How do I fix this?
Ok so what do you do when your horse is a little afraid of something and refuses to move forward? Only backs up? He hasn't offered to rear or buck, doesn't pin his ears back or anything...but he will back and back and sidestep...he doesn't seem to notice what's behind him and I was afraid he was going to back into the pasture fence which has an electric line running across the top of it today! Only thing I could think to do was dismount and lead him forward towards what he was afraid of (cows) and make him stand calmly
Mmm, my horse used to do the same but not as bad with gates.. wouldn't go near it.
If I were you I'd...
Growl and tell him to get up! If that doesn't work, squeeze at the same time as growling, if that doesn't work growl, squeeze, kick. If that doesn't work... Growl, squeeze, kick then use the end of your reins to whack him on the side of the neck/upper shoulder. Be sure to use 'phases' so that next time or the time after that you don't have to get so 'firm'. Do this until he stands still.
Once he stands still pat him and praise him heaps!! I'd just stand him there till he's settled down.. and retreat, go away for a while or the rest of the ride.
Then next time you might want to 'push' it further.. once you've gone through all that and relaxed at the end etc.. then try to get one step forwards.. over the 'boundary' that you horse has set in his mind. And then relax again.
If you really need to get over the 'boundary' then once they've taken the step over the 'boundary' then you could get off and lead him the rest of the way.
Hopefully that helped some, that's just what I'd do, others will have another way, but do what ever works for you and your horse..
Oh and I know it will take a while but in the end if your horse goes to back up.. you'll just be able to 'growl' and he'll go ohh... ok and stop.
I would let him stand and look at it as long as needed. As long as he is looking and not moving away all is good. After a bit push him a little if he refuses that is ok as long as he is looking at it and thinking about it and not backing away. Just keep turning him to face the item and let him think a bit.The key is not letting them move away and then a little pressure when the time is right and they should go on.
You can get him moving by doing circles, one rein stops and kicking with your inside leg and using your reins or a popper to slap him on the butt which will make him move. The more he works the more tired he becomes and he will see that this ''scary'' thing isn't coming after him. If he's scared he'll need to have some ground work done with desensitizing though.
Your problem goes much deeper. His lack of forward stems from his non-belief in you. You have yet to prove to him that you are a worthy leader who can keep him safe no matter what. So when he's overwhelmed, rather than 'check-in' with you to see what he should do, he takes matters into his own hooves and 'flees'.
Improve your relationship with your horse, confirm your 'go forward' aids, and then your problem will no longer exist.
I definitely agree with Mercedes. My guy would spook at a lot of nothing/little things when I first got him and I could not make him walk forward past scary situations. Once we built up trust and he realized that not only am I in charge but that I will take care of him, his spooks got smaller and smaller and now they are largely just a tensing of his body until I give a "forward" aid and then he forgets about it.
Agreed with mercedes.
You don't need to get past the object in one fell swoop. Every little "try" the horse gives you, praise him. Whether he licks and chews, drops his head (even if its just a centimeter), takes a baby step forward.
Maybe approach this object on the ground at first. Horse are forward animals by nature and if he feels the need to exercise that let him. If he's backing up keep backing him up until he doesn't want to anymore and then do it a few more steps after that. Not to say you should be shanking him constantly, try to be as light as you can.
If he needs to run, lunge him in circles and then disengage his hindquarters. His focus should be on you the entire time.
This may be kind of silly, but sometimes if one of my horses sees something that might "eat them." i lead them up to it as far as they're comfortable. Then I drop my head down and blow out through my mouth/nostrils like a horse does. I guess you could call it "mimicry," but the horse can feed off your relaxed and inquisitive cues and will follow suit.
Hopefully this helps a little! Good luck!
Agreed with mercedes! I also think you need to do some desensitizing though. I think you did the right thing by getting off and making him stand still while he looks out yonder where the cows are. I do not agree with brookelovesparelli though. Hitting him, kicking him or anything like that to make him move forwards will not help when he's afraid of something. That will only make matters worse, and possible endanger you and him.
Agree with the others, but in real life, I would do as you did. Nothing wrong with getting off, and letting your horse know you're braver than he is, and look, it's not dangerous after all. I actually haven't had to dismount in a long time, I think it has helped increase our trust in each other.
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