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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How do I train my horse not to call out under saddle? He's always been herd bound, and will call out when he can't see other horses while I'm riding. Usually it isn't an issue, but with the mares in heat he's now calling out a lot more than usual.
He's an arab cross, so asking him to work harder doesn't work, he gets more worked up. He will do it at the trot and canter as well without breaking gait. He's always been vocal, but this past week is worse than usual. I tried working him harder today but he just kept calling at the trot and canter.
Thanks in advance!
 

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Does he do it when he has a job to do? Like ground poles, jumps, barrels or whatever it is that you do with him?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Does he do it when he has a job to do? Like ground poles, jumps, barrels or whatever it is that you do with him?
We've mostly been focusing on dressage. He seems to be working very well and focused, then starts calling. Sometimes without even lifting his head. I could incorporate more ground poles and see if that helps.
 

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Does he call when you're walking him on the ground? More importantly, does he start ignoring you once he gets into his calling mindset (either on the ground or under saddle)? If he is doing the same behavior on the ground, especially if he gets pushy and disrespectful, I would try addressing the issue on the ground first.

I have admittedly been dumped multiple times by my mare years ago early in training when she was incredibly herd-bound. She also had issues with being very pushy and constantly calling when on the ground and out of sight of others. This technique in the video below worked wonders for her. We walked to a place where she can't see other horses but was still nearby (often far side of the barn) - she'd start prancing and getting pushy and calling - did a few minutes of the exercise below - once more respectful and settled than before, she got to go back and see her friends. I only repeated if she started getting pushy again on the way back. Only had to do this exercise for a total of maybe 20 minutes spread across a week and she was golden, and still is, I can take her anywhere off the property alone and she doesn't so much as look back over her shoulder for her buddies. And she started out worse than how that horse in the video was in the beginning.

My apologies if he's a gentleman on the ground and only calls when ridden. I've just not seen a horse like that before. Often times behavioral things like that stem from issues that need to be corrected on the ground first. If he is respectful on the ground and listens to your cues under saddle while he's acting like this, I would do the same as above and just ignore it.

 

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If he’s otherwise behaving OK then I wouldn’t do anything at all.
If you start getting after him and stressing him about it you’re likely to turn something that’s just irritating into a real problem.

We had a 14.2 gelding for years, my sons jumped him and when they were too old to compete him I reinvented him as my hunting pony for a couple of years before he retired.

He was always very vocal out on his own but was as safe as any horse/pony could be.

He’d even start whinnying the moment he jumped the last fence on the course and was heading out of the ring!
 

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As long as the horse is still listening to me, I ignore calling out. If I'm walking out on a trail on a loose rein, not really asking anything of him, and he calls out I'll immediately start asking things of him - moving the shoulder or hip over, sidepassing, backing, vertical flexion, small serpentines, anything really. If he does what I ask I let it go.

If he doesn't do what I ask, or if he's not listening, then he'll get worked more. Not necessarily harder or faster - just asked to do more things, in succession, than normal. I generally 'check in' with my horse every minute or two even on a trail ride - again, easy stuff like vertical flexion and moving a body part. I ask, he answers, and we continue on our merry way, usually with no interruption of the ride. If he doesn't answer, or does it wrong, I'll focus on that thing and work on it for a while. Sometimes I might work on it while we ride and sometimes I'll stop the trail ride or whatever and work on just that thing until there's a modicum of improvement, then the ride continues for a while before I ask again, once more looking for a tiny bit of improvement.

With a horse that keeps calling out and isn't listening, I'll do a thing, and then another thing, and then another thing, and keep on doing things until he starts to listen to me. Then I put him on a loose rein and we just ride until he starts calling again, and then I start asking things of him once more. Again, not necessarily making him do anything fast or hard or make him work up a sweat, just a smooth transition from vertical flexion to sidepassing to counter bending to backing a circle to moving the hindquarters to serpentine to … you get the picture. This might all be done at a slow walk, but I don't stop asking questions until he starts to listen.

But if he's calling out and you pick up a rein and he gives his nose, or you put your leg back and he moves his hindquarters over, I wouldn't sweat it. Calling out is annoying but if he's listening to you and doing as you ask he's not technically doing anything wrong.

-- Kai
 
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