Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Horse getting sour with arena 'work.'

Hello Franklin,

I am writing you concerning a question that I have about my horse becoming 'bored.' I have a 16 year old horse that I own and ride who has recently become bored or resistant during arena workouts. I have been told to take him out of the arena to help him to be move entertained and eager to work IN the arena, but have found this works only until I actually step inside the workspace. I have been told that my horse is "ring sour," but am not entirely sure that may be correct. I have wondered if that may be true or that he might be just bored. My horse is not agressive at all in or out of the arena, he merely flicks his ears and occasionally resists my cues. I have tried many options but have not come up with a solution to help this problem. My main question is "How can I make work more 'fun' for my horse, so that he is not bored, or merely doesn't hate it everytime I step inside the arena to do some work."

Thank you for your help,

Hi Kailyn,

First thing to try is to stop 'working' your horse and consider 'playing' with your horse. The difference for horses between being worked and played with is the 'attitude' of the rider and/or handler. What would you rather do, work or play? For a horse, our attitude when we are with the horse is paramount to success (along with our skill). Making action fun and fulfilling for a horse means lots of immediate reward for the horse trying to comply with requests. This reward should be frequent (initially very frequent, such as every couple of steps). I would bet your horse is not getting reward enough for his trying, so he figures why keep trying.

This is extremely common. Ride more like a trainer than someone simply schooling a horse. A trainer should know how and when to reward a horses for good effort. Notice I said effort. Most folks don't even know or recognize when a horse is trying to comply with a request. So opportunities to reward the horse go unheeded and unnoticed. This will sour a horse very fast.

Vary what you do a lot. Horses get bored easily. The action of whatever you are requesting from your horse should vary at bit very couple of minutes. Change something. Make it more fun through your attitude of lightness and play rather than 'we are working now.' Consider what you are doing with your horse to be a fun dance, with you as the great dance partner/leader. Don't take it all too seriously. That puts too much pressure on a horse. To answer your question specifically "How can I make work more 'fun' for my horse, so that he is not bored, or merely doesn't hate it everytime I step inside the arena to do some work."

....Again, change your mind about what you are doing. Lighten up....change the action a lot....reward the horse every time for trying to comply (every good step or two deserves a very short break and a good boy initially)...your horse will love that....forget 'working' the horse and begin a fun dance..... Get the horse out of the arena on a regular basis.....Please keeo me posted.....

Sincerely, Franklin

Look for: