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Franklin Levinson's

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Herd bound plus remedy

Hi Franklin!
Arnie, a 22 year old gelding, was recently moved to a herd of 8 after living alone for 10+ years. A few times during the 10 years and for the first 12 years of his life he lived amongst other horses, and has never been herd bound. . .until now! Now when I try to lead him away within the 5 acre pasture to work him in the round pen, he reaches a line where he begins neighing frantically, spinning around me, and just not paying attention to me at all. How do you suggest I work with him in order to move past this? I know I must establish trust and leadership, but I am not sure how!

Thanks! Melody

Hi Melody,

Here is something to try: Work/train him in the pasture near his friends for a while (maybe consistently for a couple of weeks minimum). Get good at open field handling of the horse. Lunge him, side passes, backing, forward, turns on the haunches, forehand, anything you can think of on a long line. You could also get good at ground driving the horse in the field (long reining). After a bit of time you will find the horse very bonded to you and much more willing to leave the pasture with you. Use a food reward occasionally for a great job. Your skills will come up as will. As I work at some ranches that don't have round pens or arenas, I have gotten very comfortable training horses and working them on a line in an open field. The bond is formed well and quickly as the horse's comfort level is not challenged for a good while to allow him to bond with me over a bit of time. Its really all about how good you can lead the dance that determines how much trust and bonding you can establish with the horse. Location is actually and should be secondary. If you screw up and scare the horse, he can run off from you easily. So begin slowly, one step at a time. Build your proficiency gradually. Be very sensitive to his fear level and try to stay just below where he begins to get anxious. This is accomplished by beginning very slowly, praising every little try and rewarding with numerous and many breaks in the action (release of pressure) for the horse's good efforts. I have a horse that was only handled in a field and he is terrific and performs for me at liberty in the open and anywhere. Consider the possibilities and the many rewards of such a program done in the open. You'll become a better trainer and your arena work will be so much easier for you if you can do it all in the open when needed. I school horses from the saddle a lot in the open as well. I like it when the horse does just as good in an arena as out in the open. They perfrom the same anywhere. This has become a very desirable thing for me to do. The owners love it as their horses look and perform like wonderful show horses all the time and in any location (calm, collected, soft, supple in the bridle, etc.). Keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

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