'Good in traffic' ???

vicijp

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Now this post is not meant to have a go at anyone, just hoping for general discussions/theories.
In my experience I find the fact that horses are sometimes labelled as bad in traffic a complte myth. When I advertise it is always the bit I leave out - I sort of take it for granted.
When I break a horse in I always go straight out and long rein on the roads, im lucky that we have a lane to my house with quiet traffic - everyone knows to go steady if they see a riderless horse so they all get a good 'test drive' first. We only have quiet lanes by us, but a lot of speeding cars and lots of farm traffic. Im struggling to remember a horse that has done anything worse than take a good look at a car and sidle by first time, then not notice them from then on. I find this with both horses we have reared and horses that have come from elsewhere.
The other day I took my 3yo out on the roads for the first time, and for a change met no traffic on my lane. Just as I got to the end I could hear a tractor and trailor rattling up the road so basically commanded 'stand still' and hoped for the best. Little star didnt bat an eyelid.
All of mine are trained strictly to voice commands, if I tell them to 'stand still' in the box I can walk around the yard for 5 mins, leave the door open, and they will still be there (bit of a b#gger sometimes when I have a new one and forget they are different!). Now are they good in traffic because they are so responsive and well mannered, or something else. For example, they get fed every day off the back of a quad bike when youngsters, none of them ever think twice about approaching (usually at fair speed). Also, the field the young colts/geldings are usually in (havent had many fillies lately for some reason) has the lane running down 2 sides of it. Not a busy road by any means, but probs about 20 cars down and up every day, few tractors a day, horsebox most days. Does this 'traffic proof' them?
Ive never felt the need to 'traffic proof' anything, never had a problem in that department, was wondering why?
 

PapaFrita

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I think if horses don't realise there's anything to be scared of, then generally they don't get scared. What I mean is, if a rider, handler comes across something they imagine will scare their horse, and start "Woooooah boy, don't worry! won't bite!" *pat, stroke* in a nervous voice, then horse will imagine there IS something to be scared of...
So basically I think it's down to the handling the horse receives on a day-to-day basis, and how unflappable (or otherwise) the owner/handler is.
Does that make any sense?
 

pottamus

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I agree with you on several points about being near traffic when in their fields helps. My horse was not good in traffic when I got him so I had to find out the hard way and train him to accept things. He would spin and spook at anything bigger than a car...forget lorries and tractors!!!
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I put him in a field backing onto a road that regularly has tractors, vans and lorries on it, so that helped.
Like you I have my horse trained to voice commands so with time and patience he overcame his fears...which is a good job because the lanes round here are single track but you still get HGV and tractos on them!!
I can now just stand him onto the verge whilst aggregate lorries rumble by and he is perfect with tractors, trailers etc too. But it has taken alot of work and patience.
So in answer to your question I think your horses obviously get a good start in life...but they are not all like that unfortunately.
 

serena2005

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i agree with PF, however i think introducing different enviroments and new things at a young age is far better than leaving it till later on.

all the youngsters iv had we have taken them out in to traffic from day 1, living in london its hard to find a quite road, and not to mention drivers that care! i put my horses bad hacking down to not having the early introduction, hes 6 and now i have him iv started hacking everyday to try and get him use to it
 

RunToEarth

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The horses that mum had brought on from yearlings have always been perfect in traffic,the only thing the mare is scared of are rhubarb leaves.
However when I bought Oshk we had the whole "ugh, its a lorry, lets snort and shirk away and try to bolt" theory. This had scared previous owners, and I had been told this, but I dont think a bad horse in traffic is really a problem, considering he was 6 at the time.Now I dont stand for silly horses, spooky horses, because to me they are dangerous. I put him in the paddock my a busy B road and rode him out daily on a relativly lively road. He got a reasuring voice, pat on the soulder and a little leg, and he is good as gold now. Tractos havnt been a problem, living on a farm he kind of has to accept that they dont hurt.
smile.gif
 

H's mum

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H was good in traffic until on one awful hack we had 2 separate encounters with double decker buses - (when I refer to hacking - we're talking busy A-roads - motorway bridges, round abouts - that type of thing!
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) - I was out hacking alone and a bus came hurtling towards us from behind - we were just passing a parked car and there was no room for both H the bus and the car - so I put my arm out and waved for him to slow down - he was furious - and as he came alongside us - he jumped on his air breaks - 8-10 times - H was terror stricken - the bus driver was so intent on scaring H that he missed his left turn and had to reverse back up the road - it was terrible!
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Sadly H hadn't settled when our second encounter with a bus happened - a double decker flew around the corner and didn't slow down - there were overhanging trees which the bus had to drive through which made a horrific noise - if he'd've slowed down it would'n't have been an issue - as it was H panicked (I was desperately trying to ask the driver to slow down) - she reared up, spun around and bolted - Since that day - she is nervous of any traffic that rattles - and I've continued to hack her out and keep her going - but she seems to remember it
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Sorry for the essay!
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Kate x
 

lordflynn

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am in the process of starting my 4yo on the roads atm! he's very used to quads/tractors + trailers, children dogs etc but didnt have to do any on road hacking at the old yard although I used to school next to a fast B road. Now I dont have to do much at all at new yard but can opt to go through village or along a very short stretch of A road (big wide road, not much traffic but do get buses, trucks and farm machinery). he is being as good as gold and hasnt batted an eyelid at anything so far-even on his own. He's got a brain on him though and isnt one to panic and risk hurting himself! Drivers round here are used to horses as well.
I think PF is right to a degree-alot depends on rider although I think alot of horses would be freaked out by the sort of t*** that H's mum encountered!
 

Happytohack

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I think what you have done without realising it is de-sensitised them to traffic i.e. by feeding them off the quad bike, by having cars, tractors and the horsebox go up and down the lane next to them, they have just accepted that machinery is part of life. IMO this is the best and safest way to get youngsters used to traffic. From what you say, it obviously works.
 

teapot

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Someone replied to my wanted ad the other day, and the first thing in her email was "horse does not like any traffic" .

Now the first thing that jumped out at me was "why?" Is it from a past experience or is he just a generally nervy sort. Just striked me that in this day and age, I really wouldn't be happy hacking something that doesn't do traffic. If I correct in where this horse is based (it's a v.local to me number) the hacking around area is all minor roads/b-roads (but busiest b road in country) and the wonderfulness of many a bus route.

Perhaps it's me but it's certainly something that's on the check list for any prospective horse. Am very keen to find out horse's age too
 

Laafet

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I am terrified of traffic due to a few accidents both horse and on foot related and my horse is not perfect in traffic to say the least. This I blame on myself as he had never been on the road before I got him and I used to have to hack him on his own along the Fosse Way which is bad bit of road and usually I was on my own.
So I was worried when I started to break horse professionally that this would be one thing I would be no good at. However like you vicky I long rein along the lanes where we are which are v. quiet and around the village before I get on their backs. This is mainly to teach them to steer and to go forwards but seems to help with traffic proofing as we meet most vehicles for the first time this way and go past lots of scary things. The horse has to learn to be independant and apart from any nerves down the reins which are less when I'm on the ground the horse is not being exposed to a nervous rider.
For one sharp mare that had not seen traffic I used to lead her up to the A32 a busy road down this way, in a CHIFNEY, so that she could 'see' traffic. She was only a show pony but i felt in the chifney I had full control as she did tend to rear and had been trained to respect it. She is now 100% in all traffic.
I find if they have had either of these experiences then once ridden they are fine.
 

henryhorn

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Sounds a bit like us to be honest, our foals see the car from the day they are born, then all winter see the tractor at close quarters driving inside the barn, by the age of two you have to push them out of your way with the bonnet!
When we take them out on the road the first time it's always inside an older traffic proof horse and have more trouble with weird looking rocks than vehicles.
Once they are confident hacking we take them through the village, which is very busy and has massive lorries going through it, ride round it several times and that's it, traffic proofed.
Like yours our horses don't really bother about traffic, in my experience they are either traffic proof or they aint.... Where we used to live was a town with traffic lights and fast drivers, traffic proofing used to be difficult as often their first sight of a car would be fast and too close. Luckily here most locals respect the horses and slow down every time they meet any.
 

smokeybabes

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I think it can depend on the horse as well.
For example i've had mine since he was 3, he's been in fields next to busyish roads and not had any major nasty incidents on roads. 1st yard i had him at between ages of 3-5 was mainly road hacking, now i'm fortunate to have lots of off road hacking and quiet lanes.
My horse is fine with cars and vans but doesn't like lorries and tractors. If they come from behind him he's not too bad but if he see's one coming towards him he can sometimes try to turn and run, and sometimes thinks if i'm gonna go past it i'll go past it at 90mph!
But i think it's because he's the biggest wimp! He is scared of everything and treats everything suspiciously. I ride him positively and like i said he had quite a lot of road exposure when he was young with no nasty experiences. I've taken him upto tractors on the yard - he's fine when they're off, and not too bad if running but stationary. It's just the big scary monster coming towards him he doesn't like!!
I now mainly stick to the quieter roads where we don't get many lorries or anything too big.
So yes sometimes it can be down to the way the horse has been brought up but i think there are some horses who are excessively scared of stuff!
 

JessPickle

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Well in our case if the horse starts off at our yard we dont have anywhere to traffic proof them! all we have is countryside and a bust motorway! so there isnt really a chance they get used to tractots etc though
 

dwi

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I'm not sure that the assumption that if you are a good and consistent rider your horse will be fine in traffic is entirely fair.

I've had Daisy sixth months now and when I first got her she wouldn't go off the yard without another horse. She'll now hack with my husband walking with us and occassionally on her own but thats a bit patchy. She doesn't mind cars but appears genuinely scared of lorries and tractors. We've tried turning her out next to a very busy main road but that didn't make any difference. She's fine when they're on the other side of the fence, just not when they're coming towards her. She will now stand on a verge and let them go past but she won't go past them and it turns her into a quivering wreck. I've never had a bad perception of roads before her, my last horse Gypsy would wait patiently at the pedestrian crossing with traffic wizzing past for the lights to change so I honestly don't think it me sending her nervous vibes.

I would love to have had her since she was a baby because then she wouldn't have developed numerous bad habits that she had from previous novicey owners but at 9 its taking a while to retrain her. Members of the public and other riders who should know better commenting when she panics does not help. It just makes me cross and then she picks up on that.

Spare a thought for those of us with nervous horses. It doesn't make us intrinsically bad riders, just not as lucky as some of you.
 

MagicMelon

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I think it very much depends on where you live / what facilities you have etc. For example, you have a nice quiet lane to school them on - we have a country road but it is rather busy and always full of 'spooky' traffic like farm vehicles, cycle races etc.! I also dont have anyone to hack out with so going it alone straight away on a baby onto a busy road isnt exactly what I would call fun. And you drive quads round them all the time so again, they get used to noisy things straight away. Ours dont.

Ive had 3 incidents now with the horses - one involved my horse getting spooked by cows and bolting through a barbed wire fence into a marshy field bucking until I fell off, this seriously upset the horse and he lost all confidence in hacking (and still bears the scars of the barbed wire....). Tried to get him over it by showing him cows next door on the lead etc. but as soon as I got on to try to go past one single cow, he freaked out again spinning me off and bolting off down the road. Third thing was on a different horse, one who was very good to hack who happened to get spooked by a bird flying up, stepped off a big bank at the side of the road and fell sideways onto a barbed wire fence below. Poor horse had a huge gash on leg and a bleeding nose. Hence, I no longer hack much. I do however make the effort to try to take out the baby horses occassionally (just up and down the road, not far) PURELY for their experience. I hate hacking now, I think Ive lost all confidence with it too. Its just too dangerous. And to be honest, yes hacking can be fun and rereshing for the horse but its not a major thing. Lots of horses dont hack and I dont find it a problem. All mine happily hack out in company and I do the very occassional pleasure ride, again for their experience. But its just not worth it, my horses mean too much to me for them to get injured on the road.
 

Chumsmum

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Chum has the same problem with lorrys and tractors - any other vehicles can wizz right past at him at whatever speed (inc. steam trains) but he really doesn't like the bigger vehicles - I think it is because they fill the whole lane. He is fine if I can get him in a gateway/driveway - just that extra distance makes all the difference. Don't know his history so anything could have happened to him before. I am now more confident in instructing the drivers to slow down so I can find a suitable spot for us and he is a lot better. However, he has a tendon injury at the moment so I can't keep up the work we have been doing
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However, if I bought another horse I would check that 'good in traffic' means all types of traffic.
 
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