Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Horse (DON'T) Follow (SO DARN) Closely!

I have a problem with my Johnnie: He is a close-follower on the trail.

Here you see him wearing his Granny-ears that keep flies off, on a typical trail ride 2 days ago. We are with one other horse ridden by a young friend, and Johnnie can't stand not to be right on that horse's posterior or preferably out in front.

John has a very high tolerance for close contact with other horses; he adores having a close follower himself. But not all horses are like this and on group trail rides, Johnnie's butt-stalking mentality is an embarrassing training failure on my part. I really struggle with it and find myself growing tired of the strategies of (1) halt, (2) circle, (3) halt again. The halts and circles just seem to give him an incentive to walk up even faster so that he can apply himself to the ahead-horse's rear end again. Anybody have ideas how to work on this without saddening his cheerful heart?

We saw some nice flowers on this ride: Lupines:

Wild primrose:

Pretty pink native wild honeysuckle:

These little flowers will develop into tasty thimbleberries:

And the native wild columbine, surely one of the prettiest-shaped flowers in the world!

But all this time I am fighting with my horse! In a typical example, we start out here and I have just halted & circled him to open up some following distance:

But pretty soon we are here:

And then here:

And then pretty soon I could not get a picture because the fight was on in earnest. And he won:

Here he is, the perpetrator of close-following, looking pleased with himself "Heh heh!":


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

As long as he doesn't flash his headlights and weave back and forth, he should be able to avoid the angry shaking fists and extension of middle fingers.

Seriously, I'm obviously not the one to give advice on this one, but had to leave my witty comment. Lupines remind me of a Monty Python skit.

Flying Lily said...

NM: You are absolutely right - he is tailgating!! That was hilarious.

maremom said...

My "rent a horse Red " ( lease horse I had while shopping for my next horse ) from last year did this.
I mean nose to butt close..
Lucky for me my friends horse didn't mind.
But when I went out with other people I really had a hard time with him..
Same thing, halt , circle, trot ( unasked for ) to catch up to horse and then nose to butt again..ugh..
Never did stop it..

20 meter circle of life said...

I have heard that you can help this by working him before you hit the trail by making him work every time he just wants to stand next to his friend, pretty soon I guess they figure out that it easier to stay away than work. Just a thought

Pony Girl said...

Love the granny ears! ;)
Hmmm...definitely a frustrating habit. Does he ever tailgate a horse that kicks?
My Boy tailgates sometimes, but it's random and has nothing to do with his need to be in front, it just has to do w/the horses in front going too slow, ha. I guess the "tailgaiting=more work" philosophy is the most logical. Good luck!

Flying Lily said...

Thanks! I'll try the work before trail philosophy. It is true that his walk is naturally fast and when we're alone on the trail, he just books. Yesterday I tried turning him around and backtracking for a bit, and at least we bought some distance temporarily! He's a tailgaiter indeed (gaited horse who crowds). Thanks for the comments MareMom, 20Meter, and Ponygirl!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I'm not gonna be much help-I never have been able to fix a horse that likes to follow too closely-usually I just take the lead to solve the problem. I honestly think it has to do with a bit of a competitive streak in some horses. Some just walk faster than others.

Chris said...

If your boy doesn't have any issues with other horses being close, then why not at times give yourself a break and put him in the lead? At least you know if another horse behaves like he does, that he won't have an issue with one so close behind him.

photogchic said...

I haven't tried this, but it may work. Talk to the people you are riding with and make sure they are cool with this....the minute your horse gets within a foot of the horse signal your co-riders and make him trot or canter. Go right by the group and keep going. Stop flex him left and right until the group passes create that space, when he creeps up again, repeat until he is ready to walk and keep his distance. It may work, it is something I would try if I had that problem. Good luck girl.