Barn sour horses can be dangerous, but are downright frustrating at best. Personally, we don’t like them being even a little barn sour. When we point a horse in the direction we intend to go, the horse is expected to go in a straight line until told otherwise. But, it is Springtime and a lot of people start complaining their horse keeps wanting to go back to the barn.
Here’s a tip for you. Make the barn a miserable place, and nothing makes a barn sour (lazy) horse any more unhappy than work.
This past week, we had one of our horses start the annoying habit of turning about one step the direction of the barn about every 30 seconds. He knew better, but it was only slight deviation. After all, it was only one step off a straight line. Of course, it became a second step off course in another 30 seconds. It took no effort to put him back on course, but irritating to have to do it. After being set back on course about 25 times, he was corrected with spurs the next several occasions. But, he just wasn’t quite getting the message.
So what can you do? Well, I gave up and let him win. We made a beeline back to the barn. What he didn’t anticipate is what came next. Once the gate was open and he was comfortably inside, he went to work! He trotted in circles, made short, tight turns, and spent the next 10 minutes with his feet moving fast. Because the area in front of the barn isn’t large, he had to exert some effort. At the end of our little “work out”, we rode directly back out. Just a short way from the barn, it was time to take a short break and pet him. He was told what a fine job his effort had been back at the barn and how nice it was to be able to take a break together out there on the trail.
Some will laugh, others will say we’re crazy that there is no way he could understand. We respectfully beg to differ. He completely understood and recognized the trail was a far better place to spend his time than back at the barn where you do all that training work and exercise. If you have a horse starting to like the barn, make sure the trail is a better place to be.