Trail riding solo - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 59 Old 05-01-2012, 04:25 PM
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It can also teach a horse to ignore your voice. I don't want my horse to ignore ANYTHING about me.

When I first started with my current horse, he heard Christmas Carols until he could probably have sung them himself! He was my step-up from a confidence builder that I had needed after a bad wreck. Once the confidence builder became totally boring, I knew it was time for a new horse and a little bit of a challenge. I could handle him, but he was far from the deadbroke almost deadhead I was used to and I think I sang as much to give myself courage as to calm him! LOL I have to admit that it wasn't just singing. I have called him every name in the book and some of them weren't nice at all! I've also reminded him on numerous occasions that dogs have to eat too! LOL

But once we got the hierarchy established (I lead, he follows) I shut up. Now, when I talk to him, his ears swivel back right away and I have his attention. He keeps an ear on me in the round pen... If he heard my voice all the time, I think it would just be background noise to him.
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post #12 of 59 Old 05-01-2012, 04:44 PM
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Lots of good thoughts given. I'll just add that when going out alone, learn to tell the difference between when your horse is tense/scared and when it's just being ornery (e.g. barn sour). You want to be careful pushing a truly scared horse too hard. At a certain point instinct will take over and you'll have much more of a ride than you planned for.
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post #13 of 59 Old 05-01-2012, 08:40 PM
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It is exactly as everyone on this thread has said, but the most important one to me is DO NOT go back when the horse gets spooked. You are teaching it that whenever it wants to go home, spooking will get him his way. You need to end the ride when you decide it should be ended - preferably when he is calm and collected. And to keep your horse calm, remind him you are there - talk to him, pet his neck, sing, stop occasionally to give him some love. Go a bit farther each day, and you'll be on the trail in no time.

When we first bought our horses, two big draft crosses, they were great on the trails... As long as we were with other horses. When we tried going ourselves, we got across the street (still in barn view) and stopped. Wouldn't move for anything - not a smack in the but, not any amount of kicking, not spinning them in circles then going down the trail. We gave up and went back - a victory for the horses. But the next day, we put bridles over halters and when they stopped, we got off, clipped the lead ropes to the halters and dragged them - quite the feat, dragging two one ton horses. There was much butt smacking. But once on the trail and out of sight of the barn, they were fine. We had to walk them out there for quite a while, but it did eventually get easier until we could ride out there - but that first day, it took us nearly 45 minutes to drag them out (I will admit, there was some pulling on the reins as well, but now I wouldn't do that).

The moral of the story: Even if you have to drag a scared, stubborn mule past his point of turning back, do it. It only gets easier after the first time.
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post #14 of 59 Old 05-01-2012, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by HagonNag View Post

But once we got the hierarchy established (I lead, he follows) I shut up. Now, when I talk to him, his ears swivel back right away and I have his attention. He keeps an ear on me in the round pen... If he heard my voice all the time, I think it would just be background noise to him.

I don't think anybody was advocating talking all the time, on every horse, no matter the situation (I certainly wasn't), but using it as a tool in a tense situation.

I sang to the anxious mare a lot. Dream (my mare) is generally not subjected to my singing unless I am trying to keep myself awake at 3am during a ride.
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post #15 of 59 Old 05-02-2012, 08:36 PM
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I plan on doing the same with Sonny when summer finally rolls around. Everyone at my barn is just too busy to tack up and trail ride. Right now, I am doing a ton of arena work with him de-sensitizing him to everything from feed bags to tarps, umbrellas to plastic chairs. I have a friend who hand walked him back on the trail a few weeks ago and I did the same thing this past weekend. She also rode him out with a friend of hers and told me he did well. I plan on making sure I wear a helmet, have my cell phone charged, and let someone know where I am going and when I expect to be back. That way, if anything happens and I am not back at that time, someone will know something happened.

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post #16 of 59 Old 05-08-2012, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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I wasn't trying to imply that I ever turn around because my horse gets spooked. I make him go through what scares him no matter what. We do a lot of circling if he refuses something until he will walk through it. I am trying to get him used to the traffic and bikes and dogs and what not. My barn owner doesn't like me trail riding alone but I am riding in a very public county park. It's not like I'm out in the middle of nowhere.
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post #17 of 59 Old 05-08-2012, 03:08 PM
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I finally broke down and got a cell phone. I retired two years ago and purposely through it in the river as I never wanted to own one again. But I broke down and got one so I could call help if I needed it while trail riding alone. Good luck, be safe and don't give up!
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post #18 of 59 Old 05-08-2012, 10:36 PM
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I talk to my horse all the time... Because (1) he's my buddy, (2) I just enjoy his company, (3) it has a calming effect on him and (4) if we're in a tense situation where he can't see me, I want him to know my voice.

Originally Posted by Skyseternalangel View Post
So true.. I am such a talker on a horse. Off a horse I'm normal.. on a horse I will not shut up.. and it helps the horse to relax and it keeps me calm too.
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post #19 of 59 Old 05-08-2012, 10:52 PM
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It takes time to gain confidence on the trail and I have found the more time in the saddle the better. The more your horse experiences with you on the trail, the better they will become. There will always be better days than others just don't give up. Try to go a little further each day and by all means stay safe. Good luck!
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post #20 of 59 Old 05-09-2012, 07:49 AM
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i sing to my horse all the time, my current guy is a bit of a nervous nelly so I dont think he pays any attention. My last horse always did, long as I was singing he'd keep plodding along. If I stopped he stopped looked around or back at me for guidance. Usually a ditch bridge or other obstacle.
My new horse is super sensitive to rider ques, put too much emphasis on a note and she interpreted that as Hi Ho Silver away.... oops my bad. Gonna take some getting used to.
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