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Handling a spooky horse

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  • How to be confident riding a spooky horse
  • How to be confident while riding a spooky horse

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    08-14-2011, 11:57 PM
  #11
Super Moderator
Mavis,
I think having your instructor ride your horse for you a time or two would be good, but only if you are there to watch how she handles the spook, if it happens. YOu want the more experienced person to help you take the steps to getting to the place where you can do it on your own, so you will need to watch and emulate. Perhaps you can ride a calm horse out with her, and she on your horse and see what happens.

It's alwyas true that horses are just absolute masters at feeling the confidence level of their rider and reacting thusly. I know that my horse, Mac, has trouble with spooking when under ME, but almost never under his owner (though I did see him do a magnificent spin with her one time, which she rode out like a champ. Darn, if only I could just BE her!)
Anyway, we are who we are and we cannot just BE confident riders, like snap our fingers and it happens. Especially with a fall and its' aftermath of fear and bad memories. But watching someone else deal with it, and then you litereally pretend to be them, especially when you need to conjur up more assertiveness and it isn't your natural way of being.

Mac is often worried about things on the trail and it is often the same old things. So, desensitziign him to them isn't the ticket. What works is for me to be there to "help" him when he is not sure what to do.

When he stops sometimes to listen, I usually let him , for a brief moment, and then suggest he go on. If he is really super worried, I will let him listen a bit more, but this is really rare now. I mean only when I ask him to go forward and he is so worri9ed that he is about to explode. HOwever, I do NOT allow him to whirl around and try to run away. Having him stand and think about it is one way of working through a worry, but better is to have him move on forward if possible.

If I go past something that is rustling the bushes and he tries to either whirl around and run away or bolt forward, I use one rein to make him turn back toward the scary thing. I don't need him to approach it and sniff it, I just dont' want him to turn his back on it. If he can walk by the scary thing wihtout trying to turn his back on it and run, then that is the best.

I usually keep the outside (farther away from the scary thing) rein on a bit more, lift it upward and put on the outside leg just a bit and focus MY energy past the scary thing but I am ready to stop him is he thinks he can bolt past it. If he did, I woujld quikcly pick up the inside rein (nearest the scary thing) and pull him into a disengagement and disallow him from running away.

If he calms enough to take a big breath and maybe lick his lips, then I turn him away from it in a controlled manner and let him walk away from it.


This is what I was taught, and to be honest, I am sure there are better ways. I would not say this is the best way. It is what I lean on because I am sometimes not able to get Mac to just ignore something and trot on by. That is MY weakness and lack of confidence, I am totally aware of this.
     
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    08-15-2011, 01:43 AM
  #12
Green Broke
I think your confidence nails down the problem. As others have said, horses watch, listen and feel their riders. If you don't feel confident they wont either. So the first thing you have to work on is yourself.

-Force yourself to relax, if you are anxious your horse will pick up on it and start looking for a reason to spook. If you jump yourself, game over. Your horse now knows the boogey man is in that bush coming to eat him.

-Don't stare down objects you think will spook your horse. Believe it or not, your horse can see you up on their back and if you stare down something they will lock in on it like it's a bear. Keep your eyes moving while keeping your head pointed down the trail. Do, and I mean do, pick out what might spook your horse and prepare yourself. The trick is not giving any physical clues you are doing so.

Once you have yourself under control you can work on your horse.

-First of all, get someone to ride ahead of you with an experienced horse. A timid horse will generally play follow the leader and give fewer problems. Do this often until your horse and you become more confident. You don't want to do this with another inexperienced horse in the lead because when one spooks the other spooks.

-When mine starts to tense up I ask him to do something for me to take his mind off what is bothering him. Generally I just cluck at him, asking him to speed up a bit. Most the time that will take his mind off whatever was bothering him. I've tried the walk them up and let them sniff it thing, didn't work for me, made the horse spookier.

-If I think the horse will spook, I stop him and get off before he actually gets to the spook stage. I then will lead him back and forth past whatever is bothering him. Usually takes between 4 and 10 passes (both ways) before your horse will relax. Once they relax I go back to where I got off, get back on and ride past the object. If he starts to spook again, stop, get off and do it all over again.

Hope that helps some but I want to enforce the idea, work on yourself first.
     
    08-15-2011, 02:08 AM
  #13
Super Moderator
That could be a lot of getting off and on. I wonder about that. Besides, one doesn't always know where the spooky thing will be in time to get off BEFORE the horse's behavior is showing anxiety. IF you get off once the hrose is anxious, you are confirming there's a reason to be anxious and wouldn't this just train a horse to do it more to get you off?

The rest of your post I agree with, and I think your idea of getting off and walking past an obstacle might work from time to time. Just not sure about it being a way to deal with all problems.
     
    08-15-2011, 04:20 AM
  #14
Foal
Ok thanks for your advice.. I will have a word with the riding school and tell them to make the necessary arrangements.

I actually cancelled a class today cos I blacked out a few times this morning. They lasted a few seconds each time.

Has anyone had a similar experience after knocking her/his head on the ground when falling from a horse? This is the first time I injured my head; and I am quite worried. Cos I didn't have any such spells till today since I fell on Wednesday.
     
    08-15-2011, 04:37 AM
  #15
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by mavis    
ok thanks for your advice.. I will have a word with the riding school and tell them to make the necessary arrangements.

I actually cancelled a class today cos I blacked out a few times this morning. They lasted a few seconds each time.

Has anyone had a similar experience after knocking her/his head on the ground when falling from a horse? This is the first time I injured my head; and I am quite worried. Cos I didn't have any such spells till today since I fell on Wednesday.

I have. I got bucked off my horse and ended up with a concusion. I didn't find that I blacked out but I got quite light headed and would have to sit/lay down. If you are concerned, go to the doctor.

My one piece of advice is that if it is too much for you and you get off to lead the horse. Go in between the horse and the scary object. Because if you are on the other side and the horse spooks you can get very hurt.
     
    08-15-2011, 08:27 AM
  #16
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
The rest of your post I agree with, and I think your idea of getting off and walking past an obstacle might work from time to time. Just not sure about it being a way to deal with all problems.
tiny, I did it on my paint in past. It does work. NOT the best approach (and lots of work getting on/off), but if you are not confident and have a horse way too much for you it's just much safer way to deal with situation. Trying to deal with it in saddle won't really make your brave when you feel the horse is about to blow up. Usually just make you more tense.

Again the best (and safest) is asking someone else to work with the horse. Unfortunately it's not always a case.
     
    08-15-2011, 09:40 AM
  #17
Started
I don't like the term spooky because the horses that exhibit the behavior (mine included) tend to be looking for a leader. When I show confidence and work him around the object he jumps at, he becomes a lot more relaxed. I agree with BoxT, Clinton Anderson does have a godd video on this!
WhoaNow likes this.
     
    08-15-2011, 10:38 AM
  #18
Trained
If you are a novice rider with confidence issues you shouldn't be riding a spooky horse. It's really as simple as that. Sooner or later you will get hurt worse than you already have. You need an old, old very broke horse to learn on and gain confidence on. If your instructor doesn't have one you can ride then fins another instructor. If you own the spooky horse then sell it and buy and old, gentle one that isn't spooky. It will cost you some money but probably a lot less than an MRI.
     
    08-15-2011, 11:34 AM
  #19
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinshorses    
If you are a novice rider with confidence issues you shouldn't be riding a spooky horse.

It's really as simple as that.

Sooner or later you will get hurt worse than you already have.

You need an old, old very broke horse to learn on and gain confidence on.


If your instructor doesn't have one you can ride then fins another instructor.

If you own the spooky horse then sell it and buy and old, gentle one that isn't spooky.

It will cost you some money but probably a lot less than an MRI.
AGREE with all bold print.
Your horse already knows you're nervous, and therefore believes there is something to be nervous about.
You NEED to be a STRONG and CONFIDENT LEADER with a spooky horse.

Good luck
Be CONFIDENT!!!
     
    08-15-2011, 11:54 AM
  #20
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
That could be a lot of getting off and on. I wonder about that. Besides, one doesn't always know where the spooky thing will be in time to get off BEFORE the horse's behavior is showing anxiety. IF you get off once the hrose is anxious, you are confirming there's a reason to be anxious and wouldn't this just train a horse to do it more to get you off?

The rest of your post I agree with, and I think your idea of getting off and walking past an obstacle might work from time to time. Just not sure about it being a way to deal with all problems.

At first it is a lot of work and takes patience but your horse will gain confidence in you and itself at the same time. It really doesn't take many rides before your horse gets the idea there is nothing to be worried about. I haven't yet had a horse get more anxious because I'm jumping out of the saddle and leading it around a bit.

Yes you can stay in the saddle and try working them past "bad spots". Sometimes the horse will balk then go by it and sometimes they'll rear and spin. Which method will work best for an experienced rider and which for inexerienced riders?
     

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