The Horse Forum banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

Registered
Joined
43 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone. My mare drove me nearly to tears today. She is very, very barn-sour and is extremely lazy. I've only owned her for 3 months now and she has only improved slightly. When I attempt to ride her out of the barn she spins and backs up. When she does this, I immediately hop off and make her spin and take 5 steps back as a punishment. The first time I did this it worked, but now the effectiveness of this is waining and I don't know what else to do. Even when i ride her around the facility she sometimes starts spinning and wanting to head back to the barn, when she does this i hop of and spin her, back her up a few steps then get back on. Im scared she's going to hurt me.
Today was the worst day I've had with her. She backed away from me when i tried to saddle and put her halter on connected to a lead rope. When i finally got her saddled i took her to the automatic round walker and hooked her up. She spooked, tore her halter off and ran back into the barn. Grr. I went and got her again, and decided to skip the walker and take her straight to the round pen to run. On our way there, i picked up the whip that was lying on the path, she spooked again and ran BACK to the back AGAIN! I couldn't believe it. I was heartbroken. It feels like all my hard work is down the drain. I was so incredibly angry at her and myself for not knowing how to train her.

-What can i do to make her not so barn-sour?
-Do all horses have a tendency to get barn sour?
-Should i not ride her out of the barn and instead take her straight to the round pen to run?
-How do i punish her when shes bad?

Please help! I don't want to give up on this horse but I'm so heartbroken.
 

Super Moderator
Joined
18,502 Posts
Can I ask why you get off her every time she balks?
Is she rearing or bucking?
She has learned to get out of work she only needs to balk by spinning and backing up...you've taught her that with every time she does something you jump off and give in to her...
Spinning in a circle and backing a few steps is nothing to her...

Have you tried staying on her...
Sure you want to make her spin, do it while astride and back her up...away from the barn!
She is rewarded with getting closer to the barn every single time she refuses, you spin and back her closer to her goal...the barn.

Get astride and stay astride.
Spin her in a circle and back her away from the barn not toward it...then ride on...
Rinse, repeat every single time she pulls this she finds she no longer gets her way ....you now need to reprogram her brain and habits from what she has learned the last 3 months with you to now something different.
The horse has been testing you and she now knows dependably what you are going to do...and how to work you to her advantage.
So the next time you ride and she balk....spin her and back her...
Its not going to be pretty but it will be a beginning of changing her mindset.
If you always spin her to the right, spin her left...break it up so she is kept slightly off-guard from predicable.
You are not ever going to out muscle her so you must out think her...fact.

I will also say she not see you as the leader but she is leader and you her underling, and she is right.
She tests you and you fail leadership 101 to her.
Till you prove to this animal you are in charge, you can be trusted to keep her safe and make decisions ...the horse will make the decisions as she is doing by her actions.

Remember what ever you do to one direction and side you must also replicate to the other side and direction as that is how the horses brain works.
A horse may also respect and follow you on the ground but have no reason to follow and respect you astride...they do not transfer ground work to astride..
You must earn every piece of new attitude from this day forward.
The honeymoon stage is long over and test, test and more test is now happening.
Every action you have with this animal they learn by...make your lessons be important and imprint a better response to the animal from this day forward.
Good luck.
馃惔...
 

Registered
Joined
43 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Can I ask why you get off her every time she balks?
Is she rearing or bucking?
She has learned to get out of work she only needs to balk by spinning and backing up...you've taught her that with every time she does something you jump off and give in to her...
Spinning in a circle and backing a few steps is nothing to her...

Have you tried staying on her...
Sure you want to make her spin, do it while astride and back her up...away from the barn!
She is rewarded with getting closer to the barn every single time she refuses, you spin and back her closer to her goal...the barn.

Get astride and stay astride.
Spin her in a circle and back her away from the barn not toward it...then ride on...
Rinse, repeat every single time she pulls this she finds she no longer gets her way ....you now need to reprogram her brain and habits from what she has learned the last 3 months with you to now something different.
The horse has been testing you and she now knows dependably what you are going to do...and how to work you to her advantage.
So the next time you ride and she balk....spin her and back her...
Its not going to be pretty but it will be a beginning of changing her mindset.
If you always spin her to the right, spin her left...break it up so she is kept slightly off-guard from predicable.
You are not ever going to out muscle her so you must out think her...fact.

I will also say she not see you as the leader but she is leader and you her underling, and she is right.
She tests you and you fail leadership 101 to her.
Till you prove to this animal you are in charge, you can be trusted to keep her safe and make decisions ...the horse will make the decisions as she is doing by her actions.

Remember what ever you do to one direction and side you must also replicate to the other side and direction as that is how the horses brain works.
A horse may also respect and follow you on the ground but have no reason to follow and respect you astride...they do not transfer ground work to astride..
You must earn every piece of new attitude from this day forward.
The honeymoon stage is long over and test, test and more test is now happening.
Every action you have with this animal they learn by...make your lessons be important and imprint a better response to the animal from this day forward.
Good luck.
馃惔...
Thanks so much for your reply! I get off of her when she spins because I cannot gain control of her when on her. If i try to turn her, she just continues to spin and backs up and starts quickly walking back to the barn, or spins and spins towards the barn. Someone has to grab her halter for me and take her farther out. She wont listen to my commands.. If I do manage to straighter her up and get her head turned in the opposite direction, she spins the opposite way. She even walks herself into corners and i cannot get her to budge when on her. She is in a snaffle.. does she need something harsher? What can i do while on her to get her to listen? I don't want to lose this battle. :( Also, when i do put her in the barn for the night do you recommend me to her work her any way in her stall? And will i have to fight her on this the rest of her life, or will i eventually learn to outsmart her? Thanks again so much for responding.
 

Super Moderator
Joined
18,502 Posts
Do you have a trainer, a instructor to help you with your problems cause they are many and varied?
You need someone, not "a friend" of similar ability but someone far more experienced to teach you and to handle the horse astride in training sessions one-on-one where the animal not "win" but be made to do what is asked with not force but firm handling the animal learns they will not get away with their nonsense...
There is much that can be done, but not on the internet would I even begin to explain not knowing you or your abilities...
No one wants you to be hurt and if in over your head, injury is a distinct possibility...so hands-on I think is safest and best a route for you to have while learning what and how to approach a animal who now has your number and has outsmarted your abilities.

Again, not going to comment on what bit to use...
Don't know the animal and don't know you...
What I can say is this is a training issue, the horses and yours both need training.
Putting heavier steel/iron in the animals mouth is not going to teach the animal anything but to ignore you when it no longer respects the next bit...you need training to work with the animal, the new twists and turns of learning a new animal and the animal learning you.
You both have learned bad habits...and now need to learn better habits and communication tactics.

I'm not sure why you would "work" the horse in her home she knows to give her rest and refuge...
Teach her to fear her safe place as a place of more work and confusion you won't get her in their either.
Lead her in, turn her around so your back is near the door, remove her halter/bridle, give her a pat and back out of the stall closing the door after you exit.
I would never make the horse dislike its home and safe place that it must then be locked in at night or if injured...it is their safe place from bad things happening to them...leave it that way.

As for "And will i have to fight her on this the rest of her life, or will i eventually learn to outsmart her?"
That is going to totally be for you to make the decision on...
If you reach out for help from a trainer/instructor to work with her and then you to correct and educate you to a better way of doing then no...this will not be the rest of her life.
You will be taught techniques to outsmart her and work her efficiently and successfully past these kinds of episodes cause this is only the first of many challenges you will face with a smart horse.
But you need to ask of a professional or someone far more advanced a rider/handler who has worked with animals who have traits like this animal does now, not just anyone.
And remember that what they teach the horse is what they must also teach you so you are proficient in it so when the animal reacts like this you know what to do to stop the nonsense before it gets a habit as you now have.
Trainer/instructor for both of you to work, both individually with the animal and then with you and continue to ride with someone as your "arsenal" of knowledge needs to grow in ability as the "testing" of you is just beginning....fact.
馃惔...
 

Registered
Joined
595 Posts
Sounds like this is the same mare you are having underweight issues with.
i would highly recommend vetting her first and foremost. Second I would be careful over exercising while trying to get weight on her you may be burning more calories then her body is getting and she鈥檚 grouchy because of it.
 

Registered
Joined
43 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Sounds like this is the same mare you are having underweight issues with.
i would highly recommend vetting her first and foremost. Second I would be careful over exercising while trying to get weight on her you may be burning more calories then her body is getting and she鈥檚 grouchy because of it.
She is. I will talk to my mentor asap and have her help me get my mare asap to the vet down the road! Thank you greatly for your reply.
 

Registered
Joined
43 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Do you have a trainer, a instructor to help you with your problems cause they are many and varied?
You need someone, not "a friend" of similar ability but someone far more experienced to teach you and to handle the horse astride in training sessions one-on-one where the animal not "win" but be made to do what is asked with not force but firm handling the animal learns they will not get away with their nonsense...
There is much that can be done, but not on the internet would I even begin to explain not knowing you or your abilities...
No one wants you to be hurt and if in over your head, injury is a distinct possibility...so hands-on I think is safest and best a route for you to have while learning what and how to approach a animal who now has your number and has outsmarted your abilities.

Again, not going to comment on what bit to use...
Don't know the animal and don't know you...
What I can say is this is a training issue, the horses and yours both need training.
Putting heavier steel/iron in the animals mouth is not going to teach the animal anything but to ignore you when it no longer respects the next bit...you need training to work with the animal, the new twists and turns of learning a new animal and the animal learning you.
You both have learned bad habits...and now need to learn better habits and communication tactics.

I'm not sure why you would "work" the horse in her home she knows to give her rest and refuge...
Teach her to fear her safe place as a place of more work and confusion you won't get her in their either.
Lead her in, turn her around so your back is near the door, remove her halter/bridle, give her a pat and back out of the stall closing the door after you exit.
I would never make the horse dislike its home and safe place that it must then be locked in at night or if injured...it is their safe place from bad things happening to them...leave it that way.

As for "And will i have to fight her on this the rest of her life, or will i eventually learn to outsmart her?"
That is going to totally be for you to make the decision on...
If you reach out for help from a trainer/instructor to work with her and then you to correct and educate you to a better way of doing then no...this will not be the rest of her life.
You will be taught techniques to outsmart her and work her efficiently and successfully past these kinds of episodes cause this is only the first of many challenges you will face with a smart horse.
But you need to ask of a professional or someone far more advanced a rider/handler who has worked with animals who have traits like this animal does now, not just anyone.
And remember that what they teach the horse is what they must also teach you so you are proficient in it so when the animal reacts like this you know what to do to stop the nonsense before it gets a habit as you now have.
Trainer/instructor for both of you to work, both individually with the animal and then with you and continue to ride with someone as your "arsenal" of knowledge needs to grow in ability as the "testing" of you is just beginning....fact.
馃惔...
Thank you so much for your reply! I do indeed have an experienced mentor and am planning on moving my mare out to her property this summer. I will keep in mind everything you said.
 

Premium Member
Joined
9,080 Posts
The approach you have been trying is to make it more unpleasant for the horse to get out of riding away from the barn than to return to it. That obviously isn't working.
In my opinion, a much better approach is to make it a positive experience to be working with you.

First, I disagree with making a horse back up as punishment because that can backfire and you can have a horse that backs rapidly as an evasion. Backing is one of the most difficult behaviors to direct, and can lead to dangerous situations such as backing toward barbed wire fences or into ditches.

The horse is worried about leaving the barn, and you have been unable to make her do it. I suggest beginning with taking her on walks away from the barn, but only go to the spot where she begins to get worried. At that point, stop and make it positive by giving her some food, treats and rest. Then go back toward her safety zone, and work again on going out a little bit further. Don't attempt to ride away until you believe the horse is so comfortable at being led away that you will succeed at the ride.

Sometimes if you can't get a horse to ride away at all, it can be helpful to get the horse adapted to walking away from home for some distance, and then riding home. Once the horse can do this comfortably, you can begin trying to ride away.
 

Premium Member
Joined
24,143 Posts
Hi & welcome,

attempt to ride her out of the barn she spins and backs up. When she does this, I immediately hop off and make her spin and take 5 steps back as a punishment.
First thing first, 'very barnsour' tends to mean very afraid to leave her comfort zone, her buddies, not confident to go off alone with you. Not always fear, but very commonly. So if it is fear/lack of confidence causing the behaviour, it's unhelpful to force the issue, tends to make the bad associations/fears stronger.

If there is 'bad behaviour' not related to fear, you're sure the horse understands what you want, then imo punishment can indeed sometimes be necessary. But horses learn from instant associations & can't think rationally to connect abstracted ideas. So you'd need to punish her at the time of her bad behaviour. Stopping first(let alone getting off first) is too late, and you'll be punishing whatever she is doing at the time(stopping? Looking at you?). It will not be related to what she was doing before.

Further to that, if she doesn't want to go out, she backs up & you immediately stop & get off, THAT is obviously working for her - so you're strengthening that behaviour!

In addition, I don't personally like to use 'work' as punishment, because I want my horses to learn to enjoy what I ask of them, not have a bad taste in their mouth about is cos it's been associated with punishment.

backed away from me when i tried to saddle and put her halter on connected to a lead rope. When i finally got her saddled i took her to the automatic round walker and hooked her up. She spooked, tore her halter off and ran back into the barn. Grr.
Is she hard to catch? Or perhaps she is happy to be caught but moves away from the saddle? That could be her trying to tell you the saddle is uncomfortable/painful. Which could well be a cause for her 'barnsour' & 'laziness' too. Or perhaps she has ulcers or something.



I was so incredibly angry at her and myself for not knowing how to train her.
Can get frustrating, but the anger at her wont help, may be behind a lot. She's just being a horse & sounds like you may need to communicate with her better... Which means listening, not just 'talking' to her. And anger at yourself is unnecessary & unhelpful too - no more reason to be angry at you than her. You are wherever you're at in your journey & everyone starts without expertise & lacking knowledge - so we make mistakes too. It's whether you keep asking questions, keep trying to learn & do better that counts, I reckon. If something doesn't go to plan, think why could that be? What can I learn to do better/different to avoid it?

-What can i do to make her not so barn-sour?
-Do all horses have a tendency to get barn sour?
-Should i not ride her out of the barn and instead take her straight to the round pen to run?
-How do i punish her when shes bad?
All horses have a 'tendency' to be 'barnsour'. Tho some are more or less likely to just 'put up & shut up'. If they really don't like the 'work' or if they're afraid/insecure, or they've inadvertently been trained that this behaviour works, or it hurts to be ridden... Etc.

So what to do about it... Be fun to be around, gain her trust, ensure her body & tack are comfortable, learn how to train her... Etc.

Why do you take her to the round pen to run? Is she perhaps underexercised &/or overfed, so too 'full of beans' or something? If so, perhaps burning some steam off before training would help. **In the short term while you address that... imbalance. Along with perhaps change/less feed & balanced nutrition too - that can be another reason for overly 'flighty' behaviour too.

How to punish her? As hopefully can be seen, there are many likely reasons that she doesn't deserve to be punished, but if she does, the major thing is, do it instantly, and quit punishing the second her Wrong behaviour stops, or not at all if you're too late.
 

Banned
Joined
18 Posts
I would highly recommend starting clicker training with your horse. Once she learns to target, you can take baby steps out to the arena while she is following the target. She then will associate leaving her stall with a reward, and will look forward to work. WARNING: Do your research before starting clicker training/positive reinforcement. Read as many books on it as you can get your hands on and watch some videos on target training/ barn sourness. Clicker training is a fantastic tool, but when used incorrectly it is hard to undo bad behavior.
 

Registered
Joined
597 Posts
I would not reinforce backing the way you are doing currently. My horse does this and it is TERRIFYING when we are out on narrow trails or roads on the side of a huge mountain and he won't move forward and instead just keeps backing up quickly. Luckily we haven't been hurt, and I have found that a constant tap-tap-tap with a crop can get him moving again, but it is not something you want to create a habit out of.
 

Premium Member
Joined
24,143 Posts
I wrote my reply when your post was new, but it didn't send - now reading replies...

What can i do while on her to get her to listen? I don't want to lose this battle.
To the first, that's a bit like asking 'when I'm on a runaway train, what should I do to stop it?' Or perhaps 'my friend's arachnophobia - how do I get her over it when we are thrown in a pit of spiders?' Either way, you don't. You do whatever it takes to survive, then you prepare better in future to make the situation less likely to escalate to that stage in future.

To the second sentence, no, you don't want to lose battles to your horse, but you want to avoid her feeling like a loser too - so try to avoid 'battles' wherever possible & have conversations, learn to be considerate of her feelings too, so you can set up win-win situations instead.

Also, when i do put her in the barn for the night do you recommend me to her work her any way in her stall?
Depends - what is your reason for considering? Is she 'rude' in her stall or such? If so, yeah, teaching her whatever Good Manners you want can be done wherever, including in her stall.

BUT I may well have the totally wrong idea, but get the feeling you have a rather confrontational, relationship so far with her, & she has also been inadvertently taught that 'arguing' with you works. So I'd caution trying to forcefully do stuff with her, especially in an enclosed space & leave the door ajar.
 

Premium Member
Joined
51,781 Posts
I am glad you recieved a lot of good advice. First and foremost is to take a few deep breaths, and try to stop the urge to 'fight a battle' from becoming the way you perceive your interactions with your mare. Often if you come to a horse with an attitude of "I'll fight you if you fight me", the horse will oblige you. As soon as you feel that hard, determined, fighting , teeth gritting, angry feeling come up in YOU, take a deep breath and say, "This, too, shall pass". I bet your horse will also become less interested in doing battle, too.

Then, with help from a good mentor or trainer, you can change things up. You will learn how to make leaving her happy place acceptable by doing it in short amounts. Additionally, you can use the "Make the wrong thing uncomfortable, and the right thing a breeze" approach. In that case, you would let her go back to where she wants to be and make her work there, until when you offer her the choice to move away from that place, she accepts that offer and steps away, at which point you get real 'nice' and don't bang her sides, or pull the reins. You let her move forward until she thinks she absolutely must go back, and you do,, but you start making her uncomfortable by making her work, and perhaps tapping her sides with your legs so that it's not really a comfortable work, either.

To be honest, this needs to first be done by a more experienced rider, and you can watch, and then learn . You have to be confident enough in your seat to be able to do this from teh saddle. Getting off to do it will not work.
 

Registered
Joined
56 Posts
I understand your frustration, but the way you describe your response to her behavior illustrates a lack of understanding of how horses think and what they need from us in order to feel good about following our lead. This is not about her needing to be punished -- not at all. This is about her lack of confidence in your leadership, period. She does not feel good following your thoughts, as you have not earned the position of leadership, from her perspective. Thus, she feels she must follow her own. The solution has nothing to do with making her run in the round pen, making her spin, or in fact MAKING her do anything. You can't take the position of leadership and build confidence and trust through force -- you have to earn it. With some horses, you can use force to get compliance, but doing so is not leadership -- it is dictatorship, and it does nothing to inspire trust or build a real relationship.

What needs to change is your ability to access her MIND, and once you do, to inspire her to believe that being with you is actually a really good thing, that YOU can and will meet her needs (which she does not feel now...). When a horse believes that you are really good at taking care of them and bringing them peace, they want to be with you, and they want to follow your thoughts. This mare is lacking confidence, both in herself and in you. You need to EMPOWER her, help her to understand that she doesn't need to be back at the barn to feel safe and at peace. How do you do that? I would highly suggest that you check out the Canadian horseman Josh Nichol, whose "Relational Horsemanship" is based on meeting the horse's needs rather than forcing them to do whatever. The beauty of his methods is that they WORK, really well, and they are so deeply kind to the horse.

He has a video on YouTube about this very thing:
That is a good place to start!
 

Banned
Joined
8 Posts
Hi everyone. My mare drove me nearly to tears today. She is very, very barn-sour and is extremely lazy. I've only owned her for 3 months now and she has only improved slightly. When I attempt to ride her out of the barn she spins and backs up. When she does this, I immediately hop off and make her spin and take 5 steps back as a punishment. The first time I did this it worked, but now the effectiveness of this is waining and I don't know what else to do. Even when i ride her around the facility she sometimes starts spinning and wanting to head back to the barn, when she does this i hop of and spin her, back her up a few steps then get back on. Im scared she's going to hurt me.
Today was the worst day I've had with her. She backed away from me when i tried to saddle and put her halter on connected to a lead rope. When i finally got her saddled i took her to the automatic round walker and hooked her up. She spooked, tore her halter off and ran back into the barn. Grr. I went and got her again, and decided to skip the walker and take her straight to the round pen to run. On our way there, i picked up the whip that was lying on the path, she spooked again and ran BACK to the back AGAIN! I couldn't believe it. I was heartbroken. It feels like all my hard work is down the drain. I was so incredibly angry at her and myself for not knowing how to train her.

-What can i do to make her not so barn-sour?
-Do all horses have a tendency to get barn sour?
-Should i not ride her out of the barn and instead take her straight to the round pen to run?
-How do i punish her when shes bad?

Please help! I don't want to give up on this horse but I'm so heartbroken.
This horse sound so so much like a horse I used to work with. It was nearly impossible to get her away from the barn, and when i asked her to move forward she would spin, back up, or spook. I couldn't make any progress for forever! Eventually this is what i did and it worked. First, see if you can figure out why she is doing what shes doing. sometimes we assume its because of something it isnt. Watch someone else try to work with her and pay attention to the body language. If its just stubborness, it looks different from fear. Fear would take a different approach. What i did, was i moved her feet for a while by the barn, then led her to the arena and loosened the cinch and gave her some love. A few repetitions and the improvement was huge. When riding, If the spinning gets crazy, hop off, but personally if it was just stubborness and i wasnt in danger, i stayed on. I kept some steady pressure, and kept iit going until she took any even half steps forward then hopped off. For her it was all about making sure i wasnt confusing her, and teaching her that i wont give up, and that i love it when she does the things i ask her. And, tons and tons of quite gentle praise everytime she did anything. Being very mindful of even the smallest victories and using those to keep my motivation up.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top