Barn sour?

This topic contains 4 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Joan Fry 3 years, 11 months ago.

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  • Iride123 Original Poster
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 8

    My horse is gets extremely jumpy when heading back to the barn. He will leave the barn & work in the field, being very polite for the most part. He will go as slow as he can going leaving the barn, he will not change his pace. He will not refuse to go, just very slow and behind my leg. Going in the direction of the barn he he immediately puts his head in the air and feels like he is going to explode. I have tried to have him halt & wait but he will just prance in place. Going away from the barn he will get behind my leg again, refusing to move up. I only go back to the barn at a walk so I’m not sure where he got the idea that we run back… Does anyone have experience with this? He will also throw a total hissy fit if another horse leaves the field while he is still there. He will go in a pasture alone either, no matter how many other horses are around him. I would really appreciate some tips if anyone has experience with this. He has not always been this way, it is a habit that has gotten worse over the past year.
    Thank you!

    ottbrider ottbrider
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 33

    It’s hard to explain a training method over a forum but I can try my best. I have this gelding I lease that’s exactly like this. It only happens if the rider/handler allows it to. They only become barn sour if the rider allows them to run home also if they leave the barn and get worked hard all the time, they may get tired and sore and then they don’t like to leave the barn. Thus making it hard to encourage forward movement leaving the barn. They will get it in their mind that when they leave, they’re going to get worked and if they stay home they can be with their buddies. The best thing to do about leaving the barn is pleasure rides. Do more trail rides for fun. Not too long where he’s exhausted and tired but long enough for him to relax and enjoy it. He needs to see that you’re not always going to work him when he leaves, sometimes he gets to explore! For the dancing home, I would get him thinking and move his feet. Make him focus on something else other than the urge to run home. Make him side pass down the road, make him back up towards home, make him walk in circles all the way home. He’s going to realize that if he just walks calmly, he will get home faster with less effort. Make sure you provide release, when he’s walking calmly loosen the reins and relax, when he starts dancing/jigging/throwing his head, then move his feet. Do not impair his forward movement. When you stop allowing him to go forward, he will go the only other direction- up. I allow my OTTB mare to walk as fast as she wants home, as long as she walks. If she goes any faster, we have to work. Training and schooling is ok but don’t make it a regular thing. Horses need a break too. If he feels like all he ever does is work, he’s going to become annoyed. Just please don’t resort to whips, spurs, and bigger bits, it’s not his fault.

    As for his buddy sour behavior, to me; this horse is afraid to be alone. Horses are herd animals and need the companionship of other horses. That’s how they survive and detect danger. They also learn manners from other horses. I obviously don’t know your horse or his history, but if he was put in a barn alone, or pastured away from other horses, etc., he may be afraid of being alone. When a horse is alone, they have a harder time defending themselves. They are prey animals, you are a predator. There is no real method of fixing this, you are going to have to work with him. Show him that he’s not going to be left in a field alone to fend for himself. If he is going to be alone you have to teach him it’ll be okay and his buddy will come back. It could be a trust issue. I’m in no way a horse expert but from reading what you posted, this is what I thought of. If you are experienced enough to handle this alone then great I hope I helped but if you don’t think you can please please get a trainer to help, this can be very dangerous and I wouldn’t want you to get hurt. I hope this helped!

    No horse is incapable of learning- riders are just incapable of teaching

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 5

    What is your barns set up like? Do you have a place near the barn you could work him? One thing that helps is having them do tight annoying circles and supplying exercises right at the barn (as safe a spot as you have closest to the barn) then you will notice him wanting to get out of that circle, when his head is pointing away from the barn give him a loose rein and let him walk, if he veers towards the barn again start your tight circles, keep doing this and eventually they associate the barn with work

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 6

    can you walk back and forth to the field and from the barn – sounds like the routine of going home gets himexcited, I’d walk him towards the barn maybe 3 or 4 times per riding session so he learns that going that way isn’t necessarily the end of work/a return to his buddies.

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    OP,you got some excellent advice! It is NOT the horse’s fault, so do not use a sharper bit, spurs, or a whip to “correct” his behavior. As Buttercup said, if he wants to prance home, ask him to do circles, serpentines, figure-8s instead–anything that keeps his feet moving and his attention focused on YOU. Then give him some slack in the reins and see if he’ll walk. Does he know voice commands from longing? I always teach my horses “walk” and “easy,” and they both work in this situation. My horses live at home with me, and I’m just teaching my new horse how to be an only horse. An additional tactic, as Max and Icebird suggested, is to make home less inviting. I tie my arena gate open, and if Scout has been trying to dance and prance all the way home, instead of allowing him to walk to the tie rail, where I dismount, I walk him directly into the arena. I put him back to work, in other words. We do a few of those “tight, annoying circles” Icebird mentioned. Then I ride him out the gate to the driveway. Then we come back, walk PAST the tie rail and the arena, and walk around the tool shed. Walk towards home, go past it again, and walk somewhere else in a star pattern. This behavior can be scary, I know, and if none of the advice you’ve received helps, please do enlist a professional’s help. Good luck to you!

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