Herd Bound Solutions ~ Part 2

Herd Bound to a Buddy

A horse that has “attached” itself to another horse can obviously create a herd bound issue.

Here’s an exercise you can do to work through this buddy issue. (Have a friend help you with this exercise)

Have your friend ride the buddy of the herd bound horse. Together ride in a large arena with good footing. Have your friend on the buddy horse stand about 150 ft away allowing plenty of room between him and the fence.

Take the buddy relying horse to the other end of the arena and make it stand there facing his buddy, relax your reins, and do not ask the horse to move. Let him make the choice to move or not. More than likely the horse will want to move towards his buddy. When he does allow him to, but once he gets close to his buddy get him busy! Actively trot or lope around the buddy. Do this until your horse wants to rest and decides his idea of the buddy has turned into a lot of work. Once you feel this happening ride back to the other end of the arena, face the buddy, relax your reins, and pet him. If he decides to move towards his buddy again, do the same drill, change directions, implement figure eights or other transitional maneuvers until he understands that his decision has made it difficult, and has to work every time he makes the decision to move towards his buddy.

DO NOT REST HIM BESIDE HIS BUDDY. He only rests at  the other end of the arena with you. When the horse decides  to be content and to stand relaxed at the other end of the arena, then you can walk him quietly towards and around his buddy, and even allow him to stand beside his buddy for a few seconds, then go back to the other end of the arena.

The object of this drill is not so the horse will want to stay away from the buddy, but that you can take the horse away from the buddy as you please without an anxiety attack. We are expanding the horse’s comfort zone and building the horse’s confidence in you for comfort and safety instead it relying on the other horse.

(Please use discretion on the length and intensiveness of this exercise, we are not wanting to injure the horse in any way. If you feel that the horse is getting overly exhausted and not “getting” the drill, then allow him to rest away from his buddy and give him time to think. Then come back the next day and set up the same exercise again.)

Remember: Timing is important. Try to anticipate anxiety to be with the buddy before it happens as you work through this exercise. Also make sure you ride calmly through this procedure. Don’t let your energy get cranked up as you ride actively. Be calm and active at the same time.

To Your Riding Success,

Mark Moffitt

Mark Moffitt

Herd Bound Solutions ~ Part 1

I am currently training a horse for a client that has these “herd-bound” issues. So I wanted to share a series of articles with you to help you overcome these problems in your horse.

Typical Signs of a Herd Bound Horse

  • The horse’s attention is on the other horses instead of the rider
  • Difficult to control when other horses speed up, slow down, or change direction
  • If the rider wants to separate from the group the horse gets upset, anxious, and hard to handle
  • The horse even in a group will not settle down; always wants to be in front (and everything that goes with that)

This type of horse is relying on its own instincts, as a herd animal, instead of listening and being attentive to the rider’s direction. In order for this not to get any worse the rider must not give in to the horse’s desire to be with the other horses.

Tips to Overcome:

  • BE AWARE

    Be aware of what the other riders around you are doing. If the group is walking then trot. If the group doesn’t start trotting while you are, then slow your horse back down to a walk. Do transitions like this often. Try to ride proactively ahead of the possible actions of the other riders. When stopped at a gate make him stand facing the person opening the gate. Before the riders start heading out, start walking in your immediate area to alleviate the anxiety of your horse feeling it is being left by the others going through the gate, then follow when it’s your turn. If you can “see” your horse’s mind drifting, do something to make him pay attention to you.

  • SET UP SITUATIONS

    Even before going out on the trail, set up situations that would cause herd-bound behavior. Teach him how to properly handle himself in the situations that cause him to react with his herd mindset. Get some friends to help you and make a plan, as best as possible, before going out on the trail. Take an opportunity like this to teach and help your horse through his anxiety.

  • WALK – TROT – WALK

    (To do this step have two other riders with you to help you.)
    Select an open, flat riding terrain, wide trail, etc. Start by walking with the other two riders, then trot about 100-150 feet in front of the other riders, as soon as you slow down to a walk on a loose rein,  another rider should do the same in front of you. Your horse and the other rider’s horse should be walking on a loose rein. Then have the last rider do the same. When you feel your horse needs to catch up and starts to trot, bring him back to a walk. DO NOT HOLD YOUR HORSE BACK FROM TROTTING, ask him to walk and as soon as he does release and ride on a loose rein. Every time he tries to trot bring him back to a walk and release. If the horse will not maintain the walk on a loose rein then shorten the distance between you and the other riders the next round. Doing this “leap frog” exercise, adjusting the distance between horses until you find a comfortable distance that allows you to walk on a loose rein will set you up for success and progress to bigger distances without anxiety.

    Remember: If your horse trots when you don’t want him to, keep your body in the walk mode. DO NOT “Trot your body” when you want to walk.

  • RIDING IN TANDEM

    When riding with another rider, separate for a minute. While that rider stays on the trail take your horse off the trail and give him a job to do – circle a bush or tree – then come back to the other rider for a few strides and have your friend do the same with their horse. After you have done this and your horse is relaxed try to separate at the same time going different directions. Go only a short distance at first to keep the anxiety level low. Continue doing this exercise until you feel your horse relax. Then ride together for a while and start the drill again.

I hope that this will help you with the herd bound issues you may be experiencing. I will be posting more exercises for different herd bound issues.

To Your Riding Success,

Mark Moffitt

MARK MOFFITT

Basics of Lunging

In this video I am training a horse to lunge. The previous session to this video the horse had no respect for body position, would constantly pull away, and basically drag me all over the arena. This video shows how using the round pen and teaching some basic foundational principles there will help teach a horse to lunge properly and successfully.

To Your Lunging Success,

Mark Moffitt

Mark Moffitt