View Full Version : Going Solo
10th Jul 2002, 12:34 PM
My new horse is brilliant when out hacking in company and is getting better when out on own.
I am riding him every day but when we are in the outdoor school he is particularly nappy. He is fine for the first 20 minutes but then he starts to want to turn to the gate. I am managing to keep him going the way I want but sometimes it's a real battle of wills.
He also likes to speed up when heading to the gate - normal I know.
When he has another horse in the school he is fine and no signs of napping.
Does anyone else have this problem? What's the best exercices to help with this?
10th Jul 2002, 12:55 PM
I've had similar problems over the years with a few horses, and done the best ways around this I have found is to (a) work them at the end of the school away from the gate (b) lunge them away at the end away from the gate and (c) to actually work permanently on the inside track (d) (not always possible as some yards don't like you churning up their school) to loose school every so often in the outdoor school. This actually seems to encourage them to get used to working in the outdoor school independently of other horses, walls, gates etc. It also improves their concentration and focuses them much more on what you are doing and the relationship you build up with the horse. I would also try to start to school him when other people are in the school and then ask them to leave as soon as you know you have his full attention (hopefully he won't notice them leave then!). I suspect that half the problem you are having is that the horse is not concentrating on his work (often it seems that other things are more interesting and they will use being on their own as an excuse to evade work, particularly if they are very much herd animals). Also - I don't know whether this will always be possible, but make working in the outdoor school a positive experience by giving him his feed him (even if it is only a little) in the school, or just by taking him in the school for a couple of handfuls of hay, but you must do this when he will be on his own, otherwise you will be undoing the work you put into solving the problem. It is important to vary the way in which you use the school otherwise he will always associate it with the unpleasent experience of wanting to leave it the whole time!
11th Jul 2002, 08:51 AM
It suddenly occurred to me whilst driving home last night, that you say your horse is fine for the first 20 minutes. If that's the case, then I would only work (like I described in my first post) for 15-20 minutes at a time to start off with. Vary the routine a little bit - doing this either on it's own as a separate schooling session or use it to finish off and relax the horse after you come back from a hack. What I wouldn't do is to do it before you go out on a hack, otherwise you're reinforcing the fact he will want to leave after 20mins. Also, I think if you are experiencing this problem, then battling to make him work over 20mins is going to cause more of the bad behaviour, even if at this stage you're are currently winning. Horses are much stronger than we are and we'll never win the battle, so training should always work on the reward principal. By keeping the schooling to within the 20mins this gives you the opportunity to reward him BEFORE the bad behaviour starts, thereby encouraging the good behaviour. Also remember that when it comes to learning horses are like humans, we have to work at lenghthening our concentration-spans. Most humans only really concentrate well for about 20mins. If you build up the length of time you work in the outdoor school slowly you should find that the horse's behaviour improves.
However, don't expect too much of him in the initial stages and make sure anything you introduce to him is done slowly and gently. Buying a new horse is one of the most stressful things that happens to a horse in it's life. As far as your horse is concerned he has a new Mum, a whole load of new mates in the field, that he probably doesn't want to leave as they are providing him with some security during the settling down period and on top of all that he has to cope with an entirely different routine. All this will take some adjusting to.
11th Jul 2002, 09:07 AM
Thanks for that anuvb. You've given me some really good advice.
20 minutes seems fine to me and I don't see the point in aggravating him by spending too long doing the same thing each night. I have taken him to my instructors yard where we are getting daily lessons and so I feel that the lesson isn't finished until I get the ok from her.
We only have another week there and we'll be back at our own yard. We have been on a crash course as he started bucking with me (see post on General forum - bucked off).
11th Jul 2002, 09:31 AM
Have just scanned your 'bucking' posts. Ouch! Seems like you have your hands full! Don't panic. Seven weeks or so - that's not long a time to have a horse and usually it is this adjustment period where the horse and the rider learn the most about eahc other. However, if it is any consolation, usually this first few months are the worst. Like I said it does take a horse a while to settle down. I would estimate that it takes at least 6 months to a year to really get a horse settled, and as riders we often expect it to happen overnight. Keep at the work with the instructor. Reinforce the good behaviour and work on the things the horse is good at, at the beginning to build up your's and his confidence, then try the things you find more tricky. If you can try the more tricky things in a lesson situation then do this. Don't try them on your own. It is important for your instructor to see what is happening as it happens. It will seem like you take two steps forwrad and one step back, it's the nature of riding.
Be warned (I sincerely hope this doesn't happen, but it just might) you might find that swapping him back to your yard increases the his level of insecurity for a while, so you may feel like it is a lost cause. Trust me.... It isn't.... you'll just have to start slowly and from the bottom if this happens again. I take it the previous owners had no experience of this sort of thing before....?!?
I'm looking for a new animal at the moment and each time I go to see one, the owners always tell me how blooming perfect the horse is. ...if only it were true!
11th Jul 2002, 09:45 AM
Thanks again anuvb.
We were getting on fine until Saturday when he decided to try and get me off. I managed to get his head up but he dropped his shoulder so I had no chance.
We've been working on walk/trot and discipline exercices since then. Hopefully we will build up to canter at the weekend. My instructor is riding him in between so that should help.
I know what you mean about the settling period. Sometimes I do expect too much and he is so good in all other aspects. I will need to let him settle in again when he comes home.
I didn't get much of his history and I know I took a risk but it felt right and I have been pretty lucky so far.
I could tell you a few horror stories about looking at horses. pm me if you like.
11th Jul 2002, 01:07 PM
Have sent you a pm. Hope it gets to you as I have never sent one before!
11th Jul 2002, 02:44 PM
Got the pm and have replied.
30th Jul 2002, 07:45 AM
Hi - am back from my Hols. Any improvement with the horse? Saw your last thread about thinking of packing it all in and was wondering how you were feeling.
Have you sent you a pm. Hope you got it.
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