Misbehaving in Open Spaces

ShadowHunter

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11 July 2012
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Recently i've started riding Millie in the field as its been dry and i thought it would be good to do a little schooling. However she does get herself so excited, once we've had our first canter, thats it. All she wants to do is bomb around until her legs fall off. I presume this is down to her being hunted in the past. Any ideas/exercises to help teach her that open spaces doesn't mean 'go go go'? She gets rather nappy towards the gate and trotting is far from a pretty picture. We even had a little bronc today..
 

Count Oggy

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I wouldn't canter her at all until she can be calm at walk and trot. Pick a flatfish area and school her as you would in the arena, don't canter and don't go outside of your imaginary area. This might help her realise that the field is a place to work not just hoolie around. When you start reintroducing the canter do lots of transitions within the canter to make sure she is still listening to you. Once horses have learned field means fast it can take a while to re-educate them but it can be done.
 

Merlod

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Just to be awkward I do the opposite. If they want to canter, then they canter but they stay on a circle. Then when you feel them want to come back to trot push for another circle of two or canter and then YOU allow them to trot. Used this tactic for my sisters project pony who was naughty in open spaces and at shows - just wanted to bog off at high speed and all the calming tactics and walk work in the world wouldn't have worked with him because as soon as you tried to move up from walk he would explode. I think with being on a circle he realised he wasn't going anywhere even if he was fast and naughty to start with and the prolonged canter took the edge off him, and pushing for a bit more when they don't want to canter any more puts you in control of the pace.
 

fatpiggy

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When I got my mare she was a fruit loop - I did 6 weeks on the ground before I even mounted her (I knew what she was like as I bought her from the RS where I did a bit of p/t teaching). She was perfectly behaved on the road but as soon as she saw grass and open space then the leaping and pulling began. I would take her up to a very large grass area (much of it is football pitches and no, we didn't go on them) and chose an area which had trees and shrubs on 3 sides. I would work her in various sized circles, in walk and trot and if she was a very good girl she got to have a canter circle or two. If she was naughty it was straight back to the slow stuff, if she was good she got to canter on an expanded circle. Vocal aids were my best friend. All the work paid off as eventually I could gallop (and boy could she gallop) in straight lines and pull up simply by repeating "and walk" a couple of times. Ironically, once she had had a really good blast she would put her happy face on and stroll home on the rein buckle.
 

EQUIDAE

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I've found marking an "arena" with poles can help.

Is it the field she grazes in? That can make it.worse too.
 

ShadowHunter

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No, its not the field she grazes in, next to it but not actually her turnout field. She can relax into a walk fairly easily, when asked to trot she just gets excited. I was making her come back down to a standstill every time she started upping the pace herself, this worked for a while then she got frustrated (and to be honest, so did i). Maybe pushing her forward and making her canter for longer than she wants might help too. Though i'll be making the space smaller.
 

Micky

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agree with meriod, exactly what we did with ours going up an irresistible steep hill! They learnt within a week or so that they had to listen to the rider as to what pace we would take the hill, sometimes walk, or trot or if they were v lucky, canter/gallop! Got them v fit too!
 
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