I happen to be lucky enough to live in foxhunt territory. However, my primary horse does not care for the hounds. He is a 7 yo mustang gelding, not that breed matters, but he was on the range for the first 2 years of his life.
During hunt season, from the end of September to mid March, my horse goes on full alert, while turned out in pasture, two days of the week. I thought he would have gotten used to it by now.
Any ideas? It has been suggested to me to board him at the kennels for a couple of weeks. Any ideas other than this?
I rode him this morning and last week as the hounds came through. I rode him through it. Finally today, he settled and was standing still. I got off of him when he was relatively relaxed.
Getting rid of him is not an option. Moving is not an option. He is never unsafe to ride, just concerned and at alert, neck high, ears forward. He never bucks, rears, or is a dead runaway....just wants to run...LOL. He is very forward.
Any ideas? Thank you so much. I just want him to find peace. I would like to be able to ride him without any concerns for the hounds. HELP ME!
Your horse lived as a feral horse for the first two years of his life, and survived because he knew to flee a predator....and a hound, or any dog, for that matter, is a predator to him.
You might try visiting a kennel with your horse on a lead shank, and if your horse enjoys a carrot or some other treat, let him have them as he looks at the hounds and does not try to get away. The chewing starts his relaxation mechanism. I would not "throw him into the frying pan" so to speak by boarding at a kennel, he would probably "get over it" but that is traumatizing to a horse that is trying to do what is natural to him....flee a predator.
Just let him keep facing the hounds from a safe distance, and get closer to enclosed hounds as he relaxes. It might take several visits, but I think you will see a difference. Be relaxed and gentle in your handling when he is frightened (sounds like you are already in good tune with your horse) and he wil probably accept the hounds as OK.
If you are able, have the huntsman at the kennel bring one leashed hound out to meet your horse, and see how that goes...and remember, a feral horse's first instinct is to flee, and the next is to clobber the wild dog/wolf/boogie man if he cannot get away...you want yourself, your horse, the huntsman, and the hound to be safe. Good luck to you!
Yes, he is a feral horse. He still is a feral horse as far as the hounds goes. He won't eat in his home pasture if he hears hounds 1.5miles away. That is the problem. He has had three years to get over/used to them. I can trail ride him. I do have basic control. I would just like him to get over it....LOL.
We do ride. He does have fun. He loves the chase as do I. I would just like him to learn to relax about the entire hounds making noise bit...and moving bit, and running bit...you know the entire hound scene. I may just have to have a frontal lobotomy performed on him...LOL.
I like the idea of boarding him there....sometimes I think a horse just needs to learn that it won't kill him versus perpetuating the fear cycle. He won't even eat if he hears them.
I would like to believe that he is excited and wants to run....heck I would love to believe that....Maybe he is that excited...it is hard to tell. He isn't bad or dangerous when they are near...he just wants to move... Head up, eye and ears forward. Moving....
I think the movement and hounds has created a downward spiral. He may have to be totally immersed into the culture so to speak. I thnk that would break the cycle...anyone else think the same thing?
Maybe you just need to adjust your goals. You sound like you want him to be relaxed & stand still. Well that might depend on the scenario. If he's hyper when he hears them speaking/running/hunting= then that might be natural & tolerable. If he's hyper when at a check or at the start= then you can work on that. You don't need to overcome his instincts; just work out a compromise. He is what he is and he sounds like he's be a fine fieldhunter!
For example; in our area- lots of horses are hyperalert or even running/pacing when they hear the hunt about. And these are horses that have had the hunt around for years. I think that's normal. Even my old fieldhunter of 22 seasons runs & listens when the hunt goes by! But when I rode him; he was flatfooted & calm around the hounds at the start & checks but when we were out and the hounds opened? or in full cry? He's cantering in place, pulling & ready to go!! He KNOWS they are hunting and he wants to go! Your mustang knows what a pack of dogs howling means so his instinct is to move or run. You can channel that by keeping him moving when mounted or providing him lotsa room to run on days the hunt is about. Heck, mine can use the exercise!!
It can take years to condition a horse to hunting conditions so be patient. Yes I agree taking him to the kennels to decondition or desentize him helps. Dont' have to board him, just bring him for a few hours. Create a quiet exposure. Let him smell them, watch them, listen. The ideal way is to road hounds with him & gradually bringing him closer. Face front, don't push him, reassure him, talk to him & let him sort it out. Trailriding with pet dogs helps with exposing him to their comings/goings about or popping out on the trail. Discipline him if he threatens to kick or does kick out which is unfortunately also an instinct but you have to control his natural instinct in this case. When hunting; keep him away from the hounds if he's wound up but if calm at a check? - walk him around, gradually getting closer.
I'm doing this with 2 green fillies. They go nuts with HEARING the hounds but once they SEE them they are fine. Once they are up close; it's like "oh these aren't scary". Always think about this from his point of view; He's not being bad....he's just being a horse!!
We wish you tons of luck! Keep at it!! He'll do great! I'm sure of it!!
I realize what you are saying...I like how you think. I think he is very excited. I like to think that he is just excited. He is almost beside himself when he hears the hounds. He wants to move. He wants to go. When he sees them, he wants to run...and I do mean run. He doesn't stand yet....He wants to move his feet.
I am going to continue to work with him. We are going to do lots of exercises when they are going to be hunting. Ground work, riding, standing while tied. ETC. I think he was really good on Friday. He wanted to run. He was controllable and easily calmed. He heard the hounds and was standing at attention. In a matter of a few minutes, he was standing with his head down.
May be he wants to join the hunt.....LOL. He could keep up with the TBs. May be he is better than I think. LOL.
Here is my dilemma, my 9 y.o. TB G, who is new to hunting this season wants to be a hound. He is completely mesmerized and consumed with what they are doing. About 45 minutes into the ride at a check he will be so absorbed with them he seems to forget his surroundings. Other horses nearby or a stray hound in the woods startle him. As I try to steady him at the check he becomes aggravated or anxious stamping or kicking the ground with back legs. If I got off and let him he would join them and be one of them. He may be ADD.
Ear Plugs ! Ear Plugs ! Ear Plugs !... They really do help.
Every tack shop sells them, we use them on the days the local hunt comes past the farm.
Make sure use push them in snugly and remove right away them when you get home or when they come in after turnout. Your horse may shake his head at first, but most get over it. Keep trying. We use them when hacking out and the horses are happier about loud trucks and noise in the hedgerows.
For the best noise reduction try the rubber one, make sure they are clean, never put dirty ones in.
You can also use the fuzzy yarn ones, or try buying fuzzy cat toys at PetsMart.
Always use black ones for showing or hunting..
I think I will try the earplugs. We are already on the chinese herbs and doing better. I have introduced him to alot in the seven months I have had him but he is nine so I want to get him up to speed without frying his little TB brain.
Some horses have an opinion on the matter.....Just like we do. Ultimately, it is the horse's choice. He can either accept the training we offer him, or he will disregard it. Not all horses will or can do all jobs...dogs are one of those situations. Some are too keyed up or fractious. Some will be happy with the rider training/riding the horse through these issues. Other horses will try and tell you that they have an opinion....it is up to us to listen to that opinion. I do not want to ride a horse that cannot focus on the task at hand.
Sometimes, it is best to walk away....Just when is that moment...you must know yourself and your horse.
My horse may go to live with hounds for a couple of weeks. He doesn't seem to be afraid of them...he just gets excited by them. He is not the relaxed sort of horse....he is high energy...he is the nervous type most days. He will let me know what I need to do next....LOL.