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Advice on my horse and open fields...

4177 Views 16 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  shandasue
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! 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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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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