The Top 3 tricks horse owners can use to unspoil
a Barn Spoiled Horse
It’s been weeks since you went riding. Now you have time to ride
this afternoon and there ain’t no one gonna stop you. Excited,
you saddle up your horse and get on him. You get about 50 feet
from the barn and your horse turns around and goes back – and you
can’t stop him. Why? You have a barn spoiled horse. This is a
common scenario for novice horse owners.
Here are the top three tricks to solve the barn sour problem.
Teach your horse that you have control over him. Once your horse
gets it in his mind that you can make him do what you want him to
do, you have control over him and can thus make him leave the
barn. One way to get control over him is to use a training
technique called doubling. When you double your horse you teach
him you can control him.
It doesn’t take long before your horse will know you can control
him. Be careful when doubling though. If you do it too much at a
time you can over do it. Your horse could get so sensitive to you
doing it that he may try to anticipate it. If he sees your hands
making the slightest movement that looks like you’re about to
double him, he may double himself. Thus, just double him four to
six times a day on both sides. He’ll quickly learn you have
The next thing you can try is this: Make it dang hard to do the
wrong thing – and make it real easy to do the right thing. Here’s
what I mean. A while back my horse didn’t want to leave her
buddies or the barn. We’d get about 100 feet away and she’d turn
around and bolt back. She’d stop in front of the barn expecting
me to get off, remove the saddle and tack, and put her back into
By my barn is two hay stacks. There is a space between them big
enough to go through and do figure eights around the hay stacks.
So every time she’d go back I would make her work, and work, and
work at running figure eights around those hay stacks. Then I
would test her to see if she had enough and would leave the area.
The first seven times she ran back. Each time we came back to the
barn we’d run more laps around the hay stacks. I could tell she
was getting tired. But the eighth time I walked her away from the
hay stacks I noticed she went quite a ways before turning to go
When we went back again we ran more figure eights. Only this time
I could tell we didn’t have to do too many. I walked her out and
away from doing the figure eights and I suddenly had a horse who
decided that it was sooo much nicer going for a walk away from
the barn rather than doing a bunch of crummy ol’ figure eights.
We had a nice ride that day and she was in no hurry to get home.
The last thing to do is this: Ride. Ride a lot. Don’t wait for
weeks or months in between riding. Try to ride at least once per
week for three or four hours. Preferably, try to ride at least
twice a week for a few hours at a time. (Ideally, you should ride
everyday. But that’s hard to do with today’s time constraints)
Doing that your horse will get in his brain that you’re going to
ride and he’s going to leave the barn and there will be no
argument. In fact, if you want to have a great horse the biggest
secret is this: Ride the heck out him!
So if your horse is barn spoiled you can try doubling him to show
you are in control. The next thing you can try is making the
wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy. Make it dang hard
for him to go the wrong thing and very pleasant to do the right
thing. And lastly, ride your horse often. Two to three times a
week if possible.
Andy Curry is a nationally known horse trainer and author of
several best selling horse training and horse care books. For
information visit his website at
www.horsetrainingandtips.com . He
is also the leading expert on Jesse Beery's horse training
methods which can be seen at