I often get asked about ‘Field Shy Horses’, meaning those that won’t go near other Horses when being ridden or jump and shy away if another Horse comes near them.
This can be caused by a number of things:
- Poorly broken in whereby the Trainer didn’t expose the young Horse enough or never rode it in the opposite direction of travel to other Horses on the same arena or Trail.
- The use of ‘Blinkers’ when starting, breaking in or training Horses which takes away their overall view of the World and actually compounds this and many other problems.
- Poor Eye Sight problems in which case get the Horse looked at by your Veterinary Officer.
- A wimpy personality in a Horse. One that will always be low in the ‘pecking order’ of the Herd.
- A lack of boldness put on the Horse by the Trainer who stared it and not having ridden and exposed the Horse to the real World but kept it cocooned in yards and an arena.
- A young Horse getting kicked and hurt by another Horse during riding.
- Horse getting bullied in the Herd situation.
Over the years, I have been asked to try and fix many such Horses and especially in the Race Horses. During experimentation, I have found that throwing them in the deep end so to speak, is the best and most effective fix. I have had Horses that will not take split in the final 200 metres of a Race, who just put the brakes on and go backwards or who lug way wide to the outside running rail, all getting beat of course.
With the pleasure or equestrian Horses, I meet them that will violently stop and spin away if a Horse comes from the other direction at them as well as the other symptoms of the Race Horse. I throw them in the deep end for in order to fix this psychological problem, we have to first be able to prove to the Horse that in fact it can get up close and personal with a mob of others and yet not get hurt. To survive.
Further, I actually attempt to turn these Horses into ‘Bullies’ themselves and prove to them (with my assistance and presence) that they can be brave and more importantly, make others get out of their way instead the other way around. There are two ways to go about this:
- Find your local Western Training Night being held in an Indoor Arena somewhere, where Cowboys will not raise their eye brows at the fact that you have an unwieldy Horse. In fact, they are highly likely to see the fun in assisting you in your aims or even get n and do it for you if you are not up to the short term rough ride you are going to have…..or
- Arrange your own mini Pony Club type activity on your own arena at home with your Friends. (Hand pick non kicking Horses!)
First, in both scenarios, use some sophistication and empathy of course. Stand in the middle of the area, on a loopy rein and make your horse stand using One Rein, NOT TWO. Two reins means tension by you and warnings to the Horse. TRAINING A HORSE TO STAND
Stand there for anything up to half an hour. Bore the Horse with the activities going on around it and past it from both directions. Don’t ask people to confront the Horse at the start, just ordinary normal Horse Traffic at normal distances.
Then start riding at the walk and the the trot later (twice as hard) in both directions. With Traffic and against Traffic. Then, once you have that sorted out, sage manage situations amongst two Friends whereby they are riding about a metre apart (depending on your ability to force) and demand your Horse bursts through between the two Horses. Repeat, repeat. Tighten it up gradually until your Horse is actually forcing the other two apart physically or ‘knocking them out of the way’ as in a Race Horse forcing the split between the Field to get to the Winning Post first.
Then do it in the other direction but they will need to be wider at the start. Then let your imagination run wild, have some real fun and see if you can drag or knock the other Riders off their Horses, knock their Horses out of the way as in the Polo Horses and any other thing that you can dream up. That is the best and most effective way to fix ‘Field Shy Horses’
You may have to repeat this regularly ad so you should but it is the proving to the Horse that it does have power over the others, with your help, that will finally make it believe that it doesn’t have be so scared and to ‘grow a back bone’ 🙂