We have a park that we can trail ride in. To get to the park we have to walk down a road for a while. During that walk and in the park my horse is very nervis. As we start to walk back she tries to run back to the barn. I just hold her back and make her walk, but so much for my nice relaxing trail ride! What should I do when she starts rushing? Is holding her back doing more harm then good?
When a horse rushes home you have a problem. You can do two things. One you can turn around and go back the other direction quickly such as at a lope or fast trot when they rush home. Then turn and head back. When they rush again, because they will, turn and repeat. Also, when you get home work your horse!!! lope around the barn do rollbacks and then make the horse think you are going back out and then hop off and walk him to the barn and unsaddle. Also, it is really good for your horse if you get home and then leave agian. So if you have an hour trail ride to out fifteen minutes come back and then go out in the same or a new direction. If the horse starts to rush that means he is paying attention to something other than you and you need to move his feet to gain his attention. Move his feet back out on the trail, or let him rush home and move his feet a ton when you get home so that he realizes just cause your home doesn't mean you are done.
You can also try taking some grain with you, and feeding away from the barn too.
That breaks the association of barn=food.
And don't grain when return to barn, just hay.
I have taken a halter to switch over to, and have, depending on horse, just grained with bridle on, although don't like to.
You can also try when jigging home, making her stop and stand still, or making her work slow circles each time she speeds up.
I have had a Foxtrotter mare for a little over a year. There were probably about 2 months last summer I couldn't even ride her because she was really pregnant, and then after the foal was born I couldn't take her out for a couple months either because he was so young. So she was off at least 4 months total.
Anyway, every time she has a break, and that's anything longer than a few days, she gets all hyper and I have to work on getting her to walk home again. If I keep her "in the groove" and ride her everyday or every other day, she is fine. But if she sits at all, it's like we have to start all over again. Plus, because of that break during the summer, I really don't feel like I've had a full year of good riding on her, and it's always been my opinion that it takes a good year to really get to know a horse.
So anyway, I might try taking her grain with us on trail rides. Maybe she will relax and look forward to going instead of hurrying to get home. Worth a shot anyway. :-)
When my horse has getting back to the barn on the brain, I find that if I JUST hold him back to a walk we both get upset and agitated.
I try to keep him thinking when possible.
Lots of walk/trot transitions, change in direction, zig zags, back and forth across shallow ditches, etc.
Trailhorserider, that's an interesting comment about taking a year to get to know a horse. Never thought about that before. I've been riding Shandy, aka, Mr. Big, since last Fall when we got him. He's my first horse and I'd never ridden before (not counting a couple of "test rides" on Mrs. mare to see if I'd like it).
Anyway, he and I are still getting used to each other--I'm getting used to riding and being consistent in my aids, he's getting used to me not knowing how to ride and being inconsistent in my aids. Sigh.
If I could ride every day, or every other day, I'm sure it'd help. But, like many of us, I'm a slave to the weather. Don't want to ride if it's way cold or so windy I'll get blown out of the saddle or raining or any combination of the above. And that get's pretty darn limiting! Dad-rat-it-all-anyway!
I once had a cowboy tell me of a horse he had that was so so so barn sour so he would ride him out every day and as soon as this horse started to act up he would turn him around and back him until he settled. He said sometimes he would back him all the way down the path. The horse got the idea that if he didn't act out he wouldn't have to back so much AND he got really good at backing.. LOL!!
I have never tried it but it seemed like an interesting approach. I do agree with those that are saying work your horse when you get back to the barn. I always use this time to do some sort of work and brush up on moves. Nothing worse than a barn sour horse. :o( Good luck!
He backed the horse toward the barn... So every time the horse went home he had to work very hard to get there. Of course the horse had to work a lot when it got home too so going home wasn't the most fun thing on that horses mind..
My daughter's Arabian will jig, not necessarily back to the barn, but sometimes on the trail. She uses the stop and back up method and it works.
Sunday I was out with my young horse (coming 5). He hasn't done a lot of solo riding. Anyway, at one point we started the loop toward the trailer. He immediately sped up and rode through the bit. So after about 100 feet or so, I turned him around (he slowed down!) and rode all the way back to where he started speeding up. We turned back around to head toward the trailer. Lo and behold, he slowed down and listened to me.
Sometimes you don't have the space to do that. But give it a try.
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