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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I decided to finally make a journal to track the progress with my 15 year old TWH gelding, Dylan.

For background, I am an adult re-rider who jumped in to ownership, rather than being sensible and taking lessons or borrowing a horse to get back into the groove of things. I rode a lot as a older child/young teen, and feel like I was genuinely a very good rider. I never took a formal lesson, though, and often I was riding green or difficult horses that my friend's mom didn't want to put her on. Their argument was that I was very small and light, and therefore the horses didn't protest as much. Honestly I think she liked to show people that a small, young girl could handle the horses she was selling. When her daughter and I had a falling out and stopped being friends, I no longer had access to horses and that lasted from the time I was about 15 until I bought Dylan in 2017, a few days before I turned 30.

Dylan was sold as an "intermediate" horse who was quiet and willing but had confidence issues, and didn't like to ride out alone. I felt certain I could handle it. And I did handle it, for a bit. He didn't like to ride out alone but we did it anyway. Then the bolting started. Again, at first, I handled it. Until I couldn't anymore. Now we could ride happily, but only with another horse. To make a long story short, his herd sourness continued and got worse and worse through 3 different boarding situations, until finally he got to the point where taking him even a few feet from another horse ended in rearing, striking, and all together incredibly dangerous behavior.

In March of 2021, we moved to a dressage barn full of older, lifelong horsewomen and their various fancy, well trained horses. I often joked that I sent my red-neck son to an English boarding school 馃槀 This is the best thing that could have happened to us. We learned so much in our time there, and we really started to come to an understanding of each other. I made so many new connections in the local horse world and have access to so much knowledge and training advice. I feel like I hit the lottery! I also took my first ever formal riding lessons, which were not as terrifying as I expected.

Unfortunately, this year we left that situation to board again with a friend. The barn owner sadly lost her husband and was planning to sell. My husband and I decided it was time to relocate into the country. We bought our dream home on 14.25 beautiful acres. Now our house is 5 minutes away from where Dylan lives, and the plan is to either buy neighboring land or clear part of ours for him in the coming years.

Moving away from the dressage barn was moving away from our safety net. I feel like we have taken hundreds of steps back in being able to work together and ride alone, and this was evidenced by a bad bolt and subsequent fall almost a month ago. I suffered a bad concussion and bumps and bruises all over. Worst of all, I suffered a huge blow to my confidence and the confidence I had built in my relationship with Dylan.

Now I go back and forth almost hourly on selling him. I know there are quiet, non-spooky horses out there that I would be safe on. But I also know how far he's come in trusting me and I would hate for him to lose that. Before I bought him, he was sold every 2-3 years. No one stuck with him. He was a very shut down horse when I brought him home. I didn't realize it, because he liked treats and was easy to catch. That was the polar opposite of the horses I used to ride so I assumed he liked people. But after spending the last year really getting to know him, I know he was just tolerating people. He didn't enjoy his time with me before. There was nothing good in it, nothing he enjoyed about it. Now I know his itchy spots. I know what brushes he likes and dislikes. I know what legs he likes to stretch and that he loves massages. I know that he's naturally curious and is very happy when learning and training. He trusted me enough to let me in and show me these things, and for me, that's probably more important than being able to ride alone or having a horse that doesn't spook.

My plan for the time being is to continue to work on our confidence in each other, and my confidence in myself. I was cleared last week to ride, so I am working on signing up for lessons at a local riding school. I also bought a confidence building and liberty course to work through with Dylan as I gain the confidence I need to start riding again. My first rides with him will be on the lunge line with one of the older dressage ladies for support. And I'm hoping journaling here will help me stay on track and help keep me motivated to work through this hiccup in our journey together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I went tonight to work with Dylan. My plan was some basic groundwork to get him focused, then lunging to get him back in shape, and then some desensitizing with the flag I bought. When I got there, he had been rotated to about field further from the barn, which made the plan difficult because of getting the equipment out there. I almost hauled everything in my car but decided instead to bring him to the barn and do everything but the lunging today.

I expected him to be anxious leaving the field, especially with his herd mate screaming her head off, but he was great and kept his focus on me. Dylan tends to lose focus, so I often will count off steps and stop abruptly. If he stops with me, he gets a pat and a good boy (and randomly a treat). If not, he has to back a few steps to refocus and we try again. In the past I tried circling him when he would rush ahead, but for some reason that tends to make him even more anxious and would escalate his behavior. Backing up resets his brain for some reason.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I got out the training flag. I know he's had some natural horsemanship training before, and the last barn owner did a lot with him, but it's been a while. He wasn't phased by the flag for the most part. Dragging it on the ground and whipping it quickly so it made loud noises worried him a bit, but after a couple of repetitions he was fine. We also did some yielding, matching steps while walking, and practiced ground tying. I finished with some stretches and light massage, which he really appreciated.

Before turning him back out, I decided I wanted 5 relaxed steps in the "bad" direction. Of course, as soon as we started walking that way, he had a big spook and jump sideways 馃檮 This was literally 5 feet from where we just worked quietly for half an hour. I realized later that the gravel pile had a bunch of fence posts dumped on it, so that was new and probably what worried him. I refocused him, took 5 steps in the good direction, and then got my 5 steps back in the "bad" direction with him relaxed and focused so we called it a night.

Overall I was happy with how he did. Even with the other horses running and yelling, he kept his focus on me and didn't ever get overly upset about it. Seems like such a small thing considering where we are coming from, but I'm okay with baby steps since that is what it took before, too.

I've added an old picture, just because he's handsome 馃檪
 

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He is handsome!!
sounds like you鈥檙e getting somewhere with him which is great.
The TWH I rescued was similar, couldn鈥檛 connect with anyone and was superrr spooky, had multiple different homes in just a couple months which was sad. Had different people try to train her & she was still spooky and weary of people, 5yrs layer, still spooky, figured out she was going blind, when I got my other horse she calmed down and isn鈥檛 as spooky, but we still don鈥檛 have a connection which is ok, she鈥檚 old now and enjoying her pasture.

I wish you the best of luck with Dylan! So great you bought your dream house too!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
He is handsome!!
sounds like you鈥檙e getting somewhere with him which is great.
The TWH I rescued was similar, couldn鈥檛 connect with anyone and was superrr spooky, had multiple different homes in just a couple months which was sad. Had different people try to train her & she was still spooky and weary of people, 5yrs layer, still spooky, figured out she was going blind, when I got my other horse she calmed down and isn鈥檛 as spooky, but we still don鈥檛 have a connection which is ok, she鈥檚 old now and enjoying her pasture.

I wish you the best of luck with Dylan! So great you bought your dream house too!
The vet said his eyes are fine. That was my first thought, too, because he really can go from perfectly fine to a giant spin and bolt out of nowhere. Which is how I got my head injury!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I was thinking the same thing - get his eyes checked out. What is especially standing out to me is that he keeps majorly regressing. From what you wrote you don鈥檛 sound like rank beginner that would cause such huge regressions - especially seeing that you got him behaving so much better on your own.
My equine education was very non traditional, so I have major gaps in my training lol. I don't really consider myself a beginner but in a lot of ways I am. I definitely didn't get him "better" all alone, the BO and all of the other women at the last place were a huge help. I gained a lot of skills and knowledge and I know how to get him "back" now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There hasn't been much training in the last week or so. We went out of town for my birthday and the weather hasn't been cooperating. I try to remind myself that there's no timeline for this and with horses, it's always going to be a work in progress. I did have an epiphany this week that I think maybe will help us get through his fear in the future, though. I was really analyzing the difference between the way I ride him in the arena vs on the trail and realized that in the arena, I'm ALWAYS concentrated on doing something. Halting with my seat, controlling his pace, adding or removing bend in his body, etc. On the trails I tend to want to sit back and enjoy the ride. Unfortunately, I don't think that's ever going to work for him. Our trainer at the last barn said he basically has horse ADHD. He's always looking at this, what's that over there, I heard a noise, etc. The way I ride in the arena occupies his mind, so he's not able to get worried and we don't build up too many rabbits. On the trail, I'm not actively riding and I'm more of a passenger, allowing his mind to wander and find monsters everywhere. It's going to be a journey of not only helping him with fear and confidence but retraining myself to be an active rider 100% of the time to help his wandering mind stay on me.

Tonight I had planned to lunge him after dinner but we had a big rainstorm so the ground was too wet and slippery. Instead I grabbed the training flag and headed out with dinner. He's pastured with my friend's mare and she warned me that she was very afraid of the flag, so I wasn't hopeful that I'd even get to use it. When I came in the pasture with it she was snorting and wide eyed, but I just let it rest on the ground while he ate and eventually she approached it and sniffed. After that she backed off and I worked with Dylan.

I only brought a couple of treats since I wasn't sure if I would even get to work with him, and I also didn't bring a halter or lead rope. I think part of his worry when he's being ridden is knowing he can't get away when something scares him, so I thought maybe working at liberty would make him feel more secure. I used the flag in the same way as before, gently trailing it along the ground and over his body, rewarding him for curiosity and standing calmly. I quickly ran out of treats and expected him to immediately leave, but to my surprise he stayed and worked with me for another 5 minutes or so. I guess to a lot of people that wouldn't seem like much, but his willingness to stay and work on something "scary" with me without the lure of treats once again reminded me why I want to work through his issues instead of just selling him on. Eventually a deer crashed in the woods nearby and broke the spell and he turned back to grazing.

I recently watched a "trainer" use a flag with a gelding to desensitize where he would randomly whip it out of nowhere and whack the horse with it as hard as he could. The horse was absolutely baffled and eventually was standing and trembling in anticipation of the smack. I could go on and on about how awful the trainer is, but I just mention it here to say that I definitely don't do that when training, and especially not with a wary mare in the same pasture. She stood near us but not within reach for the whole time, and by the end I could trail it along the ground without her seeming worried about it moving. She's not my horse and maybe I should have moved him away during the session, but I guess I can't regret helping her be a little less fearful of it as well.

My new helmet came in yesterday, and I asked my friend if she could ride with me in the pasture this weekend. If not, I at least have a lesson scheduled at a barn about 25 minutes away on Monday.
Sky Plant Working animal Tree Sculpture
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I went out tonight with the plan of a good grooming and maybe some more liberty work. I was carrying my stuff into the pasture when I got swarmed by yellow jackets. Ended up stung 3 times. Then as I was showing my friend's boyfriend where they were so he could take care of them tonight, we noticed some pretty big scrapes on Dylan and the mare he is pastured with. It looks like they got into it pretty bad, but she's shorter than he is and he had a big scrape right above his tail. It also looked older than her scrapes, but he definitely didn't have them yesterday when I was there. Not sure how that happened. He's always the low man in the field but they've been saying he's been aggressive with their horses so I really don't know what to think. He's always the same sweet guy when I'm there, and it's pretty obvious the mare runs the field. They've been discussing fencing another area and keeping all of the horses separate. I'm not sure how I feel about it but at least I can work with him in the field without worries I guess.

No worked after being stung, and I scrapped my exercise plans for a large glass of wine. This hasn't been my best summer ever!
 

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Ugh I'm so sorry you got swarmed! Have another glass of wine!! A big one!!

I've been reading this thread and totally 100% relate. I have been working on getting my mare to leave the barn for a long time, too. I had a bad accident in the past so I'm very careful and I also don't have a lot of formal training. I feel like we're in the same boat in many ways. I refuse to ride Ona away from the house right now - I lead her in hand. I do drive her to a trail and ride her because she's a much better horse when she has zero chance of being able to bolt home and no friends to run to for comfort.

One thing I wish I learned sooner was about finding the edge of a horse's comfort zone. I can't remember where I saw it but there's this target figure that shows the horse's comfort zones with total comfort in the middle and going all the way out to the horse blowing up. Imagine the bullseye being a perfectly calm comfortable horse out in the pasture eating with his mates, then the 2nd ring is a point where you're interacting with him but he's not showing any stress or anxiety at all - like when you're grooming him, then the 3rd ring is the learning zone where he's maybe feeling just a tad bit of anxiety but not showing it at all and enjoying himself- like when you work with him in the arena and he's calm and cooperative. Then there's the 4th ring where he's just a little more alert and looky, but not spooking or prancing or doing anything dangerous yet. Then the 5th ring - he's getting high headed with his ears pricked, and the 6th ring he's prancing around and about ready to lose it.

I've learned with Ona that it's counterproductive to ever get her to the 6th ring when I'm working with her at home on getting away from the barn. If we get to that point, we've taken a step back in our progression. I like to get her to the 4th ring and then hang out between there and the 3rd for most of the lesson.

I walk her away from the barn to where she's looking just a tiny bit looky and we stop, and then walk back to where she's comfortable. We go back and forth between her being slightly looky and her being comfortable and then we hang out in zone 4, the "looky zone," and I pet her until she's calm and has her head down and she's bored, and this becomes her new comfort zone. Then after doing that for a little while I take her out just a few steps further to the 5th ring and go back to comfort a few very quick times and then the lesson is over. Back and forth from mild anxiety to comfort. Going back to comfort often is the key, to keep her from just getting more and more anxious. If we get one inch further than we did the day before, it's progress - and sometimes we go much further.

The line between zone 4 "looky" and zone 6 "danger" can be just a couple of steps. At first, she was looky 2 steps inside the gate and rearing just one step outside the gate. It took a long time to get past that.

We walked a mile away from the house the other day after going half a mile the previous day so I think we're just about over our barn sour issues but I got excited and pushed her too far, against my better judgment. She got to "zone 6" so I do anticipate that next time we go out she might not do as well for me and i won't hold it against her if we only go 3/4 mile. Maybe I'll just deliberately take her that far and turn back even if she seems OK.

I wonder if you might not notice the subtle signs of Dylan being at the edge of his comfort zone - and it might seem as if he's suddenly bolting but in reality maybe he's been hanging out in zone 4 or 5 for a while, without going back to comfort, and his anxiety has been building up.

Just one possibility! Keep it up. Do something with him as often as you can and don't feel like you have to push him or try to make progress every day. Sometimes you can just do stuff where he's comfortable - but make him do stuff so he's listening to you and doesn't decide he's the boss.

Edit: I forgot to mention that I often make her do something I'm teaching her while we're in the "looky zone," like right now we're working on yielding front an back quarters and I'm going to keep working with that until I get her side passing. It takes her mind off looking around.
 

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I've been reading this thread and totally 100% relate. I have been working on getting my mare to leave the barn for a long time, too. I had a bad accident in the past so I'm very careful and I also don't have a lot of formal training. I feel like we're in the same boat in many ways. I refuse to ride Ona away from the house right now - I lead her in hand. I do drive her to a trail and ride her because she's a much better horse when she has zero chance of being able to bolt home and no friends to run to for comfort.

One thing I wish I learned sooner was about finding the edge of a horse's comfort zone. I can't remember where I saw it but there's this target figure that shows the horse's comfort zones with total comfort in the middle and going all the way out to the horse blowing up. Imagine the bullseye being a perfectly calm comfortable horse out in the pasture eating with his mates, then the 2nd ring is a point where you're interacting with him but he's not showing any stress or anxiety at all - like when you're grooming him, then the 3rd ring is the learning zone where he's maybe feeling just a tad bit of anxiety but not showing it at all and enjoying himself- like when you work with him in the arena and he's calm and cooperative. Then there's the 4th ring where he's just a little more alert and looky, but not spooking or prancing or doing anything dangerous yet. Then the 5th ring - he's getting high headed with his ears pricked, and the 6th ring he's prancing around and about ready to lose it.

I've learned with Ona that it's counterproductive to ever get her to the 6th ring when I'm working with her at home on getting away from the barn. If we get to that point, we've taken a step back in our progression. I like to get her to the 4th ring and then hang out between there and the 3rd for most of the lesson.

I walk her away from the barn to where she's looking just a tiny bit looky and we stop, and then walk back to where she's comfortable. We go back and forth between her being slightly looky and her being comfortable and then we hang out in zone 4, the "looky zone," and I pet her until she's calm and has her head down and she's bored, and this becomes her new comfort zone. Then after doing that for a little while I take her out just a few steps further to the 5th ring and go back to comfort a few very quick times and then the lesson is over. Back and forth from mild anxiety to comfort. Going back to comfort often is the key, to keep her from just getting more and more anxious. If we get one inch further than we did the day before, it's progress - and sometimes we go much further.

The line between zone 4 "looky" and zone 6 "danger" can be just a couple of steps. At first, she was looky 2 steps inside the gate and rearing just one step outside the gate. It took a long time to get past that.

We walked a mile away from the house the other day after going half a mile the previous day so I think we're just about over our barn sour issues but I got excited and pushed her too far, against my better judgment. She got to "zone 6" so I do anticipate that next time we go out she might not do as well for me and i won't hold it against her if we only go 3/4 mile. Maybe I'll just deliberately take her that far and turn back even if she seems OK.

I wonder if you might not notice the subtle signs of Dylan being at the edge of his comfort zone - and it might seem as if he's suddenly bolting but in reality maybe he's been hanging out in zone 4 or 5 for a while, without going back to comfort, and his anxiety has been building up.

Just one possibility! Keep it up. Do something with him as often as you can and don't feel like you have to push him or try to make progress every day. Sometimes you can just do stuff where he's comfortable - but make him do stuff so he's listening to you and doesn't decide he's the boss.

Edit: I forgot to mention that I often make her do something I'm teaching her while we're in the "looky zone," like right now we're working on yielding front an back quarters and I'm going to keep working with that until I get her side passing. It takes her mind off looking around.
I found this to be extremely interesting and useful to me! I am so glad you wrote this! I am going to start working with Windy this way, very different and much better than what I was doing.
 

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Ugh I'm so sorry you got swarmed! Have another glass of wine!! A big one!!

I've been reading this thread and totally 100% relate. I have been working on getting my mare to leave the barn for a long time, too. I had a bad accident in the past so I'm very careful and I also don't have a lot of formal training. I feel like we're in the same boat in many ways. I refuse to ride Ona away from the house right now - I lead her in hand. I do drive her to a trail and ride her because she's a much better horse when she has zero chance of being able to bolt home and no friends to run to for comfort.

One thing I wish I learned sooner was about finding the edge of a horse's comfort zone. I can't remember where I saw it but there's this target figure that shows the horse's comfort zones with total comfort in the middle and going all the way out to the horse blowing up. Imagine the bullseye being a perfectly calm comfortable horse out in the pasture eating with his mates, then the 2nd ring is a point where you're interacting with him but he's not showing any stress or anxiety at all - like when you're grooming him, then the 3rd ring is the learning zone where he's maybe feeling just a tad bit of anxiety but not showing it at all and enjoying himself- like when you work with him in the arena and he's calm and cooperative. Then there's the 4th ring where he's just a little more alert and looky, but not spooking or prancing or doing anything dangerous yet. Then the 5th ring - he's getting high headed with his ears pricked, and the 6th ring he's prancing around and about ready to lose it.

I've learned with Ona that it's counterproductive to ever get her to the 6th ring when I'm working with her at home on getting away from the barn. If we get to that point, we've taken a step back in our progression. I like to get her to the 4th ring and then hang out between there and the 3rd for most of the lesson.

I walk her away from the barn to where she's looking just a tiny bit looky and we stop, and then walk back to where she's comfortable. We go back and forth between her being slightly looky and her being comfortable and then we hang out in zone 4, the "looky zone," and I pet her until she's calm and has her head down and she's bored, and this becomes her new comfort zone. Then after doing that for a little while I take her out just a few steps further to the 5th ring and go back to comfort a few very quick times and then the lesson is over. Back and forth from mild anxiety to comfort. Going back to comfort often is the key, to keep her from just getting more and more anxious. If we get one inch further than we did the day before, it's progress - and sometimes we go much further.

The line between zone 4 "looky" and zone 6 "danger" can be just a couple of steps. At first, she was looky 2 steps inside the gate and rearing just one step outside the gate. It took a long time to get past that.

We walked a mile away from the house the other day after going half a mile the previous day so I think we're just about over our barn sour issues but I got excited and pushed her too far, against my better judgment. She got to "zone 6" so I do anticipate that next time we go out she might not do as well for me and i won't hold it against her if we only go 3/4 mile. Maybe I'll just deliberately take her that far and turn back even if she seems OK.

I wonder if you might not notice the subtle signs of Dylan being at the edge of his comfort zone - and it might seem as if he's suddenly bolting but in reality maybe he's been hanging out in zone 4 or 5 for a while, without going back to comfort, and his anxiety has been building up.

Just one possibility! Keep it up. Do something with him as often as you can and don't feel like you have to push him or try to make progress every day. Sometimes you can just do stuff where he's comfortable - but make him do stuff so he's listening to you and doesn't decide he's the boss.

Edit: I forgot to mention that I often make her do something I'm teaching her while we're in the "looky zone," like right now we're working on yielding front an back quarters and I'm going to keep working with that until I get her side passing. It takes her mind off looking around.
This is similar to what I do, except I take them to where they get prancy then I ride back to the barn and into the pen and work them. Then back out til prancy or nervous then back to then pen for work. Pretty soon it is easier to be away from the pen and their buddy than to be where he is. I also go a little further each time like you. It works very well. This all happens over multiple rides. Ki has gotten relaxed going by her self. What she lacks is riding with others. She's only rode with other horses once other than with her buddy though so she needs more exposure to other horses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ugh I'm so sorry you got swarmed! Have another glass of wine!! A big one!!

I've been reading this thread and totally 100% relate. I have been working on getting my mare to leave the barn for a long time, too. I had a bad accident in the past so I'm very careful and I also don't have a lot of formal training. I feel like we're in the same boat in many ways. I refuse to ride Ona away from the house right now - I lead her in hand. I do drive her to a trail and ride her because she's a much better horse when she has zero chance of being able to bolt home and no friends to run to for comfort.

One thing I wish I learned sooner was about finding the edge of a horse's comfort zone. I can't remember where I saw it but there's this target figure that shows the horse's comfort zones with total comfort in the middle and going all the way out to the horse blowing up. Imagine the bullseye being a perfectly calm comfortable horse out in the pasture eating with his mates, then the 2nd ring is a point where you're interacting with him but he's not showing any stress or anxiety at all - like when you're grooming him, then the 3rd ring is the learning zone where he's maybe feeling just a tad bit of anxiety but not showing it at all and enjoying himself- like when you work with him in the arena and he's calm and cooperative. Then there's the 4th ring where he's just a little more alert and looky, but not spooking or prancing or doing anything dangerous yet. Then the 5th ring - he's getting high headed with his ears pricked, and the 6th ring he's prancing around and about ready to lose it.

I've learned with Ona that it's counterproductive to ever get her to the 6th ring when I'm working with her at home on getting away from the barn. If we get to that point, we've taken a step back in our progression. I like to get her to the 4th ring and then hang out between there and the 3rd for most of the lesson.

I walk her away from the barn to where she's looking just a tiny bit looky and we stop, and then walk back to where she's comfortable. We go back and forth between her being slightly looky and her being comfortable and then we hang out in zone 4, the "looky zone," and I pet her until she's calm and has her head down and she's bored, and this becomes her new comfort zone. Then after doing that for a little while I take her out just a few steps further to the 5th ring and go back to comfort a few very quick times and then the lesson is over. Back and forth from mild anxiety to comfort. Going back to comfort often is the key, to keep her from just getting more and more anxious. If we get one inch further than we did the day before, it's progress - and sometimes we go much further.

The line between zone 4 "looky" and zone 6 "danger" can be just a couple of steps. At first, she was looky 2 steps inside the gate and rearing just one step outside the gate. It took a long time to get past that.

We walked a mile away from the house the other day after going half a mile the previous day so I think we're just about over our barn sour issues but I got excited and pushed her too far, against my better judgment. She got to "zone 6" so I do anticipate that next time we go out she might not do as well for me and i won't hold it against her if we only go 3/4 mile. Maybe I'll just deliberately take her that far and turn back even if she seems OK.

I wonder if you might not notice the subtle signs of Dylan being at the edge of his comfort zone - and it might seem as if he's suddenly bolting but in reality maybe he's been hanging out in zone 4 or 5 for a while, without going back to comfort, and his anxiety has been building up.

Just one possibility! Keep it up. Do something with him as often as you can and don't feel like you have to push him or try to make progress every day. Sometimes you can just do stuff where he's comfortable - but make him do stuff so he's listening to you and doesn't decide he's the boss.

Edit: I forgot to mention that I often make her do something I'm teaching her while we're in the "looky zone," like right now we're working on yielding front an back quarters and I'm going to keep working with that until I get her side passing. It takes her mind off looking around.
I've been trying to work on the zones with him. It's definitely helped in the past. Unfortunately, right now my zones are even more restricted than his are! I find myself very nervous anywhere but in the field, mostly due to how his pasture mate reacts when we walk away. The last time we left her, he didn't seem to mind, but I was on pins and needles the whole way waiting for him to go back to the rearing and striking.
 

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I've been trying to work on the zones with him. It's definitely helped in the past. Unfortunately, right now my zones are even more restricted than his are! I find myself very nervous anywhere but in the field, mostly due to how his pasture mate reacts when we walk away. The last time we left her, he didn't seem to mind, but I was on pins and needles the whole way waiting for him to go back to the rearing and striking.
That's me if I try to RIDE Ona away from the house. I get to zone 6 as soon as we hit the end of the driveway LOL. I'm just going to keep hand walking her until I get calmer!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
That's me if I try to RIDE Ona away from the house. I get to zone 6 as soon as we hit the end of the driveway LOL. I'm just going to keep hand walking her until I get calmer!!!
That's where I am right now. I don't care if it takes a year to get back on him, I want us both to feel comfortable and happy and relaxed. However long that takes is fine.
 

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What were you doing?
Windy is unique in that she rides out perfectly fine. I think, "What a great ride we're having! She's doing so good!" It's so fun, and I'm so proud of her, we ride on and on. And THEN . . . when it's time to head home, she bounces and leaps about, throws up her head, bonks my nose, and the whole way home is scary and difficult because she wants to do running walk all the way home.

So, in the bad old days, I would get off and lead her, because I was scared. But I'd be so far out that I couldn't walk that far, leading a bouncing jumping, spinning crazy mare. When she'd sort of calm down, I'd get back on, because I didn't want to walk anymore. I'd think, "It can't be THAT bad." But it was, and I'd get off again. Misery.

So I started just leading her out until I'd get tired of walking and then lead her home. At zone 6, I didn't realize there were zones and I'd just keep leading her. I wasn't paying attention to her zones. And now I will. I never took her back to her comfort zone (and she definitely has one). We'd just head out and come back when I didn't think I could walk anymore. I'd try to let her graze, but she'd be too upset to graze. I had her way out of her comfort zone by then.

With these new ideas, I think this winter is going to go much much better for me, and I thank you so much! (it's only in winter that she's so scary. She's fine in late spring, summer, early fall when she's in a big pasture all day and all night.

Again, I thank you so much for your input. Sorry, @boatagor for co-oping your thread.
 
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