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Herd bound?


I've read most of the archives and haven't found exactly what I'm looking for.

I have an 11yr old Quarter Horse ( gelding) with an unknown past. He cribs and I'm fairly sure he was left in a stall for long periods of time without contact of other horses. He was 200 lbs underweight when I bought him. I have only 1 year experience with horses but am learning volumns every day I work with him. His weight is now normal, has filled out nicely. I try to ground work every day to build trust and establish a mutual comfort zone. At my request I encouraged the stable owners to turn out my horse with others. He likes it so well he is having a devil of a time leaving them after only two days. Today I brought him in to start our ground thing and he was a bit wild eyed, anxious, energetic to say the least. After the other horses were brought in he settled right down. We went to the arena and I moved him around to see his mood and he was fine. We went on with a variety of ground stuff and you would never have known moments eariler he was very nearly out of control. So have I opened up a can of worms by turning him out to socialize?

How should I alter my learning process with him to minimize this behavior? I've had him 6 months.


Hi David,

More ground 'play.' Notice I changed 'work' to 'play.' What would you rather do work or play? The whole feeling and attitude are different even though much of the actual movement may be the same. Ground playing is not too methodical. It is not too repetitious. The horse gets tons of rewards (short breaks, praise, even treats if he earns them). The action gets changed every few minutes. It takes tons of time to create the deep bond you are seeking. I do not know your routine. But I suggest you play with the horse in the pasture as well as in the arena. Do the ground playing occasionally in the open pasture and then turn him loose so you do not have a pattern that is repeated all the time. Begin to lead the dance as soon as you put a halter on the horse. Make each step a step in the dance. Each stop, turn and move is part of the dance. If he is great and earns it, give him a cookie sometimes. Vary what you do a lot. Always be patient and the great leader. Remember, horses are a lot like young children who look to their parents for confidence and assurances they are 'safe.'

Sincerely, Franklin

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