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What to do with home and herd bound horses

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

It`s said that horses only know two directions, away from home and towards home. Getting a horse to want to leave the stable and his mates can sometimes be hard, some horses even reare up in protest of leaving, others become spooky on trail, or rush and even bolt homewards. Which is not strange - because every time we ride the training ends by the barn, with the saddle taken off and horse brought inside to eat hay and reunite with friends.

Instead of treating the symptoms of barn sourness, by pressuring horses leave or hold them back when returning, we might as well work on the cause. Which is the horse not wanting to leave the stable. In fact, making our idea of leaving the stable the horse`s idea - fixes the problems caused by horses being home and herd bound. Such as:

  • Being spooky and nervous on trails

  • Refusing to leave the barn by rearing, standing put or backing up

  • Being slow when ridden away from the barn

  • Rushing or bolting homewards

  • Difficulties riding off at liberty (or on loose reins)

Thank you so much for watching!

I also want to give some words of warning if you want to try this yourself. Doing this exercise is not the first thing I do with a horse. I give horses choices both when riding in the arena and when doing ground work, before using this method. I have also taught them how to ride on loose reins and respond to riding signals that enables me to empty out worry if things escalate. Without this ground training I am not sure how this method works.

In short: If the horse does not want us on their back or has other unsolved issues - he might take the opportunity to get rid of us when given choices – work on this first and do the "how to get your horse to leave the barn" later.

Make sure to not give choices on your riding signals, like pick up the left rein and then give up because the horse wants to go to the right, this is going to ruin our rein aid. Same goes for the leg aid.... This exercise involves the horses choosing where to go and you deciding what to do (like riding circles outside the barn or dismounting away from the stable).

I also don`t recommend doing this 2 km from home, it`s the 100 meter radius around the stable or your horses sticky point you want to fix, getting this sorted will transfer to the whole trail. And don`t forget to have fun on the trails by throwing in a picnic on tour or reduce the stable attractiveness by riding some dressage when coming home. This will change horse`s perception of the stable, which is the whole point. When horses want to do what we want to do, they behave and move well from self!

This video is a summary of a course unit found in Ride Like a Viking Members. If you want to experience the joy of riding a self controlling and connected horse or do liberty without depending treats, make sure to join our program or waitlist on👉

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