My horse is now jiggy and anxious while trail riding

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My horse is now jiggy and anxious while trail riding

This is a discussion on My horse is now jiggy and anxious while trail riding within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Horse is calm except when riding in group
  • Jiggy horse control cure

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    02-13-2012, 03:10 PM
My horse is now jiggy and anxious while trail riding

I have had my 18 year old TB/QH for about a year and a half. We have been on many trail rides. Several over night trips with over a 3 day period as much as 15 or so hours in the saddle. She did have a leg injury a few months back and when I started riding again she even bucked me off in the arena. She tried again several weeks later when her "herd" was being turned out and she was in the arena by herself. Lately she is much more anxious on the trail. Looking around etc. She has always been a very aware horse. Yesterday we went on a ride that was along a dike. Much more open than in a park. Planes, trains, autos, kids, dogs. She has never acted afraid before. She also went with 2 horses she has been with before, and also 2 new horses. On the way out she was a little nervous but OK. The more we headed out the more nervous she got, even by seeing and hearing a train that was a couple miles away. At one point while heading out another horse not with our party was headed back and she turned to go with him. Made it to the end of the trail. This is a trail used by many people. On the way back she wanted out of there. Head up looking around, felt like she could have taken off. Started jigging which she never does. I tried to sit back and when I did give her more reign she would calm down for a few hundred yards or so but would start up again. If I stopped her to wait for the rest of our party she would prance and I felt like she would bolt. Afraid to correct her in circles etc due to the area and a lot of kids. I felt bolting and bucking was probably going to happen. It was 3 miles back to the trailer. A long 3 miles. Was this due to the open area and a lot of distractions. What could I have done differently?
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    02-13-2012, 03:22 PM
Sounds to me like she is herdbound....and that can be an issue...and something I am not too familiar with...none of the horses I have ever had have been that way so I'm not much help, but hopefully someone will chime in that has some experience in this that can help you..good luck..
    02-13-2012, 04:02 PM
Originally Posted by San818    
Afraid to correct her in circles etc due to the area and a lot of kids. I felt bolting and bucking was probably going to happen.
Hate to be a MMQB but here it goes anyway.

You say you felt unsafe in getting her attention by circling etc due to the area and kids around. Yet right after that you say that you think a bolt or a buck was going to happen.

Now which one of those presentes a greater danger to bystanders:

1) A frisky, jiggy horse getting schooled and still somewhat under control of the rider.


2) A bucking or bolting horse.

I'm going to go with door number 2.

I don't have a cure for your herdbound problem. I just wanted to point out that your risk analysis could have been better. You were in a difficult position, and letting the jigginess escalate into a panic would have been bad news if you were already concerned for bystanders.
    02-13-2012, 06:51 PM
I am going thru similar problems with my own mare - maybe there is something in the air.

But if you are losing your confidence, as it reads you are, you need some on the ground help from an experienced horse and rider trainer.

A nappy horse that you think might bolt, might well bolt.
And that would be no fun.
    02-13-2012, 07:25 PM
I don't know why she would experience a 'sudden' change like that after her layoff. It happens sometimes, but I've never quite understood why.

I have found that bending them, sort of walking on a 45 degree angle with their butt pushed to the side, and letting them straighten out only when they stop jigging, works. Does that make sense? So if the horse starts jigging, for example take the head slightly to the right, and put your right leg on to push the butt to the right. I don't know why, but it has always worked for me.

I am going to tell you what my trainer taught me that worked for one of my mares that I had problems with trail riding. And I don't know if this will work for yours, I never met her and I've never met you, but it worked amazingly for me.

This mare I'm talking about is super brave and very willing, but just super sensitive and with a little bit of 'go' when she gets anxious.

I always wanted to give her more freedom, give her more rein when she got anxious. This was the wrong thing to do with her. She wanted to know someone else is in charge at all times, and I found that the easiest thing to do in dealing with her anxious behaviour is to not let her get into that state of mind at all.

You want to take the reins pretty short and really even, keep the head up and pointing straight (or wherever you want it to turn), and keep your hands around the crest of the neck. You want to make sure you are so square and tall and strong, so nothing can move you. Even if the horse did a 180, you'd still be in that tall, square position right over its centre. Basically, you want to give yourself as much control as you can.

I'm a western rider, and at first I was resistant to this way of riding. I wanted the horse to go along with its head down on a loose rein, and be able to neck rein...all that stuff. I was told that's fine, but when your horse is being an idiot, if it's actually wanting to buck and bolt like yours is, control is way more important than looking quiet and westerny.

And you basically want to ride in a confident, strong manner. You probably won't want to gallop around out of control, naturally, but picking up a good strong trot, weaving, doing circles, even cantering if you're comfortable that (s)he's not going to buck or bolt...give the horse work to do, something to think about, something that proves that you are in control.

My horse improved by leaps and bounds (and so did I) when we both knew who was in control, and that the person in control was confident. Again, I can't say for sure if this will work for you, but it did for me, and it's worth a try.
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    02-22-2012, 01:57 PM
The barn came to represent a lot of security for her. Being too far away was beginning to upset her. Perhaps try working her hard near the barn, then walking her out. If she feels tense, walk her back and work her hard again. The barn will begin to lose it's appeal. Take the time to do this until she will go at least a 1/4 mi without tensing. When you get back, again work her hard, then tie her up where you can keep an eye on her. Leave her saddle on and let her stew. When you do put her away, don't feed her right away if that is what you normally do. The next time you ride, repeat this. She will test you periodically as that is what horses do, and that is why you will do periodic reminders.
    02-22-2012, 02:09 PM
It sounds like she's lost her confidence and has become nappy. Just a consequence of the period recovering from the injury. I'd say you need to do a lot of working her on her own - taking her away from the herd. Start off with only short trips out and build both her and your confidence back up.

Each time you get back to the yard, she needs to remember 1) you took her where you wanted to go, and she had to follow your lead and 2) she survived and relaxed.
    02-22-2012, 02:18 PM
It was said to me yesterday by a vet, that since my mare is undoubtedly of the bossy sort, I must accept that she is alert. In the wild she would have been super alert, reacting to any strange phenomenon which might represent a threat to her or her group. Some mares are born for the role.

What's more the vet said that if she were allowed to have a foal, then my mare would train the foal to be alert also.

When put that way, I wonder if the reasoning behind a mare being skittish is not just hormones, or pain through some health issue but rather heightened alertness because that is her role in the (notional) herd.

I once watched a Welsh section C , herding a small feral herd of other Cs, when we, a group of 5 riders, encroached upon her terrain. The mare sent the stallion over to harry we riders whilst she moved the other ponies out of reach.
The stallion for a little pony gave us a hard time but when he saw the mare and the herd were far enough away, he turned away from us and went after his 'family'.

It all fits with my mare's behaviour.
    02-22-2012, 04:02 PM
Horses will sense how their riders feel and take cues from that. So, if you are anticipating a problem from your horse (because there was one last ride) then your horse will sense that and start anticipating a problem too because obviously you've sensed there is a problem. You feel your horse tense up, start looking around and generally spooky so you tense up more. Your horse feels you tense up more and starts jumping at the slightest bit of whatever because obviously every bush is hiding a monster. It's called a negative feedback loop and is rather common. I know someone who has taken several bomb proof horses and had them spooking at everything within a year by doing just that.

What you have to try and do is train yourself to ride relaxed, with confidence even when your'e so nervouse you want to puke. Now this might not actually be your horses issue but she will recover much faster if you do ride this way.
    02-22-2012, 04:06 PM
Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
It was said to me yesterday by a vet, that since my mare is undoubtedly of the bossy sort, I must accept that she is alert. In the wild she would have been super alert, reacting to any strange phenomenon which might represent a threat to her or her group. Some mares are born for the role.
My girl is an ex-brood mare, and she can be very bossy, very alert, very nappy, very dominant, and very herd-orientated.

Which is why I felt qualified to offer my opinion to your problem!

Yes, I agree with what you and your vet have said; I've reached the conclusion that with Rosie I need to be THE ALPHA MARE in our little herd, and she comes a very close second. Sometimes.

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