Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Helping the Buddy Sour Horse

I received an e-mail from Janet whose horse gets agitated and near uncontrollable when separated from other horses on the trail. Or in other words is Buddy Sour.

Horses, are of course, prey animals who find safety in a herd. Think about being dropped off in the middle of the desert in pitch darkness with coyotes howling and brush cracking and you can start to feel what a horse feels like separated from the herd...excepting Horses rely on instinct, people tend to rationalize.

A buddy sour horse can be dangerous as the horse may bolt in his anxiety to catch up with the other horses. I think it's best to instill confidence in your horse and trust in you starting small with short distance and short duration separations from the other horses on a trail ride and build from there.

I've been on horses who were comfortable with just me and them being gone all day or night long by ourselves, but sometimes that same horse will get anxious when with a group of horses then separated.

When a horse I'm on gets buddy sour and wants to catch up I think it's important that you get the horse to travel at the pace you want, either a walk or a jog. DOn;t buy into to his anxiety. If you let him take off to catch up then you are teaching him that he has a reason to be scared and needs to catch up to the herd.

I'll keep stopping, backing, then make a horse stand still for a moment before I let him proceed forward. I may have to do this many times on a ride to teach him that he needs to go at the pace I'm asking for.

Sometimes, if needed, I put some energy into tight circles, which makes the horse uncomfortable and therefore looking forward to standing still or walking off at the slow pace I'm looking for. Good luck, Janet, and be careful - don't let your horse get away from you.

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