Thursday, October 9, 2008

The herd bound horse plague

Good Day!

Seems like I struck a chord in my newsletter Q&A column this month with my answer to Beverly about her hopelessly herd-bound horse. I’ve gotten a lot of  emails from people with similar stories and their struggles with their horses. I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject lately.

Horses are instinctively herd-bound animals, so it’s something we have to expect and understand about these animals. Horses are reliant on the herd for comfort and security—the two things horses want most in life. Unless and until you can convince a horse that what you have to offer him is as good or better than being with the herd, in terms of security and comfort, he’ll never want to go anywhere with you. Understandably, this is one of the biggest issues that arise in horsemanship and one of the most frequently asked questions is, “How do I make my horse leave the barn yard?”

Training and temperament are two huge factors in how herd-bound a horse becomes. You can change a horse’s behavior through training—for better or for worse (not all training is good, nor is all training intentional—people often train horses the wrong thing inadvertently).  However, temperament is something a horse hits the ground with and little can be done to change it. Again, good training can affect a less-than-ideal temperament, but training cannot change a horse’s temperament. Some horses are very brave and independent; others are flighty and needy. In general, mares have more tendency to be herd-bound, but some of the worst cases I’ve seen were geldings.

Of all the horses we have, my horse, Dually, is the most prone to being herd bound—he’s a very friendly, gregarious horse and needs companionship. Fortunately he’ll settle for any kind of companionship and so humans will suffice, if there are no horses around. I constantly am vigilant to whether or not his behavior is affected by the presence or absence of other horses, but he is a brave and obedient horse with professional handling and quality training all of his life. While he may not want to leave the barnyard by himself, he will and does without hesitation or question. When I am at a show, I am very careful to keep his mind focused on the task at hand and to keep him separated from other horses.

What’s been your experience with the herd-bound horse? Are you lucky enough to have a horse that is not prone to be herd-bound? Have you ever seen a horse that was essentially ruined because it has become unmanageable when separated? I used to have a dog with separation anxiety and although she was only 14 pounds of pure Jack Russell muscle, she could tear through a frame wall to get to me. Imagine that mentality on a 1,000 pound horse! Some of the emails I’ve gotten have sounded that bad. What’s your story?

Ride hard but ride safely,

Julie

 

32 comments:

  1. Hi Julie

    I have a mare that tends to be herd bound. I found that if I work her hard at the barn she is more than willing to leave her buddy behind! She is one of those horses with too much whoa, so she hates having to "go through her paces" when she starts balking at leaving or hollers to her pasture buddy. Each time she does something I don't like, I make her back up, figure eights trotting/loping, etc until she no longer thinks of the barn as her place of rest. After we come back from a nice ride, I make her work again before I put her up. I had another mare just like her and I had to do the same thing until she lost the herd-bound mentality. She, too, found out that she had to work harder at the barn so she was ready for a nice relaxing trail ride!

    Cheryl
    Camden, SC

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  2. Hi Julie, I have a herd bound horse and was very frustrated because I couldn't ride him by himself on a trail ride and had to rely on others to ride my husband horse or just go out on hubby's horse by myself. Well I finally got fed up and left the property on Mr. Herd Bound. It wasn't a relaxing ride but he went and I had control. It only happened because I became a better rider and knew I could control him without getting dumped. He likes to drop his head and spin I refer to it as "the washing machine move" but now I can know when he is thinking about it and stop it where as before I didn't think I could so I didn't go out on him.

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  3. Hi Julie,
    I have a 4 yr old filly that is 4 1/2 months under saddle. She is very self confident and initially was not concerned with where other horses were. However, recently, she has started whinnying constantly when she can't see another horse. I keep her at a large facility and she is not especially attached to any particular horse. She is very smart and I don't want to perpetuate this behaviour. Do you have any suggestions that might nip this in the bud? PS. I have a horse that fits the 1000 lb jack russell profile, so I know what I do not want!
    Thanks, Diana

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  4. Good job Janeen and Cheryl! Strong leadership and persistence will fix this problem in most horses.
    Diana, there are many articles on my website about training and handling these type of horses. The other comments here are really good and you need to do just what they did. Added to that-- doing more ground work with the horse until she is totally hooked on with you and unconcerned about the herd. Good luck!

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  5. Hi Julie,
    We bought this paint gelding 2 years ago. He's 17 now. Excellent trail horse, but... so herd bound it's terrible. We didn't know until recently because we only rode him with our mare whom he loved and she sadly died from colic last year. Now we have two 3 yr olds back from the trainer and if he is left behind, even in a separate corral and can still see them, he goes crazy, pushing on the pipe gate and running like mad because he's separated. (He does this while he can still see them just on the other side of the fence) He foundered spring and I put him in a stall while I went to the vet for bute. When I came back he had broken the welds on the pipe corral from pushing against it trying to break out because he wasn't able to see his "mare" at all times appparently. He's mean to the other 3yr gelding and bites him badly. The 3yr filly holds her own! There is no peace now that the mare who died from colic is gone. She was the lead mare and kept him from biting the young geld who she took under her wing when I bought him as a 5 mo old) We're at a loss. He'd be hard to place because he has foundered and the obvious problems. IT's sad because he is an excellent riding horse. He's very well behaved to shoe, with the vet, etc. Help. We've been told to have him put down! I've almost been run over from him chasing off the 3yr olds and I've got my back turned, etc.

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  6. I have a 9 yr old off track Thoroughbred I have had for 4 years. He came to me with a permenant stifle injury so when I got him, he was to be strictly a pasture buddy for my mare at the time. They became best friends, and I would ride him occasionally within the pasture with her, or just outside it, but always within her view. I then got another OTTB gelding, who is now my show horse, and they became buddies along with the mare. The mare died last October, so my 2 boys were alone. I have always pasture boarded them. Well this August, I moved them to a barn where I can really start riding and training BOTH horses. However, my 9 yr old, very Green TB is severely herdbound. He has since been taken away from my other gelding, and has been put in with quieter mares because he is aggressive with other geldings! He has also become aggressive toward my gelding, HIS OLD FRIEND! When I first got to the barn, I would take him out and lunge him, the entire time, he would whinny and cry for his friends, not once paying attention to me. I've tried to ride him with him hollaring and carrying on and not paying attention and it has become VERY discouraging. He did take off with me a couple weeks ago when I was trying to mount, and I had to bail and suffered some bodily injury and since then, he has only gotten groomed while in the pasture with his buddies as I am at wits end of what to do to get him to come back to me. It is VERY frustrating as he is almost 100% sound now from that stifle problem, and has great conformation and potential to be a dressage horse. My BO has just started to put him in a seperate paddock by himself, so hopefully he will start to chill out and I can start working with him again now that I have recovered from my fall off him. Does anyone have any ideas of how to work with a herd bound gelding that is very Independant, controlling, brave, and bossy! He is very much HIGH on the totem pole/heirarchy, was put in with geldings recently that DID teach him a lesson or 2, but still... He has been a pasture ornament turned out with other horses for 4 straight years! I am hoping his behavior is reversible but if its not, I truly love this horse and he will always be my baby, but I dont know what to do with him!

    you can email me privately at: thinkicrazyisit@hotmail.com. Thanks, Lyndy

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  7. Hello Julie, I have a horse that goes totally crazy when I ride his buddy in the ring. He can see us the whole time but goes crazy in his stall. He just about takes the wall down in between the two stalls. He has even gotten his front feet hung in then feeder. I have to take his water bucket out or he flings it against the wall.He body slams every wall in the stall. He ends up sweating and shaking when I finally get to him. I have tried to put him in the pasture while we ride and he runs around like a maniac and freaks the horse out that I am riding.People have told me to tie him in the stall but I am afraid he will break his neck. It is like he has no idea what he is doing he just freaks out. There is no calming him until he is with my other horse.
    I only have 3 acres and the two horses. They can see each other no matter where they are.These horses have been together for 6 yrs. and in order to have some pasture I am forced to keep them together.I feel like I have tried everything I could think of and have even thought about getting another horse so he would have someone in the barn with him.He is otherwise a pretty calm horse and is even fine when I am riding him in the ring by himself.It seems like he just does not like being alone in the barn. I hope you can help me, I am at my wits end and don't know what else to do. Thank you for your time. Susanne

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  8. PLEASE HELP!!!!!
    My 13 yr old Gelding has fallen madly in love with his new "mare-friend." On Jan 10th we were invited to move up to my friends bard and w her Mare. Where I boarded before we didn't have much problems. He did and went how I wanted, but now he is completely crazy. I can't ride him b/c of it and when my friend took her mare for a ride the other day Bud went ballistic! I MS and I can't handle a knock down drag out fight w him anymore and I have tried everything that I knew. I am not a green rider by any means and have had horses since I was 11yrs old. I am 37 now. I am an accomplished barrel racer and team penner, etc. We are coming to the point of Selling him to get another horse that will go riding by ourselves. Im deeply heart broken b/c Bud has been the number one thing in my life that has kept me walking, literally! and we were Soo close before, but now I swear I moved the wrong horse! IF anyone can help us please contact me! tsmithmyer@comcast.net
    Thank You for your time. Sincerely,
    Tara and Bud

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  9. It seems I am having this problem with my 6 year old Arabian gelding as well. I bought him 2 months ago from a woman who hadn't ridden him in a year and a half because he was too much of a handful. In the round pen, he is wonderful; very attentive and willing to learn. On the trail or around the barn by himself, he is very spooky, and calls out loudly to the other horses. When we are out with other horses, it is like I don't even exist. He is more worried about what the other horses are doing than what I am doing on his back. The funny thing is that he doesn't have a buddy at the barn... at ALL. He is low man on the totem pole. He is stalled near a 25 year old TB gelding, and a 5 year old QH mare who is also under training. They constantly bully him around. When they are all turned out, he would rather hang out with me than them. But if we are out riding at the same time, he is completely distracted by them. He has even managed to walk right into a barbed wire fence because he was too busy looking at them to pay attention to me. He will behave himself for about 10 minutes... until I ask him to do something independent of the other horses. Then, I suddenly have a high-headed head-strong Arab prancing in place, snorting, shaking his head, neighing, and completely ignoring me. He is understandably high strung, being a young arab, but I have had enough of the fighting for attention. Any suggestions?

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  10. hi im angela and im a very new rider i just bought a 3yr gelding last november and he is getting trained im not sure how to get my confidence up so i can be sturn with im if anyone can give me advie my email is angelaluvschip@gmail.com thanks

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  11. My 7 year old mare was a rescue horse at the age of 3. She definately has herd issues. She has gotten better, but her latest trick is she will be calm and perform for me, but as soon as I go into the round pen or do something away from the other horses, she goes crazy. She screams for the horses and will not listen to me and be calm. I literally have to get off her and work her from the ground. Only then does she stop her nonsense and behave. It's like when I am on her back she doesn't think I am there and screams for the other horses. It is frustrating, but I think I am going to have to start tying her for periods of time in her stall or in the arena. My trainer did this already with her and it did help. I think I will have to give my mare a little refresher and I have to be consistent and not give up.

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  12. I just re-read the June 14th posting and this Arab acts very similar to my quarter pony mare. She does the same "tricks". She is also low man on the totem pole and likes to be around me, but when I start asking for more difficult tasks, away from the herd, she just gets all crazy. The only thing that my trainer did to help this was leaving her in her stall and tying her all around the farm. Your horse should be trained to tie though so they will stand and not hurt themselves. You also have to start with short periods and increase them gradually. I actually think I have to give my mare a re-fresher on the tying. It is a process that you can't do all in one day. I have been working since May on this whole tying process. It really teaches them patience and decreases the crazy screaming for other horses. I totally know how you feel, so don't give up.

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  13. Hi I have an excessively herbound mare, I've had her for 8 years and have ben breaking training for 15 years. She's so herdbound that if you put her in a yard next to her buddy she'll pace until you put her back in, once i left her for 1 1/2 days she did not stop pacing, she didn't eat or drink, she stresses herself stupid. but it's come to the time where i ahve to take her away from her buddies to build up her weight as her anxiety has reache da point where she can't hold her weight in a large pasture, even with extra feeding. I'm just wondering how i'm going to do this....

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  14. Please Help!

    Hi Julie~ i just read about herd bound horses. i have a 9 yr old gelding that is really herd bound. he wont let me leave the barn area and he is a really bad spin he dose to the left. i havn't had him that long. and he was able to walk over his old owners. i just don't now how to make him leave his new friend he made. i ride by myself alot or at less try to. i have them next to each other but not in the same pen. my horse is kind of mean to my husbands mare but can't go for a ride with out her. and when we do ride he follows away behind. he walks really slow. i just don't now what to do with him for i can ride without my husband.

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  15. Hi there, "Please Help!" The best show we did on this is HM210 Homeward Bound --you can order a copy at 800-225-8827. Also, some info in the training library... http://juliegoodnight.com/questionsNew.php?id=286

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  16. I bought a very laid back 9 year old gelding about 7 months ago. He does does not spook at anything and was a good trail horse. He spent most of his life with 2 small ponies. My stable has about 75 horses, separated into groups with 7-8 horses in a generous pasture. He started out great for about 3 months and then refused to leave the barn. He is an alpha personality. I have a trustworthy natural horsemanship trainer working with him but he is barely improving after 4 months. He is very anxious in the arena and stares at the gate constantly and will rear if another horse leaves the arena. I gave up trying to ride outside the arena. Would a smaller, quieter stable be a better environment for him or would another move be a greater setback?

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  17. Hey Julie, I have a 14 year old mare, she is very hyper and has a lot of energy. She is an Arabian/Quarter Horse and has very good cow sense. The only problem, is that she can't stand wire (I think she may have been hurt in it before, but I don’t see any scars) and she won't leaver her best buddy. Whenever I take her into the barn or yard alone, she will flare her nostrils and whinny. She will usually run in circles, and I will let her run till she calms down. Sometimes she just won't calm down though. She will paw, if she is tied up and sometimes just go crazy. I am only 14, so I can’t be with her all the time, (I have school) and I don’t know all the secrets and tricks. I am working with her every day, but I don’t know if I need to do anything special. Do you think I am on the right track? Thanks!
    Bessie

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  18. I have a 11yr old gelding, he is totally trained and bomb proof, until you take him out of the coral, he will start trying to go back, so i spun him around a few times, then he starts bucking!
    Acts like a totally different horse.
    He has a very sensitive nose, so im a bit hesitant to just pull on the reins. (as when i do he has been known to rear up)
    its gotten to the point when im scared to ride him back home and i usually just get off and try to lead.
    I have a separate pen away from the other horses, so ive tried putting him in there, But then its impossible to lead him back without getting trampled!.
    Im going to try just riding the *** outta that horse away from the other horses, C how it goes...
    any other sugestions?

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  19. Help! For the first time I have a herd bound horse! He's an awesome driving pony and his previous owner did tell me this was his major vice. The only horse at his barn is an older mare who is bound to him now too. She doesn't get used at all any more and runs the fence when I drive my pony out. In the mean time my pony gets more worried the farther from the barn we drive and on turning toward home it's all I can do to hold him down from tearing home..even more dangerous in a road cart than riding and on city streets to boot. I've just read Parelli's advice to tie for longer and longer periods of time and finally out of sight of the other horse. I'm ready to try most anything after my hands go numb on the reins. I need to put some miles on my pony since I'm preparing for the competition season.

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  20. I need some serious help. ever since my 2 mares have met each other they were almost unseperable. I thought that by taking the one away for riding would help, but as time goes on it is just getting worse. the one taken out of the field has gotten better, but the horse left in the pasture runs and rips up the grass. usually this was not a very large issue but she now is starting to injure herself because of it. I can't hook her up on a line because she gets tangled into it. the horse is so bad that the other horse doesn't even have to be 50 feet away to get her upset. in the field she doesn't mind how far she is away from the other horse, but as soon as the other horse leaves she starts pacing and ripping up the grass. what should I do, because so far seperating is not working.

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  21. We just got a 7 yo QH gelding. I currently have a 7 yo TB and my friend has a herd of 6 horses, 1 of her horses being a mare. At first the QH was low man, but within 2 weeks he became king of the herd. Well our new QH has never been with mares and we are having a HORRIBLE time getting this guy to un-herd bound, mainly from the mare. He will not leave her for nothing. He whinneys, paws the ground, does not pay attention to us at all. We have lunged him, walked him, everything. My heart hurts because I got him for my 12 year old daughter and the horse was fantastic at his other stable. Besides him not wanting to be separated/riden away from the mare, he is an awesome horse, very gently, and you can see the bound he has with my daughter. He is just mare-bound now. We do not have hard hands and want to do this properly for a life long best horse for my daughter. Someone please help us. My heart hurts. hminew@aol.com

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  22. I too have a herd bound horse. He is a gelding and gets extremely upset when any one of his pasture buddies leaves him. (there are two other geldings with him). I thougt having 3 horses would help so I could at least6 ride one without him freaking out on me, but he gets very upset if anyone leaves him behind. He recently busted through the tube gate to come after the gelding I was riding, leaving the other gelding in the field. Luckily, no injuries. I want to be able to ride with friends etc. using two of my safer horses (the herd bound one is sort of crazy) but can't because of this issue. I feel I may have to resort to ponying him around everywhere with us when riding. This gelding is one I road in the sadlle 16 hours a dayfor several months when working as a wrangler. He constantly spooks-has very little trust for anyone. When I was riding him as a wrangler-he was okay with horses leaving, but he always had a herd of 6-30 horses still with him. However, when I would ride away from the other horses, he would become extremely edgey and spooky. I tried to ride away from some of my friends and their horses-and he grabbed the bit and took off leaving me on the ground. Due to injury and my fears, I haven't been back on him since. I love this horse and won't part with him. To sell him would be cruel as it would set him up for an abusive situation I am afraid. I don't know what to do so I can ride him, or at least my other horses?????????????????

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  23. I have a 13 yr.old quarter horse who is the Alpha mare. I keep her at a friends who has a 7 year old mare. These two became instant buddies, we ride them together etc. The herd has changed a few times with additions and then deletions but the two constants were the two mares. I traded the filly for a rescue mare. They brought the new rescue mare and picked up the filly. I put the rescue mare in one pasture by herself because she is being fed twice per day but where she could visit with the other mares in the adjoining pasture. My friend decided to take her mare to a petting zoo the same afternoon and within just a short time of the filly leaving and my mare freaks out! Running and calling and running and calling until her feet slipped out from under her and she cut herself on something in a couple of places and hit her head as well. I stayed with her for well over four hours trying to calm her. When she fell she came to me and I put her in a very small enclosure and brushed her, gave her treats, butt scratches, anything I could think of to help soothe her. I even put her in with the new rescue mare but it didn't seem to help. She isn't running around anymore but is definitely mopping around and not a happy camper plus she is sore from her injury. I don't dare turn her back out with my friends mare for fear I will just have to deal with that again the next time she takes her mare someplace. Will she eventually get to where this new mare will be her "herd" or will she pout indefinitely? I want to do what is best for them. She and the new mare have done the touching noses thing a few times no squealing or pinning of ears etc., basically no reaction at all then they will then go their separate ways to graze for awhile and eventually come back closer. Thanks Linda E. lelmenhorst@sbcglobal.net

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  24. My problem is that my gelding wants to be the lead horse on trail rides, otherwise he becomes difficult to get to stop or slow down enough to leave space between him and the horse in front of him. I thought this was some kind of herd bound type behavior so I posted here. I should add that he is bossy and at times aggressive towards other horses he is put out to pasture with. He exhibits stallion-like behaviors:being very possessive towards mares, teasing them and has mounted a couple of them. Otherwise, he has great ground manners, is very affectionate, loves people and is a joy to ride by himself on the trail, I figure because he is not distracted by other horses. Can this behavior be changed?

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  25. So I "adopted" a Morgan mare (2 1/2) in Dec 2011. She had been with her family all her life. It was harsh to move her but had to be done. She has since shown signs of very bad herd bound problems. She lives next to my gelding and can't stand when he even walks out of view. She will throw herself on the ground, kick, dig holes and scream. She is in training for ground work and has destroyed her stall at the facility. She is moving ahead on training, but as the trainer said her herd issues are vicious. I feel like the only life for her would be as a brood mare out in some pasture with other mares. She is not fearful of anything, but incredibly smart and stubborn. Any ideas of getting her past this? She is not broke to saddle yet so we have few options for work at this point.

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  26. I have 2 problems. One being my 11 year old niece had 6 months of riding training on a "robot" of a horse. She calls me one night and tells me she has bought a horse from a man. I had been training that particular horse during her lesson time and she was no where ready to be bought by an 11 year old with little experience on a very alpha mare with extreme high spirits. My thoughts when training this horse was for ranch work with an experienced strong person. So the first part of my problem is breaking the news to her that her and her horse are not compatible and it's a hassle to take her anywhere. The mare is extremely herdbound. She was like this before. I would take her out and she would buck and rear the whole ride. She would come back to the barn and do the same thing if other horses weren't in the arena. Most of the time their wasn't because everybody in the barn was scared of her. She makes going to shows or rides miserable for me. I'm the only other horsey person in the family or with in her group of friends so the resposiblity gets on me. My horse is not herdbound and I spend most of my time fooling wiht hers. This horse is going to injury me or her some day. I lead her into a show arena and she knocked me down and ran over me trying to get to the other horses. I was having to warm her up because I knew she would do something to get back to my horse at the trailer. She then rears up and tries to lay down on my niece-who was not paying attention to her horse at all. I finally got her to get off her and the horse breaks the bridle trying to get away from me. We got that fixed and she went into the arena-still trying to run me over-and the whole time all she will do is trot because she is yelling at my horse at the trailer. Of course my horse didn't respond so it made her even worse. I'm experienced but have never seen one this bad. If you have any help-just post and I'll see it. From-The-Worn-Out-Aunt

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  27. To From the Worn Out Aunt... Sounds like a dangerous horse for you let alone an 11 y/o. I would never allow a child of mine of that age to be around a horse like that. I’d want the best for her. So you know you are right. This mare’s got to go and you must find a safe and reliable horse for her. One time my husband bought a horse while I was out of town. One look t the horse when I came in the driveway told me it was bad news. Not b/c of herdbound issues, but others more serious behavioral problems. Hopefully, he’ll never buy another horse without my approval. Stick to your guns. Safety for the 11 y/o is the most important factor. Get rid of the mare. Good luck!
    --Julie Goodnight

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  28. To the others, there are several of the TV show episodes that will help you. You can get them on DVD 800-225-8827/ http://shopping.juliegoodnight.com/Horse-Master-Individual-Episode-HMXXX.htm

    One was shot in AZ and was about a herdbound mare who bucked and threw a temper tantrum when away from her friend. HM210, Homeward Bound

    The other was from the Oregon shoot and also talks about a horse that doesn't like to be alone: HM219 “Rearing to Go”

    Hope those help!

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  29. Hello,

    I have an 7 year old gelding that is just so heard bound I cannot stand it. He'll lead away from the others but run you over the whole time because he just cannot pay attention to what your doing or where your at because he is so worried about where the other horses are at. He absolutely cannot stand tied to the trailer by himself because he'll really hurt himself. I can't trailer him anywhere by himself because he hurts himself in the trailer. I'm lost as to what to do, I've tried leaving him in the round pen where he can see the others but not get to them. I can't work with him because I just cannot get his attention. I love him and I really want to learn how to work with him, do you have any pointers or advise for me?

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  30. hi i have a 10yr old grade gelding and he also seems to be herd bound. my vet mentioned putting him somewhere there arent any other horses, so he would have to depend on us. that worked untill i brought him back home, is there anything i can do with him? i love his personality but im affraid he is going to hurt someone.he doesnt seem to have any real buddies at the house but i can get him so far before he tries to turn around and if you can get him going straight again he'll start to backupand backup even if he hits somthing he'll just move over and back up some more. he has never taken off with me. if you kick him then he either rears just a little or he backups
    thanks i love to here your input on this Julie

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  31. I have a 14 year old gelding I just purchased. I think he was stalled most of his life. But with me, I have him in a paddock and let him out during the day in a pasture with 2 mares. He has definately changed since I brought him home. He is now so herd bound that he can't concentrate on even being tied to groom! He freaks out when the alpha mare is taken away. Each day it gets worse. I have tried everything! Nothing works. He has broken through several fences to be with the alpha mare and he is starting to be dangerous to be around. Sometimes I can't even catch him because he runs back and forth when he can't see her. When I do catch him and his attention is not focused on me, I bump or jerk the halter (jerk when he prances or is unruly, bump when he does something minor) to get his attention on me. I won't lead him to her until he is focused on me and is calm. Even this, does not work, as the next day, he is the same and I do it all over again. At this point, I can't move him to a paddock alone because the stable he is boarded is not organized for that kind of thing. I will be moving him to my place soon, and he will be by himself. I will update on progress.

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  32. I've been dealing with some herd bound behavior with a halflinger mare that was given to me by my best friend, along with a mini mare that she has been with for several years.

    The first few times I rode her on the trail (I ride alone most of the time) she seemed OK but began jigging & calling to the other horses when she couldn't see them & eventually it just got worse & I began to feel (I'm an experienced rider ...have been riding since I was a child & am not in my late 40's) that I was unsafe.

    This mare was actually pretty green & had been a cart horse then a brood mare for awhile and is now almost 15 yrs old. She is very level-headed, dominant & has a tendency to be pushy, etc.

    I didn't want to fight her anymore & while I could always get her to a place where she calmed down that isn't what I wanted in a riding horse.

    I would let her do what she did...back up, go sideways, etc (she hasn't thus far bucked or reared) I'd ride her through that and then when she got tired of her latest "trick" I would move her forward where I wanted to go & we always ended our rides on a calm relaxed note. I started to really worry when she would balk on not want to go forward. To me, that just means an explosion waiting to happen. I found that some work in the round pen really helped with that forward motion thing. She goes now when I say "go" but we are still working on that.

    What I figured out very quickly was that I had to establish a bond & become the leader for this mare AND my little mini. Ground work...LOTS OF IT. I didn't ride her for months. This was about her confidence in me and with me.

    She now has really good ground manners and after months of working with her on a lead line and in the round pen, she is starting to respect & trust me. I spent a lot of time leading her out here & there and finding out where her issues were & where she was not confident.
    confident.

    I now separate my mares at feeding times & during the days, especially when I want to ride. She doesn't tear around very much when I remove the mini & she doesn't get to eat her breakfast while she's acting like an idiot.

    They can both move to areas of their separate paddocks & see each other but they don't hang out searching for each other while they are moving around grazing or eating their hay.

    then, when I go out to my mare to groom, saddle up, etc. she's pretty happy to see me & hooks onto me pretty well. I'll usually saddle her then take my bridle and lead her out to a place where I've put some grain or treats and we hang out away from the barn & other horses and eat grain, adjust the girth. then I bridle her and we ride in places I know she's pretty confident. If she wants to go back to the barn, we go back and work there. Then we walk out & have a nice easy ride away. I will take her bridle off away from the barn and give her a treat or some more grain after we ride & let her graze. When we go back to the barn & I tie her up for awhile with her saddle on, do a little ground work, a little grooming & hoof cleaning and only then do I put her back with her buddy. Most of the time at that point, she's still hooked onto me & doesn't rush back to her buddy.

    this takes a LOT of time & I don't ride as much as I want to but it's necessary. There are times I take her out and only ride for 15 minutes & when she's calm with a positive attitude, then I get off & we do some other fun stuff before she goes back to the paddock with her buddy.

    If she's all high-headed & energetic, we go into the round pen & work there until she hooks onto me. I never ride her when she's like that.

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