Horse whinnying (occasionally) under saddle - what's OK, what's not? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 03-17-2016, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
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Horse whinnying (occasionally) under saddle - what's OK, what's not?

Hello all - a little info about me below if you want to know... but my basic question is about horses calling to other horses under saddle. What do you do about it? My mare doesn't seem particularly buddy sour, but her pasture mate is pretty attached. Usually no problem, but if the pasture mate is whinnying and calling out my mare will whinny excitedly back. Only time it's happened under saddle (rather than when standing tied) was yesterday, and she probably did it 4 times near the end of our 1.5 hour ride. It was near feeding time, and she could hear the pasture mate in the distance. So, I just turned her in small circles - just a neck rein and leg pressure did the trick, nothing aggressive or dramatic. she'd be fine then a few minutes later do it again. She never jigged or did anything terrible, just was obviously not focused on me and put her head up excitedly and whinnied loudly. So - horse forum gurus :) - what is the appropriate response under saddle or while leading? I just want to be alert and head anything off.
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As some of you know I'm 50+ and just started casual riding a few years ago. I bought my first horse a little over a year ago, and sold her in December. She had some baggage we didn't know about that made her not great for a beginner... had been used at a youth camp which was great in some ways, but she had learned a bag of tricks to evade work and it got tiring.

I've had my mare for about 6 weeks and so far she is exactly as advertised and we're getting along very well. She's the easiest horse I've ever ridden, and is typically very willing. I guess I now understand when a horse is described as "honest"... that seems to be her. Because of my experience with my previous horse, I'm VERY sensitive to possible balking or bad behavior. The worst thing my mare has ever done is drift towards or slow down at the gate (solved by a soft kick, and at the very worst with a tap on her shoulder w/ split reins... I can now feel this coming and a squeeze usually heads it off... so no drama here). Otherwise she's steady, level headed, has never shown inclination to take off faster than asked, has a great instant 'whoa' from any gait, so far seems almost bomb proof, etc. She doesn't seem to have ever been badly spoiled, and I just want to keep her that way!!

Thanks!
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post #2 of 7 Old 03-17-2016, 01:12 PM
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I think you hit the nail on the head when you said she was not focused on you. By asking something of her, you refocused her.

The only thing I might change is the timing and as soon as the ears perk towards the other horse, refocus her at that point rather than waiting for her to call out. Eventually, she will figure out that you are indeed a mind reader and stop calling.

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer


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post #3 of 7 Old 03-17-2016, 02:00 PM
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I have a buddy-sour horse who I take for hand walks down the road. He will often try to call back to his friends. I don't give two licks if he makes noise, but if he's not listening to me, that's what i have issue with. So same what you did....I got his attention back on me by asking him to do something like turn circles. I find it very annoying when people jerk on their horses face when they call out...I just ask him to move his feet and watch that his ears are flicking to me instead of his friends.

On the other hand, my riding gelding very seldom will call to other horses. When he does, he doesn't act up and he still does what I'm asking, so I don't get after him for it. I think you are doing the right thing by just asking her to turn her attention back to you....and get her listening to you again.
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-17-2016, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reiningcatsanddogs View Post
...
The only thing I might change is the timing and as soon as the ears perk towards the other horse, refocus her at that point rather than waiting for her to call out. Eventually, she will figure out that you are indeed a mind reader and stop calling.
Well that makes sense... Sometimes I feel like it's a new world every day, and I don't think to transfer what I've learned in one situation over to another. Yes, I can probably learn to anticipate and head it off. Learning horses at this age I'm always second-guessing my instincts... and they are sometimes wrong.

For instance, just yesterday... we had just gone through a whinny and a slight 'stall' near the gate, and I had turned her towards the center of the arena at a walk... I felt her start to stall again and corrected, then she took a couple of steps and stopped again, and the third time I corrected more firmly (I could even have sworn I was feeling that 'hump' under the saddle that I've heard people talk about). She seemed surprised but walked calmly on. As I congratulated myself on the quick reaction, I realized that she had been relieving herself not balking... obvious from the long trail of poop I later had to scoop!! I have to find the balance between being proactive, and being paranoid. Sigh.
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-17-2016, 06:09 PM
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BTW...a bit of cowboy wisdom, my trainer always says you bet they can darn well poop and move at the same time, especially if a mountain lion is chasing them!

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer


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post #6 of 7 Old 03-17-2016, 06:45 PM
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The only time my horse stops to relieve him or herself is to pee, they can definitely keep on moving to poo. They'll try to con you, but .... they can do it.

As for the whinnies, I agree with trying to anticipate it and refocusing before she has a chance to do it. I like to call it setting them up to succeed rather than correcting after they fail. So get her attention before she hollers rather than trying to scold her after she does it.
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post #7 of 7 Old 03-17-2016, 06:46 PM
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Whinnying.....
Her attention wandered and you brought it back, good!!
Gentle reassurance, not hard discipline works well with this horse.
If this behavior was done in the ring during a show competition it can and probably did knock you down in the ribbons....
She is testing you with her slowing down at gates and showing you habits her past owner did as she approaches gates and such....again, as you did... remind her to move-on.
Never ever stop to dismount at the gate, it is a hard habit to break and your horse will learn it unfailingly on the first time you do it....then expect to always stop at that location. Change it up, choose different areas to mount/dismount from so they "listen" to you and your cues...
In my experience, balky horses are made sometimes because of riders inattention to their "human" habits....the horse just capitalizes on our actions and inattention...smart horse!
A whole lot harder to fix balky than to let it start and begin in the first place...

Enjoy your new horse!!
....
jmo...
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