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Love Horseback Riding, Issue #012- Solutions for Herd Bound Behavior
September 01, 2015
Dear Horsey Friends,


It’s hard to believe that summer is starting to wrap up. My kids are back to school which leaves more time for me to head out to the barn and spend time with Gus! Have you been getting as much horse and riding time as you anticipated?

What's New

Do you know the bony landmarks on the horse? This information can be very helpful when learning saddle fit, for riding, and working with your veterinarian and other equine specialists. Refresh your knowledge here and increase your equine knowledge.

Learning: Herd Bound Horses Part 2- Strategies and Solutions

Last month we covered some herd behavior and why horses become herd bound. If you just signed up and want to check out last month’s issue, go here. This month we are going to talk about some possible solutions and strategies to use with the herd or buddy sour horse.

It was expanded on fully last month that horses are herd animals and that what we really have is a relationship problem with our horse when they are herd bound. When a horse acts in this manner what he is telling us is that we aren’t as good or desirable to be with as his pasture mates.

As far as irritating horse behaviors go though from the human’s perspective, this is one of the most frustrating ones.

A horse that constantly calls to his friends is frustrating. A much more dangerous horse is one that completely ignores you because he is so agitated from being removed from his friend or pasture.

One of the best strategies for the herd bound horse is to teach them patience. You can do this by teaching your horse to tie for longer and longer periods up to 4-8 hours. It’s important to start with a much, much shorter time (say 10-15 minutes) and work up to a longer period of time.

How does this help with herd bound horses? Herd bound horses are typically very emotional. They typically become increasingly agitated the further and longer they are away from their perceived safe place. If your horse doesn’t have patience to stand tied, it is likely that same emotion can come through with leaving his buddies. Always tie high, and I also prefer to use a tie blocker ring which can be adjusted to give if he pulls back or be set to tie him solid.

Another strategy for working with a buddy sour horse is to use approach and retreat to prove to him that he isn’t going to die being separated from his buddy AND that it isn’t permanent. This can take some real patience and careful watching on your part.

You’ll start by haltering your horse in the pasture/corral and then taking him away. When you get out of sight of the buddy or safe place be brief, very brief perhaps. Start with 5-10 seconds and then come straight back. You would then repeat this several times per session. In time, increase the amount of time he is away or out of sight from his friend.

Another strategy for helping the herd bound horse would be to make sure he NEEDS you for something and that you are encouraging good habits in your horse management skills. For example, if you feed your horses far away from the gate where you catch them, or their water source is far away they have no reason to come in. Think about what you could do to cause them to need you and use that to your advantage.

Since a herd bound or buddy sour horse doesn’t care as much for you as he does his buddies, it is most important to do some very solid groundwork to strengthen your relationship and leadership skills with your horse. You may need to start working with him in the corral on such exercises as figure 8’s, backing him up, and other basic yields. If your horse respects you, he’ll look more to you for leadership. You can gradually move your groundwork away from the pasture, and eventually transfer it to riding.

I hope these tips have helped you understand more about the herd bound horse and how you can work to strengthen your relationship with him so that he looks to you with a more solid connection and training foundation.

In the meanwhile, visit on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter! Until then,

Happy Trails!


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