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Horse Behavior and Training

Horse memory and balking

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I have an Arabian mare named Sanna. She is 16 years old and I ride her 2 to 3 times a week for about an hour to 3 hours each time. I have been trying to put into practice Monty's method of join up and watching for cues and signs from the horse. Last week we went on a ride on a road that services a canal. About a mile from the stables, at dusk, a duck suddenly flew out of the water creating quite a noise, and scaring Senna quite a bit. We continued riding that day for another hour or so along the canal road.
Today, I went for another ride with Sanna along the same road about the same time of day. We were trotting, and when she got to the approximate place where the duck had come out of the water before she suddenly stopped and planted her feet and would not budge. I did everything that I could to get her moving in the direction I needed her to go but nothing. Ideas?
JoHewittVINTA
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Hi J & welcome to the Uni. Sanna has had a fright & because she accepts responsibility for her rider she doesn't want to risk that again. I had a similar experience with my mare Bella. We were riding with a friend & came to a railway crossing. The alarm sounded, the gates came down with warning lights flashing. Bella stood calmly even when the train whooshed past but when the traffic had crossed she point blank refused to go over, not even following her great pal Hudson. I got off, gave her a rub & she happily followed me over. She wanted me to take responsibility. My advice is to remain calm, approach the spot in walk. I assume there is little traffic on the road when you ride on it so try putting down the reins & rubbing her shoulders whilst gently squeezing her sides in encouragement. She may move further over to give herself more space. If she plants her feet just sit there, give her some rubs. With luck it will be a duckless experience. By not insisting she move on immediately you will give her the opportunity to reassess the situation. She may just decide to move forward herself but give her time to choose that. If, after 10-15 minutes, she is still planted despite a couple of quiet, minimal encouragement efforts by you to move forward, get off & lead her gently up & down till she lowers her head or shows others signs that she has relaxed. In short, let her spend time at the place to show her that there is no cause to fear being there. Cheers, Jo.