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Advice on my horse and open fields...

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I moved my horse to a new barn and the ride-out is completely different than what I've been taking him on.
Our ride-out is now foxhunting territory so it's a lot of open fields; but he gets so nervous. I'm assuming it's nerves. He gets really forward and starts breathing really hard. When I came back from taking him out yesterday he was sweating - and it wasn't warm out and there was nothing strenuous about our hack.

My question is, does anyone know why he does this and will it pass? or will he always be wiley when I take him in open fields?
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welcome to the forum.yes,this is normal.new sights,new surroundings,he'll be nervous at first,but keep him relaxed and under control and with time,it will pass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
welcome to the forum.yes,this is normal.new sights,new surroundings,he'll be nervous at first,but keep him relaxed and under control and with time,it will pass.
Thank you! This is probably a dumb question, but how do I keep him relaxed? I try to use my voice and reassure him and tell him what a good boy he is (he really is a good boy) but I don't know if that really does anything for him.
And thanks for the welcome :)
 

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to keep him relaxed,don't get nervous and don't make any loud or sudden moves.he knows you got him into this,so he's relying on you to help him out of it.
 

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Welcome! My horse was like that too, and I only had corn fields to ride him in. People who know him now don't believe me, but he was ca-raaazy at first! When we got to the fields all he wanted to do was RUN, or spook at just about anything (the HUGE 18 wheelers, psh.. that can that's half hidden in dirt- OMG IT'S GOING TO ATTACK!!) He sounds like your horse, one day I did a small trail ride (1-2 miles tops) but he was so worked up he came back drenched.

What I did was keep his mind occupied on the trail. If he started to get worried or eye something funny, I would give him a job to do. I made sure to keep everything slow to relax him.

Though, one of the biggest things that worked for us, was me singing to him. I found I would tense up expecting him to act up, and he would read that and do just as I predicted! But when I would sing to him, it relaxed me which in turn would help relax him. I got really into it at some points, all the barn neighbors who saw us riding down the road thought I was loco!

Now four years later, he's my favorite trail horse who I can bring complete beginners out on! I can take him in open fields and walk through, or if I wish have a controlled gallop through. Except on his frisky days out by himself, he doesn't spook. After so many very long trails, my horse started to appreciate going slow rather than want to run the entire time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Welcome! My horse was like that too, and I only had corn fields to ride him in. People who know him now don't believe me, but he was ca-raaazy at first! When we got to the fields all he wanted to do was RUN, or spook at just about anything (the HUGE 18 wheelers, psh.. that can that's half hidden in dirt- OMG IT'S GOING TO ATTACK!!) He sounds like your horse, one day I did a small trail ride (1-2 miles tops) but he was so worked up he came back drenched.

What I did was keep his mind occupied on the trail. If he started to get worried or eye something funny, I would give him a job to do. I made sure to keep everything slow to relax him.

Though, one of the biggest things that worked for us, was me singing to him. I found I would tense up expecting him to act up, and he would read that and do just as I predicted! But when I would sing to him, it relaxed me which in turn would help relax him. I got really into it at some points, all the barn neighbors who saw us riding down the road thought I was loco!

Now four years later, he's my favorite trail horse who I can bring complete beginners out on! I can take him in open fields and walk through, or if I wish have a controlled gallop through. Except on his frisky days out by himself, he doesn't spook. After so many very long trails, my horse started to appreciate going slow rather than want to run the entire time.
haha that's an awesome story!
What are some of the jobs you give him to do?
 

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haha that's an awesome story!
What are some of the jobs you give him to do?
It was a while ago, so I'm probably forgetting some. But if he was too forward we would work on just sitting there. I would say "woah!" bring him to a stop, put slack in the reins. If he moved even foot, I would take him back to the original position he was in and put slack in the reins again, etc. (basically like FREEZE! I told him where to be and to STAY there) The important thing to remember is the slack, you're trusting the horse to STAY there and giving him his job. He will learn it quicker with slack (even if you have to correct him a lot at first) then if you have a tighter grip on the reins.

This came in VERY handy for the more complicated trails I do now, if I need to get off him in a hurry to get something/help someone, I tell him WOAH (while holding on to a rein still of course) and I don't have to worry about him acting crazy and moving around everywhere.

I'm not sure about your horse, but my horse was very unresponsive to the bit on the trail. Lots of work in the arena helped this, but something that helped us on the trail was the stop and back method when he got too forward.

When he got spooky, I would make things a little more complicated for him. I would do tiny circle 8's at the walk or trot, LOTS of transitions (mainly walk, trot, woah, back, in any and every order). I've found with some horses, doing too much too fast can overwhelm them and make them more nervous but with my horse it gave his mind a job to do, and actually relaxed him.

Hope this helps! My minds a little rusty right now :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It was a while ago, so I'm probably forgetting some. But if he was too forward we would work on just sitting there. I would say "woah!" bring him to a stop, put slack in the reins. If he moved even foot, I would take him back to the original position he was in and put slack in the reins again, etc. (basically like FREEZE! I told him where to be and to STAY there) The important thing to remember is the slack, you're trusting the horse to STAY there and giving him his job. He will learn it quicker with slack (even if you have to correct him a lot at first) then if you have a tighter grip on the reins.

This came in VERY handy for the more complicated trails I do now, if I need to get off him in a hurry to get something/help someone, I tell him WOAH (while holding on to a rein still of course) and I don't have to worry about him acting crazy and moving around everywhere.

I'm not sure about your horse, but my horse was very unresponsive to the bit on the trail. Lots of work in the arena helped this, but something that helped us on the trail was the stop and back method when he got too forward.

When he got spooky, I would make things a little more complicated for him. I would do tiny circle 8's at the walk or trot, LOTS of transitions (mainly walk, trot, woah, back, in any and every order). I've found with some horses, doing too much too fast can overwhelm them and make them more nervous but with my horse it gave his mind a job to do, and actually relaxed him.

Hope this helps! My minds a little rusty right now :)
My horse is not as responsive to the bit I used (smooth snaffle) but only in these kinds of situations; if I need to have a tad more control of him, I use a slow twist, but I try to use that as little as possible. He actually did pretty good considering, so I might try and take him out again still using the smooth snaffle. I was with another rider and he was still a pretty good boy, but he just gets so tightly wound in open fields (or in new spaces); he was worried about piles of wood and big round bales so i would make him walk by those. Thanks for your ideas! I will try those, too :)
 

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Outtatheblue's got it nailed.

Keep your horse's mind busy and focusing on you. Circles, leg yields, transitions from one gait to another, transitions within gaits, half halts, spiraling circles, teardrops, just about any movemement you can get out of a dressage or equitation pattern will work, or any move you can dream of that your horse will understand.

The point is not to let their peanut brain become fried by every little horse eating monster they think they see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Outtatheblue's got it nailed.

Keep your horse's mind busy and focusing on you. Circles, leg yields, transitions from one gait to another, transitions within gaits, half halts, spiraling circles, teardrops, just about any movemement you can get out of a dressage or equitation pattern will work, or any move you can dream of that your horse will understand.

The point is not to let their peanut brain become fried by every little horse eating monster they think they see.
lol thanks for the ideas!
Mind you, I will have to google some of the moves you just mentioned, but that's ok :)
 

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Welcome! My horse was like that too, and I only had corn fields to ride him in. People who know him now don't believe me, but he was ca-raaazy at first! When we got to the fields all he wanted to do was RUN, or spook at just about anything (the HUGE 18 wheelers, psh.. that can that's half hidden in dirt- OMG IT'S GOING TO ATTACK!!) He sounds like your horse, one day I did a small trail ride (1-2 miles tops) but he was so worked up he came back drenched.

What I did was keep his mind occupied on the trail. If he started to get worried or eye something funny, I would give him a job to do. I made sure to keep everything slow to relax him.

Though, one of the biggest things that worked for us, was me singing to him. I found I would tense up expecting him to act up, and he would read that and do just as I predicted! But when I would sing to him, it relaxed me which in turn would help relax him. I got really into it at some points, all the barn neighbors who saw us riding down the road thought I was loco!

Now four years later, he's my favorite trail horse who I can bring complete beginners out on! I can take him in open fields and walk through, or if I wish have a controlled gallop through. Except on his frisky days out by himself, he doesn't spook. After so many very long trails, my horse started to appreciate going slow rather than want to run the entire time.
I was told to hum. Unfortunately, at that point all I can remember is the melody to "I'll be home for Christmas." Try that in July.
 

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I have been reading a book on "bomb proofing" your horse and other behaviors they should master. (I will post title and author later, I can't remember).

Sam has a tendency to fear horse-eating woozels while out in open fields. On ground, I can walk him anywhere. If I am sitting on him, omgoodness, he is on high alert. I like to think he is worried for my safety and being extra cautious to keep me safe. NOT!!

I took him for a ride in the back pasture and the city fire hydrant freaked him out. I must have rode past it in both directions 30 times before he stopped shivering from woozel fear.

Because of this, I am going to work him first on ground and then under saddle on human stuff exposure. Walking over blue tarps. Umbrellas. Flappy bags. Helium balloons weighted shoulder high on the ground.

I am hoping that more woozel exposure will help him a) trust me and b) get over his woozel fear quicker.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I have been reading a book on "bomb proofing" your horse and other behaviors they should master. (I will post title and author later, I can't remember).

Sam has a tendency to fear horse-eating woozels while out in open fields. On ground, I can walk him anywhere. If I am sitting on him, omgoodness, he is on high alert. I like to think he is worried for my safety and being extra cautious to keep me safe. NOT!!

I took him for a ride in the back pasture and the city fire hydrant freaked him out. I must have rode past it in both directions 30 times before he stopped shivering from woozel fear.

Because of this, I am going to work him first on ground and then under saddle on human stuff exposure. Walking over blue tarps. Umbrellas. Flappy bags. Helium balloons weighted shoulder high on the ground.

I am hoping that more woozel exposure will help him a) trust me and b) get over his woozel fear quicker.
Yes, if you can remember the title, I'd like to check it out.
 
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