Spooking at shadows? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-19-2014, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Spooking at shadows?

No doubt about it I love my horse inside in out. He's a great keeper but there is this one problem that he always has had. When I just go out for a ride he will spook at dark or bright figures. (shadows or white signs) and he isn't blind but i have no idea what else it could be?
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-19-2014, 11:06 PM
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My horse gets funny about black vehicles, especially if they are parked in the shade. Any other color she is fine with. My BO says she has had horses that spooked at certain colors and some horses spook at shadows. They're all different in what startles them. Hopefully, your guy will get more relaxed with more exposure to those things.

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post #3 of 11 Old 05-19-2014, 11:29 PM
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Mine spooks at butterflies, I think he fakes it though, because if I growl at him, he ignores the butterfly.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-19-2014, 11:47 PM
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I've dealt with horses that spooked at various changes in light.

Last year we got a ranch gelding in to try for polo. Poor thing was used to living in country with low sagebrush. The first evening he saw his shadow on the flat (3/4" turf) field he spooked big. Tried to bolt and when the woman riding him pulled him up, he went to bucking. Very well! He got over it.

This spring, my own polo horse spooked at round brown areas of the grass. I think they look like coiled rattlesnakes to him at first glance.

Basically, I try to anticipate a spook when I know that certain things will. I will get a little more forceful with seat and leg and they seem to respond well and get over their fear.
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-20-2014, 05:25 AM
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Many horses are uncomfortable with quick changes in light because their eyes adjust more slowly than ours do.
Our youngest mare (who is the lowest on the order and least confident) still tenses up a bit when you're riding and the strong sun is behind you so your body is casting a deep shadow directly in front of her.
Our next youngest mare doesn't have a problem with shadows, but prefers not to walk on deep black surfaces. I've ridden her for years on asphalt with no problem, but if you let her pick, she prefers to walk on the grass/dirt shoulder of the road. She'll go through water fine, but again, she'll take a good look at a puddle on black asphalt. She would also be slow to load in our trailer with black mats until we finally decided to throw some pine shavings over it, and then she would walk right in with no trouble at all.

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post #6 of 11 Old 05-20-2014, 06:32 AM
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Have you tried riding with a UVA blocking fly mask to shade his eyes a bit so he can see better.

I had a horse that was literally afraid of his own shadow, if the sun was right and his shadow was cast where he could see it following us he panicked. Any shadows on the ground he tried to jump. I started riding with a UVA fly mask and sewed some pieces of screen just behind the eye area making thinking that it would lessen his vision in his blind spots and he could not the horse eating shadow following us. It worked and I was able to focus on getting him confident. Now that he has more miles under his feet and is more confident he is fine and we don't need the mask anymore.
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-20-2014, 12:16 PM
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It could be a vision problem - not flat out blindness but something else.

He could also simply be bored. If my horse gets bored he starts spooking at stupid stuff - including things he's already passed right on by without incident....including his shadow.
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-20-2014, 02:03 PM
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cracks in the road, a change in pavement and paint on the ground are apparently not ok for my mare XD! gun shots, fine. Tarps what ever. Bike symbol painted in the bike lane? HELL no! lol! I bet if i painted a square on the ground around her she wont move XD!
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-21-2014, 10:02 AM
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Part of desensitising a horse is teaching it to trust us. If we suspect the horse will spook at something, it will, because it picks up on our vibrations. The last thing you want to do is look at whatever you think may concern the horse because this confirms it's suspicions. Some horses learn to use spooking in hopes of intimidating the rider. In some cases, the horse wins and gets to go home.
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-21-2014, 01:26 PM
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Does your horse have a pale face or a watch eye? I find those horses get blinded by the sun a bit

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