I'm now 43, hadn't ridden except on occasion for better part of 20 years. Leasing a Quarter Horse 9 year old gelding. He's my favorite kind, he has some personality, pushes me to be a better rider but is well trained enough to be great to ride.
We've gone out of the ranch a handful of times, ridden "around the block" so to speak, he's spooked on a couple of occasions but nothing major. Dogs that surprise him barking or some weird looking sign but mostly he will kind of prance/hop and then settle once he realizes its not a threat.
He has been trailed numerous times in his life, we have been together now for 3 months and even my kids ride him on occasion.
Took him out yesterday on a longer ride with two new people (new to us, so strange horses, strange people, going to a "new" place). We get about 2 miles into the ride, I'm pleased because he's not even reacting to dogs - even a loose one - he's watchful but calm.
We get down into a dry riverbed. We go under this bridge, low, kinda dark, he's a little apprehensive but does fine. We come out the other side and he just goes nuts. He goes into crow hopping, bucking, rearing, spinning around and basically is trying to bolt back to the barn. I never even came loose from it - stayed on him for another 15 minutes just waiting for him to settle and he never did. As soon as he felt calmer I'd try to move him forward and he'd start up again. The people I rode with were becoming concerned for obvious reasons as he wasn't just "spooked' he was throwing a giant 2000 pound tantrum and wanted nothing mroe than to bolt home and would not settle no matter what I did.
I finally had to recognize that the only way back was under that bridge, it was cement and the ceiling was only 2 feet over my head - arms length. I had to get off because he could have killed me if he panicked under there.
To shorten the rest of this story (just giving a background on me, the horse and the situation) I had to walk him home the entire 2 miles while he "flipped out" repeatedly. I had never seen him act this way, he was not hurt, and after awhile the other riders and I decided this was more deliberate than anything because when we rounded the corner to the barn he instantly settled (grr). One other rider walked him a bit for me so I could rest up on her horse (he was soaked head to toe from being so wound up and I was beat) and he was giving her grief too and she's a very seasoned horse person.
So my question is - I took the avenue of "remain calm" and I was talking to him, a couple of times when he got raelly stupid I did have to get stern with him but mostly I figured if I got animated or nervous that was only going to feed him. That tactic had zero effect.
Our plan next weekend is to burn him out in the round pen and get him out after and just work him off the ranch over and over. A lot of the people out there know this horse, the owner and have seen him trail fine dozens of times so they feel like he was throwing a giant tantrum.
This is a first for me. I've been on tons of horses that have spooked over this that and the other thing but never on one that flipped out and would not settle back down. I'll take ANY advice on this one. And we both made it back in one peice, no injuries which my main concern was he was doing so much spinning and bucking that he was going to put a hoof in something and hurt someone or himself.
Oh to add, the owner has never experience this with him. So I know *I* am part of this equation absolutely.