She's ridiculously herdbound...
The lovely Lacey has always had an issue with getting a little too attached to her equine buddies... Usually this doesn't bother me since I have always ridden before in areas where I can mount up near her friends (Lacey stands still for mounting about 25% of the time, I've done tons of work on it and she's 95% better than she was 2 years ago but she still seems to be mentally unable to stay still most of the time) but, now that she's home, I need to be able to get on without being taken on a field trip back to see her friends. I would just hold the reins tighter, which I'm sure is what you're thinking, but that engages the rearing "dancing" side of Lacey's personality. :lol:
She's also not really great on the ground when she's away from her buddies either, but she's definitely manageable. Basically, what I did today with her, that seemed to work pretty well, was: I caught her (she came up to me), then I took her away from her buddies (out of sight range) and tied her while I did barn chores, she was pretty adamant about how she thought she should be free (pawing, swinging her butt all over, not when I was near but basically moving as much as possible within her limited tied range, nickering at me when I got close, etc). Once I was done with my stuff she had calmed down sufficiently and seemed to have decided that she wasn't going anywhere. Then I groomed her thoroughly and got all her itchy spots as a reward for being good. Then I got the lunge line and took her over to the flattest spot in the field (which happens to be near her buddies, heheheheh, she's by herself in the field and shares a fence line with two other mares) and lunged her quite shamelessly. She was very willing to move out so I got her all warmed up and let her work out her own "AHHHHHH!!!!!"-ness. She obliged quite kindly. Haha Then, I made her stop becuase she was huffing and puffing like a freight train and she was crazy sweaty. Then, I took her for a walk down to my house, about a mile round trip, as a cool down lap/"look! we're having fun away from your buddies!" (she LOVES exploring) sort of expedition.
Then, when we got back to her pasture, I took her back down to her tying spot, tied her, and then brushed her. Then I took her around the barn, still out of sight of her buddies, told her "HO!" (which means "stay absolutely still until I say "Ok"), undid her halter, took it completely off, and said "Ok!" and she was off like a shot to her buddies.
I had quite the dilemma about whether I should have taken her over by her buddies to let her go or let her go by the barn like I did. I finally chose over by the barn because I figured that that enforces that good things come from me, even though letting her go over by her buddies is less drama.
Am I going about this right? Should she get less attached as time goes on? She's only known these horses for a week... But at the same time, this is her third new set of horses in 3 months, I don't really blame her for being a little excessively attached, I probably would be too if I were her...
I'm not planning on riding her for at least a few more days. Certainly not out of the pasture until she's 90% good in the pasture. And then, I do have a system worked out for trail rides. If I leave her halter on under her bridle (I'm thinking of switching her into a bit for the first trail ride or so, just to be safe, so I can do this method), and wrap the lead rope around something, as she starts moving off she'll be contained and I can then grab the lead rope and wrap it around the saddle horn for the ride... I did that a few times at camp and it's kind of a crazy maneuver but it works! Haha And then, if she needs it, I have the halter for control since I really have more control bitless than in a bit.
It's almost like she can't control herself when she gets worried about her buddies... I dunno how to explain it. Like I feel like I'm watching her fight herself. Like, she knows what she should be doing but she just can't seem to make her body do what she knows she should be making it do...if that makes sense...
And sorry for the giganticor post! O.o
No one has any thoughts about this?
I don't have much to offer because my horse is way more buddy sour than yours but getting much better. What seems to be working for me is keeping them separated, working him when his buddy is around and rewarding him when he's away from him.
I would say what you're doing is good, but I personally would not have let her go by the barn because that reinforces her urge to run back to her buddies. Yes, she had to wait for the command, but she still got to go to them without you. I think what you're doing is very effective otherwise and the fact that you worked her in sight of these horses reinforces the fact that you tell her when to work, and then you lead her to relaxation. Gradually, I would start extending the distance between you and the horses as you work her, because she's got to learn over time that it's ok to be away from them.
I don't have any suggestions for herd bound behavior, but I do have an idea of how to get her to stand while being mounted.
I am not the most athletic of people, and kind of need a mounting block to get on easily. So I try to stand my horses in a rut, next to a log, etc. Anyway, every horse I have bought has wanted to walk off before I am ready, so I've taken to carrying horse cookies.
I get on the horse, making them stand as best I can, then tap them on the neck as a cue, and then hold a cookie out where the can see it and give it to them while I am mounted. It usually only takes a few sessions of this and pretty soon they do not walk off because they are waiting for their cookie. So it sounds kind of silly, but you get a horse that stands patiently until you are ready for them to walk off. I now have most of the neighborhood doing this because they see how nice my horses stand. They rarely ever walk off once they learn to wait for their cookie.
I also taught my Foxtrotter mare to side pass in a similar fashion. She had no clue how to move sideways when I bought her. And trying to teach her to move away from my leg seemed to really make her nervous. But anytime I got a small sideways movement, I would tap her on the neck and give her a cookie. Then when I found out she was pregnant and she got really big and breathed hard so I couldn't ride her until about a month after the foal was born. She was probably out of riding for about 2 1/2 months. What's really neat is she is so great about side passing now, like she never missed a beat, even though she was off riding for over two months. So I am a big believer in positive reinforcement, especially for standing when being mounted. It's so easy and gives such good results.
Someone out there will probably say "but what if I am not carrying cookies that day? That sounds inconvenient to always carry treats." No matter, as long as you reinforce it most of the time, then even if forget the cookies, they will still stand, and then you just tell them "sorry" and go on with your ride. As long as you do it most of the time, they seem to forgive and forget if you miss a reward now and then. :wink:
I have the exact same problem lol sounds like we have the same horse almost lol. I did what you did ie. lunging away and the rewarding and making her stand etc.. once I got riding I found circleing when she get "Stuck" on her mission to go home. It disengages them and makes them think about what your asking. Just go out little bits at a time and more then once a ride ie. ride to the next driveway and back a few times then make it farther in one ride and always turn back when it's your idea even if you have to make her go 5 more steps... i even had to walk her up and down my driveway a few rides to get her to even leave the yard. Be consistent!!! I left my horse for the winter and we were back to square 1. Good Luck..I feel your pain lol!
I feel your pain, and truth be told, I've never quite figured it out for Zierra but ironically (and thankfully) it's ONLY on the ground and never when I'm riding.
There was a time when I couldn't bring Zierra into our barn to be tacked up, because she'd go so ballistic she'd risk hurting me (I got slammed against the wall a few times). I basically left the witch in the barn all day until she was ready to smarten up. However, as soon as I saddled up, she very cheerfully left her friends and had zero urge to run home - she'd even ignore the driveway and attempt to keep going sometimes!
When I moved her to a boarding pen, I had the distinct delight of being able to pen her solo - it was like magic. She could still see her friends and touch noses to her friends, but being alone in a pen made her a dream come true to work with.
That lasted a couple years, plus a couple more years of being solo at my grandpa's when she went back, and now that she's in a group again she's slightly back to old antics. Last year we competed in a gymkhana, and being locked into a stall and not being able to see Cinder made her crazy for the two days we were there - I had to take to thwacking her on the nose as soon as I opened the door to remind her she was NOT allowed to trample me in a desperate effort to get out. I had to tack up with a leadrope across the door because she'd only stop being an idiot if she could see Cinder in the stall beside her.
However, now that we're at Birds Hill, on the occasions I have to bring her inside alone to the arena, she's actually pretty good. However, if we go for a ride and leave her behind, she WILL spend the entire day whinnying at the fence and driving the cowboys crazy.
I have come to the conclusion that extraordinarily herd bound horses tend to be born and not made, and unless you're prepared to segregate them or spend every SINGLE day working and riding them solo, it's just something you learn to live with. I gave up on the "working solo" every day because after several months at the boarding place of riding every single day, she would STILL pitch an enormous fit if she was alone in the barn. Penning her by herself is/was the only thing that's ever worked perfectly.
Thanks for all the good advice and all the "I've been there too"'s!
trailhorserider- That's a great idea about the treats and getting her to stand still for mounting! I bet, since Lacey is very auditory, I could start out with treats and then incorporate a word like "stand" and get a good result! Dang, why did I never think of that? haha Thank you so much!
Also, that's a good point MacabreMikolaj, Lacey is a lot better when I'm riding, as long as she's been lunged etc first. Once I'm on, she basically is manageable. thanks for reminding me of that! I haven't ridden her in about a week and I've been dealing with *crazy* everyday, it gets a little hard to remember the bright side. XD
Ahhh! She was an absolute terror today. The other horses got trailered off for the day/weekend/week (who knows when they'll be back) and so she was all over the place worrying about them. She actually reared while I was leading her today. That was partially my fault since I smacked her on the nose with the lead rope for calling to her buddies (it PO's me when she's calling to them when I'm doing stuff with her because we're "working", playtime is supposed to be OVER), which I shouldn't have done since if I escalate my response to her bad-ness when she's excited, she'll just escalate her response and be even worse. So I got her tied up and walked off for a minute to loosen myself up and let her settle. Then I brushed her and everything, except for picking hooves. When she's that excited, she starts getting a little silly with her hooves. She's perfect when she's not excited but when she is excited... >.<
Then I lunged her for about 20 minutes, got her mostly tired out, she was asking to stop which is always a good sign coming from her. Then I led her back to the barn which took about 5 minutes because she kept charging ahead so it was basically 4 steps back for every 2 forward. By the end though she was being a lot more respectful which I thanked God for. Haha
I hafta say though, I'm routinely grateful that I didn't know her before she was 23. I feel like she was probably HELL on wheels as a youngster. I mean, she's not for the faint of heart at twenty-freaking-five, what must she have been like at three or four? O.o And her poor previous owners were not amazing horse people either, they must have had quite the time. Alternatively, there might have been a reason she was retired completely at the age of 14. hahahaha!
I took my horse from the trainer's, where I got her ten years ago from a friend, on a trail ride and she buddied up with my other horse on the trailer ride there! Just the way she is made. Since hubby and I board, groom, ride, together, she is herd bound BUT she still must ride off and allow me take her away. She does let me know she doesn't like it by turning her head to me or tossing it up or down as we are leaving--okay as long as we keep going. I do have one go round with her every year at a trail ride when we leave camp alone, and we have now been doing this for ten years! Just her....
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