Not a good trail horse. Help? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 20 Old 06-25-2010, 12:15 PM
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Indy, the only horse in 32 years of riding and owning that I've ever trusted to go out alone with, was my now deceased gelding.

That horse and I had an amazing rapport and trusted each other implicitly. Of course, we were together 21 years, and that has a lot to do with it. I was his only rider all those years, so he knew what to expect.

Casper definitely isn't a horse who can go out by himself with just his rider, and I don't know yet about JJ since we're still learning to be a team.

Riding out alone can be dangerous, I'll admit that. But if Conny and I hadn't taken to the trails alone, there were many times I wouldn't have ridden for months at a time. He hated ring work and it bored me to tears, so we went out alone.
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post #12 of 20 Old 06-25-2010, 12:20 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Western Mass
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I usually go out with my mom on a bombproof schooling pony, and even still my guy will spook quite a bit. But sunday I'm off of work, and I'm considering taking a VERY long trail ride with my mom to the river, and seeing how that goes.
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post #13 of 20 Old 06-25-2010, 12:37 PM
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SpeedRacer, oh, I agree. My old horse Twister and I were alone on the trails 90% of the time, and he was good for that. Freyja that I have now could go alone on the trails without a hesitation. Claymore? Not a chance in hell - he's a follower through and through.

I just meant, as a generalization, riding alone isn't usually a good idea - and particularly not in this case.

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post #14 of 20 Old 06-25-2010, 10:42 PM
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If I DO go out alone I make sure I have my cell phone (on ME, not the horse) and someone should always know you are going, generally, when you should be back, etc. Sort of like a pilot and flight plans.

This is not a horse I would even attempt it on, however. If you have any clearings (we do :)) that have a few trees, do work around them. Serpentines, figure eights, etc. and get the horse thinking about you and wondering what you will ask next. Keep the feet moving, and keep him guessing! It does help!

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post #15 of 20 Old 06-25-2010, 11:39 PM
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I only used to ride alone on my one and only horse. With Nico, while he is a 'loner' horse, I think there is still a small chance it would end in disaster. Either wrecking my body, his body, or all the training we have in together. sound stupid but have you tried talking to him? Some horses need constant support to trail ride. We have a gelding that needs to hear you in order to get over something. He is terrified of everything but if you keep your voice calm, he comes back to you. Most of the time Im saying 'its okay you moron, its just a car. That guard rail told me last week it doesn't like the way horses taste...' Its something to try.
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post #16 of 20 Old 06-26-2010, 12:31 AM
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This is just my opinion and is not directed at the original poster, but just following the general flow of the conversation.

I expect all my horses to ride alone and wouldn't own a horse that I couldn't ride alone. I did make a stupid mistake and bought a "package deal" of a mare and gelding one time, brought them home and discovered that I couldn't ride them alone, but they were dangerous when separated and quickly went "down the road" so to speak.

But in general, I think ALL horses should be trained and expected to ride alone. I mean, it would really be inconvenient if I could only ride if someone else was riding. There would be probably close to 6 months out of the year I couldn't ride at all, and then when I did have someone to ride with, how would I even ride to their house if my horse wouldn't go out alone? (not a problem if you are boarding I suppose).

I guess what I am saying is, I am surprised that people don't expect and demand that horses will ride alone. It is pretty much the first rule of any horse I look at to buy.

I'm not sure how to fix the problem. I guess the more miles you can put on without getting killed, the closer you are to moving in the right direction. I decided the problem pair of horses I bought were too much horse for me. But I wish everyone who trained horses would start them out with the expectation of them being an individual animal who is responding to their human partner, and not a horse that only gets security from other horses. If that's the case, then you really don't have control over the horse, he is only keeping himself "together" because of the other horse, not you as the rider. Right?
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post #17 of 20 Old 06-26-2010, 07:00 AM Thread Starter
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It's not that my horse can't/ won't go out alone, he'll go out there willingly, tense still, but with no obstinacy. The problem is knowing how badly he can explode out there I think it's safer for me to have someone there incase I got hurt or something. But I see what you mean Trailhorserider, all horses should be trained to go out alone, safely, my horse will go out alone. But not safely.
I thank everyone who's posted so far for the advice!
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post #18 of 20 Old 06-26-2010, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Mickey4793 View Post
When I'm leading him he's fine, it's almost like he only trusts me when he can see me. I've led him on the trails several times, with no help.
As silly as it may seem, when you're leading him, it is just like having a lead horse with you (you are the lead horse), but when riding, he is the lead horse.... and as you can see, it does make a big difference. You may even notice that while walking in hand, there are times that your horse is confident and right on your shoulder and other times where he is a little tense and will lag behind or tuck in behind you ("I'll follow, but you go first"). Inexperienced and less confident horses will behave this same way when riding in a group of horses.

You are really trying to solve two 'problems', 1) being comfortable in unfamiliar situations (like a trail) and 2) being out alone, so this can take a lot of time and miles. When I'm working a young one, I'll typically start by alternating ponying them and riding alone to see which of the two is the bigger problem and then work them accordingly.

Finally, remember that unless you are riding a few hours everyday, be prepared to measure progress in months, not days, and don't get frustrated or give up.

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On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
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post #19 of 20 Old 06-27-2010, 10:02 PM
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I don't know your horse's personality. I can only offer my experience with my horse. I got him at age 5 as an OTTB. He liked trail riding instantly but was quite reactive and always a follower. In the first year, we learned and perfected the one rein stop and never went out alone. He never once offered to lead.

Second year I had him, I started pushing his comfort zone a little. I would stay basically in sight of the barn, but take him out into fields to where I knew there would things that would make him spook. I'd ride him up to an object, use the one rein stop 80 zillion times until he figured out he wasn't going to be able to run away, and then just sat there until he relaxed. Depending on how much effort he put into trying to manage his fear and relaxing, I'd either take him past the object or turn him around and let him off the hook. Either way he was rewarded a lot for meeting me halfway. That same year, he started occasionally taking the lead when out on the trails for short periods of time. This told me he was getting confidence in both me and himself.

Year 3, (this year) we moved to a new barn. All sorts of new things to test, but I know how much I can push him and he knows what I'll put up with and what isn't allowed. We've become a good team. I took a few weeks to get him used to going further and further from his new barn, first just walking around the paddocks, then into the fields, and just recently our first solo trail ride into the woods. While he did hesitate a few times, he knew that the only solution is to go forward, so that's what he did. A few things that would have made him spook 2 years ago only created minor twitches instead. We only went about 10 minutes before coming back out, but I'm incredibly proud of the progress we've made together. He's clearly making an effort to manage his fear rather than try to run from it.

I guess my point is, learn how far you can push him and where his limits are. Be a leader and establish clear boundaries for him. If you don't know how to emergency stop him, learn it. It's the single best tool in my trail riding tool box. Whether you ride him for 5 minutes or 2 hours, don't stop until he relaxes even if it's for a moment. It might take years of going out with another horse before he's ready to tackle it alone, but be patient. Eventually he'll tell you one way or the other if it's in him. Good luck.

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post #20 of 20 Old 06-27-2010, 10:26 PM
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I had another idea-When my trainer has a horse who is afraid of something he works them, and then lets them rest-but ONLY where the "scary thing" is. Is they want to go away-they work again. So use trees as your "break area!"

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