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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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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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I hoped just getting over the hump and being back on him would be like a switch was flipped and I wasn't scared anymore, but I guess that's not going to be the case.
Sixty two years ago, I got a serious concussion when a horse bolted with me, stepped in a hole, flipped, and fell on me. If I am on a horse that starts running and I can't stop him, if I pull on the reins and get . . . pure iron . . . no response, I still get a panicky feeling. I've learned to deal with it somewhat, but it's always there when a horse takes off with me out of control. You'd think I'd have gotten long over it, with the millions of successful rides I've had, but it comes back pretty strong when a horse is bolting out of control with me.
 

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I also was very nervous driving a horse trailer for the first time. The first time I hauled my horse somewhere, I drank a whole large glass of water down at once, my mouth was so dry. We had bought the trailer to move my horse from Texas to Maryland. Hurricane Agnes came along just when we started the trip. Agnes was a slow moving storm without much wind but heavy rain. Agnes and me driving the horse trailer crawled our way north. By the end of the trip, I was a fairly decent trailer hauler. We had a lot of scary adventures that trip, but it made a driver out of me.
 
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