Barn sour horse!
So my horse has recently become extremely barn sour, she's always been a little nervous, but it's been getting worse! So first off, she has a pasture buddy, but she really isn't attached to her at all, she likes the company sometimes, but usually doesn't care one bit about her. So in the arena she's fine (inside and out), but the second I want to take her away from the barn, she freaks out. She starts running backwards towards the barn, and refuses to move forward! No matter what I do she won't go forward, only back or sideways. She used to do fine with a buddy, but freak alone. Well today I brought a buddy for her, and she absolutely refused to go forward no matter what we did. (She's really competitive so we even tried getting her friend to trot or canter past her), she just kept going back. She will do whatever it takes to get to the barn, including rearing, and side passing back. She goes down the path fine if I'm walking in front of her, but with me on her she won't move. I got pretty frustrated today and just gave up (2 hours later) after she took a few steps forward. I don't know how to get her over this, I've dealt with barn sour and buddy sour horses before, but nothing like her.
I'm thinking of only feeding her treats far away from the barn, and only graining her and brushing her away from the barn as well. But I'm not sure of any other methods. I was planning on taking her to this farm with lots of trails for a weekend in August, with a friend, but at this point it doesn't look like that's going to be possible. I love my horse, but this behaviour is down right frustrating! Let me know what you think. By the way she is green (backed 6 months ago) and 4 years old. But she has been on trails since the first week of being backed (by me) and has never had a problem, not even alone.
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If you are riding off the property, or away from the barn, walk her away from it, then get on and ride, pretend that the barn isn't even there. Eventually, start walking her a shorter distance, then get on, and eventually she will cooperate with you from riding her straight from the barn away.
I have had a lot of luck with this, saddle your horse and ride out, pick a landmark in the (not too far ) distance. Be relaxed and comfy in the saddle, but the second she starts showing barn sour behavior come alive, work her in tight circles, figure 8's, serpentines whatever your pleasure. But ride her hard, make her work!. Then the second she faces your landmark ( a tree for instance) STOP!!! As long as she is is moving in the direction you want to go relax and let her go. Once she starts acting up, go back to the circles (or figure 8's or serpentines) again. Once again as soon as she faces the direction you want, stop. Do this as many times as it takes to get to your landmark, once you get there. Get off of her, unsaddle and walk her back to the barn.
The next day pick a more distant landmark, and the next day a little further, and the next day further still.
After 4 or 5 days the problem should be sorted out.
To update everyone, the problem has been resolved. I work with her every time I ride on this issue, and I can now get all the way around the arena through the grass (where before I couldn't get past the barn door) with no stopping or hesitation! I also took her up the road a few days ago with great success, only got nervous around the ended so I asked her to take 5-6 more willing steps then I got off. I now always make a habit of going out to the field or on the trail after every ride, and at the furthest point I get off, Loosen her girth, and give her a few treats (only if she was really good on occasion). Then I walk her back and tie her to her stall for 10-15 minutes to cool down and remind her that barn doesn't always mean rest and food. I also started only feeding her treats AWAY from the barn, and that's helped tremendously too. Not only is she less barn sour, but she seems to stand better on cross ties, and doesn't drag me into the barn anymore, but instead calmly walks in. I'm going to keep working on it, and hopefully on August 10th I'm going to be taking her with another horse to a local trail barn with thousands of acres of trails, to get her used to new surroundings and trails, I'm hoping this will also get her out and used to new places in case I ever decide to show her. Anyway she's doing much better!!
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I think if you keep this up she will expect treats all the time....I agree with the person above who said to work her near the barn and rest her away, that is how Clinton Anderson deals with barn sour horses and it does work.....
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