TWH 3 yrs old ridden in wonder bit and western saddle in round pen, arena, trails by advanced beginner

Question: I have a two year old I trained myself. I show her in trail classes, and flat shod. I also trail ride. Last winter when we had lots of puddles. We started with mom leading
her into them with a carrot, and later mom stood in the center of a very large one while I rode my filly to her. She would get a carrot then.  She got to where she would play in the water, and sometimes go into the center and nicker for mom to come give her a carrot.

 Two rides back, I was following moms horse, and mom crossed a very small slow moving creek. (3 ft wide and pastern deep. My filly flat out refused. We worked with her for about an hour, and mom ended up leading her back and forth through the water. She was quiet and happy when we quit.

 Last time I took her to the crossing spot, she again refused. My mom wasn't there, and my friend and I couldnt pony, lead, or urge her across in any way. After a long fight she was getting too upset and I didnt want her to get hurt or me to get hurt so we went home.

 How can I fix this. I know that I should have made her go through, but I couldn't do it then.

From Panelist Liz


It sounds like mom is the element in this case that needs to be addressed. With this horse I would teach it to do what I asked because I ask with out mom. I would do this with many different exercises such as walking on wet dirt at home  first. Use the treat again if you have to. Even if she side steps it several times first, but if she will put just one foot on the wet spot reward with a treat or positive words and a rub on the neck.  Ask her to walk over ground poles, weave cones, walk through 2 close trees but always reward her for doing the task. You may have to do all this from the ground first and then apply it from there back of your horse. 

Do it a home so you are not caught out with no help in a sticky situation that you can not win  the lesson applied. Then start doing these small things out on the trail but I would not get in a spot you can not win or this will not improve and will come in to other areas of teaching.


From Panelist Carol

       First of all, let me compliment you on putting your own safety and the safety of your horse above your goal of crossing the puddle.  No, you should'nt have "made" her do it, because you can't make a horse do much.  

       Now for the problem:  Is she confident just approaching the puddle to a point where she could cross it?  That needs to come first, then let me say that i'm not all that crazy about trying to motivate horses with treats because their concern for their own safety will win out over the treat every time.  If the puddle dries up, it may be productive to ride her to the spot and let her hang out there.  I'm try ing to communicate principles of training        here, because your situation will differ each time.  Try to create a similar, but less taxing situation, and work her through that.  You must establish your self as your horse's leader before she can trust you in a difficult situation. 
       Build trust by working through a series of less taxing situations before tackling a big one.

Happy trails,

Carol Camp Tosh

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