How do I fix my barn sour horse? | Steady Horse Training

How do I fix my barn sour horse?

 In Blog, Ground Work, Pasture Horse

Note: The following excerpt is the transcript from a question I answered from my Facebook Live made in the Steady Horse Facebook Group on 5/29/19. Watch the video or read the text below to learn the answer to the question.

This issue of barn sour horses is very common when you notice that a lot of times we create this problem without even realizing it. So, something to think about while you’re riding your horse. A lot of times I see people start off on the trail leaving from the barn. They started a nice walk and then when they get out on the trail, they might do a little bit of walking, trotting, and cantering in different areas. They’re hanging out with the other horses.

Then I see a lot of people who are trotting back to the barn or cantering back to the board. These are two huge, no no’s for trail horses. What you’re teaching them is that the sooner we get to the barn, the sooner you get to rest and relax.

Typically when most people get back, what do they do? They climb up there or they were cooling down, putting them up, feeding them, or something like that. What we’re doing is, without realizing it, is reinforcing them, that the barn is the best place to be. The trail, not so much.

I want you to be in a hurry to get back to that barn, is what that horse is thinking. So, you want to keep that in mind when you’re working with a barn sour horse. So the idea here is you need to make going back to the barn a chore, work. In fact, it’s a good idea when you have a trail ride to work your horse at the barn. Get those feet moving and do some sending, some lunging. If your horse canters really well, do some cantering around the barn area.

Work them back and forth, make them move on their hind end, really get them working. Then once you face away from the barn and get going down the trail, take a nice big deep breath, relax. Let them just take a nice brisk walk and enjoy the opportunity to leave the barn. So that trail leaving the barn, you’re giving them an out. Secondly, when you’re heading back to the barn, I want you to do lots of starts and stops.

If they might try something crazy, you bring them back down to stop. Then you might circle round them where you are and then start and stop. Then circle them again. So as they’re going back to the barn, instead of giving them some rein and letting them just trot back and walk really fast, we’re making it work for them,

If your horse starts to lower their head and relax and enjoy that opportunity to walk back, well you’re going to leave them alone, but the moment they start to pick up that excitement, we want to move out, you’re going to get after them and get them moving. Once you get to the barn, do another 20 minutes of work with them.

Make them work, go back to doing some cantering work on whatever different exercises you’ve been working on with your horse that week. Then finally, don’t dismount right at the bar, walk them away from the bar. Dismount there and just stand there for a little bit and let them rest away from the bar and closer to the trail of the direction where you’re arriving.

Then walk them back to the bar afterward. In fact, it’s even more ideal if you have an area away from the bar where you can tie your horse to let them rest and relax to reinforce the idea that the barn isn’t necessarily the place where you get your reward, and there are lots of rewards to be sought, and to be had away from the barn when you’re with me wherever I ask you to go.  

The sooner your horse learns that the more inclined they are to also trust that anywhere you asked them to go is going to be a safe place, it’s going to be accepted as a good place to be.





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