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Re: [RC] Roadside riding - Diane Trefethen

I didn't know folks rode along the road at all. If I could do that I'd be in great shape...I have a park 3 miles away.
The first mile out and the last mile home (approx 20 mins each) you will walk anyway as a warmup and cool down. Start by planning to walk the whole thing each way until you are confident that your horse will *probably* not do anything silly.

There is a big shoulder but the cars go by at 60 alone about 1 mile of it.
The other 2 miles are slower country roads.

*Any suggestions* on how I can get myself used to cars zipping by and getting horses used to mailboxes?
If your horse is bothered by the fast-moving cars - and be sure it's your HORSE that is bothered, not you :) - start by getting off and hand-walking that stretch. From a horse's point of view, that means YOU will get eaten first and to the horse, that is very comforting. Every time you go out and don't get eaten will add to the horse's perception that the speeding vehicles aren't really hungry.

Mailboxes: This is a straight forward training issue. 1) As often as possible, halter up your horse and take it with you to get your mail. Be sure to make as much noise as you can, banging shut the mailbox door, slapping the mailbox with your hand or the lead rope. 2) When the horse is comfortable with this, every time you ride, go down to the mailbox and open it and close it from the saddle. At first you won't be able to get close enough to do that (you'll then dismount and make as much noise as possible with the box). Your horse will begin to realize that, "Ho-hum... yeah, the banging mailbox thing again" and in a short while you'll be able to get your mail from the saddle [Side note: I am assuming you have taught your horse to open gates from the saddle. This too is a training issue.] When you can get your own mail, head down the road and pretend like you're going to collect the mail from the first box you come to. When that becomes boring to your horse, you are ready to ride past mailboxes.
They always slow way down while passing mailboxes and look the entire time.
3) Now that your horse is totally comfortable with mailboxes, if they give ANY mailbox more than a passing glance, stop and "collect" the mail. Once they figure out that even a sideways glance means stopping and going through that dumb mailbox banging stuff, they will stop. This technique is a corollary to the "My rider is crazy so I have to do all the common sense thinking for both of us" method of teaching a horse not to do stupid things.

Have fun playing these games with your horse. Oh, and a side benefit of the mailbox training will be that you'll be able to do the mailbox thing in those Trail Classes at your local show/gymkhanna :)


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