First time using outdoor arena on my property - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 49 Old 04-04-2016, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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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.
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post #2 of 49 Old 04-04-2016, 11:11 PM
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There will be others who will give much better advice than me. If it had been me, I would have turned him around to go back the other way for about 50 to 100 feet, then turned back and keep repeating every time he jigged until he walked nicely toward the barn for as long as it took. To prevent this in the past, I used to ride past my driveway for a ways when returning home, dismount and then lead back home. Sometimes I would ride past my driveway for another long ride so my horse never really knew when I was done.

Cars (i.e. stupid drivers) scare the heck out of me so my road riding days are over.

As I said, you will get better advice but that is what has worked for me.
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post #3 of 49 Old 04-04-2016, 11:32 PM
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I was going to say the same thing about going PAST the barn and farther down the road. I'd probably keep passing the driveway, going back and forth a 1/4 mile or so, until he was calm.

It sounds like you had full control the whole time, even when he spooked, so great job there! As you know I'm a bit fearful of doing this myself, so congrats!
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post #4 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 06:13 AM
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To tack onto this question, is it maybe safer to dismount and lead on the road? I only have about 500m of road and wouldn't mind walking if the horse is jiggly.
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post #5 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 08:26 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your advice everyone. I have walked him past the barn, but he gets really worked up then! He spins around and acts like he's going to bolt if I try to keep him from the barn. I do make small circles to let him know that going faster isn't going to get him anywhere. There is a dirt road that keeps going past the barn onto a trail. Maybe I'll go there next time, then turn around and come back. Maybe do something different every time?

Not sure about leading him on the road but I can try it. It's not even 100 m and there is a nice, wide shoulder for most of it. But I feel I have more control of him on his back. It's one of my biggest fears, riding along the road, but he's usually perfectly fine with it and I'd really like to be able to do it if I have to. Still, I'm sure he's picking up on my anxiety. I keep worrying a big logging truck is going to come along and freak him out. Again, this is a throwback to my teenage years when my horse was terrified of cars. It's a miracle he didn't kill us both. I was a little more fearless then!

Will try again tomorrow night. I am trying to focus on the fact that he settled down fairly quickly in the indoor space, but I keep re-playing that car coming towards us. I'm going to try to cut through the back of the property, but that means going through a body of water. I may have to lead him across that and my feeling is that he's going to try to jump it so I think I'll bring the lunge line or a long lead line so I can hold onto him and get out of the way. I guess I need to learn to jump!
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post #6 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whinnie View Post
There will be others who will give much better advice than me. If it had been me, I would have turned him around to go back the other way for about 50 to 100 feet, then turned back and keep repeating every time he jigged until he walked nicely toward the barn for as long as it took. To prevent this in the past, I used to ride past my driveway for a ways when returning home, dismount and then lead back home. Sometimes I would ride past my driveway for another long ride so my horse never really knew when I was done.

Cars (i.e. stupid drivers) scare the heck out of me so my road riding days are over.

As I said, you will get better advice but that is what has worked for me.
Is it normal for the horse to get MORE jiggy when you don't turn into the barnyard? Because he gets really worked up if I make him go past it. He will do it though... at least he's never refused so far. I guess what I'm asking is will the behavior get worse before it gets better? I think I can deal with what he throws at me as long as I'm not on the road. If he throws me off, I'll just fall on soft ground (but I doubt that will happen). So should I just keep pushing past his anxiety until he calms down? Because it doesn't feel like he's calming down when I make him walk past the barn. It feels like he might explode (but he never has... so maybe not?).

I ran it by my trainer and she said I should try to tire him out a little more next time. I wanted to keep the first session brief and positive so I didn't really do that. But I think she's forgetting that Harley doesn't tire out. He just gets more worked up. Still, I'll give it a try.
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post #7 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 09:12 AM
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Yes they can get more jiggy if you don't do as they want. But you Need to get him to do as You want.

Sounds to me like he was just excited to be doing something different and You were the one tensing, which he then reacted to. Riding backwards and forwards past gateway will help. Remember you want him walking calmly before you take him up the drive, or you are rewarding his bad behaviour.

Do the same again, if you feel safe, and mix it up a bit with your trail ride, or if there is a quiet road ride nearby.

I disagree with leading him, unless you feel unsafe. It won't help improve the situation, which you need to do. However, if getting home safely becomes priority one (ie his behaviour is scaring you) by all means lead him, safety first.
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post #8 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 09:16 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ShirtHotTeez View Post
Yes they can get more jiggy if you don't do as they want. But you Need to get him to do as You want.

Sounds to me like he was just excited to be doing something different and You were the one tensing, which he then reacted to. Riding backwards and forwards past gateway will help. Remember you want him walking calmly before you take him up the drive, or you are rewarding his bad behaviour.

Do the same again, if you feel safe, and mix it up a bit with your trail ride, or if there is a quiet road ride nearby.

I disagree with leading him, unless you feel unsafe. It won't help improve the situation, which you need to do. However, if getting home safely becomes priority one (ie his behaviour is scaring you) by all means lead him, safety first.
Ok, will walk him past the driveway as long as no cars are coming. Just a few feet. I kept singing the whole time to calm myself down, LOL. Seemed to help! Then will turn into the laneway and continue walking past the barn onto a dirt road, into a field, onto a trail, mixing it up each time.

Honestly, I feel better being on his back than leading him along the road. I don't know why, but I feel like I can control him better when I ride him.
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post #9 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post

Not sure about leading him on the road but I can try it. It's not even 100 m and there is a nice, wide shoulder for most of it. But I feel I have more control of him on his back. It's one of my biggest fears, riding along the road, but he's usually perfectly fine with it and I'd really like to be able to do it if I have to. Still, I'm sure he's picking up on my anxiety. I keep worrying a big logging truck is going to come along and freak him out. Again, this is a throwback to my teenage years when my horse was terrified of cars. It's a miracle he didn't kill us both. I was a little more fearless then!

Will try again tomorrow night. I am trying to focus on the fact that he settled down fairly quickly in the indoor space, but I keep re-playing that car coming towards us. I'm going to try to cut through the back of the property, but that means going through a body of water. I may have to lead him across that and my feeling is that he's going to try to jump it so I think I'll bring the lunge line or a long lead line so I can hold onto him and get out of the way. I guess I need to learn to jump!
WOW! You just borrowed a whole pot load of trouble in those 2 paragraphs.

YOU are having flashbacks to when your horse was terrified. This horse isn't.

YOU are re=playing the car coming at you, the horse has already moved on.

YOU are already worried about him trying to jump, the horse has not even thought of such a thing. Until you get there and YOU think him into it, it's not even in his brain.

YOU are already setting yourself up for failure by visualizing all these disasters and planning to duck out by using a lunge line "So I can hold on to him and get out of the way.".

You need to practice positive visualization. Every time you have a disaster thought stop and re-visualize a positive outcome. Your horse isn't spooky, you're terrified. You need to deal with your emotions before you try to work through these scenarios with your horse. If you can calm yourself, your horse won't be so apt to do any of the behaviors that has you spooked.

As for the jigging, every 10 ft of jigging gets 10-15 mins of extra work. You want to jig going west, then turn around and go east. If he wants to balk and try to go back west again, put him to a very brisk trot east bound until he's tired and asking to please please walk. If he wants to be impatient getting to the barn, you ride right past it and get really tough with him if he gets snotty about it. And you work him until he forgets being anxious about going back to the barn. The whole answer to his misbehavior is work until he doesn't want to play up anymore and will walk on a loose rein back to the barn. It's probably going to hurt/wear you out more than it does him, but if you'll put in the time and effort you can fix this pretty quickly.
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post #10 of 49 Old 04-05-2016, 10:14 AM
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Has he been hacked out on his own before you had him?
It sounds as if he was suffering from a combination of being slightly buddy sour and very over excited about doing something different
Its all very well telling you what you should do - work him harder, turn him around, ride on past the barn etc - but unless you're feeling calm and confident and you're 100% capable of dealing with a meltdown if he has one when the pressure gets upped even more than I don't think you should even think about those things.
If he needs to get used to riding out and you're nervous then can you not find someone to ride out with you the first few times so you can both build up some confidence?
He will get used to it eventually but it takes an experienced rider to throw a horse in at the deep end and succeed, for now if you do have to go back and forth on your own it might be safer to lead him.
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