Correcting a Horse that Balks at the Ingate

When a horse balks at the ingate or outgate, the problem is known as being “herd bound.” The horse is balking at the ingate because it wants to quit work and go visit with its buddies outside of the ring. (Of course, the barn, food, baths, etc. are also fond memories that pull the horse toward the gate like a magnet.) To correct this problem, use your crop at the moment the horse begins to balk, so that it is clear that you won’t tolerate this behavior. Apply the crop on the horse’s barrel, just behind your calf. If the animal is drifting toward the gate as it balks, you should apply the crop on the side to which the horse is drifting–for example, if the animal drifts left, then apply the crop on its left side. This way, you are punishing both the balking and the drifting at once.

Be sure to apply the crop with the force you think will be appropriate to correct the problem. If this is not enough, punish the horse again with the stick, a little harder the second time. Increase the amount of force until you get the desired result, for if you continue to apply an ineffectual amount of stick, then you will simply irritate the animal and heighten its bad behavior.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to solve this problem during schooling. If not, you may have to apply the stick occasionally in the show ring, just to let the horse know you mean business at all times. If your correction is consistently prompt at the first sign of balking, soon the animal will learn not to challenge you.