I'm trying to adopt a 3 year old horse, but he has a habit of trotting into the corners of the arena & he gets very tense when he's close to the wall. I try to ride him off the wall a little & incorporate lost of serpentines/figure eights/circles. He's a good horse, but I don't think I can take him if I can't help him from running into the corners. Any suggestions of what I can do to help him break that habit would be greatly appreciated!
Also he was apparently adopted out & returned. The woman I would be adopting him from said that before he was adopted out the first time, he had no problems w/t/c under saddle. Of course he is very green, but apparently he's only been tense like this since his return. Because of the whole wall/corner situation I haven't even tried cantering him under saddle yet.
Well I don't have any advice for you but atleast he isn't cutting corners! lol
Good for you on wanting to adopt a horse though!
You need to work on getting him relaxed and paying attention to you first. Only then should you ride him on the rail. For now I personally would just start riding him in the middle of the arena.
Before you even get on to ride just walk him around the arena, and even in the corners until you start to see him relaxed, it could take 5mins to half an hour. But if you do this everyday, everyday it will become less and less. It really does make the world of a difference. I did this with my horse for a month.
And once you can do the things I posted above, once you start riding on the rail, work him, work him, work him, and EVERY time you want to stop or "whoa" rest him in one of the corners. Then he will think "Oh everytime we stop in the corner I get the reward of rest, this isn't so bad".
To relax him, first make sure that you're relaxed. If you're tense, he will mirror your tension. Keep up with the circles and serpentines; lots of transitions (changes of gait, direction, speed, or balance) to get him focused on you. Be sure that you are riding the loops correctly. If you're not balanced, he can't relax because he's balancing for two. When he's relaxing, you'll feel his back swinging more freely, his head will settle with his poll a little higher than his withers. Feel/listen for his footfalls to get more rhythmic. Use your seat to influence the rhythm and ride the back end. You can do a profound amount of relaxation through your seat.
When you do ride the rail, start after he's relaxed. If he isn't relaxed, he isn't learning anything. Use your inside leg to encourage him to stay near the rail, your outside leg to support him. If you're riding English, don't use your outside rein to drag him to the rail, but do keep a light feel on it. You can raise your inside hand a bit if he starts diving away from the wall to keep his inside shoulder from collapsing. If you're confident to put the reins in one hand, you can rub his withers to reassure him that moving down the rail is a good thing. Start at the walk. If he can't walk calmly down the rail, speed isn't going to help any.
Is there any possibility that he has a vision problem? It's fairly common for vision-impaired horses to shy away from the rail, or exhibit similar difficulty relaxing. Just something else to rule out. :wink:
Best of luck!
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