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    Diligence and consistency can work through ‘buddy sour’ behavior

    “The hardest part of teaching is to get people to push past their comfort zone, but that is where growth takes place.”

    written by SHERYL LYNDE / Horsetrader columnist - June 18th, 2015 - Trainer Tips

    SherylLynde_170pxSome horses are independent. They exhibit a low level of separation anxiety that can be handled easily by the rider. Other horses display a strong herd-bound mentality that, when separated from their companions, creates an almost dangerous behavior.

    This is partly their personality, and just like people, horses have different traits. However, whenever you interact with your horse, you are either (A) supporting or (B) correcting the behavior.

    Not all horses are looking for a leader, but all horses will follow a good leader. If your horse acts up as you ride him away from the barn or when his riding companion gets out of sight, do you opt to placate the horse’s behavior by removing the catalyst? Some riders begin to skip trail and limit their rides to the ranch or arena — or make sure while out on the trail they stay close to the riding companion. Don’t be a hostage to your horse’s behavior. Good training takes time and effort, and if you are willing to put in the dedication, you will change the behavior. The hardest part of teaching is to get people to push past their comfort zone, but that is where growth takes place.

    So, you try for a solo ride off your ranch, and the closer you get to the gate your horse begins his refusals. His feet get stickier with each step until he stops and refuses to go forward. Make him work where he stands by bringing his nose to your toe and kicking his hip around with energy. Repeat on each side until he is moving off your leg with light pressure from your calf. If you need more convincing, bring his nose to your toe and pop his hip with the end of your rein. Do not beg… insist!

    As soon as he is responsive, release his nose and ask him to walk off. Walking forward is much easier if you have been successful at asking him to perform the exercise with energy. He should walk off once he realizes his plan didn’t work. If he still refuses, repeat until he walks off willingly. If he stops and begins backing up, the same exercise applies. As soon as he begins backing up, bring his nose to your toe and kick his hip around in each direction, then offer him the opportunity to walk forward in the direction you want. If he begins calling out while out on trail, put him to work by trotting around brush or loping circles, changing direction frequently until he is quiet. As soon as he is quiet, let him walk.

    Once he begins to call out or jig, put him back to work. Change it up and cover some ground. Do roll backs around brush, trot over logs, practice stops and speed control. Once he is quiet, let him walk. Repeat as often as necessary, and when you work him, get a sweat going. There has to be a noticeable amount of energy expended in order for him to see the reward of walking. By changing the exercises frequently, you are working his mind and getting his attention on YOU rather than stall mates. This is where the pecking order begins to change from him being the leader to you, and it requires work and consistency. You need to stay with it until you see improvement.

    When you ride back to your ranch, make sure you go to the arena or round pen and do some loping in each direction, work on your departures and more roll backs or lead changes. Do so until he has worked up a good sweat again, walk him out and let him breathe. After you unsaddle and bathe him, let him stand for a good 30 minutes or so before putting him up.

    If your horse is “buddy sour,” while out on trail begin to separate him from the other horse by riding him in a different direction. Your goal may be to ride until the other horse is out of sight, but you can’t start with your goal — break it down into steps. As soon as you feel your horse getting uncomfortable with the distance or he begins calling, ride him back to his companion, but work him around the other horse. Again, you need to work him with energy by loping around the other horse in each direction, then let him walk as you set off again in another direction. You will find that the distance will increase until eventually he will be comfortable being out of sight. This could take an hour, a day or a week. Stick with it…you will reach your goal.

    “Man’s life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.” – Aristotle
    Sheryl

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