Maintaining bond when horse is in training - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 05-20-2019, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Maintaining bond when horse is in training

My new horse has been in training 3 days a week to help him get in shape, balance, and use the correct canter lead since I got him in March. All of this is going well. I ride him the other 3 days a week when I can. When he first arrived I did lots of ground work with him and I think he thought of me as his main buddy. Now that he's settle in a bit, he has a pasture buddy, and it seems he's getting used to my trainers riding him in a strong, clear, balanced manner. So then when I ride him, he's like uh you suck, what are you doing, why are you off balance, etc. He's very obedient and good, but it's very easy to tell when he's excited and when he's not interested. He used to fast walk across the pasture to greet me, now I have to convince him to come over. I feel like I've done less ground work lately and so am trying to do more of that again. But how do I compete for my horse's willingness compared to my trainers who are stronger riders and who feed him? I'm worried about the transition when I'm going to be mostly the one riding him and he's not in training anymore, like he'll be sour about me riding him.
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post #2 of 10 Old 05-20-2019, 06:57 PM
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you probably can't really compete with the persons who feed him. I'm sorry, but 99% of horses will come first to the person who feeds them. They just do. And, now that he has a horse buddy, he's gonna prefer that horse buddy's company over any human, more than likely.


When will you be able to work WITH the trainers, and ride your horse with instruction? That would seem to be the best way to improve your riding so that you are as much a pleasure to carry around as they are.
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post #3 of 10 Old 05-20-2019, 07:39 PM
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You're not alone in that feeling. I ride pretty awful compared to the staff that ride mine and if I ride a few days in a row she shows me a sour face. I get out the saddle and she's like "oh no!". Can't even blame her, bless. It's really important I think that even though I'm doing something bad that I praise her when shes doing something good. Is she standing nicely while I do my stirrups? I'll give her a treat from the saddle. Am I sitting her canter like a terrible flappy potato? I'll praise her to keep cantering because the problem is me, not her. Did she do something really good? I'll give her a long rein to stretch as reward. Is she trotting really nicely so that I can focus on my balance? I'll give her a pat. She might not enjoy it but she sure knows shes appreciated. I minimally groom to check her over before but do a nice rub down at the end of a ride instead. If I rode in the arena I'll untack her and let her roll in the sand immediately after. After most of my rides I do some groundwork/trick training which she really enjoys. Some days I just hand walk her instead of ride. Some days I just sit in the field on the bale of hay and she'll eventually come over to eat in my company. Sometimes, she wont even look at me. She'll have a chopped apple in her water bucket and a toyball when she returns to her stable. She only gets those after I ride her.

If I rode her every time I saw her and did nothing else I know 100% she would be sour about it. Don't take it personally but do try some of the above and see if it helps. I'd been doing it for a year and a half (wow) and found a good balance to keep her willing, in the arena at least haha! :) As Tiny said, like the rest of us, continue to slog on and ride. Get lessons! Good luck :)
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post #4 of 10 Old 05-20-2019, 09:16 PM
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my lease horse and I have a good relationship. But, every Spring he must be confined to a dry paddock (from a 20 acre field), and boy!, does he appreciate me coming! Where he used to look up from his grazing at my approach with , a "What, Really? I was just getting comfortable here", look, now he sees my approach as, "There you are! what took you so long! get me out of here!".



We still ride together about the same except he is more externally focused on getting mouthfuls of greenery as we pass by. (I take him out almost daily for a half our free grazing on good grass, whether I ride or not).
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post #5 of 10 Old 05-20-2019, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
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I still have my lessons once a week. He does enjoy hanging out in the pasture together. I tend to run though basic ground work when I go to get him.
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post #6 of 10 Old 05-21-2019, 02:18 AM
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I'm not that great of a rider so Miss Lulu gets impatient with me. My trainer says it is like when your kindergarten kid comes home from school and tells you all the things you are doing wrong because "teacher" does it "this" way.



I bribe my horse. I admit it without shame. Whenever I am at the barn and Lulu gets worked she always gets a couple of carrots and then a few cookies. She also gets treats for just being my horse. Today is the trainer's day off. I dropped by the barn to check on Lulu and she got an apple, two carrots, and a few cookies.
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post #7 of 10 Old 05-21-2019, 05:37 AM
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I ride my trainer's horses, who are not mine and I do not feed. But, I am the treat lady! So, they all adore me and nicker when I come in the barn. I take carrots and apples every day I ride, without fail, and everyone who nickers or gives me love gets a treat. Horses are easily "bought"
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post #8 of 10 Old 05-21-2019, 06:35 AM
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I agree that the way to a horse's heart is through their stomach. When I used to ride PLP (Perfect Lesson Pony) a lot, I gave her cookies every time I rode her, before and after, and I tried to scrounge some alfalfa hay for her to eat while I groomed and tacked her. Aside from riding her, the only thing I ever did with her was sometimes give her a cookie if I was out in the pasture, and greet her when I was out in the pasture. And within a couple of months, she would come when I called, follow me around the pasture, and actually try to chase off my horses from being close to me (we had to put a stop to that obviously). Just from some cookies and a little hay. Well, and maybe because I treated her with the utmost kindness just in general also. But despite me being an absolutely TERRIBLE rider.

My own guys are generally easy keepers who only get feed (as opposed to hay) when I give it to them, and I don't give them a lot. But I do buy bales of alfalfa hay (maybe once or twice a month) from the barn owner and I give them a flake or half a flake when I bring them in. Moonshine in particular learned the routine very quickly so I don't even halter her any more, just call her in from the pasture and let her go to "her" stall where she paces around waiting for me to bring her the food that is her due. A little alfalfa hay every other day or a couple of times a week is a nice treat for them and isn't going to hurt them.

I like the idea of doing a little trick training before or after your ride. Most horses love it, mostly I suspect because it means they get treats. Some horses (cough cough my Pony) need to get treats only when they are doing a specific good thing, not just as a general treat, or they will get pushy. Which is why trick training is great. Because of my experience with Pony, I no longer give treats "just because" unless I know the horse won't get pushy. Even PLP got backed off cookies for a week when she got pushy.

One other thing if possible would be to go out there sometimes and just hang out with him. Bring him in and just groom him, give him nice hay, hang out, then turn him out again.

I totally feel you about having a horse in training and being a worse rider (in my case much worse) than the trainer. I thought that was going to happen with Pony, and maybe it did at first (for instance he used to pull all sort of pony tricks because he could get away with them with me on his back) but either because I've become a better rider or because he's gotten to know me better in the year that I've had him, he now actually tries harder for me than for others, even the trainer. So, based on my experience, I would say that is just a phase in your relationship. You guys already have a level of bonding. Things will get better as long as you keep working on them.
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post #9 of 10 Old 05-21-2019, 09:22 AM
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I always liked to "put my horses away happy" since in my personal experience, a lot of the next day's greeting seemed to reflect the previous day's last impression.

So after working my horses I'd brush them down nice, hand graze them a bit... do the things trainers don't usually do because, well, it takes time to do and you're really paying for their time. I capped it all off with a treat (supplement as well) bucket that I stood with them and maybe brushed or wiped them down while they ate. So when I left, they were always like "wait, don't go" which meant they were happy to see me when I came back :)

Consistency is the other thing horses love! I try to visit the same time every day (well, TRY, I'm already off on that because I should've left two hours ago... we're new to each other so that's my excuse) because then my horses would know "oh hey, she should be coming around now" and they'd look forward to it.

So my suggestion is still be an active participant in your horse's life, if allowed by the trainer. Show up every day to do mutually appealing things. Not just riding. Grooming, hand walking, etc. Cap it all off with a nice snack or something to leave a lasting impression :) But keep at it every day to leave that impact on them! :)
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post #10 of 10 Old 05-21-2019, 09:30 AM
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When my horse was at my trainer's for a few weeks, I went there just about every day to see her. I groomed her, hungout with her, & let her graze a bit. I just spent time with her. She got very happy to see me. :)

I think if you just go a lot & hangout with him, he will be fine. He won't think you disowned him! And don't forget some treats of course.
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