Gate Issues

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Gate Issues

Postby 15Flat » Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:46 pm

I have a level headed, slow and steady gelding who is relaxed on the pattern at home, at jackpot and most exhibition runs. Sometimes he gets him self worked up before the 'real' run; if I have him faced towards the arena he gets unbearably anxious, but if he has his but facing the arena he is fine. The same with entering the arena, backwards he goes willingly and more relaxed, forwards he fights and gets even more worked up. He is under control, responses to my requests, it`s like he`s got fire ants in his pants, lol. :-? Once in the arena he is awesome, focused on the pattern. I firmly believe this horse is not sour on the barrel pattern as he has tremendous run to first and has never balked at approaches to barrels or anything.
This year was his second season. I do get mildly nervous but I feel it is more on his part, since he is not consistent with this behavior every race. I`ve had trainers tell me to warm him up an hour before my run, but like I said before he is a slow horse in general and this just wears him down in practice pen, we get over to the the arena and he becomes hopped up. Ive never used any relaxants before but maybe they could HELP him?

Has anyone deal with this before, any suggestions? :?:

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Re: Gate Issues

Postby cisco » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:01 pm

I find my horses stay very calm and focused if I keep them moving right up until they enter the arena. I do walking circles, working on bending and responding, even some walking rollbacks. Just enough to keep them thinking and keep their mind on their rider. When my name is called, I simply turn and continue walking right into the arena. This keeps them from anticipating and makes you're warm up blend right in to their entry to run. No wait or "stop and go" makes for a smooth and calm process to start you're run. My theory is if we don't make a big deal out of our entry, our horses likely won't see it as a big deal either :wink:
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Re: Gate Issues

Postby huey » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:16 pm

I agree with Cisco on keeping them moving. i also do alot of alley work at jp's. During a rake I'll ride in the alley as far as i can and sit there for a few. I also try to get off after my run in the alley and loosen off and take boots off. jmo
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Re: Gate Issues

Postby lmf » Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:58 pm

My mare was starting to have some gate anxiety last season, and I went to a Molly Powell clinic and she said that she'll get off her anxious horses after she warms up, and will stay off until just befor their run.
I started doing this and it's worked great for me. Sometimes I stand, and sometimes I walk her - it all depends how she warmed up. If i think she was really relaxed in her warm up, I'll let her chill. If I don't feel like I got her to quite where I would have liked her, I will hand walk her, and do some bending on the ground.
About 2-3 runs before mine (as long as there's no rake comingup) I get on, and pretty much have time to walk right up to the gate and go in.
It's worked great for my horse and I - when she was getting so antsy, I was getting antsy, and therefore definitely not helping. Now I find that I trust her again, and I don't always have to get off anymore - I do still sometimes depending on my nerves and the stakes, but I had a few successful times at the end of the season where I was able to walk her up and even stand in the alley, which we sure wern't able to do before.
I tried a few calmers such as cool as ice and Chill, but it didn't help her at all.
Good luck!

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Re: Gate Issues

Postby Carmen » Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:18 pm

I have a horse that use to get really nervous in the alley; always wanting to take off from way back (which I believe is better than not wanting to go in at all) I found the best thing to do at the rodeo was to get someone with a nice, quiet horse to walk up the alley beside me. Usually a roper or pick up man will help. When I am at jackpots or in the practice pen, I try to do as much calm, easy work in the alley as possible. I will walk my horse up and down the alley, stand him in there, pet him all over, rub his neck, his butt..etc. Make it a really nice place for him to be. I do also agree with keeping your horse moving up until the run, they are less likely to know when they are up. Hope this helps and good luck :-D
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Re: Gate Issues

Postby tklip » Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:00 am

You may also try paying attention on what exactly you are doing, are you asking your horse aggressively (kicking) in the alley or do you ease him in a run some times barrel racers accidently make the alley way a anxciety spot for horses. try your best to make that spot a relaxing spot and watch ho you ride your horse in the alley it could be associated with pain too. I had a horse that ran great even when he was sore butwhen he got sore he i would get hard to enter the arena but still run a great pattern.

If you do feel some nerviousness about a run even a little horses can feel it I find the best thing to do is remember to breath not to worry about things and stay off the horse until its time to run and relax

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Re: Gate Issues

Postby 15Flat » Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:39 pm

Unfortunately I have tried these without much success or improvement.
Walking up with a quite horse, worked the first time, then he figured it out.
I found the more I moved him around near the area (circles, rollbacks and maneuvers) the more agitated he gets; chewing the bit, trying to 'jig' instead of walking, flipping his head..
If I get off and stand with him near the arena or hand walking he acts the same as under saddle, chewing the bit, trying to squirm around..
Someone suggested I lead him to through the gate then mount, he realized what was going to happen right at the gate and he pulled back, began backing away.
I don`t kick him around, I`m assertive enough and don`t get overly aggressive when pursuing the "get your butt in to the arena" motive.

I`ll look into the pain factor when I start riding again in spring :)

The more I think about his problem, the more I realize this isn`t going to have common solution. A unique problem that calls for some not so oblivious or creative training? Hmm :idea:
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Re: Gate Issues

Postby leocanchaser » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:23 am

if there is nothing wrong with him and you have gone through everything health wise....i have seen a couple horses go in with someone on foot following them with a plasic bag tied on the end of a lunge whip. the noise is enough just to keep them moving and you are getting that constant ' drive from behind ' motion....encouraging them to go ahead.
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Re: Gate Issues

Postby clover » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:36 am

once you have checked for soreness issues, here is something for you to try.....may not work but i have had success with it. Once you start your "accent" on the alley, take all the weight out of your feet, and ride one handed right into the alley. usually riders will get geared up and nervous once their name is called, and then you start the "get ready body position". If your horse is anything like mine, they become very alert once i take my reins in both hands, and balance myself out on my feet. that is their cue to be ready. i try not to get them to that point until i am sure they can take off, or through they alley away from anything that could cause either one of us harm, such as a gate or obstical. may take a few tries to get the more relaxed effect of the process, but usually once you take the "get ready" position out of your body, they start to move forward a little more relaxed. good luck, hope you can get this one figured out.

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Re: Gate Issues

Postby Michele » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:13 pm

I had a horse that was difficult to get in - he's retired now. :( What I did to get around it was to stay away from the arena and stay off him until about two girls before me then I would get on and make my way to the alley. It helped if someone was there walking with me and walked me up the alley on another horse sometimes but not always. I found that if he couldn't see the other horses and all the commotion around the alleyway he was way easier to get in. It's tough to do in an indoor arena but if you can warm up inside and then go outside to wait it's easier to pull off. Anyway, that's my two cents. Good luck!
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Re: Gate Issues

Postby Mel » Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:02 pm

I had a horse that would sometimes try to refuse the gate. For some reason if I walked nice and calmly in I had more issues with him. Most horses are not like that but he was. He almost had more time to get nervous and think about what was happening. I eventually realized if I kept him trotting forward I would have less trouble. Worked for him, not for all horses, but just a thought.

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Re: Gate Issues

Postby 15Flat » Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:43 pm

That`s what I think his deal is: when I try waiting or 'relaxing' by the gate or arena, the more time he uses to get himself anxious. Time is his fuel. I`ve tried the crop without success, I`ll give the plastic bag thing a try. I started off ridding western pleasure horses, I find equitation tends to naturally be 'sitting back', rather than that 'jockey seat' some gals drive bomb into at the gate. Good suggestion though.

This is kind of an aside.. Is it desirable in a barrel horse to want to run into the area (once you get set up there) on his own accord, maybe he is qued mentally by the rider is what I mean by this or should he 'wait' until the rider ques him?

I`m open to almost anything lol :)
Keep the comments -a-coming :-D
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Re: Gate Issues

Postby Double D » Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:17 pm

Reposted from an old gate issues thread -

Double D wrote:I've had trouble with a few different horses....maybe it's me! :oops: But a few diffrent things work with different horses and you have to try them all and see what works for you. My old mare got worse and worse at first she just needed another horse to walk up beside but in the end she needed to be led by another person on a horse. She was awesome in the arena so I dealt with it, awe I miss riding her.

I try to warm my horses up and stay off them as long as I can. My one horse can stand and be held the other I have to walk & walk by hand she won't stay still. I do this just to keep them as relaxed as possible. I was reading an article of Kristie Pederson's last year and she mentioned that she always heads to the arena with her opposite hand on the reins. If she goes right first she has her left hand on the reins & vice versa, she keeps her hand low and stays relaxed, wow this simple little bit of information has helped me a bunch. I walk up to the arena with my oppostie hand on the reins, low almost on their neck like I'm headed out for a walk in the pasture (your body has to be relaxed too, weight on your butt, not leaning ahead in the go position, sitting back with legs realaxed opposite hand low and relaxed). At rodeo's I do still with my one mare walk up with another horse as often as I can just simply b/c she takes off too early on me.

Another thing to check might be ulcers, I wish I had checked that on my old mare, cause I know how much she loved to run barrells and couldn't understand the stress she would cause going in the arena, I think now it may have been ulcers.

Another godsend is Rescue Remedy, it used to practically put my mom's gelding to sleep until it was time to run. Good luck finding what works for you :-)

I have found that horses are so in tune and ready when it's go time that they are reading every cue we make intentional or not, so it is my opinion that they get confused about when it's time to go and when it's not, the confusion gets them frusterated and that leads to gate issues. I like ot stay off them until just a couple before my run or keep them moving a distance away from the arena so that they don't have to sit there wondering is time, is it time, if you stay off or stay away, and bring them up when it's there turn then it's clear and they don't have to sit there with anxiety. The same routine everytime, can help relax them because then they will know what to expect and count on it.

Good luck I hope you find something that works.
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Re: Gate Issues

Postby rope'em » Fri Jan 08, 2010 4:55 pm

I dont no believe in backing your horse into the arena, or chasing him with a whip, or walking him and then mounting. All those 'solutions' are masking a problem.
I would really focus on making sure he is not sore anywhere, almost always if a horse is sore and it is hurting to run then they do not want to enter the arena or get really hot before a run.
Is your horse not wanting to go into the arena, or is he just right reeved up to go. I honestly believe that there are some horses that are just hot. you cannot do anything to fix it you can just maintain it.
you question about horses running into the arena. Your horse i believe should want to run into an arena, but you should have full control, if you are half way to first and need to stop for any reason you should be able to stop your horse, or half way up an alley or anywhere in the pattern. if you cannot then your horses is not listening and you may have more trouble down the road with your pattern because your horse is not listening to the bit.

Lots of walking in about out of the arena, helps somewhat. a huge help i think that would be for you because the horse only gets nervous where there is noise and such is at a rodeo chasing cattle out. get into the arena as much as possible, but only when they need someone in there, you dont want to be in the way.
and it may be a noise factor aswell just in general. try cotton balls in their ears. that just may be enough. i have a few horses that are sensative to the noise at practice they are perfect but rodeos and big jackpots get very anxious just simply because of the noise.
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