Moving my horse to be closer to trails
   

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Moving my horse to be closer to trails

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  • Trail horse walking to close behind other horses
  • Moving my horse

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    09-02-2011, 08:41 AM
  #1
Weanling
Moving my horse to be closer to trails

I decided to move my horse to a barn closer to a local park so I will have access to trails whenever I want.

He's moving tomorrow around mid-day and i'm so excited! He's a little spooky and slightly nervous but i'm sure once he gets used to the swing of things he'll be fine. I've also developed a slight fear, well I maybe wouldn't call it fear i'll just say his nervous energy totally rubs off on me which makes most trail situations so much worse. I need to build both our confidences and I hope this move will do that!

I'm also trying to get time off work to go to a mini trail clinic at a local barn. My friend said she'd trailer my horse over to take part in the 2 hour ride at a local state park. I think the riders do obstacles and such under the guidance of the clinician. I really hope I can take Phoenix, I need help dealing with his occasional stopping abruptly and his jigging. He also tends to want to crowd he horse in front of him and I need help with that too.
     
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    09-02-2011, 01:00 PM
  #2
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by phoenix    

He's moving tomorrow around mid-day and i'm so excited! He's a little spooky and slightly nervous but i'm sure once he gets used to the swing of things he'll be fine. I've also developed a slight fear, well I maybe wouldn't call it fear i'll just say his nervous energy totally rubs off on me which makes most trail situations so much worse. I need to build both our confidences and I hope this move will do that!

He also tends to want to crowd he horse in front of him and I need help with that too.
Believe it or not these 2 things may be connected. There is a tendency on some trail rides for horses to just follow one another. That is not what I would consider successful trail riding. If he doesn't see you as his leader, he will follow his leader (the horse in front of him), much as he would in the pasture. He may also be nervous.

If you are scared, he is probably going to pick up on that. Horses are very sensitive. It may actually be you that is nervous and then he gets nervous and then you get more nervous... it goes on and on. So try and relax, work him in circles (yes I said circles on a trail). Try riding in a field before you go out. Direct him by circling at the walk, then try a trot if he does well. Also, never rely on the horse in front of you to direct your horse. You are not a sack of potatoes and while trail rides are relaxing, they should always be a learning experience for both horse and rider. YOU tell him when to trot. YOU tell him when to stop, YOU tell him when to turn. YOU determine the distance you wish to be from the lead horse.


The number one question here is "what are you afraid of?" Although that may seem obvious, as most riders don't want to be bucked off or ran away with, you need to assess your own nervousness. If left to do what he wanted, what would he do? After you figure out what that is, I would suggest strengthening the ability you have to control it and work with him. So lets say you are nervous because he may run away with you (ill say that's my biggie on trails, since its wide open and far away from barns). The thing I would suggest to you is to learn tools to help build your confidence. So in this case teach him a one rein stop. That is very useful on trails and can really give you confidence that in case of emergency, you have a backup plan.

EDIT: Also since you plan on riding with others at a clinic, please please please please please work on the issue of following too closely. I have seen riders get nailed in the chest,face,head, legs, etc. because they let their horse get right up in some others horses business and the horse in front kicks. This is especially important on hills, because when they kick, where will their legs be in comparison to you? Just a friendly reminder, don't want to have an accident
     
    09-02-2011, 01:22 PM
  #3
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakotababii    
Believe it or not these 2 things may be connected. There is a tendency on some trail rides for horses to just follow one another. That is not what I would consider successful trail riding. If he doesn't see you as his leader, he will follow his leader (the horse in front of him), much as he would in the pasture. He may also be nervous.

If you are scared, he is probably going to pick up on that. Horses are very sensitive. It may actually be you that is nervous and then he gets nervous and then you get more nervous... it goes on and on. So try and relax, work him in circles (yes I said circles on a trail). Try riding in a field before you go out. Direct him by circling at the walk, then try a trot if he does well. Also, never rely on the horse in front of you to direct your horse. You are not a sack of potatoes and while trail rides are relaxing, they should always be a learning experience for both horse and rider. YOU tell him when to trot. YOU tell him when to stop, YOU tell him when to turn. YOU determine the distance you wish to be from the lead horse.


The number one question here is "what are you afraid of?" Although that may seem obvious, as most riders don't want to be bucked off or ran away with, you need to assess your own nervousness. If left to do what he wanted, what would he do? After you figure out what that is, I would suggest strengthening the ability you have to control it and work with him. So lets say you are nervous because he may run away with you (ill say that's my biggie on trails, since its wide open and far away from barns). The thing I would suggest to you is to learn tools to help build your confidence. So in this case teach him a one rein stop. That is very useful on trails and can really give you confidence that in case of emergency, you have a backup plan.

EDIT: Also since you plan on riding with others at a clinic, please please please please please work on the issue of following too closely. I have seen riders get nailed in the chest,face,head, legs, etc. because they let their horse get right up in some others horses business and the horse in front kicks. This is especially important on hills, because when they kick, where will their legs be in comparison to you? Just a friendly reminder, don't want to have an accident
Unfortunately I haven't had much of chance to work on his trail issues as I have no trailer which is why i'm moving. When he's ridden at the barn he doesn't do silly things like buck or take off, he only really does these things in a trail environment which is again why i'm moving to have more access to trails to get him into situations that he finds uncomfortable and address the issues.

I bought him from a trail center and he had been ridden by various people on trail and they let him get into the habit of following and it's so hard to break. At the barn i've been trying to ride with other horses and make him go in a line and leave a good distance, only problem is at the barn he is slow and pokey so he naturally falls behind and leaves a good gap. On trail he's fast and jiggy, completely different so when he falls behind he jigs to catch up and often gets too close. Also last time on trail I didn't have as much control as i'd have liked, plus I was nervous and he'd bucked already and broke my toe getting off the trailer... all in all not a great day.

I think the only way i'm going to get less nervous is to just take him on trail, breathe slowly and gain confidence that way. When we ride in an arena I decide where we go, sometimes we end up having a discussion about it then we do ground work to make sure he knows i'm in charge.

What am I afraid of? Him bucking. I'm not afraid of him spooking as he tends to just stop. I'm not afraid of him running off, he's done it at the barn and is fairly easy to get back under control. But his bucks, they are huge and twisty and once he gets going he's hard to stop. He has bad hips which used to cause most of his bucking, but i've addressed that and do take care not to over tax him. I think the bucking is set off when he's nervous, like last time his buddies went around the corner and left him and he panicked and bucked. Luckily he stopped and once he moved forward he was fine, tense but he was moving.

I do need to learn a 1 rein stop, i'll add that to my list of things to learn with him, also lateral movement to stop his jigging.

I definitely know I need to stop him rushing up on the horse in front of him and if/when I trail ride with other i'm going to warn them of his tendency to do this and i'll either try going in front or right at the back of the line and try my best to deal with it at the back. I'm not sure how (without constantly pulling on his face) I can stop him. He listens quite well to the slow command and also to the outside rein being applied, but on trail I haven't tested either of these.
     
    09-02-2011, 01:34 PM
  #4
Yearling
Honestly, sounds like you've got a good plan. You are right, exposure is key. As he is exposed to being "left behind" and then realizing he can catch up, he will be okay. I'm assuming you ride with experienced trail riders? I always ride with my BO, while she is on her experienced, docile trail horse. He rarely spooks, and never kicks. Thus, as a back up plan I can put my horse in that horses rear until he calms down, then try again. Again, don't do that unless you know both horse and rider, and definitely not unless you have to.

What her and I do, is always take a "green" trail horse with an experienced one, no matter who is on which one. Then I will tell her hey I need to work on buddy sourness (following too close). So we will stop when we near an open area. Then I will ask her to slowly walk away, only about 10 feet or so, while I am stopped. If my horse moves, I circle him. When he is CALM I move him forward and allow him to catch up. This way he learns 2 things: 1. I am in charge and we only get what we want when we are calm and 2. You ALWAYS rejoin your buddy.

As he gets more comfortable, make the distance longer. Once he has long distances okay, go a short distance out of sight. Also, on trails there will often be short paths which split and then come back together, such as a split around a big puddle or tree. Have your horse go the opposite "trail" as the other horse. So if they go right around the puddle, go left. This way the horse can still see the others, but he is being directed away from their exact same direction and is learning, once again, that he will always return to his friends. Start small, and build on it. You will both earn confidence this way.
     
    09-02-2011, 01:39 PM
  #5
Yearling
Oh and be patient with him. I have NEVER seen a horse that hasn't been trail ridden much take it in stride. They are out of their comfort zone, thinking of predators and their instincts can kick in. Like you said, good experiences will definitely help. They have their good and thei bad days, but my BO and I have successfully trained MANY horses, from green Arabs, to Tennessee walkers, to Andalusians to w/t/c on trails calmly. It just takes time and persistence. Good luck
     
    09-02-2011, 02:14 PM
  #6
QOS
Green Broke
Biscuit is/was a nose to tail trail horse. His former owner only rode him about once a month and it often wasn't him...it was ANYBODY. Mostly non riders so they wanted Biscuit's nose in Cutter's tail!

I have had a hard time backing Biscuit off of that. Our other horse Sarge doesn't mind at all but Elan (cousin's horse) kicked him in the chest one day which surprised me and my cousin as Elan has kicked ONCE since she bought him a number of years ago. They converged on a trail and I think Elan was startled. Another friend's mare doesn't LIKE a horse too close and will raise up and kick in a flash so it has been those experiences that have let Biscuit himself know that following too close can be painful!

Each time he'd get to close I would half halt him and give the command "ease back". This was a chant on some rides and soon I had the confidence to MAKE Biscuit lead. I never could get Biscuit to go away from other horses but now I can. Leading is a good thing...there is no tail to follow! I continue to work with Biscuit on this; it is a deeply ingrained habit for him as he was encouraged to do this. So patience and perseverance is winning the race on this.

Good luck with your move and hope you are having happy trails!!!
     
    09-02-2011, 02:20 PM
  #7
Green Broke
You didnt mention how old he is, and are you sure his saddle fits ? If so and he is acting this way after 6 or 7 you may need to think logically and cut your losses and find another horse. I know we all say persiverance is a virtue and we don't wanna give up, but a horse like that is going to hurt you, Being a little spooky and getting nervous is one thing, but repeatedly going into bucking fits over it would have me sending him down the road one way or another. Life is too short and there are too many great horses in the world. I have played that game with horses and spent a couple years working, paying trainers, lots of miles almost every weekend, till one day I just admitted I was trying to make a horse into something he just wasnt going to be. Ask your self if your hobby is trail riding or breaking horses. Id rather ride in my free time on a horse I don't have to fight with or be afraid of.
QOS likes this.
     
    09-02-2011, 03:00 PM
  #8
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakotababii    
Honestly, sounds like you've got a good plan. You are right, exposure is key. As he is exposed to being "left behind" and then realizing he can catch up, he will be okay. I'm assuming you ride with experienced trail riders? I always ride with my BO, while she is on her experienced, docile trail horse. He rarely spooks, and never kicks. Thus, as a back up plan I can put my horse in that horses rear until he calms down, then try again. Again, don't do that unless you know both horse and rider, and definitely not unless you have to.

What her and I do, is always take a "green" trail horse with an experienced one, no matter who is on which one. Then I will tell her hey I need to work on buddy sourness (following too close). So we will stop when we near an open area. Then I will ask her to slowly walk away, only about 10 feet or so, while I am stopped. If my horse moves, I circle him. When he is CALM I move him forward and allow him to catch up. This way he learns 2 things: 1. I am in charge and we only get what we want when we are calm and 2. You ALWAYS rejoin your buddy.

As he gets more comfortable, make the distance longer. Once he has long distances okay, go a short distance out of sight. Also, on trails there will often be short paths which split and then come back together, such as a split around a big puddle or tree. Have your horse go the opposite "trail" as the other horse. So if they go right around the puddle, go left. This way the horse can still see the others, but he is being directed away from their exact same direction and is learning, once again, that he will always return to his friends. Start small, and build on it. You will both earn confidence this way.
The barn i'm moving to is apparently full of people who trail ride every weekend. Also, I have a few friends who are willing to met me at the park and ride, they both ride on trail a lot and have pretty experienced horses. He used to lead trails, I used to lead trails of 14/15 riders through the park on him, he was always a little spooked but he was 5 at the time. He also doesn't mind working by himself, he's often times better by himself at least at the barn we're at now he is. I wouldn't mind doing small stints on the edge of the trails by himself.

I'll definitely try those exercises for getting him out of his buddy sourness, making another horse walk away would be a great way of dealing with it. I'm sure the people i'll ride with won't mind helping me out with that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakotababii    
Oh and be patient with him. I have NEVER seen a horse that hasn't been trail ridden much take it in stride. They are out of their comfort zone, thinking of predators and their instincts can kick in. Like you said, good experiences will definitely help. They have their good and thei bad days, but my BO and I have successfully trained MANY horses, from green Arabs, to Tennessee walkers, to Andalusians to w/t/c on trails calmly. It just takes time and persistence. Good luck
I have mountains of patience with him. Luckily I like him way too much to every get really angry with him. Even when working in the arena he has bad days and off days, I don't mind that. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by QOS    
Biscuit is/was a nose to tail trail horse. His former owner only rode him about once a month and it often wasn't him...it was ANYBODY. Mostly non riders so they wanted Biscuit's nose in Cutter's tail!

I have had a hard time backing Biscuit off of that. Our other horse Sarge doesn't mind at all but Elan (cousin's horse) kicked him in the chest one day which surprised me and my cousin as Elan has kicked ONCE since she bought him a number of years ago. They converged on a trail and I think Elan was startled. Another friend's mare doesn't LIKE a horse too close and will raise up and kick in a flash so it has been those experiences that have let Biscuit himself know that following too close can be painful!

Each time he'd get to close I would half halt him and give the command "ease back". This was a chant on some rides and soon I had the confidence to MAKE Biscuit lead. I never could get Biscuit to go away from other horses but now I can. Leading is a good thing...there is no tail to follow! I continue to work with Biscuit on this; it is a deeply ingrained habit for him as he was encouraged to do this. So patience and perseverance is winning the race on this.

Good luck with your move and hope you are having happy trails!!!
I might try teaching him the ease back command, just to make the distinction so he gets that when he's on trail and I say that he needs to do something specific. He's pretty easy to teach new things to so he should get it. He used to lead on trail very well when I first bought him and it was his job to lead on trail every day, 4-5 times a day. (he worked as a trail guide horse at the park we're moving back to) so I would be willing to try him in the lead.

Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe4d    
You didnt mention how old he is, and are you sure his saddle fits ? If so and he is acting this way after 6 or 7 you may need to think logically and cut your losses and find another horse. I know we all say persiverance is a virtue and we don't wanna give up, but a horse like that is going to hurt you, Being a little spooky and getting nervous is one thing, but repeatedly going into bucking fits over it would have me sending him down the road one way or another. Life is too short and there are too many great horses in the world. I have played that game with horses and spent a couple years working, paying trainers, lots of miles almost every weekend, till one day I just admitted I was trying to make a horse into something he just wasnt going to be. Ask your self if your hobby is trail riding or breaking horses. Id rather ride in my free time on a horse I don't have to fight with or be afraid of.
He's 10. His saddle fits. He has, how to put this... a wonky hip. His bucking was really getting out of hand when he was about 6, I gave him 2 years off work while being chiropractored and left to enjoy his little life. When I brought him back into work, due to his weight issues, I took things really slowly and we're just now reintroducing small sessions of canter work back into his routine. He is still routinely chiropractored and with the exception of the 1 buck last September he hasn't bucked with me on since he was 6. I think the fear still lingers around for me because I remember how big his bucks got when he was sore years ago. I maintain that if he's not up to doing the work I ask then I will retire him and keep him as a pet. So far he's worked admirably and has done the things i've asked with little complaint.

Rust me, if he got dangerous I wouldn't risk my welfare riding him. I'd retire him in a heartbeat. I think as far as my lingering fear is concerned I just need a few good experiences on trail to get over it.
     
    09-02-2011, 03:21 PM
  #9
Weanling
^^ I've just noticed that's supposed to say Trust me, not rust me. Haaahaaa!
     
    09-02-2011, 03:53 PM
  #10
QOS
Green Broke
LOL yeah...rusting isn't good....
     

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