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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

October 9, 2010

I think my horse is faking me out.

We did a shorter conditioning ride today, thirteen miles. Still doing the repeating loop for safety (I don't come back Doug knows where to look), first lap around she was motoring right out, nicely paced at 6 mph or so, not rushing, not dawdling, just going. There were many things skittering in the woods today and we heard them all. Squirrels, chipmunks, white tail deer, farm dogs. Her ears were like radar, twitching forward and back, taking it in, but acting like a nice sane trail horse. We did our first loop of 6.5 in about an hour and ten minutes. We lost time at the one and only water hole (knowing I'm heading back out for a repeat loop and won't see that water hole for another hour + depending on how she rates). We turn back down the A loop for our second lap, she goes just a little ways and stops. I'm thinking....does she have to pee? So we go through my cue for peeing, and I wait, and I wait...and I wait some more. OKAY, NOTHING. Down the trail we go again and she suddenly slows down and stops. I'm thinking she cramping, tying up again, what? I get off, I check things, she cocks her foot and eats some grass, and drinks some water from "her" water bottle. I mount up again, and off we go again. She is dawdling. Her trot is not a trot, more of a jog where you just b...a....r....e...l...y break over the hoof on the hind the impulsion is so slow and STOP. The light starts to go on in my brain. She isn't dying. She isn't anywhere near even thinking about dying. She knows which way the trailer is (Big Cree is there waiting for her) and the food bucket, and the hay bag, she wants to go there!!! I drop the reins, she reverses back that direction. Hmmmm. So off we go in my preferred direction to complete the most gut crawling pace ever. I'm going to have to think on this one. Sad when you don't know how to out think your horse.


  1. We call it "sandbagging", and most horses do it at some point. They get tired, or hungry, or bored, or whatever...or they just get to wondering if they can get their own way.

    And yes, it's a sneaky thing, because what if the horse really IS tired/cramping/tying up/having a heart attack? You have to check all that stuff, and while you are checking, the horse is snacking or snoozing or whatever s/he wants to be doing!


  2. So, how do you out sneak the horse and get them back to a nice ground covering (still talking slow her just not crawling like a bug) trot?

    My girl has figured out this is work and that the trail goes on and on.


  3. that should have been slow HERE not her.

  4. Well, if you can put another horse in front (one that wants to GO!), the sandbagger usually regains the will to live. We call that "putting another quarter in."

    Lacking that, try varying the routine. Do the loop backwards. Go halfway out and then return, then do the second half to the halfway point and come back.

    Practice halfpasses, shoulder-ins, serpentines and gait transitions on the trail.

    Drop a small log over the trail in a good spot so you can jump over it.

    Try extending the trot, then collecting, then extending without changing speed, just length of stride.

    Hop down and jog (or walk) alongside for a mile.


  5. Hoo, boy, do I know this one! Consolation is the sandbagging queen. I put up with it too long before deciding that I REALLY needed to refresh her understaing of "go forward." As in "go forward NOW." Every. Single. Time.

    We started in the round corral, establishing prompt and energetic upward transitions (with the enforcement of a dressage whip -- NOT a crop, which isn't long enough to touch the hip -- that's important.) Then, we took the same lesson out on the trail.

    Voila! Speedy horse -- and she even has fun going fast. :)

  6. Interesting ride! I liked your test of her interest by dropping your reins and seeing what she did. It sounds like your other visitors are well acquainted with the behavior. (Maybe there is an endurance horse training camp that they all go to to learn the same things! (just kidding :))