First time using outdoor arena on my property
As some of you know, I put up a temporary perimeter fence on my property so my daughter and I can take lessons there with our horse Harley. He is boarded at the next door neighbor's but they only have an indoor and we believe Harley has developed a reaction to the dust in the arena. I also want to trail ride with him so it's important to me that he be good outside. I was told he hacks out just fine, but we had limited opportunities to trail ride with him since we purchased him last October.
So I saddled him up like it was a regular arena ride tonight, hopped on him and rode him over to our property. He was alert, so I sang to him (thanks to all the folks on this forum for teaching me this trick so I don't get tense and hold my breath! Of course now the neighbors think I'm crazy for singing to my horse!) and even stopped to chat with a neighbor on the way. It went fine. We were on the road very briefly, met a car, he slowed down and all was well. When we got to our property, I took him into the enclosed area and he spooked a couple of times. I focused on getting him to ride close to the temporary fencing because he was wanting to go all over the place. Mainly, I wanted him to see that there was electrobraid all the way around so he didn't try to break through. After about 15 minutes he settled down nicely. I tried trotting him, but that just got him overexcited again so I went back to walking, changing directions once in a while, criss-crossing or doing serpentine through the 75 x 120 ft area. He got very calm at the end and would stand there quietly for me like he'd done it a million times.
The fun started on the way home. He was jiggy the whole time. He wanted to trot, but I wanted him to stay at the walk so he was kind of doing a cheating bouncy walk. Then we met a car when we were almost at the turn for our neighbor's barn. The car did not even slow down and I probably got really tense because when I was a teenager, I had a horse that was terrified of cars and had a lot of close calls. The car got by us, but after it went by, Harley kind of side-stepped into the road and broke into a canter. He didn't even get two strides in that I had him back at a walk, but it makes me nervous. We live along a country road where there aren't a lot of cars, but when they go by, they sometimes go really fast. Once I got him calmed down, he jigged all the way down the laneway to his barn, got so worked up that I had to stop him a couple of times to try to get him to settle down. To his credit, he did everything I asked, even when it clearly was not his preference to do so.
I guess I'm now wondering what I can do to help him get less worked up on our way back to the barn. I've read lots of posts about how horses just need lots and lots of miles on them - should I just keep taking him out until he gets desensitized? The car thing scared me just a little bit, but to be honest, he doesn't usually flinch about cars. It was just a combination of where we were and the direction we were going in, plus maybe my own anxiety. There is a trail that goes through the woods which would allow me to avoid going on the road at all, it's just that there's a brook we have to cross and right now it's raging and there's still a lot of ice on the edge. Normally, there's barely any water there, but it's spring... It might be safer though. Maybe I can get off and walk him across the brook. Otherwise, I'm pretty comfortable taking him back to my house riding him in the fenced off area because he did settle down nicely once in there. I think that after a few times he would be just fine.
Any tips on what I can do differently? How do you cure a horse that is barn/buddy sour? Whenever I would ride him in the direction away from the barn, he was under control but whenever we turn towards where his barn is, he wants to run. Oh, and he can't see the barn from our house, he just wants to retrace his steps.