Dealing With a Ring Sour Horse

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Whether looking at horses for sale or riding your own horse, at some point you may have to deal with a ring sour horse. A horse that is “ring sour” is essentially bored with the work he is being asked to do in an arena or riding ring. Getting ring sour can happen with any horse, but it’s especially common in horses who do repetitive work, like lesson horses or horses who are in intense training for competition.

How do you deal with a ring sour horse? These tips will help.

Check Physical Issues First

A horse who appears to be ring sour may actually be reacting to physical pain. If a horse sucks back, tosses his head, bucks, or is otherwise resistant to go to work, you will want to thoroughly check the horse’s body for areas of discomfort. Poor saddle fit or a bridle or bit that isn’t properly adjusted can cause pain. Additionally, a horse who needs dental work, is out of alignment in his back, or is suffering another physical issue can react out of pain. Have a vet out to thoroughly check your horse over before determining that he is ring sour.

Make Ring Work More Interesting

If a horse is truly ring sour, one way to lessen his boredom is to make ring work more interesting for him. Introduce new elements to the ring, including jumps, cavaletti, and road cones to add new challenges and entertainment. New equipment can break up the visual appearance of the ring, and can give the horse new elements to focus on.

Additionally, make an effort to get your horse off of the rail during training sessions. Going around and around in circles can get boring for anyone, so mix things up a little. Ride figure-eights and circles and serpentines. Do lots of transitions to keep your horse’s mind busy.

Get Out of the Ring

Possibly the best way to improve your horse’s attitude towards ring work is to get him out of the ring altogether. If you have access to other places to ride, like a field, then take your horse out for a change of scenery. Trail riding can also be a great way to break up the mundane nature of ring work.

Maximize Turnout

Don’t forget to make sure that your horse is being well entertained when he is not in the ring. Maximizing a horse’s time outside can help to prevent boredom and can help to keep him healthy, both physically and mentally.

When a horse is ring sour, he needs a change in routine. Whether offering him more challenging work or getting him out of the ring altogether, you can help the horse to overcome his ring sour attitude.

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