Fun things to do for horse who doesn't like schooling??

Kezzabell2

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Hello all

I've decided to move my boy back to live with my shetland, we move on Thursday next week. I'm leave a yard with a school, walker and lunge pen and going back to his old field, which is around 3 arces with a massive field shelter!

I've spent alot setting up a new track system, as my 2 and my friends pony are all fatties without shoes. I have an area to lunge when its not wet, and a couple of jumps and poles.

I'm trying to think of some fun things to do with him during the winter. Any suggestions welcome.

We are planning a trip to the New Forest in 2 weeks time and I've enquired about horse agility, which I hope to do the weekend after NF.

He literally hates schooling, so I think we will have the winter off trying that and maybe see how he feels about it again in the new year.
 

Orangehorse

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Trec training is like mounted Horse Agility. You are in fact schooling without going round in circles. With poles on the ground you can practice going through a narrow corridor at walk, trot and canter, and backwards, keeping straight! Not as easy as it sounds. Doing a S bend shape with poles on the ground. Standing still dismounted, like training a dog to sit!
If you look in a book by Linda Tellington-Jones there are lots of ideas of ground training. Over raised poles, through tyres, tarpaulin. Everything like this has to be started very quietly in bite-sized chunks so as not to upset the horse and let them gain confidence, but you end up with a very well adjusted horse that can cope with nearly anything.
You could try Western riding too, as something new for your both to get into.
 

Kezzabell2

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Trec training is like mounted Horse Agility. You are in fact schooling without going round in circles. With poles on the ground you can practice going through a narrow corridor at walk, trot and canter, and backwards, keeping straight! Not as easy as it sounds. Doing a S bend shape with poles on the ground. Standing still dismounted, like training a dog to sit!
If you look in a book by Linda Tellington-Jones there are lots of ideas of ground training. Over raised poles, through tyres, tarpaulin. Everything like this has to be started very quietly in bite-sized chunks so as not to upset the horse and let them gain confidence, but you end up with a very well adjusted horse that can cope with nearly anything.
You could try Western riding too, as something new for your both to get into.
thank you, both of these sound great!! haven't even thought of Western, which could be an idea too!! will defo look them both up :) Think mounted agility would be really good, as he does always prefer being in the school when we have lots of poles out, so might be able to trick him into being schooled that way, hehe
 

splashgirl45

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if you are hacking out you can always do things like leg yield or shoulder in and also lots of transitions to keep him occupied. you can also improve his paces and balance by doing things like slow the trot down and then go forward briskly to make him stretch....have a good time
 

Orangehorse

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In Trec there are some bending poles and I have seen a competitor go down the poles at a canter, changing legs! There's schooling for you.
/
As for schooling out hacking, you can do transitions within the pace, so collected walk/extended walk/long rein/back to collected. You can serpentine along a lane, one with no traffic obviously. Mix it up with complete chill out hacking and do small chunks.
 

Firefly9410

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Take regular breaks when you are schooling. If you are in a field go for a gallop round the edge or up a hill. If you are in an arena ask for extended trot across the diagonal or hop over a small jump without worrying about the quality of any of it. If you take a fun break every few minutes as well as a rest break on a long rein where necessary they stay more interested in the session. My sleepy one will willingly offer canter when pointed at a line of canter poles. If the horse likes a day out go to local horse shows and enter a class or two. No need to worry about being competitive just treat the class and the warm up like a schooling session as much as possible. If you are too good for the class you want to do you can enter HC then they will not include you in the results but you still get to have your schooling opportunity. Your horse will be just as happy with the day out whether he is being judged or not.
 

BBP

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In Trec there are some bending poles and I have seen a competitor go down the poles at a canter, changing legs! There's schooling for you.
Mine will canter the bending with just a neck rope, no bridle (at home... at competitions he acts like a feral never been sat on loony!)

You can try stuff like that through the winter, seeing if you can do a little bridleless riding to give you some interest. Can you ride shapes or to specific markers without using your reins, can you try shoulder in or leg yield or whatever without using your reins. I find that sort of stuff makes schooling more interesting.

Although I’m interested, why do you think he hates schooling? Do you think he gets sore or bored or do you ride differently to put hacking and he dislikes the change in contact? I’m lucky that mine enjoys most things so am curious about why other horses may not. But then I am a bit weird and my schooling involves spells of bridleless, or getting off and doing Liberty work/tricks, or doing garrocha work, or using the garrocha pole to play giant snooker from horseback, using the markers as target ‘pockets’ and a giant gym ball as my snooker ball!
 

JFTDWS

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Although I’m interested, why do you think he hates schooling? Do you think he gets sore or bored or do you ride differently to put hacking and he dislikes the change in contact? I’m lucky that mine enjoys most things so am curious about why other horses may not.
I always assume when someone says this that it's because their definition of "schooling" involves trotting round in endless circles, either aimlessly, or fiddling with the horse's mouth. Or, sometimes, that the horse has been hothoused in an arena with a high pressure, low reward training system. I think that riders often have similar experiences, with limited scope, fun, or inventiveness in their lessons, so they too believe schooling is boring.

It's something I see a lot of in highland circles - "all highlands hate schooling", "most highlands hate being in an arena" / Go really lazy in arenas etc... It isn't my experience at all - but my approach to schooling is a lot more like BBP's - we do whatever crazy, fun things we feel like in between the schooling, and for Fergus particularly, the school is his happy, fun place and he really enjoys schooling. (Dae, tbf, is happy wherever he is!)

Although some horses will always be happier schooling than others, I do think that if you vary the work horses do in arenas/fields/enclosed spaces, the methods of schooling them (because I do regard trec-type training as schooling - not "dressage" training as such, but you're still teaching the horse to move laterally, to collect, develop balance, responsiveness etc), and you are careful with how much you demand from them and how frequently you allow them to break and release, almost all physically capable horses should be able to school happily.
 
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I'm increasingly turning in to a dressage lover but I plan to keep up a bit of jumping as the horse loves it. He doesn't get soured from schooling probably because it's varied, purposeful and I don't drill.

I was warming up for a dressage test recently and the facility had an empty 20x20 arena. There was some bending upright poles left up from a kid's lesson, which we naturally decided to zoom around ☺️ I stuck up a jump as well so we both had fun and it was a bit of a change.

I plan to do some Trec because it sounds fun and it's something he'd love. The only thing that's kept me back is my horrendous sense of direction and inability/ disinterest in map reading. I must make an effort next year.
 

Kezzabell2

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The hate for school relates back to when he was 4 and he was diagnosed with pedal osteitis and hock spavin! we spent a good year correctly his pain issues and resulted in removing his shoes. I paid a dressage rider (rides for GB) to school him for me for a while but even though he was no longer lame he just started pinning his ears back when asked to go forward, where as he has no issues going out hacking (so sure its no longer pain related, maybe just pain memory)! I did start doing a bit of schooling on grass this summer, and he was okay with that.

When I did ride in the school he did prefer it when there were lots of poles, and little jumps etc, which is why I think he's probably enjoy the agility, or TREC stuff
 

JFTDWS

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Sorry OP, I should've caveated my post with the idea of sound/healthy horses - because obviously physical issues are a common cause of horses who don't like schooling or working in confined spaces / on artificial surfaces. I was just being lazy and imprecise!
 

Kezzabell2

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Sorry OP, I should've caveated my post with the idea of sound/healthy horses - because obviously physical issues are a common cause of horses who don't like schooling or working in confined spaces / on artificial surfaces. I was just being lazy and imprecise!
no worries at all! I hope that at some point in his little life he will be more happy to do it! but if not, its no biggy to me! we will just do fun stuff!

I do wonder if the school at my current yard might not help, (they've just replaced it but we can't use it until it rains, so I might not get a chance before I move him on Thursday) but it did have massive bits of rubber, literally about 3 inches, and thinking about it, he probably has hated schooling more since he'd had his shoes removed (although is fine over stones)

I will defo try him again on the new surface, as its much softer, and the school is much bigger now, so will see if he's less unhappy in there now its been redone :)
 

BBP

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I think surface does make a huge difference. My little horse had an SI injury and does struggle with softer/deeper surfaces, he becomes much more reluctant, but absolutely floats across a firmer surface.
 
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I always assume when someone says this that it's because their definition of "schooling" involves trotting round in endless circles, either aimlessly, or fiddling with the horse's mouth. Or, sometimes, that the horse has been hothoused in an arena with a high pressure, low reward training system. I think that riders often have similar experiences, with limited scope, fun, or inventiveness in their lessons, so they too believe schooling is boring.

It's something I see a lot of in highland circles - "all highlands hate schooling", "most highlands hate being in an arena" / Go really lazy in arenas etc... It isn't my experience at all - but my approach to schooling is a lot more like BBP's - we do whatever crazy, fun things we feel like in between the schooling, and for Fergus particularly, the school is his happy, fun place and he really enjoys schooling. (Dae, tbf, is happy wherever he is!)

Although some horses will always be happier schooling than others, I do think that if you vary the work horses do in arenas/fields/enclosed spaces, the methods of schooling them (because I do regard trec-type training as schooling - not "dressage" training as such, but you're still teaching the horse to move laterally, to collect, develop balance, responsiveness etc), and you are careful with how much you demand from them and how frequently you allow them to break and release, almost all physically capable horses should be able to school happily.

And (not aimed at you OP), it makes me wonder what they do on their hacks. Do they just wander along on a long rein, letting the horse do whatever it wants, at any pace it pleases?
 

Firefly9410

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Pearlsasinger I have hacked with lots of people who will not canter unless the track is 100 percent straight. They look at me in horror if I suggest cantering on a track with a wide curve and claim such a thing is impossible! There are lots who will not enter a field and some who will not enter a wood, unless they want to canter because that is what will happen and they cannot stop it. If you ride these people's horses they often have no idea of how to bend having been allowed by the rider to go round every bend or curve sort of straight. Then they go in the arena for an hour and like JFTD mentioned only round the edge with a few circles and the occasional transition the whole time fiddling or sawing with the reins to make the horse tuck its nose in. Most of it with limited success then announce that the horse still hates schooling and that is why they do not do it.

Kezzabell2 it could be pain or physical impossibility to do the work being asked. A surfaced arena requires more hock action than grass. A spavin is a permanent thing which even if no longer painful it will affect the functioning of the hock. Poles would be harder work still, but it could be he is happy to put up with a little discomfort or difficulty for the sake of doing something he enjoys and so goes better over poles. It would be so much more helpful if they could speak English and tell us! :D
 
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I have a youngster, now 5 - she has NEVER in her life been inside a "school".

I hate being penned in, and as a happy hacker, yes whilst appreciate the discipline in being "schooled" in an arena would no doubt be of huge benefit, I actually believe (as does my friend who backed my little 'un) that as "happy hacking" is what I want her for, then this is the best place to be out and learning!

You can do all sorts of stuff out hacking: opening gates is one very obvious manoevre which you really DO have to think through! Plus doing Serpentines across the lane or track (check for traffic!!); then there's reversing into driveways for vehicles, going past obstructions etc! They recently dug up the road just down from my yard and this was an incredibly useful exercise! There was utility vehicles, men in Hi Viz jackets, a real-live Dragon with a beak digging up the road, water spouting everywhere, you name it! We also hack through a busy working quarry regularly, and over roadbridges as well as right beside a major road. AND are in the flight path of a busy regional airport. Bored? Nope, they don't get a chance to be!!

Other suggestions: I can second others' recommendations re. TREC and Horse Agility. My old boy was a quirky chappie (cob!) and TREC was exactly right for him, he was actually darned good at it and it stimulated his brain. Ditto Horse Agility - if you get to a Horse Agility day and Vanessa Bee is doing it - she is just an incredibly supportive and amazing person; not like a "judge" at all, she is really encouraging and so very obvious that she takes a keen interest in everyone! Also worth watching her if she's doing a Demmo: her body language, body positioning, and breathing when she's working with a horse just has to be seen to be believed!

You can also set up a little "TREC" or "Agility" course back in your own yard (if YO is OK with it!!); very easy to do, beg, steal :) or borrow some road-cones from somewhere....... get some poles, some plastic, and go for it!
 

JFTDWS

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Pearlsasinger I have hacked with lots of people who will not canter unless the track is 100 percent straight. They look at me in horror if I suggest cantering on a track with a wide curve and claim such a thing is impossible! There are lots who will not enter a field and some who will not enter a wood, unless they want to canter because that is what will happen and they cannot stop it.
These people both bemuse and terrify me. I simply can't imagine why anyone would choose to get on a horse without basic manners and take it out into the big wild world (and I don't include young, green horses in that, as they should have basic manners from their preparations for ridden work). What really baffles me is that some of these horses get described as "super safe, bombproof" types to hack as they're so switched off - to me, something that doesn't bend, move off the leg smartly (or, sensibly) in all directions and have a very good mouth, is not in any way a safe hack.

That's not relevant to the OP though... Hopefully the new surface will help and make it much easier going in the arena. Surfaces are a pig - so many places have really deep, unpleasant surfaces these days. I'm a huge fan of a good all weather surface - I love doing arena work, and it makes fast work a lot easier in winter / summer when the ground is either deep clay or rock hard (here anyway!), but deep, poorly maintained surfaces are not my idea of fun!
 

Kezzabell2

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Kezzabell2 it could be pain or physical impossibility to do the work being asked. A surfaced arena requires more hock action than grass. A spavin is a permanent thing which even if no longer painful it will affect the functioning of the hock. Poles would be harder work still, but it could be he is happy to put up with a little discomfort or difficulty for the sake of doing something he enjoys and so goes better over poles. It would be so much more helpful if they could speak English and tell us! :D
He did have his hocks fused at 5, but now thinking about it, I do think he got less keen in the school after his shoes were removed
 
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