Whenever I ride my fjord even remotely close to the pasture, she gives me one hell of a time trying to keep in control. First I'll try to ease her away, then I'm forced to get a little rougher. Finally, I can't get any harder on her without hurting her, so I have to dismount and walk her for about half an hour down the trail until every site, scent, or sound of that pasture has disapeered. It's really bothersome. How to I make her stop?
I had the same problem with my gelding Sam. I would MAKE him walk (he wanted to rush) towards it, then turn him away and walk back. Over and over slowly closing the distance and always walking all the way back.
Eventually he just got used to the fact that no matter what he tries, we're going to be leaving the precious pasture
I know you don't want to hear this, but....
Consider getting you and your horse to a horseman for instruction. (Not a "riding instructor")
Some horses can be very adamant about not going away from the pasture.
Knowing what to do, from my view, means recognizing the horse's motivation. A horse that is acting from ignorance might just need repetitive training.
A horse that is acting from a lack of respect may need more firm guidance with timely and appropriate consequences.
A horse that is acting from disrespect is the horse that doesn't care about hurting the rider if there is a conflict of interest.
Few riders and owners see the difference.
If you were near me, I'd do a free session with you just to make my point. Without seeing what is happening, I can't know WHY it is happening, and any advice is just a shot in the dark.
Just thinking aloud,
It starts with YOU....where is your focus?
If you allow yourself to think for a second about what she's thinking about....it's over. You show her that you're not in charge, so she figures..."well, you clearly don't believe in what you want, so why should I?"....and she gets adament about going to the pasture...then you just use too much pressure and when she doesn't comply...you give up and dismount. When you give up and stop forcing her....you have given her a moment of release. You rewarded her for fighting you. You trained her to fight you. So...next time...she fights harder....knowing you will give her a release of pressure there.
And so the cycle continues. You dismount and it's now a routine.
She doesn't know any better. No. She doesn't. She only knows What is. She knows if she pulls against you, you pull on her...she pulls back....you release. and you dismount. and you lead her away. this is how it is. This is what is expected to be. So...it is.
Change the rules by changing YOU. Then she can change. She can't change until you do.
1) practice your focus. make it stronger. that means, if you want to go down the trail. only think about going down the trail. no negative, no emotions. just "we're going there."
2) use a snaffle bit, nothing with shanks. preferably a full cheek or a dee ring. reason for this is that these are very basic bits, and you'll be using one rein at a time with them. so she'll get one pressure point only...on the SIDE of her face...not in her mouth. this is easier on her.
3) SERPENTINE her away from the pasture. focus on that.
-ask her to go forward
-pick up the left rein
-bend her head slightly around toward your stirrup
-ask her left hip to move to the right (her body should bend around your left leg)
-when you feel that crossing of the back feet (left hind will cross in front of the right hind) .... RELEASE the rein
-repeat with the right rein. RELEASE
-repeat with the left rein. RELEASE
-repeat with the right rein...etc etc
Left, right, left, right, left, right.....over and over and over and over again. Concentrating on feeling the bend and give in the neck (don't release if she's pulling against the rein) AND on feeling the hind feet cross (disengaging the hip). ONLY think about that and about going down the trail
Every time you pick up a rein...be sure to drive her into the bit with your legs. In other words NEVER just pick up the rein without putting at least a little bit of leg pressure. Or you will make her heavy.
This will do several things at once:
1) eliminate fighting. she can't fight you if you are bending her body and asking for softness. she'll like it. she'll prefer it. she'll learn to relax and give
2) give you better steering. steer the tail. you're aiming her butt toward the barn/pasture every time you pick up a rein. you're serpentining away from the pasture. the better you can do this, the better you handle the reins....then when you use two hands on the reins you will be able to steer by just closing your fingers on one rein or the other.
3) you can turn this into your emergency brake. your one rein stop. if you put the release of rein only after she has crossed her back feet and you wait for her to stop completely.
Your Focus + How Well You Cue Her = How Well She Responds + (last) Her Focus
Work on your cues, how you focus, and how you handle the reins. Be LIGHT with your hands....that means, NEVER pull or yank or jerk. Instead, be sensitive about....how much slack you take out of the rein, is it too much? are you pulling? use more leg, not more rein.
When you start to be more fair with your reins and your cues overall...then she can listen and will be willing to do so. Give her a reason to listen....and that means....where is the reward? Reward means ....release of pressure. Be sure not to ride with a constant tight pressure. Loose reins are best and be fair of how you use pressure. Where is the release of pressure? Reward the slightest try.
If you are consistent with this one exercise (serpentines) you will see a difference in her willingness.
Great post, Calamity Jane. I agree completely. I have found that the things you mentioned work in most situations, but sometimes my horses just need a little reminder that they can't "have their way" - even when my focus is on moving away from the barn, and my cues are solid.
I have found that occasionally my horses will pull an act along the lines of, "I don't want to go and you can't make me." This usually happens if I have been away from the barn for more than a few days.
Daisy will just turn around and walk towards the barn when I ask her to move out.
I have had GREAT success with turning her in circles in the same direction she's trying to turn - make her attempted 180 into several 360s. I make turning around MY idea. As soon as she realizes that turning toward the barn didn't work the way she planned, she stops. She also can't fight me or pull on when she's bent around my leg turning in circles.
I have found this tactic quite useful: make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.
Calamity Jane is right that you have taught her a very bad habit by dismounting and leading her away. She has learned that when she fights you, you get off.
You need to stay on her back no matter how long it take for her to figure it out. Stay confident, remain secure in your seat, and set your mind to moving on. If your horse thinks for one minute that she's got you, she isn't going to stop.
Simply make what she wants more work, and what you want easy - turning in circles is hard; walking away is easy.
Hope this has been helpful.
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