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Gate Issues

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My horse over the last 4 years has developed a horrible gate problem with Poles and Barrels and now it is carrying into the judged events as well. She won't walk towards the gate and just spins to face the other way and whenever someone tries to lead her in, or I ask too insistently she rears right up. I took her to see numerous vets and chiropractors and did X-rays and there is no sign of pain. I think it could just be disrespect? Does anyone have any ideas of what to do? I have tried blinders and walking her in on the ground and nothing seems to be working. I will admit that she is my first horse I've done all the training on and has been super easy other than this and I do let her get away with a lot of bad behavior, so is just being firmer going to help, or would it just freak her out more? HELP!!!!
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As someone who created a gate sour horse, the issues are not with the horse but the training you've done up until this point. It's time to go back to the basics to correct. Being firmer or trying to demand respect isn't the fix to gate sourness. Others will weigh-in, but you have a long road in front of you if your horse is spinning away from the gate and rearing.
 

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Do something different on this horse, like team penning,breakaway roping anything besides poles and barrels. She's not being disrespectful shes telling you something is hurting or shes just flat out dont want to be a speed event horse any more. This happens when they do the same event over and over, and I see this happen alot when a rider takes their horse in and does about 5 exhibitions and then their run, they burn them out..
 

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I think it’s a pressure issue. Like the mare is pressuring herself up about what is expected, and in turn much like a blown up horse if she is not already one. I don’t think it relates to any disrespect on her part, it’s just in her own head, and in a way on you for letting her get there, although some horses go there really easy.

I don’t know that gate issues are something you necessarily overcome, because once you go in and compete the pressure is immediately back on. I think they are something you deal with rather than fix I guess.

I do however think it’s really important to do other things. Like @My Salty Pony said, do something else. The horse already knows the patterns. Go outside, keep her fit and her mind working on other things. Too much arena riding is never great for a performance horse in my opinion. At least vary the arena work you do if nothing else. If cows are available cut, sort, rope, whatever you want. That is different than what you are doing, as it’s a whole other thing for her to think about.

I have had a few successful barrel and pole horses. One was pressured up and blown up. She enjoyed the events I believe, but she took it very seriously and couldn’t quite handle it, and the others were all calm about it. It’s a personality thing to me, and working with said personality. In any case, I didn’t run patterns almost ever at home, there is not really a need once a horse knows. Sure, I’d have them do some exercises on occasion, but I didn’t run them excepting once two days prior to an event. Sometimes not even then.

Even the blown up mare it helped. She knew she wasn’t running a pattern or being intensely trained on when she went into the home arena. She went in perfectly fine. She was a good cutter and decent team roper, but in the team roping she could pressure herself up there too, causing box issues. She was hotter than hot, and pressure was why she was blown up to begin with.

Yet, no matter how good she was at home, she would pressure up in town. I think the solution would have been to take her a few places and not run when she went into the pattern, but the second I ran her she would have pressured up again. So, I just dealt with the gate issues, and she was extremely competitive. Overall I thought she was very happy about it, but she pressured herself at the time of entering and running. It just was what it was.

Now, I could tolerate it with her because it was her personality. I have seen horses blown up at the gate that seemed like they didn’t want to run, and weren’t even competitive. If that is your mare, then why make her do something she doesn’t want to do? Buy something else to compete on that actually enjoys it, and do something with the mare that she enjoys.
 

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My horse over the last 4 years has developed a horrible gate problem with Poles and Barrels and now it is carrying into the judged events as well. She won't walk towards the gate and just spins to face the other way and whenever someone tries to lead her in, or I ask too insistently she rears right up. I took her to see numerous vets and chiropractors and did X-rays and there is no sign of pain. I think it could just be disrespect? Does anyone have any ideas of what to do? I have tried blinders and walking her in on the ground and nothing seems to be working. I will admit that she is my first horse I've done all the training on and has been super easy other than this and I do let her get away with a lot of bad behavior, so is just being firmer going to help, or would it just freak her out more? HELP!!!!
Gate issues are either created by the rider, or created by pain, or a combination of both. Gate issues develop because the horse is frustrated and therefore no longer enjoys their job. So they don't want to go into the arena because they know it is not going to be a pleasant experience.

How old is your horse?
How long have you had her?

What type of vets did you take her to? You said xrays but what did they xray and what were they suspecting? Did they flex her? Do any nerve blocks?
Good vets will find something. Always. There's no such thing as a clean lameness exam. However, then it's a matter of determining if the findings are clinical or not.

So I have more questions on the "pain" topic which would be helpful if you can answer.

Do you have any videos of your horse with the gate issue? Doing barrel or poles? That would be very helpful as well.

You have to go about figuring out how you can make the arena a PLEASANT happy place for her. When horses have confidence and they understand their job, and know what is expected of them, they are good. If they are confused, anxious, frustrated, etc then of course they do not want to put themselves in that situation again.

Are you being clear with your cues?
Are you being fair and consistent?
Have you done her training slowly enough before adding speed?
Are you making sure she knows they has done the right thing when she does a good job?
Etc. Etc.
 
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