The Horse Forum banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
109 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m a rerider with about 5 lessons down my belt - baby steps I guess! (I’m trotting only) and a couple of trail rides at a different barn. My question is about the trail horse I ride. She’s always the same one as we will go on a two-day tour in the summer so I’ve asked to practice with her. I’m always the last one in line and I’ve taken to stopping her at times to focus her attention on me, instead of having her mindlessly follow the herd/guide horse. She does stop, although she itches to catch up. Is this a good approach? What else can I do? The paths are narrow usually so I can’t really have her turn in different directions. I want to earn her respect and also keep her busy rather than letting her zone out on the trail or get preoccupied with spooky things. Or am I totally overthinking this?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,612 Posts
1. I!HO Let her follow “mindlessly”, as long as she isn’t “Texas Two Stepping” around and is moving forward quietly

She may be following but she IS paying attention to her surroundings.

Trail riding is a partnership, just like any other horse & rider venue. Sometimes I let mymhorse be in control, sometimes I was in cobtrol — it just depends on 2hich horse I was riding and knowing if that horse was co ride the or not quite sure on the section of trail we were on.

You are right to ask to ride the same horse you will be camping with, when the weather breaks. Horse & rider need a reciprocal trust and sense of confidence in each other.

Years ago I let someone ride one of my horses on an all day organized ride. We got to a steep ravine and Gypsy flat out refused to go down the ravine with the rider. Thankfully I was young and conditioned back then. I had to have someone hold my horse on the other side, slide down and crawl back up to where I just rode from and bring Gypsy across. She went without hesitation and on a loose rein. I heard someone comment “all she needed was her mom” but really all she needed was the silent confidence I gave her to make her feel safe.

One thing I taught all of my horses, when something different may be approaching was, the phrase “pay attention“. I still use that phrase, even when on the ground but I don’t use it for everything; I make sure there is a reason they need to be alert, like when I’m approaching one of them in the paddock, from behind.

As long as the horse you’re riding is being respectful, leave her be, IMO. If it makes you feel better, give her a slight jiggle of the reins, a rub along her neck and ask her if she is still awake - no kidding:):)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,191 Posts
I think your horse is doing her job which is to follow along and behave. As long as she is not tripping over things or running into things she is paying attention to her footing and the trail.
If you come up to something like a big hill or log on the trail, you can give her a signal, like a touch of the reins or a shift in the seat or a spoken word to bring her into focus. She probably won't want to be held back away from her trail mates as that is not what she usually does so it's different for her and she is not comfortable with it and it's hard to change a habit of a lifetime.
I also have a a couple of phrases, pay attention, or when trotting along I will say easy and the horse knows to come back to a walk on the trail, or if acting up a sharp quite often does the job.
I guess this horse is being ridden by others as well so not as tuned into you as her rider as she would be otherwise.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
109 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You’re absolutely right - dealing with a very experienced animal here so no real need to stress her out. I guess I was trying to “regain” control after she got scared by an engine roar, spook/bolts absolutely terrify me (that’s what stopped my riding decades ago) but perhaps I should concentrate more or what to do about them. It’s weird how much you can overthink your riding!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49,446 Posts
A few years back I went on a week long trail ride . I had leased a horse, so had never seen him before the first day's ride. He was very forward, and spent the whole ride stressed about keeping up with the other hroses, so close as to be dangerous at times. There are places where you need to allow one horse to go through a steep spot,, or over the creek, or through a narrow point, and then take your turn. your horse must not be so close to the others that he cannot see the ground.
Thus, I spent a lot of time arguing with that horse. I asked him to stop and wait, which he did, but the instant I let up on the rein, he surged ahead. It was frustrating for both of us. As time went on, I realized that he was better off just allowing him to pick his speed, and that he didn't really 'look' at the ground so much as 'feel' it .

However, he DID stop if I asked him to, and that is an important thing to be able to do. My guess is that while he stopped, if he had become more visually seperted from the group that he would have lost his abiltiy to stand for me and would have bolted. and I think that is what would happen to your horse. So, experiment a little with the boundary of what she will tolerate, and what will cause her to decide to ignore you and bolt. Just don't do it endlessly. That becomes a bit like 'riding the brakes' and will wear out her willingness to give even the bit that she does. If she knows that you will allow her to move forward after a bit of a slowdown'/ stop, then she will have a trust in this. You can, perhaps, extend the 'wait' periods, little by little, once it becomes a mundane thing for her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,612 Posts
You’re absolutely right - dealing with a very experienced animal here so no real need to stress her out. I guess I was trying to “regain” control after she got scared by an engine roar, spook/bolts absolutely terrify me (that’s what stopped my riding decades ago) but perhaps I should concentrate more or what to do about them. It’s weird how much you can overthink your riding!!!
If the rider has the chance to be ahead of the horse (anticipating what may happen). The rider can tell the horse to “pay attention“ without over reacting.

Horses can indeed sense the rider, and some horses are more worrisome about what they sense than others. The rider should never have the expectation that something bad is going to happen, rather the rider should alert the horse, stay calmly on alert, and be situated in the saddle in case there is a spook.

My favorite saying in this life, when working with any animal is “if it has a heart and pumps blood, it’s unpredictable“

While there are exceptional horses who don’t spook at a lot, there is no such thing as a bombproof horse — the innate calmness of the rider is what keeps them level headed to whatever degree they were born with.

They aren’t any different than people in that regard. I know someone who is so terrified of birds that she darn near gives herself a heart attack, if she sees more than one. She is in her 60’s by now and knows better.

It‘s the same with horses, some have a lot more spook to them and are therefore more prone to spook at the stupidest things. Riders who are equally as “spooky” are a bad match for that type of horse.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
771 Posts
Can you talk to the group you are riding in and take turns being the leader? This is very good for all of the horses, not only learning to be first, last and in the middle. It will also build confidence in the horse that it doesn't always have to follow, it can be the leader also. As the leader it will have to pay attention not only to the trail but, all of it's surroundings.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,191 Posts
^^^ As my sister says, the horse that is following seems relaxed and ok with the ride not fussing or nervous at all, then when you change places and that horse is the leader they wake up and are much more aware of what is going on around them. She maintains that they understand that the lead horse has "responsibilities" the others don't.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
109 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok. That depends on who I am with. Usually it’s my two kids in front, being led (as they are 2 and 6). The 6yo is usually on the leading horse. If it’s just me, guide and husband I could definitely ask.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
943 Posts
I don't think that you are overthinking it. She is listening to you and obeying when you ask for a halt. 'Itching' to catch up is perfectly normal,,and as long as she not bolting off, prancing and tossing her head, etc..I think she is being respectful of you as a rider. Heck, a lot of horses would get a lot more than 'itchy' and would even refuse to halt. I think your thought processes and approach are good. As others have said, don't expect her to halt too long, you don't want to stress her out and get into a fight with her. If she were your personal horse, a complete halt untill you say go again , with the other horses completely out of sight might be a goal you could work toward, in small increments. I'm not saying that's what youre doing, or that you want to do that. I'm just saying that she is doing good to halt at all for you with the other horses continuing down the trail, so that you can see that its a pretty big deal for her. What else could you do ? I know you said the trail is narrow. But.... Is there room for you to do a zig-zag with her from one side to the other. That keeps her moving, basically forward, but not straight forward. I used to do that a lot. I keeps her listening to you, and adds some interest. She may, or may not be semi zoned out just following nose to tail,,each horse is different on how much they zone out or how alert they remain. Some are hypervigilant no matter where they are in the lineup. If you and she both know how to yield the hindquarters, you can do the zig zag by steering the front end (reins) , or by steering like a boat from the hind end (Hindquarter yields). If you and she have learned steering using more seat legs than reins,,you can zig zag that way. The zig-zag can be sharp, or you can soften the edges and let it be more loopy like a serpentine. Anyhow, a lot of the trails that I've been on are plenty wide enough to zig zag. If she stays calm, and there's enough room, AND she and you know how to yield hindquarters and how to yield forequarters,,,then you could ask for halt, yield hindquarters 180degrees, then finish the turn around by yielding the forequarters the remaining 180 degrees, then walk off. She may resisnt at first to face away from the rest, but she will soon realize that you're going to finish the turn and let her go.It doesnt' take a lot of room for those yields. If she could stand sideways in the triail, then it's worth a try. You say you are a re-rider so I thought possibly you know those moves. If not, then stick to rein only steering and zig-zag if theres room. What about the sides off the trail ? Is it feasable to go off trail around a tree and back on the trail ? I've been on trails and done that, and i've been on trails that I wouldn't consider it. Have fun.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top