herd bound vs herd animal?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 10-02-2014, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Question herd bound vs herd animal??

Hi! I would like a bit of advice on something. Now, I know that horses are herd animals and therefore, need to have companions with them in their paddock. Well, we only have one other horse in pasture with my horse, so she is more attached to him than she would be if there were more horses in the herd with them both. However, we can't afford to put any other horses in with them, or any other animals really. So whenever I ride her into the other paddock away from Dad's horse (who I lock into our 1 acre paddock so he doesn't follow us along the fence line and annoy us) she seems to try and drift right to the side of the paddock towards where he is even if we are on the other side of it. I keep her where she should be, but I end up having a short rein whenever we are walking towards where Dad's horse is, because she is always trying to suddenly speed up and call out heaps. Sometimes she will balk on the spot and it takes forever to move her because of her fascination with him. Very annoying.

Anyway, just wondering if it would be right to maybe separate them to get rid of the herd boundness, or if that would make them all sad because of the herd animal factor. If this is the case, what else can I do (other than putting in more horses) to reduce the herd bound issue??

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post #2 of 15 Old 10-02-2014, 07:57 PM
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You reduce the "herd boundness" by continuing to ride away from the one left behind. Keep pushing forward, keep the horse focused on you, and don't give in. Lots of practice and patience.
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post #3 of 15 Old 10-02-2014, 10:43 PM
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Altho my good trail horse was content to leave another horse at home, the arab would run the fence screaming his head off. When he was getting up in years I opted to pony him on my trail rides. He was incredible to pony, he kept pace, neither crowded nor pulled away. If I didn't look it's like he wasn't there. He was much happier coming along and it was much easier on him.



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post #4 of 15 Old 10-03-2014, 01:56 AM
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No, I wouldn't just keep them separated. It's not just being 'all sad' because they want company, but as herd/prey animals they can also feel very nervous without a 'herd'(even of one) to protect them. Also there are many health implications of chronic, even 'low grade' stress.

There are many ways people go about getting horses to change behaviours such as this. I personally work to earn a 'respected', *respectFUL position as worthy leader and Good To Be With, so the horse will trust me to be in control & look out for her away from her herd, and will want to leave her mate to come play my games. Then, when you first ask her to leave her mate, it's not such a hard thing to do, and you can also make it a non-event by reinforcing her doing it by coming straight back to him. With repetition, you increase the time/distance.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #5 of 15 Old 10-03-2014, 03:44 AM
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The single horse being left behind in the paddock, if not in view of other herd animals, usually has the tougher time of the two dealing with the situation than the horse being ridden out (the ridden horse is occupied and it has you for company, and in time that's enough for most horses). If neighbouring horses can be seen by the left-behind horse, usually that's cool with practice (along loosie's lines). Some horses really don't care, but those that fret being left behind with no other herbivore in sight may benefit from parking even an old pony or donkey with them if they're going to be left behind on a regular basis.

When we lost my old mare in April, we agreed to give retirement to a 20yo Caspian slated for euthanasia (because owner had no room anymore and had trouble finding a decent home), to keep company with the ancient gelding for when I trail my riding horse. Not strictly necessary, as we also have three donkeys and the gelding is quite independent, but it really did make him extra happy (old fellow is getting a little senile), and it was a nice deal for the little Caspian as well. So win-win.

One of the HF members has a gelding she keeps on his own with two goats, and all three are happy (although I understand the goats were a little unsure at first ).
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post #6 of 15 Old 10-03-2014, 08:51 AM
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You can also do my version of the yo-yo game. Start riding away and as soon as one starts to get upset, ride back but not quite as far as where you started off. Continue to do this going a little farther each time. You may gain only 10', or nothing before turning back but eventually she will go much farther. What you are doing is raising the stress level then lowering it, over and over until there's acceptance and we relax. It works this way with humans as well.



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post #7 of 15 Old 10-03-2014, 09:28 AM
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Putting in more horses won't make a difference.
When you ride your horse you jsut need to work with her a lot. Do a lot of groundwork to make sure she is listening and when you get on, do a lot fo work with her. Take her mind of everything and make her do work.
You can make her listen to you even when she doesn't want to - being herd bound you will have to do a lot of work with her so she knows that she can be with her friend - but once she is in your hands then she must have full attention and focus on you.

I did this with my horses and they are now perfectly fine - except our younger guy, but we haven't had a chance to work with him because of ehalth issues.
But once we are able to work with him then he will be back to how he started - when he is in our hands he listens and doesn't care about the herd.

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post #8 of 15 Old 10-03-2014, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saddlebag View Post
You can also do my version of the yo-yo game.
I like you calling it the 'yoyo game'!

Quote:
Start riding away and as soon as one starts to get upset, ride back ...What you are doing is raising the stress level then lowering it, over and over until there's acceptance and we relax.
It works this way with humans as well.[/QUOTE]

My version of this 'yoyo' is to turn around *before* the horse gets upset. I don't want to make a habit of turning around when the horse gets upset, because if that's what he's reinforced for, that is what he'll learn to do more of. I know that this can desensitise them to the stress of leaving, but then you've got to change the rules anyway, whereas I think my 'approach & retreat' tactic may possibly be a bit slower initially, but the more you do, the quicker you progress, and there aren't any 'wrong lessons' to 'correct' later.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #9 of 15 Old 10-04-2014, 12:28 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your advice guys! I will think about working with her being away from him more and doing things to keep up her attention on me. Only thing is she doesn't really act like this until we are on the other side of the paddock or IN the other paddock, so it would be a lot of work for ME to have to take her back through the very old homemade gates back to near where we started.

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post #10 of 15 Old 10-04-2014, 06:12 AM
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As you work through this, keep in mind that your training goal is to have your horse consistently focused on you anytime it is under saddle. The (very common) herd bound problem is only one specific situation.

Consider...
- You're riding next to a pasture of horses and they get all wound up, kicking up their heels, and running around wanting to play. You do not want your horse to join in the fun.
- You're riding at a show and one horse starts acting up. You do not want your horse distracted by all the commotion of the other horses.

Our goal is always to reinforce the association that when the saddle goes on, it is my time to go and do what I want, every single time. When the saddle comes off, the horse can do as it pleases.

We do this by mixing up short rides, long rides, arena work, trails, times of day, different weather, etc., etc. The "work" can be as short as 5-10 minutes at times. The important part is not the work itself, but reinforcing the association of saddle=my time. You'll find that once you have achieved consistency with this, you can leave a horse in the pasture for months, saddle up one day, and have a "fuss free" ride.

Good luck.

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