The weather sucked this weekend, but I finally got to take Baron out on a trail ride, which turned into a trail walk. He started out fine, but we got about halfway down the road to the trail head and he started walking slower and slower until finally he came to a complete stop. I squeezed, clucked, and asked him to go forward with every aid I could think of, but he just sat there quietly looking around. He wasn’t showing signs of being afraid; his ears were pricked, he was looking around with interest, but he refused to move. I tried backing him up and turning him around, but he refused to move his feet. Finally, a car came and I had to dismount and lead him to the side of the road. I realize that I lost that battle because I rewarded him for standing still by getting off of him. I had no choice though, I couldn’t sit in the middle of the road and ask the car to go around!
I can’t figure out if he knew we were going to the trail and didn’t want to go or if he simply didn’t feel like being ridden. My first thought was a problem with the tack. A lot of times horses will stop if they are uncomfortable. This is a better option than bucking or rearing.
Baron is too tall for me to mount him from the ground, so I was forced to take him on a trail hike. We walked together down the trail to the spot where he balked last time and he paused but came forward as I encouraged him. He also stepped over a big log that lays across the trail with no problem. I led him over it three or four times to get him used to going over obstacles. I do want to jump him eventually, so this was a good exercise.
He was a million times better today about being led. He actually let me lead and he followed! He is a little jumpy on the trail, but on the walk home he finally relaxed and starting licking his lips (a sign of relaxation). We ended the little trip on a good note, which is essential. I want him to look forward to spending time with me, even when we’re working.