Spooky horses... What to do? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 03-09-2013, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
Nya
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Spooky horses... What to do?

Hi everyone :)
So, I've been riding this sweet 7yr old gelding for three months, very often, and I fell in love with him :) he was easy, and well-behaved. I don't know what happened then, but he started spooking and bolting for apparently nothing, and there's no way you can stay on the saddle when he gets scared. When I got a cranial trauma, I sadly decided not to mount him anymore.

My instructor gave me another horse, quite spooky aswell. I know many other horses there are spooky, but today, when all my hopes were gone (after almost fell again for a sudden spook-and-bolt) I was told to try riding a stallion they have there.

He was very calm and quiet, and I felt like I could focus on jumps and exercise again, so my first thought was -okay, I'll keep riding this one- but now, I am here to ask you.. Can a stallion be safe? What would you do in my shoes? I know almost nothing about stallions..I don't know, spooky horses take the pleasure of riding away from me.. I need advice :(
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Last edited by Nya; 03-09-2013 at 04:34 PM.
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post #2 of 13 Old 03-11-2013, 12:41 AM
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Don't be afraid of him *because* he is a stallion. Stallions get to learn jobs like any other and many are exceptional at their jobs. If your instructor feels he is good for the job, then ride him. Don't let him get away with anything, but don't pick a fight. Just ride. Use it to your advantage as a confidence boost. Be cocky. You are riding a STALLION! WHOO! Yeah! You rock, sistah! You got this!

As for the spooky ones, I have no advice on the ones that turn and bolt other than to learn to anticipate it coming. With my spooky horse, I did a great deal of groundwork. I exposed him to all sorts of scary stuff. He, naturally, flipped his lid many times, but I was on the ground and safe, so I literally behaved like he wasn't spooking. La-dee-la, nothing strange was happening. I learned everything about him. I learned what he did when he spooked, how he acted right before, what triggered him, everything he did I learned so that I could be better prepared for it. And I just exposed him to everything I could. I encouraged and praised him stopping and looking. By my not freaking out when he did, and by not getting after him when he did spook, his confidence grew as well. Now he just snorts, gets more animated, or has to stop and look.
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post #3 of 13 Old 03-19-2013, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by LadyDreamer View Post

As for the spooky ones, I have no advice on the ones that turn and bolt other than to learn to anticipate it coming. With my spooky horse, I did a great deal of groundwork. I exposed him to all sorts of scary stuff. He, naturally, flipped his lid many times, but I was on the ground and safe, so I literally behaved like he wasn't spooking. La-dee-la, nothing strange was happening. I learned everything about him. I learned what he did when he spooked, how he acted right before, what triggered him, everything he did I learned so that I could be better prepared for it. And I just exposed him to everything I could. I encouraged and praised him stopping and looking. By my not freaking out when he did, and by not getting after him when he did spook, his confidence grew as well. Now he just snorts, gets more animated, or has to stop and look.
That's exactly what I do with my spooky horse :)
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post #4 of 13 Old 03-28-2013, 11:09 AM Thread Starter
Nya
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Thanks so much! I'm sorry for being so late :) I mounted the stallion, and it was alright! The only thing is... I can't help being somehow nervous in the saddle. Before the bad fall, I knew the horse might spook or buck, or might even not (not all horses are difficult!) and I was however calm.. Now I'm sooo tense I might scare even the quietest horse. I'm going to ride a mare this saturday, and I'm starting to guess about all the bad things that can happen :( sob.. I used to be kind of fearless until I literally hit the ground.. :(
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post #5 of 13 Old 03-28-2013, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Nya View Post
Thanks so much! I'm sorry for being so late :) I mounted the stallion, and it was alright! The only thing is... I can't help being somehow nervous in the saddle. Before the bad fall, I knew the horse might spook or buck, or might even not (not all horses are difficult!) and I was however calm.. Now I'm sooo tense I might scare even the quietest horse. I'm going to ride a mare this saturday, and I'm starting to guess about all the bad things that can happen :( sob.. I used to be kind of fearless until I literally hit the ground.. :(
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Have a shot of Limoncello right before the next lesson. I'm not joking! It will relax you just enough to not tense up, you'll enjoy the ride, and have more confidence next time.
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post #6 of 13 Old 03-28-2013, 11:24 AM
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Tell those voices that keep telling you all the "what-ifs" to go sit in a corner, like a naughty child, that you'll deal with them later. Say it aloud as it usually disrupts the thoughts.
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post #7 of 13 Old 03-28-2013, 11:45 AM
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Tell those voices that keep telling you all the "what-ifs" to go sit in a corner, like a naughty child, that you'll deal with them later. Say it aloud as it usually disrupts the thoughts.
Excellent advice.

The last thing anyone should ever do is think about what could happen when riding, because that's what will likely happen. I forget what it's called, but there is an actual name for that sort of thing. I've had some scary falls and close calls, as recent as the other day... but you gotta push it out of your head and focus on what you're doing.

The way I see it, I could be killed crossing the street by a drunk driver or even killed by a falling meteorite. Yes, there are real risks in riding but there are risks in everything you do. When I'm riding and especially jumping, I go full throttle because I know that one time I second guess myself and hold back I will probably mess up and get hurt.

Everyone who has fallen and been banged up thinks back to that moment at some point in their riding career. You'll play the situation through your head a million times and wonder what you could have done differently and in a lot of cases there isn't anything you could have done to prevent it. Sometimes, horses spook for no obvious reason and sometimes you're going to get thrown and maybe even seriously hurt. It's just riding.

I think the OP obviously needs to build her confidence back up but at the same point they should still be exposed to spooky horses to get a better sense of how to handle them. I was a fairly timid rider until I switched barns and was put on super high strung horses - all fired up OTTB's! You learn how to sense when they are about to spook and more importantly you learn how to stay on and handle the situation which will give you tons of confidence to make you a better rider.

(Also don't forget to breath, it will help relax you. Some people will also tell you to sing in your head when you're nervous or even count along to their gait. Like 1 2 1 2 and so forth, just anything to get you distracted and before you know it, you won't need to do any of those things and your nervousness will disappear!)


The hardest part isn't finding what we need to be, it's being content with who we are.
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post #8 of 13 Old 03-28-2013, 11:53 AM
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Awesome advice. I'm so tired of fear taking over at times. I hold my horses back from my own fear or the unknown. It's unfair to them because they have never misbehaved doing anything that I couldn't handle. But I will say, it sure can be hard. I bought some little speakers for my ipod and put them in my saddle bags. It really helps!
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post #9 of 13 Old 03-28-2013, 04:16 PM
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I need to read this thread ( but dont have the time to now ) so subbing*
I have one that spooks and dont take him out much due to that - and I know all he needs is more miles and a confident rider.
bb to read soon.

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post #10 of 13 Old 03-28-2013, 06:40 PM
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I do lots and lots of ground work and sacking out with my spooky critter..And like you I am rebuilding my confidence.
Its going to take time but you will get it back..
Know that you are the driver, the one in control! Not the passenger.
Singing to self does work well as making sure you have a good seat and your legs are not to high up *count of the stirrups*
Do lots of short circles when feeling uncomfortable and bending his/her neck into your knee for softness..Each time the horse spooks bring him into a circle..
Good luck, you will get there.

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