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Young horse won't hack alone

20 replies

Theponylady · 30/07/2017 21:06

Any ideas?

She will go out, reach something scary then try and spin for home. Sometimes it's something she's seen a million times or a noise etc. Once she's silly then she's silly for the rest of the ride/walk. She never seems to settle again. Sometimes I get 5 steps of the yard, sometimes a mile. It's not the same spot every time.

Once we turn for home she starts jogging and refusing to stand, she will try and spin in the home direction. Not all of my rides are circular so sometimes I have to turn back and every time she is silly. She's also silly when passing horses on the way back to the farm, whinnying and trying to jog to them.

If she sees another horse and rider hacking im stuck with them Blush

She often plants and won't move at all, or backs up and bucks refusing to go forwards.

I've tried sitting it out,the nicely nicely approach and also getting cross but nothing really works.

I've also tried walking her out in hand however she is strong and bargy and I don't feel I'm in control. She long reins but again she won't budge.

She hacks in company fine with no issues.

Can anyone give me any tips to get her going out alone. I really don't want to keep a horse that won't hack as it is a pain to find hacking partners?

I have lessons but obviously this never presents itself in the school and she is always well behaved in there.

OP posts:
Ollivander84 · 30/07/2017 21:10

I never turn round on a hack, in your situation I would keep doing circular. Can you get to the point where she stops, then get off and lead and then get back on?
Also if you have someone that will walk with you or cycle?

Theponylady · 30/07/2017 21:27

I don't have anyone to walk with me sadly.

If I get off and lead her she rears, spins, plants and backs up. How do I get her to actually go forward past it in hand when she's being silly? I'm scared of loosing her and her running off!

OP posts:
Ollivander84 · 30/07/2017 21:37

It's so hard when you're in that situation
Generally I sit it out, if they go backwards then I try to spin them so they're going past it but in reverse. Or use shoulder in or even leg yield to take their mind and eyes off it
If they plant, get one foot moving and the rest should follow, however you do it
I would be tempted to pay instructor perhaps to walk out with you and advise, or have a chat with them? If your lessons are going well
I always have treats in my pocket as a distraction, don't rely on them but they've come in handy sometimes!

Been there - I had a spin/back up incident at absolutely nothing Hmm and she wasn't going forwards for love or treats! Sat it out and nothing so I got off and led for about 10 steps then got back on

I think it's possibly one of those where if you can get through it once, she may be easier after that

Ollivander84 · 30/07/2017 21:38

Oh and Facebook is quite good for hacking buddies. If you hack with someone make sure to go in front

Wolfiefan · 30/07/2017 21:40

How long have you been riding? How old is she and how long have you had her? What has she been doing up until now?

Theponylady · 30/07/2017 21:42

I've been riding 20 years Blush
This is my 4th horse, never had a problem before.
She is 6, she's hacked in company lots and done some showing and basic schooling.

She's a really clingy hormonal mare though, obsessed with everything other horses are doing which is part of the problem!

Thankyou ollivia I will try those! N

OP posts:
weaselwords · 30/07/2017 21:44

She's not alone, she's with you! Stick at it and get her to trust you.

Wolfiefan · 30/07/2017 21:45

Could you do something like horse agility! Don't laugh. It's a thing. Give her confidence and build a bond with you.
How is she at a show?
Is she at a new yard?

Ollivander84 · 30/07/2017 21:45

Another interesting thing I've known people try is set off in trot. And do the same ride for X amount of days so they gain confidence in it, knowing exactly where you are going. And keep a v light contact so you're encouraging forward, almost on the buckle

SteppingOnToes · 30/07/2017 21:48

How young is she and how long have you had her? It's a big ask for a young horse to hack alone, and the fact that she is acting as she is suggests to me that she doesn't have confidence in you as a leader.

After backing all I do for a whole year is hacking - I like to get them out and about seeing as much as possible before dulling them down with schooling. I don't ever hack alone initially though. I hack for a good few months to get the horse used to the routes and confident in themselves. I make them hack first, last in the middle, turn away from the group and catch up, go ahead and then wait.

Once the horse is comfortable doing this I will then start hacking alone on an 'easy' route. Initially it will be a 5 minute walk and I always turn round before they start getting worried. I introduce straight hacks right from the start -circular ones are great but they need to learn straight from the start how they should behave on a linear route as circular will not always be available. I also periodically stop and treat from the saddle as a reward for standing still (great for when you start teaching gates and crossing roads). As the horse gets more confident the little solo walks out can be more like a hack.

Initially though it is a big as and I don't ask more than the youngster is comfortable with.

Another thing you could do is do a short hack as a warm up, school, then a short hack as a cool down.

Also don't forget to ride - with youngsters hacking can be anything but relaxing. You may find you need to ride every single step. Give them something to think about - use the hack to school. Practice transitions between markers, collect and lengthen strides, teach lateral work (shoulder in is great for getting them past scary objects).

And don't forget to breathe - signing can really help. Have a go-to song that calms you that you can use to calm your horse. I like the grand old duke of york :)

Frouby · 30/07/2017 21:50

I had a horse years ago that used to power walk then jog home. If you tried to stop him he would spin his quarters into traffic so it became a bit of an issue.

I sorted it out by gping straight past the yard entrance and a mile down the road a few times. If he jogged coming the other way we jogged on another mile. He stopped jogging after about 3 weeks of doing this.

Planting is a bit more tricky. I have a baby highland who has an impressive plant on the ground so am anticipating this when she is broken in later in the year. I will do lots of long reining and am hoping this will get her going forwards alone. I agree with getting your instructor to come out on foot with you.

I have also seen a thing that is called something ridiculous like a whop whop. Its a batton whip with long, rattly strands on and you basically whop whop them forwards with it. Not sure I would fancy it if she is also being silly.

I would get really really good at long reining her personally. In the school first, then out hacking. Gloves, hat and body protector. Schooling whip or driving whip to whoosh around behind her. You have more control imo longreining than leading.

It's very frustrating. Hunting is hard but brilliant at installing confidence in young or novice horses. Any chance of getting her out on hound exercise at the start of the season?

Theponylady · 31/07/2017 21:25

Thanks to all of you.

I'm going to continue hacking in company to try and get her used to the world but I'm going to aim to try and go alone too.

I walked her inhand off the yard and back today which is a start!

I wouldn't dare hunt her I would be risking life and limb Grin She hates other horses galloping around her or coming past her, it causes explosions of all types!

She's 5. I've had her 6 months and she's been settled on the yard since then. She was backed at 4 but hasn't done much.

At a show she is silly, strong and rears but we got through it. She didn't plant at all.

Perhaps I need to invest some more time in walking her out however it's a bit scary as I feel out of control on the ground. She does not long line well and to be honest I'm not experienced enough to do it safely on my own. If she were to kick off I wouldn't have anyone to help me get her back to the yard if you see what I mean.

OP posts:
Frouby · 01/08/2017 09:09

Has she had her back and teeth checked? If something is hurting maybe the behaviour is evasive rather than just naughty? So she tenses up passing something scary and it twinges then she panics and starts rearing. Is she properly rearing up or just lifting her front? My biggest concern would be that she learns to properly go up and comes down on you.

Definetly get your instructor to come out and have a look what she is doing.

sadmum2017 · 01/08/2017 09:16

I started my 4 year old with walks in hand, even before she was backed. We walked for miles and got her used to traffic. Not the most efficient method probably, be we were not in a rush. Eventually when broken she would hack alone no problem.

Theponylady · 01/08/2017 11:41

They are silly rears, more of a threat with the front feet. She's reared once but it was due to horses galloping about behind her and she panicked. That's the only time.

She has had everything checked at least twice in the past 6 months. I've had her wolf teeth out and a new saddle fitted by a master saddler last month.

I've hacked her in company today no problem and she strode out in front. I was hoping riding out in groups would build her confidence but it seems it's made her worse as she relies on them and can't leave them now!

OP posts:
Floralnomad · 01/08/2017 13:37

Can you get her to go backwards past the 'scary' things with you still on board ? We had this with one of our mares for a bit and I just refused to get off or turn round so it was a case of she either went forward past it or she went backwards past it or we stood arguing about it until she did decide to do one or other of the above . I found the answer was not giving in as once you've done that once they expect you to do it every time .

SteppingOnToes · 02/08/2017 12:37

If she's rearing please get experienced help - nothing about rearing is silly... It is something you need to sort straight away as a horse who rears is either distressed or in pain - horses do not expose their bellies for nothing they are telling you in the most extreme way they can that they are not happy.

I think the hacking issue is the least of your worries - it sounds like she has been backed but hasn't had a full education, or allowed time to become confident with one thing before moving on. A nappy, spinny horse who rears is not a happy one.

Please get professional help of this horse could face a very uncertain future.

Whaambulance · 04/08/2017 18:35

It sounds like she is napping and trying to scare you into letting her go home. In my experience (30odd years of owning) they napp for two reasons, genuine fear of being alone or evasion of work. Once you know why they are acting up you can adapt your strategy and win the fight. If she's genuinely scared you have to make her feel safe with you, then she will trust you will keep her safe. If it's evasion you have to teach her that you will always win, and it's easier for her to just do as she is asked rather than fight you and lose. I hope this helps you, I have had a few nappers, and I know how frustrating it is.

Gabilan · 05/08/2017 18:34

My horse isn't keen on hacking alone so I sympathise. He will do it, but he's always more keyed so it becomes hacking for exercise rather than for fun.

I've found the idea of stress-stacking useful in dealing with it. So stressors are:
hacking alone
going away from home within about an hour of sunset
large traffic
new/ unfamiliar routes
long routes (possibly because they're less familiar)

He can cope with the stress of being without another horse if few or none of the other stresses are present. Fortunately he's very good at doing ride and lead but it isn't an option for everyone.

It doesn't sound like evasion given that she's happy with other horses. However, unfortunately even master saddlers make mistakes and horses change shape a lot so don't assume the saddle is fine. And if a horse is in pain or discomfort it will be more reactive, particularly when away from the herd.

One thing I found worked with one mare was telling her firmly that no, we were not going home and that she had two choices: stand and stare at the spooky thing all day, or go past it. She always went past but you do have to be prepared to be patient.

Finallyatlast · 15/08/2017 19:04

If there is nothing physically wrong it sounds as if she's just young and inexperienced and needs some confidence building.

It'd be worth paying someone more experienced to hack her out for you and getting their opinion. It's quite hard to give advice I think without actually seeing it happen and how you react to what she does. Hope you manage to get it sorted x

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