Watch this Intro Video First

2 months ago
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  1. I appreciate this intro and the checklist because I am working my way through the library and was getting a bit lost as to a logical sequence. I seem to be stuck and am wondering if you might have a suggestion. Six months ago I purchased an 11 yr old ranch quarter horse. Very sensitive and responsive horse who will go at anything you point him at under saddle but a lot of stress indicators and easily startled (not spooky at things, just startles in place usually due to a noise). I have been working a couple of hours a day with him, predominantly ground work. For instance I spend 20 or 30 minutes daily waiting for him to not block me moving down his right side. I spend 20 or 30 minutes doing the crabwalk and other focus work on a long line. I usually spend an hour under saddle, at least partially in the outdoor arena before walking him out around the farm.
    He has one forested area of focus about 100 ft outside the arena that he seems very wary of, whether I’m in the arena or outside it and whether I’m doing groundwork or under saddle. He bulges away from that side of the arena and will often plant suddenly if being moved toward that area, even when outside the arena. He does not like to have his butt to that area and he’ll move so he can see it more easily, even if it means he has to go back to work. I have done many hours of the ‘where you work vs where you rest’ exercises in the arena and barn sour/buddy sour exercises outside the arena. I have done many hours of focus work, connecting and relaxation exercises with him and those are all helping us do much better together. But no matter how many hours and how many exercises I do, he is still absolutely 100% sure that there is a bear in those woods (we don’t have bears where I live). I have even led and ridden him on a trail through those woods and he didn’t express this unreasonable fear. He willingly goes any other direction I point him but if he is headed toward those woods, whether in the arena or outside, he will become extremely jittery, startles constantly, and freezes frequently with ears pricked towards the woods. I can usually get an ear flick, if not then get his attention with a lateral bend, and if that doesn’t work I disengage him and he comes back to me. We then go on a few feet and repeat. Repeat, repeat. Until those woods are not in his line of sight and then he happily moves forward and away from home for our ride. We go through the same thing headed back home when we come to the place he can see those woods. Unfortunately in the arena those woods are in his line of sight every time around. He startles/freezes when he sees them and gets nervous if his butt toward them. I don’t want to move on with under saddle work in the arena until he can somehow be assured that those woods aren’t a danger to him. Do I just keep doing the focus/connection work along with the work/rest exercises and pray that some day he’ll get over this? We are surrounded by woods by the way so it isn’t that. It is THESE specific woods.

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