If a horse wants to look at something it's scared of, do you let him? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 82 Old 03-14-2015, 10:22 PM
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I think it depends on what the situation is. In general I like them to be focused on the job at hand. I will say I do a competition that is a cross country obstacle course driving and you have a course with 36 different gates to remember and some obstacles along the way such as a water crossing, bridge, flags, scarecrows etc. you have to remember where all these gates are and come in at an ideal time. I am so focused on where I'm going and looking for the next gate we never shy at anything.

Those not so focused and are looking at the obstacles tend to have the horses that shy and won't go where you want them to.
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post #12 of 82 Old 03-14-2015, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by sarahfromsc View Post
I am going to disagree. I want me horse to go foward with no balking. I think a horse that has a need to stop and look and smell results in a balky horse. I do not want a balky horse. A balky horse has the ability to turn into a bolter in a blink of an eye.

If I let my horse stop, look, and smell, everything the caused him the slightest concern out on a trail, we would not get very far. He needs to trust me and move on from the fear.

Keep those feet moving.

You keep that forward motion
The horse has to learn to respect your judgement, and if you tell him something is safe, then he needs to believe and follow your leadership
You come across a group of deer, elk , or what have you, not very likely you are going to get your horse up to them for a a smell. Instead, if you don't have that forward, the horse will stop, head up and stare. At that moment he has tuned you out, and is in flight mode, ready to spin around and bolt
I don't want a horse to second guess me as to where he will or will not, either be led or ridden
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post #13 of 82 Old 03-14-2015, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by PrivatePilot View Post
Despite what I posted above, I'd also agree with that tactic, but in retrospect I guess it depends on the situation.

In my arena situation above just stopping and driving forward isn't a great option as it'll often create a traffic jam of other riders behind the problem horse. That's especially problematic if it's a mixed lesson with some less experienced riders. Circling into and away from the concern is compromise that allows traffic flow to continue.

On a trail ride I'd do the "Cut this crap out and get your butt in a forward gear" approach, however.
I think a lesson situation, where a bunch of inexperienced horses are on the rail together, is an accident waiting to happen!
I'm still getting Charlie over a bad experience, when she was run into, by another horse in the warmup
The warmup arena was very crowded, and I was loping her nicely on the rail, when the horse ahead of me balked, then ran backwards. I could not get out of the way fast enough, and that horse slammed into Charlie's flank, with the rider hooking my horse with her spurs.
Charlie leaped sideways and threw three huge bucks ,a s she made it from one side wall to the other. Luckily, we missed hitting anyone, and she did stop on a loud 'whoa'
Went back in and won a small pleasure class, but when we went in another one that was crowded, she freaked when a horse came up on her
It has taken me along time to get her over that.
Green horses/riders, should be worked individually in small groups , off of the rail.
I never train on the rail. I do my schooling in the middle of the arena, and the rail is then a good place to be, where you can drape those reins and let the horse relax
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post #14 of 82 Old 03-14-2015, 11:23 PM
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In a perfect world, sure....but the reality is that eventually beginners need to move up but are still certainly not in the same class as the more experienced riders and mixing is inevitable.

The super green riders at our schooling barn work in an entirely different arena usually 1-on-1 with the coach, perhaps 2 on 1 (with another similarly experienced newbie) once they reach a certain level, but never more.

But the reality is that once that rider moves into group lessons they ARE going to be mixing. The key point is that they're on horses that are not likely to be the ones balking at the invisible cougar in the corner of the arena whereas it's possible with the more experienced riders on higher level horses.

Everyone would love to do one on one private lessons with the whole arena to yourself, but again....the greater majority of schooling students don't enjoy this perfect world scenario and sometimes opting for the safe option vs perhaps what might be the perfect-world ideal solution to a problem is what one must opt for.
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post #15 of 82 Old 03-14-2015, 11:30 PM
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I used to always make my horse walk up to and check out whatever it was that was scaring him. In time he was a pretty unflappable horse. With my current gelding I haven't made him do that as much so he's always finding things to spook at out on the trail. Since hubby is always with me it's more important to keep him safe than use scary objects as a training tool but I think TJ's training has suffered for it.
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post #16 of 82 Old 03-14-2015, 11:52 PM
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One point James Fillis made is that a nervous horse will need a different response than a fearful horse, who will need a different response from a horse looking for an excuse.

It sounds nice to say "make the horse go forward", but none of us can really do that. Mia proved to me years ago that I can lay into her butt with a heavy leather strap...and have her fly backwards anyways. Once you've had a horse fly backwards in spite of you whipping her hard, you KNOW you do not force some horses. Period.

From the book Fillis wrote (in 1890):
"I have already said that a horse has but little intelligence. He cannot reason, and has only memory. If he is beaten when an object suddenly comes before him and startles him, he will connect in his mind the object and the punishment. If he again sees the same object, he will expect the same punishment, his fear will become increased, and he will naturally try to escape all the more violently....

...My only advice about the management of nervous horses is to give them confidence by "making much of them." If we see in front of us an object which we know our horse will be afraid of, we should not force him to go up to it. Better let him at first go away from it, and then gently induce him to approach it, without bullying him too much. Work him in this way for several days, as long as may be necessary. Never bring him so close up to the object in question that he will escape or spin round ; because in this case we will be obliged to punish him ; not for his fear, but on account of his spinning round, which we should not tolerate at any time. In punishing him, we will confuse in his mind the fear of punishment and the fear caused by the object. In a word, with nervous horses we should use much gentleness, great patience, and no violence." (page 186)

"We should keep calm, and at the slightest sign of cadence, that is to say, at the first, or later on, at the second time, we should stop using the "aids", pat the horse's neck, give him time to become quiet, and begin again.

A horseman who has great delicacy and tact, will stop the animal at the first time and pat him. But the less tact he has, the less capable is he of judging if the time is in cadence. Such a man will continue in his attempts to catch the cadence, and will succeed only in upsetting the nerves of his horse. These remarks explain the fact that a clever and tactful horseman will obtain all he wants from his mount, without making him either vicious or unsound. Being able to recognize the slightest sign of obedience, he immediately stops the work, in order to make the horse understand, by pats on the neck, that he has done well. The quickness with which he perceives the slightest signs, saves him from overtaxing and disgusting the horse, and provoking him to battle, which will wear them both out. (Page 284)
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post #17 of 82 Old 03-15-2015, 01:42 AM
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It depends on whether the this is a nervous horse or one that is just unsure of something, and also on the level of training the horse has had. I would definitely let a green horse check things out for himself but would expect a horse further along in training to rely on my judgment more. On a trail ride I always let a horse look at something if he needs to. I wont tolerate spinning around or bolting, but if my horse wants to stop for a minute and realize that those strange creatures are just turkeys he gets the chance. I don't think this contributes to a bad habit at all. I feel some patience on my part this time means little or no problem the next time
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post #18 of 82 Old 03-15-2015, 06:48 PM
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Even in an arena I don't allow the go up and sniff, or stop and look. I can't do that in every arena or dressage ring we may go to. He has to learn to move forward. That way, if he ever does stop it will be for a very good, big, and dangerous reason!

My horse is sensitive/reactive. And I think I could have turned him into a fearful horse if I had let the reactive, need to look and smell, gene overrule the forward rule.

I think people can turn a horse into a fearful horse by not making forward first and foremost in training.

I also think people can teach their horse the need to have to stop and sniff. You let them do it once or twice, and they always have to do it. It's amazing how quickly we can train a horse....lolol...inadvertently.
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post #19 of 82 Old 03-15-2015, 07:20 PM
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And no.

I think it depends on your stage of the relationship. Letting a horse look at what scares it, is a very basic part of bomb proofing.

And yes you need a horse that you can ride through something, without stopping to check.

I think you have to pick and choose which situation is which. IF something startles my mare (rare at this point), I'm generally happy to let her explore it, because I'm widening her horizons and building her confidence. BUT, I can just take her past it without balking, if I needed to.

And I think it's good to validate what they're looking at. My mare sees and smells what I do not. She catches a possible danger to us, much quicker than I do while I'm focused on us. Turning to see what she sees (sometimes it's even coyotes a little ways off), is not letting her be the boss, or showing my weakness and lack of authority. It's just respecting that mother nature did NOT make us equals. Her instincts have zero to do with my authority "over" her.

But then I'm always actually in nature, so not wanting to get jumped by a cat from behind, or chased by a pack is rather high up on my list for our safety. I'm sure if I were an arena rider, I would be more demanding that she focus only on the task in front of us. But I'm not. I'm in the woods, and the wilds, and I want us to return home in two whole pieces.

Edit; Mind you I do not have a flighty and high strung horse. She's good at picking up on actual danger, and could care less about green mailboxes, or wayward plastic bags.
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Last edited by Sugar; 03-15-2015 at 07:25 PM.
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post #20 of 82 Old 03-15-2015, 07:30 PM
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It depends on the individual horse and individual situation.

Red does not get to stand and look, usually. He's the type of horse that used to bolt if you let him stop and stare. You have to keep his feet moving and keep his attention off the object.

Shotgun can stand and look all he wants. He will also move forward at any time if I ask him. He does better confidence-wise if I let him take his time and investigate.

Even with my own two horses, I do completely different things with them because they tespond and learn differently.

So I say it depends!
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