How do you work with a horse that tries to leave the training ring?

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go back to leading him work first for one week if this is happening under saddle.....

first he needs to be taught to lead and not bolt or pull away. frequent walk to halt to petting him and saying how good he is, to walk
to halt
to turn around
and so on do
this for days if necessary. then you change the lead to a lung line and step a few feet away so the horse has some room to see if he is respecting you.
continue this work until you have been able to spiral
him from one end of the arena to the other- on a long lunge line in both directions,
in walk and trot and canter and then work on a bit of lateral work . then get on him if that was you next plan. be patient.
Anything good must be rewarded
anything bad must be stopped and then resume the work and ignore the outburst if
possible so the horse learns that he will not get out of the schooling - he will be stopped instead and have to work more, longer and stricter. Horses are not stupid- and love admiration as we all do.
But surely STOP is just what he is looking for, even if it is 'stop' fo for a few seconds before resuming. Stop just gives him that attention seeking break in his training routine that he was looking for.

I have found, reacting with an instant 'bad boy growl' while bringing him back (before he has even completed his run out - if possible) but keep him going and 'reward' his bad behaviour with some stricter less pleasant work for a short while (maybe work on a tight circle). The minute he complies tell him how good he is and go back to normal work plesant work he understands. I agree horses love to be told how clever they are. Keep length of training time in line with your horses capabilities and experience - short to begin with. They love to end the training by feeling they have pleased you and have been 'clever'. I find this relationship thing you have with your horse is vitally important. Naughty / bad behaviour is his way of communicating. Have we as trainers done something wrong - does he understand what is required, maybe he's bored, tired, not supple enough, doesn't get enough praise when doing the right things... If you think he is just being a nasty 'pig' it's probably cause you haven't built the very basics of that horse / owner relationship. GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING. I got a pony once that nobody wanted, he couldn't even be led from his field - he KNEW he was stronger and KNEW he could bolt away from the lead... he reacted far better to love had praise when I led him by a thin piece of string rather than marching out of the field on his webbing lead rein. Eventually he didn't mind being led away from the others with a piece of string, lead rein or just holding his mane.
Is it Flash you were talking about for leading him with just a string?
It is important to me that a horse wants to participate and enjoy the work I would ask of him, that he can move to the best of his ability, trusts me to make correct choices on his behalf and wants to be in my company. To create this I would have to spend time to do some foundation work from the ground that spoke to both the horse and I about relationship and eventual partnershp. This is the best way in which I can respect a horse and ask him to respect me.

However, if I had a horse that tried to leave the training ring I would act kindly towards the horse and start listening with more consideration, awareness and focus. I would take it that the horse was feeling undue pressure on some account and was endeavouring to tell me something that I was not realizing or choosing to take in account whilst we were working.

Likely, prior to our training session and mounting, I would have neglected to check in with the horse and confirm the quality of our relationship through time spent on the ground and interacting in a horse language way. If I had done that then I would have been riding with more awareness and consideration of the horse's point of view and experience.

By leaving the ring with the horse I would be listening to his point of view and enabling him to work something out regarding his need to leave. Being sure that there was no obvious physical concerns I would ask him to re enter the training area and see what the horse felt about this. If he was accepting to resume work after relaxing in the arena on a long rein I would ask him to work with something fun, easy and engaging of focus for both horse and rider.

If the horse was not accepting of going back into the arena I would stay very still and calm in a state of coherence and wait for him to work things out in his mind and realise that there was no pressure/resistance for him to battle against. I would then ensure I was back in tune with the horse and approach the training arena in a better state than we would have started out initially. If this was not successful I would not want to place pressure on the horse to do my bidding but would opt to go back to working on foundations of our relationship.
This is, for me, what counts over everything else and where the source and quality of everything else stems from.
first off i would only have this happen to me once with a particular horse. i would anticipate this behaviour until i was confident i had modified it.
i would keep an inside flexion on the short side of the arena and keep my legs on a little more than normal and also ready to push, hard if necessary to keep the horse going forward. i would keep my whip on the outside, up near the shoulder, ready to raise it slightly and flick his outside shoulder, while growling loudly 'get up there' especially if he felt strong.
once past and continuing to move freely forward, i would pat his inside shoulder and tell him how good he was. i would do a 20m circle and repeat, hopefully seeing an improvement. then i would repeat on the opposite rein.
then i would go large, do some other work, up at the other end of the arena and then try the end with the opening again. hopefully getting by without misshap, complete with lots of praise, pats and an end to the session.
the next day i would repeat.
if especially bad, i would do short lessons, say 20 min each and do one in the morning and one later in the day. once i saw improvement i would hack out the next day and would see how he was the next ride in the arena.
when i was happy with a particular session i would dismount, in the area of the 20m circle near, but not in the opening.
in later sessions i would spend time entering, working, say 10min and leaving, only to enter again and work. if he was not trustoworthy, i would work away from the trouble area first, praising for good work etc before setting him up for correction.
try shuting the gate!!
Too many times I have seen people call an issue strictly behavioral. Before I ask any horse (my own or someone else) to leave the barn......I always make sure there isn't a problem first. Horses for the most part want to behave...and when they don't it is mostly due to one of two things.....pain or fear. The first one causes probably 80% of most training issues if you are being reasonable and the horse is physically developed enough to do what is asked.

So here goes........being a hoof care specialist.....I start from the ground up......feet first :) Toe first landings, not standing square by choice, refusing to pick up one foot or another, resisting being saddled, mounted.....these are all cues that something is amiss. After ruling out the obvious (stone, injury) have a specialist analyse your horse's gait to make sure there isn't an underlying condition that is causing him pain which obviously would get worse when you ride. I won't get into the whole bare vs shod thing here......but start asking questions :)

Two other places that cause considerable issues are the horse's back......75% of all saddles do not fit the horse properly. Again, if the feet aren't right, the back will pay......also, if it fits you and not your horse, you aren't going to know unless you have had a specialist in saddle fitting properly analyse your situation.
Feeling down your horse's back, looking for atrophied muscle behind the shoulder, around the wither area, lumps and bumps and sensitive spots on the spine mean there is trouble. Just like with the hoof, don't cover it up with rubber and think its going to go away.

Lastly, the mouth. IF you were going to have to wear something that was jabbin you in the mouth, pinchin or causing pressure on your palate/tongue where you don't want it.........adding side reins, draw reins, or a heavy hand is NOT going to get a favorable response. Dental care and a discussion about bit fit or even riding in a bitless situation may show a whole different side to an issue.

If your horse has no pain issues, and still wants to leave the arena, rule out the fear factor. Take some TIME and just hang out in the arena, play a game with your horse, show him that you care and aren't just using him for your own pleasure. After all he puts up with losing his freedom, losing his herd time, and having you with him/on least take the time to build a relationship that means something to the horse.
If my dr came in, didnt' talk to me or about my day a bit before my anual, and just sat down and got started......I think there would be big problems. Your horse is the same way....they are very socially oriented. Don't forget that.

If you are still having problems, call in someone different with the ability to work with your horse safely, and see if just maybe, you are the problem. We are always too quick to realize that maybe it is us not being adept in the horse equation :) Don't be too proud to ask for careful to select someone who respects the horse and won't cause more problems for you. Remember, we are all students of the horse ::)
I like how you think Heidi. Give the horse the benefit of the doubt that something is wrong for him. Pain or fear. Try to make it enjoyable for the horse. Offer lots of praise when they are doing something right.
Very possibly if it is not a pain or fear issue, it's a relationship issue. That can have many causes but I don't think you are going to have many good rides till the relationship/partnership is there.
I see so many people treat their horse like a machine rather then a creature that loves praise. They'll yell or hit for the wrong things and take for granite the good stuff.
I believe we get the best from our horses when we truly treat them like a partner, truly working together for the satisfaction of both. How inspiring it is when you see a horse and rider get done with their ride and you can just 'see' the pleasure they both have in a successful ride. You can 'see' the satisfaction!
Well said. It is all too easy to just assume that the horse is being belligerent. But the real way to success is to figure out why the horse feels the need to leave. Is he in pain? Is he afraid? Does he understand what you are asking of him? Working together with your horse as a partner to figure out his motivation is the only way to really fix the problem. All other approaches may have a quick fix, but they won't solve the real problem....lack of a cohesive, trusting relationship.
When a horse wants to leave the ring, isn't it because he wants to be where it's more secure. ie the barn or his buddies, as is natural to a horse?
I see this happen with some of my students. Horses are creatures of habit, if you get on and off at the gate they associate that with the place they don't have to work. Change it up; mount in a different area of the arena everytime, break up the routine on the horse. If they want to run to an area of the arena work them in that area immediately they won't associate that area as a place of rest but a place of work and won't be so quick to go there. Ride outside the arena as often as you can. I see it all to often horses go about their routine of walk, trot canter without a glitch, the rider develops a false sense of security and ability due to the confines of a ring. They get outside of the ring and horse and rider don't know what to do because they have never done it.
In summary change things up for you and your horse, you will both be better off for it.
I let them....

to figure out why the horse wants to leave....

and then I remedy the reason for leaving.


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