My horse, Rufus (an 8-year-old large pony trained by my 14-year-old self with my old trainer after he had been abused for six years) was not trained until he was 6 years old. He isn't what you'd expect from a rushed horse, he's doing great and we compete a lot in eventing. Since he was thrown in a field with other horses until he was 6, he is very social.
We don't have another horse, but when we go to shows or I trail ride with my friends, he goes nuts. He won't pay attention to me at all, and is constantly neighing to others, especially mares. How can I make Rufus behave on trails and at shows? When I go to shows, I constantly school him, trying to get him to pay attention, but at times it's dangerous (like the time he broke the hitching posts to get to another horse). What else can I do? My parents are talking about getting another horse, but since Rufus is still in training, I really don't think he needs that distraction, since he's already a bit barn sour and I believe that we should wait until Rufus can listen to ME around other horses...am I correct in this thinking?
Gennie and Rufus
Your horse's problem is from a lack of discipline and a factor of not starting his training until later in life. When a horse has not been taught certain rules of behaviour by the time he is six or older, he has come to believe that his life ought to be a certain way- and that way is the way it has been for his whole life out in the herd where he could interact with horses as he pleased and be impulsive in his behaviour.
The solution is GROUNDWORK so that your horse learns that you are in fact in charge of every movement and action he makes. Through groundwork a horse learns that you are in charge, you make the decisions and you dictate the actions he makes. Horses must learn that when they are around humans, there are certain rules that must be followed, just like there are expected rules of behaviour out in the herd.
Doing ground work with horses teaches them ground manners, obedience, fundamental rules of behaviour
Horses must learn at some age (the sooner the better) that they cannot act out their impulsive herd behaviours when they are in a working situation or around humans. Even a stallion that is bred a lot can easily learn when that behaviour is acceptable and when it is not. Never let your horse fraternize or interact with other horses when you are handling him or riding him. This just should not be allowed; it is not safe and it is not good for herd health, when the horses are from different herds.
I think that if you invest some time in groundwork so that you learn to control your horse's nose, feet, shoulder and hip, and you gain control over his impulsive actions; you will no longer have the problems you describe. However, I am not disagreeing with your parents, as far as you getting another horse, because if you were my daughter, I would prefer that you have a well-trained, obedient and therefore safer horse that was ready for you to go out and enjoy and accomplish your personal competitive goals.
Good luck and let me know how it goes.
Julie Goodnight, Clinician and Trainer, Horse Master with Julie Goodnight TV Host