bolt, in their mind they're dead. So we shouldn't punish the horse for being a horse.
How is she when you first head out? If she has energy I wouldn't go out until she is calm. Do circles, changes of direction, consistant things to help her calm down. If she is fine starting out then great. I did notice in your opening post that on your way back you said if you ask for a trot she wants to canter. Why are you asking for more than a walk if you know she can be impulsive? That's your first mistake. That's just setting her up to fail. Take it slow. When you first start to feel her tense up or speed up turn her around and retreat from that threshold. Do approach and retreat. If there is a tree around circle the tree if you want until she is relaxed.
Also, when she gets antsy do you hold her back with the reins? If so that is adding to her anxiety. It's a claustrophobic situation for a horse. She needs to know how to be on a loose rein. Even if you have to do something to interrupt her pattern of impulsiveness, do it and then pitch her back on a loose rein. The more you hold her back the worse she will get.
You have to be calm when working through this. If you feel anxiety that will add to her anxiety. If at any point you feel it's too much there is no shame in getting off and working things out on the ground before mounting back up. You need to live in order to work things out!:wink:
Thanks very much guys.
Midwest Paint: I have noticed that while barrel racing at my old riding school, as soon as you get around the final barrel they are off!
Dark Chylde, I’ve never heard of the term ‘barn sour’? What does this refer to?
Regarding the chink, this sounds like a good idea. But wont she get confused and think she’s meant to turn?
If I try doing circles on her when she’s excited to get home she sort of just pivots and I can barely get her to walk one step in the other direction!
IRH, that was good advice. I understand what you mean about making it uncomfortable for her to do it her way, that’s why I’ve been doing a lot of one rein stops. I will try turning circles and boss her back the other way.
I also agree with Joshie, ‘If disobeying you doesn't get the horse what it wants why would it continue the behavior?’
Spirithorse, I realise that running away from danger is within a horse’s instinct. However I am leasing this little mare for a year or 2 while the owner’s daughter (7yr old) becomes more confident. The owner wants the horse for her daughter eventually, and she is quite young so if I can limit the amount of bolting as much as possible that will help. I imagine it would be very frightening for child if a horse were to run away with her. What do you recommend I do if we are out on a ride and for example some birds fly out of the trees and she takes off? She has done this before and I usually just sit up and wait for her to finish, while trying to slow her down.
Typically she is quite reluctant to leave her paddock and her buddies.
When she gets anxious I try not to hold her back with the reins, as 1: it winds her up even more and 2: I don’t want her becoming hard in the mouth. I try to keep a relaxed seat and hands, and turn circles if possible and do one rein stops.
Thanks very much for all your advice, I think the general notion here is to stay relaxed and make her do it my way, not hers. Next time she gets jiggy I will turn circles, walk a few steps in the other direction and will make sure that if she’s anxious that we walk home.
'Barn sour' and 'herd bound' really mean the horse doesn't consider you the herd, safety or comfort. Barn sour is a horse that doesn't want to leave the barn, herd bound is a horse that doesn't want to leave thier buddies. Oh, and I forgot to mention another little fact about horses with this 'problem', you must never tack them up and untack them in the same spot, they magnetize to the spot, so mix it up, our horse with such issues is just as likely to get untacked in the middle of the pasture as anywhere else, when they don't know where to magnetize to they pay a LITTLE closer attention.
As far as the 'chink' method, for one thing you SHOULD have you horse trained that turning isn't just the mouth being pulled to the side, but rather the weight of the whole body being used by the rider to turn the horse. If your horse, however, isn't well versed with leg cues, you still want to turn the head JUST enough to make the horse hafta hold thier head at an uncomfortable angle, not enough to get them to turn. Also, if they should turn, still hold the one rein 'chinked' and lead them back into line with the other rein, still never giving with the one rein until they walk quietly.
Don't start spinning the horse or tryin to make them stand, it really isn't teaching them what you want and it only pisses them off. Try the 'chink' method or the method of home-at-a-walk only. For the walk-home-only part I recommend two things. Number one, when the horse speeds up, DON"T pull him down, just turn him, allowing his own speed to carry him in the opposite direction, to which he will likely slow down automatically, to which (if he was trotting) you ask him to maintain his trot. Then, once you have gone a few yards (make sure you have covered some distance, this should not be within a 60 foot area) SLOWLY turn them back towards home. The INSTANT they speed up (which will likely be in the next step) turn them WITHOUT slowing them around and 'encourage' them to go the same speed in the opposite direction (and let them go aways.) You are letting them go as fast as they like, but not in the direction they want to go in. I have heard this refered to as 'slowing them down with thier own speeding up.' (I do the same thing when I train a horse to lead that is rushing ahead of me, I just let them circle me until they are behind my shoulder and ready to walk beside me quietly, if they speed up they just get to go in circles.) Honestly, this will take possibly HOURS for you to come home 20 yards, it may take many, many times before the horse gets the idea, but DO NOT STOP until he 'gets' it, and you will see when the lightbulb goes on, and be prepared to ALWAYS do this on the way home until it becomes the norm. And, one more thing, I knew this chic that had a riding stable, and never had a barn sour horse. But she had one little 'trick' that helped. I don't care WHO you were, you walked your horse home the last quarter mile, and this way the horses never had the habit of hurrying for home.
I hope these help, perhaps until you practice the 'chink' method on a horse that is a little less hot, the walk-only-home method would be best for you and your horse. Dont give up, and good luck.
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