Most horse owners have dealt with a buddy sour horse. Once they are separated from their herd or horse friend they will act out by jigging, bolting, bucking, or even rearing. The buddy sour horse will not be focused on the rider, rather concerned with getting back to his friends. While it is natural for your horse to want to be with his herd, if he overreacts to the situation he can become dangerous.
This particular horse may become uncontrollable on the ground and under saddle. It’s important to practice safety and progress at a comfortable speed. If he panics on the ground, start there and move up to the saddle. If he throws a fit while riding but not around the barn, you can begin under saddle.
You will want to utilize the help of a quiet, reliable horse and a friend. Start in an open arena where you can easily move your horse around. Get his attention focused on you by riding figure eights or turning him in circles of different sizes and directions. Once he is focused, ask your friend to move their horse away. They should still be in sight. Before your horse has a chance to show distress, bring the buddy back to him. At first, you should not expect longer than 45 seconds away.
As your horse continues the exercise and shows progress, you can begin moving the buddy further away for longer periods of time. He will gradually understand that his buddy will return and their is nothing to get nervous about. It is essential to keep his focus on you, but you must also remain attentive to him and not his leaving buddy. He will pick up your anxiety.
Your horse will eventually progress over a series of sessions. Before you know it, you’ll be heading out for a ride alone!
(Originally published in February 2017).