Nickel isn’t always nice when other horses pass by on the trail. He’ll dance around but his really bad habit is laying his ears back. The basis for this behavior with this horse is fear of other horses and although it is his nature to try to be at the top of the pecking order, alas he’s near the bottom in his pasture. I take the blame for his behavior on the trail because I can trace it back to a weekend of bad experiences for him with a very aggressive horse on one of our very first trail rides when he was a youngster. I take further blame because until a few years ago I didn’t understand the importance of correcting his ear backing behavior and how. I was fortunate to be able to ride with someone who showed me finally.
Just making my horse realized that the behavior wasn’t to be tolerated by stopping him, backing him and putting him to work is what it took. Immediate action toward correction, not just handling him until the situation passed is what it takes. He will get a little nervous still but he doesn’t lay his ears back and appear aggressive as he did before. It’s something I always will watch to pop back up. That’s how our horses roll!
It’s not unusual on the trail to see red ribbons tied in tails to warn against getting too close to a kicker, or someone always riding at the back to keep their horse’s aggressive behavior under control. The problem is that when a horse gets upset it will look for some other horse to lash out at and in the close quarters of a trail ride sometimes it is impossible to get you and your horse out of harms way. That is why I am always working with my horses control buttons and consider it other rider’s responsibility to work with their’s. You don’t absolve yourself of responsibility when you hang a red ribbon on a horse’s tail. Plus anytime you allow a bad behavior it will always get worse. ‘Nuff said about that!
Riding a horse that gets out of control when his buddies get a little ahead or out of sight is not a fun or safe experience for any rider. It can be downright dangerous! My horse buddies and I have tried many techniques. The following article gives a good description of ways we’ve addressed this behavior with our horses. It was written by Lee Smith of Wickenburg, Arizona who is a horsewoman and trainer. It first appeared in Western Horseman magazine in the March, 2007 issue.
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Click on the link below to read the article.
Long rides and wet saddle blankets are going to be required after getting your partner confident that you can represent the herd.
There is nothing like that calm, quiet solitary ride to work things out.