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Trainer Q&A - Behavior Problems & Quirks - What can I do to cure my herd bound mare?

What can I do to cure my herd bound mare?

Mom4pop Asks:

My mare has become increasingly obsessive about not wanting to leave her herd mates. I know there are several different training methods to address this. I was going to try working her hard right by the barn (where the other horses would be) and then take her across the driveway and give her the opportunity to stand and rest. If she didn't take advantage of the opportunity, I would take her back to the barn and work her hard, keep her moving for several more minutes and then give her the opportunity to leave the barn and rest. To me this makes sense and I would think that it wouldn't take her long to catch onto the fact that being near the barn and my friends = hard work. What are your opinions of this method and other methods you may have used to address this problem? Thank you for your time. Debra

Our Trainer Answers:

It sounds like you have thought this through and you are on the right track. When  your horse

is so distracted by her herd mates that she is not focused on you it can be a hazardous situation, and must be addressed. Right now she sees her herd as her comfort zone and chooses to be with them, you need to make her understand that you are her leader.

Horses want to be comfortable. When your horse is misbehaving, cause her to be uncomfortable. In this case, make her work in the vicinity of her friends until she tunes into you. Make her trot circles until she is good and tired. When she is obeying you and focused on you, allow her to calmly walk in any direction away from her friends. When she gets upset, make her trot more circles until her focus is back on you. Again allow her to walk in any direction away from her friends. You want to avoid going to any certain place to allow her to be comfortable. You want her to find comfort in being with you and obeying you.

When she is calm and relaxed, ride back towards the herd. If she begins to hurry, trot more circles, when she relaxes, calmly walk back towards the herd. Each time she takes her focus off of you, make her work.

Do not get angry or upset with your herd bound horse, this is natural horse behavior. It takes time and patience to overcome this issue.

If this proves to be too difficult at first, you may choose to temporarily remove your mare from the herd. As she becomes more cooperative, and looks to you as her leader then you may reintroduce her to the herd.


Thank you and happy trails!

Christy Mellington