What to do with home and herd bound horses

Updated: Mar 17

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 rare up in protest of leaving, others become spooky on trail, or rush and even bolt homewards. Which is not strange - cause every time we ride the training ends by the barn, with the saddle being taken off and horse brought inside to eat hay and reunite with friends.

Instead of treating the symptoms by making the horse leave the barn and hold the horse back when riding homewards, 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 our horse`s idea - fixes the problems caused by the horse being home and/or herd bound.

The upside is that this is very easy to do, cause you don`t have to go far away from the barn for this to work. Most barns have a 50-100 meter magnetic field around them, once past that, horse has left home and your idea of leaving has become the horse`s idea. The downside is that you can`t MAKE the horse leave for this to become their idea, so you won`t be doing any longer trails before this is good. And it won`t stick forever either - this is not a one time fixes all exercise, but rather something that is a bit hard to get happening the first time, but once learned - a refresh from time to time will keep your horse motivated to leave and less rushy homewards.

The reason horses become barn sour in the first place is because we do the same over and over again. Horses then start to associate all good things with the barn, like food, relaxation and friends - while work, and sometimes also stress, is associated with being away from the barn.

Changing our habits from time to time can therefore also help, a lot. Like to unsaddle and end the ride past the barn. Or do exercises by the barn and then a relaxing non demanding trail afterwards? Or do a relaxing non demanding trail first and exercises by the barn afterwards? Maybe even do a pick nick by taking a break mid way, to give your horse something to look forward to when going out on trail.

To first pressure horses to leave and then hold them back when riding homewards is not going to help but rather make things worse and eventually wear out our riding aids. Horses who are constantly made go forwards with the leg aid or held back with the reins will start to ignore signals and rather experience them as an annoying part of being ridden. This will demotivate horses even more to leave the barn and make them even less eager to go riding with us.

Watch the video below and do this instead! This exercise is great for horses who

  • Are spooky and nervous on trails

  • Don`t want to leave the barn

  • Rush or bolt homewards

  • Are barn sour and/or herd bound

  • You plan to ride at liberty on trails

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 have given them 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 and stop the horse if things escalate. Without this ground training I am not sure how this method works.

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

This video is a summary of a course unit found in Ride Like a Viking Members. If you want to build a magic bond with your horse and be able to do liberty without depending on treats we now offer 14-day FREE trial plus 3 bonuses. Check it out on👉

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Teaching horses to stand still and relax has many benefits. When riding it has the benefit of making it possible to ride the horse from behind to forward. 

When handling it`s a great way to make sure we have the horse`s consensus when grooming, saddling or doing other stuff with them. Check out this free training and learn how to ground tie your horse. No sign up required! 

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