Craziest (and shortest) trail ride I've ever been on...
The other day was my boys first trail ride without being ponied (he's 3 1/2 and has previously always been ponied by an older horse and been very good).
Anyways, he sort of freaked out. I'm not entirely sure whether he was scared or just excited, but we got ten minutes down the road and he was wayyyy out of line. I used to ride a hyper arab so I wasn't too worried about how jittery he was being...nothing I hadn't dealt with before.
But then, he did something that surprised me...He reared! :shock: high.
We were walking along and he just planted his feet and stared off into the distance like there was either something really neat or really scary out there and let out a little squeal.
I urged him to keep moving and that's when he reared up.
So I leaned forward and sat through it. When we came back down I gave him a little kick and walked him in some circles to keep him moving.
I was honestly more shocked that he would do that (he has always been so mellow) than I was afraid.
After that he straight up bolted on me! I wasn't 100% on my guard and he got two steps of a trot in and then just bolted! I did a one reign stop and he went through a few bushes and then back to a walk. This went on for maybe half an hour. I didn't want him to think that he could just get out on the trail and misbehave and then go home, so I remained calm and kept reassuring him. Many one rein stops later, I had a fairly manageable horse and he did so well on the way home! We encountered a ton of potentially "scary" things and he didn't even flinch. So, we ended on a good note.
However, I haven't taken him out since then and frankly, I'm worried about him rearing again. I don't want him to make this a habit and I'm not entirely sure that I dealt with it properly the first time...any thoughts or criticism or ideas anyone can offer?
I'm really crossing my fingers that this was just a rambunctious, new-found-freedom, one time sort of thing :-|
Have you ridden him much before? By himself?
I think something like this will just take time. It sounds as if he got upset about being out on his own, without another horse to follow or else figured that because he did not have another horse to follow that he could do what he wanted.
You'll have to spend more time riding him in the yard, pens and on the trails to get him listening better so that even when you are out he knows he cannot misbehave.
As for the rearing, it could just been a momentary thing on his part & you wont know if it's a habit or not until you get on & find out (unfortunately). Alot of horses might rear when they dont want to go forward, so sometimes if you cant get him to go ahead the first time or 2 you ask then turn him in circles just to get his feet moving & point him the direction you want to go. This can keep him from going up.
Mostly i just think he needs more experience with it.
Thanks for the response. For reference, his older riding companion WAS with us, he just wasn't being ponied this time around.
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We now train nothing but trail horses. We have tried many different ways of doing it and have settled on a way that has been very successful for us.
We never pony a horse and we never ride with another horse. Usually by 4 or 5 rides around the ranch (mostly the barn-yard, the horse knows how to go forward well and is guiding pretty good, will walk and jog nice circles and lope pretty decent ones in the open -- not in a round pen.
At that point they go out on the trail. We live 5 miles from a National Recreation Area with miles of trails on 10,000 acres of canyons, brush, rocks and creeks. We start out with two horses and go that way for about 1/2 mile until the trail splits up. Then we split up and ride different trails (that meet back up later).
If a horse gets confused or scared or silly, we just ride harder and faster and go off trail in the brush and rocks where a horse HAS TO do it right. There is no place for him to do it wrong. I have struggled through brush and briars and cedar trees and you know what???? Within an hour or two, the green horse is a whole lot smarter, a whole lot more responsive and a whole lot more broke.
We never 'baby' them. If we have cattle to go out and gather, a colt with 5 or 6 rides on him will do just fine. They learn to look where they are going. They learn to listen to their rider. They learn to be independent of other horses. They learn all of the right things and the stupid things just go away with no fight.
When a horse get silly or spooky on the trail, the very first thing we do is speed up. We get them busy. We give them a job. If they are going up and down steep rocky hills in a strong trot, the foolishness all disappears.
I never stop and pet a horse. That rewards stopping. I just keep him moving. A lot of people inadvertently encourage and reward all of the wrong things. While the rider thinks they are teaching the horse one thing, the horse is actually learning something very different.
We help a lot of other people with their trail horses. [We no longer take in outside horses for training.] The first thing we do with all of them is show them how a trail horse is supposed to ride. Most of them have never ridden a good trail horse. A good trail horse goes everywhere you point his head without an arguement. You ride him like you would drive a Jeep -- you just go.
I agree with Pintophile. Cherie, that is a great post.
I am third in line to agree Cherie's post is wonderful! :clap: I am excited to get on the trails with my mare now...
I loved your post, made good sense! I would have loved to see your training techniques in action. I have a question for you though. How would you handle a horse who gets worked up into rearing or bucking/crow hopping when you ask them to go faster and harder? Did you ever experience this in your training and what did you do to remedy the situation? Are there any options out there other than turning them in a circle, since this seems to make my mare even more unruly and creates even more head tossing, rearing, bouncing, etc. Thanks
If ou have a horse that rears and bucks under stress, you have a bigger problem than just getting a horse to go out comfortably on the trail.
I would guess that this horse has gotten you are an earlier rider to either dismount or at least stop asking for the lope by pulling threatening tactices like you describe. Any time a horse regularly pulls some dangerous or disrespectful stunt in order to get a rider to do something different than the rider really wants to do. The horse has trained the rider instead of the way it should be. The tail is wagging the dog.
I would suggest that you get some other strong confident rider to get on this horse and makes him lope out freely. This horse should be thoroughly warmed up and loped out before heading down any trail. Get good forward impulsion insilled in this horse. He cannot rear when he is moving out good.
Good advice, thank you Cherie!
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