Q. Hi Chelsie!
Along the lines of the “Barn Sour” question…my gelding gets very nervous
away from other horses and it is a chore riding him out by himself. I would
gladly stop and just let him stand when he gets nervous, but what he does is
he backs up, turns around, and starts walking the other way unless I really
push him forward. Should I get on the ground and walk with him instead of
staying on his back? He WILL walk with me when I’m on the ground. At what
point should I insist he continue with me on his back and how do I make him
keep going forward instead of backing up or turning around??
- Deb D. in Las Cruces, New Mexico
A. This is a good question Deb, and something that I probably should have put in my answer.
He is acting this way because he is unconfident and because he does not see you as his herd leader. Do some ground work with him so that he starts thinking of you as his herd leader.
Also teach him at home that Lateral Flexion is a time to stop and RELAX. So get a lateral bend and hold it till he relaxes his neck and maybe even takes a deep breath. Most people don’t realize that lateral flexion is more than just a physical move, it is a mental move as well. We need to teach our horse that it means relax time.
Then when out on the trail and he hits a Threshold, do some lateral flexion till he relaxes. That way you are not letting him back up or turn around and go home. Once he is relaxed ask him to go on until you think he has hit another threshold and then stop and do lateral bending till he is relaxed again.
Unless you think that you need to get off to handle the situation, try to stay on and work through it. If you do not think you can handle it while on him and need to get off, instead of leading him with you in the lead and him following, Drive him from behind his withers. That way it is more like riding and he still has to be in front of you like you would be riding him.
He can follow you any where, but can he trust you enough to take the lead and know you are still going to keep him safe?
Thanks for the question.
How did it work out?
Thanks! That is very helpful. As a matter of fact, I think I wrote that question on Sunday and I actually took him out in the desert yesterday (just us) and he did great. It was AMAZING. Ya know why? Because I have started doing the ground work with him and though he is still really stiff, he is starting to respond. The only time he started backing up and trying to turn around is when we were coming down the hill towards where the other horses are and I asked him to go the other way after we got down the hill (not towards the other horses). I just stopped and let him relax. I couldn’t get a real good lateral flexion, but he did at one point take a deep breath and blow it out. A few seconds later, I asked him to go forward the way I wanted to go and off he walked. How cool is that?
I have signed up for the clinic. I am really excited. It will be great fun. I will also circulate the info.
Take care and thanks for the great response to my question!