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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!


This is my first post! I recently got a spotted saddle horse in the beginning of May and he has been awesome! I've noticed recently he has been looking around, up and down/ left and right on the trails while riding. This started when we started riding out on trails from the barn and we go out about 2-5 miles.



Should I correct this? If so how? He does veer to the opposite side he is looking so it does slightly disrupt riding. If it didn't, I probably would care so much.


Thanks for any input!


Melissa
 

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Mine looks around a lot too. I only correct him if he stops or drifts. Does yours know how to leg yield? That's all I do - bend him to the opposite way to where he's trying to look and leg yield him towards it. Dunno if it's correct though
 

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An aware horse is often a horse who sees, wants to identify or disregard what they see...
Riding trails or not the horse still needs guidance from the rider and attention kept focused on the job at hand.
My horses also look around when trail-riding...
They watch for danger or threat to us from, by me, alligators or snakes of the venomous species...otherwise we move down the trail with the ears, eyes, occasional head always in motion.
You need to trust your horses ability to keep you safe as you ride and part of that is the horse is going to see & hear long before you do "danger", a evaluation of surroundings is what is happening...the fact he moves away by diverting/bulge his body a bit but continues on tells me he has seen and declared the threat not a threat to either of you.
A little leg applied when you feel him divert/bulge away to steady him, but I would let him look to determine no threat myself.
The fact the horse continues without a giddy-up, lets get out of here, says much your horse is a thinker not reactionary to everything.
Don't read into his checking out his surroundings but that you are both keeping safe in your travels...
Your horse sounds like a nice trail horse partner to have honestly...one who takes care of but thinks first.
Enjoy your journeys.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Well, "correct" is a strong word as it implies "misbehaving contrary to prior training" on this part. In any case, it depends whether or not you should "address" it.

His looking around to understand his environment is perfectly normal; his looking around worried and disoriented might benefit from some gentle "keeping him between your legs and hands" now and then to remind him that you are, indeed, leading him. I wouldn't worry about the latter unless his shoulders are actually moving alongside the head. On the other hand, if he gets worried a lot, you may have to do many smaller rides with good successful outcome for him and build up to longer ones.

I have a feeling, though, that you'd describe the situation differently if that were the case, so let him take a look. He's just making sure there is nothing in the bushes to get you! :)
 

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My appy does that, but it's because he loves trails, and wants to go down every single path he sees. Even when they're not big enough for a horse or lead places we can't ride, like in the middle of a freshly planted garden :)

I let him look, but if he starts down a path I don't want to follow, I make tight circles and bring him back. I don't think there's anything wrong with looking. If your horse is veering too far though, I'd gently push him back on path. Even if it's not a big problem now, it might be a good idea to remind him you are still there and you make the decisions. I'm not a big "show him who's boss" fan, but with a horse that has natural curiosity, it's sometimes good to establish boundaries right at the outset before he starts pushing further and further until the day you feel you no longer have control. Gawking can also become an excuse to spook. So yes, I would gently "correct" his bend, but not his head unless he is no longer paying attention to what's in front of him. But I'm no expert either so take that with a grain of salt. It's just what I found has worked with my own curious, outgoing horse.
 

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It's not a bad thing that he wants to be aware of his surroundings, especially on the trail. However, keeping him focused is important too, don't just let him venture off/go wherever he wants either. If he's getting distracted, squeeze your fingers a bit on the reins (not pulling), maybe coaxing him with your voice can help too if he's unsure. :) But, I don't think it's a bad thing at all.
 

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Obviously a trail is far different that an arena or enclosed riding space. I want my horse to pay attention to her surroundings. Between the two of us we have four eyeballs to guide us down the trail and home again. If she wanders I can guide her back on track but any correction is kept to a cue here and there.
It sounds a bit like you may not be as comfortable out on a trail as she is. Trust your horse, stay alert but relax and you both will enjoy the outing. Trail riding is a wonderful equine activity!!!!
 

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We had a horse like that and nicknamed him "The Tourist" because he was always looking around with the giraffe neck and ears straight up! LOL He could be reactionary too though with things he knew weren't there the last time he went that way. Like llamas, garbage cans and especially real estate signs. He would startle and try to turn around and bolt home. Didn't let him of course but had to give the scary objects a wide berth.
 
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My gelding likes to look around never really spooks or anything. But will try to go down different trails likes to adventure. For most part I let him be looky I don't always let him adventure off on other trails.

But once in a while I do let him go down a trail he wants to go on. If he tries to go off trial i will redirect him, let him know no we are going this way.


I never squelch out his being curious and looking at stuff. He loves going out on the trails i try to keep it fun.
 

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My trainer has always taught me, don't correct the horse for alerting. If he's not trying to wander off, if he's just looking around, ears swiveling, checking things out, I'd think he's fine. He's just being a good partner and checking out the world - and we're good partners in return by clarifying that yes, that's a garbage can and not a hideous monster. Your buddy can see and hear and smell things that you can't.



If it's new behavior, as in these are familiar trails and he's just started this, perhaps something has changed in the environment that you don't notice as a human. In that case, it'd make sense to just keep him going along nicely, but keep your eyes peeled.



Sometimes, my usual buddy will eyeball me when something isn't right and he seems to perceive it as something I can fix, like when his shoes need to be done. Maybe that's it - something's not comfortable, and he's asking you to solve it.
 

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There's a really big difference between riding in a arena and on a trail. In an arena the primary thing I need from my horse is obedience. To do that she has to have her focus entirely on me. The footing doesn't need her attention. The space is ideally without any distractions at all. I am asking for things like impulsion, bend, softness, collection, change of gait, change of speed, etc etc. All of it is me asking and her doing what I ask.

On a trail, there is far more of a dialogue. Think we should canter here? Uh oh, rocks! What is that, a bear?! Oh, it's just that dog again. Want to go down this loop today? Either one of us could be saying this. Plenty of times I need my horse to negotiate an obstacle safely and it is up to her to figure that out, she's the one with feet on the ground. So you bet I want her to be alert. Not jumpy or over-excited, just alert.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you all for the comments! I'm more than happy to continue letting him check out his surrounding and love him even more for it.
 

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My horse is a Looky Lou too. I just started her on trails so I feel that is to be expected. She did spook on our last ride, and by spook I mean a slight jump to the right and stopped dead in her tracks. A horse eating chipmunk ran across the path :D She saved us from certain death! I don't think she would have spooked if walking but we were trotting. Later a squirrel ran across and she paid no mind to him but I warned her the dangers were getting bigger..:mrgreen:


My trail partners horse looks at nothing as far as I can tell. He is a slooow steady point and ride horse. If he looks his reactions are so slow and steady that I wouldn't be able to tell although she stated on our ride that he would not pass a newly fallen horse eating tree last year because it was not on the trail the year before...LOL
 
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