How to Cure a Barn Sour Horse


A horse is considered "barn sour" when he is reluctant to leave the barn, or seizes every opportunity to dash back to the barn with a rider on his back. If your horse has developed barn sour tendencies, it is important to nip it in the bud. Unfortunately, this habit can become dangerous if left unaddressed.

Things You'll Need

  • Crop or bat
  • Paddock

Walk your horse away from the barn on a daily basis. Even if you don't intend to ride, take him for a walk around the property and give him positive experiences away from the barn.

Carry a short crop or bat with you when you ride a barn sour horse. When he attempts to turn back toward the barn against your command, give him a smart tap on the shoulder. This redirects his attention toward you and reminds him that he is exhibiting negative behavior.

Keep the horse on a short rein whenever you are riding in the arena or out in the pasture. If he attempts to make a run for the barn, give him a direction with either rein to refocus him. For example, you could make it a habit to trot a 20-meter circle each time he heads for the barn.

Take your horse on long trail rides that venture far away from the barn. This is a great exercise when cooling out after a long ride, and demonstrates that you are serious about leaving the barn behind.

Turn your horse out in a paddock or pasture rather than leaving him in the barn all day. Horses can develop the need for "security blankets" in the barn, and might need to spend some time outdoors.

Feed the barn sour horse outside his stall, such as in a paddock or out in the yard. If eating is the reason your horse wants to return to the barn, this should break the habit quickly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take the horse away from the barn at different times each day, including around feeding time.
  • Ask a trainer to ride your barn sour horse if you feel uncomfortable. It's better to solicit someone's help than risk getting hurt.
  • Don't let small children ride a barn sour horse. He or she could easily get hurt if the horse takes off.

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