Nervous and won't listen in indoor arenas
 
 

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Nervous and won't listen in indoor arenas

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  • How to react to a horse that spooks in the arena
  • Horse won't listen to me while riding

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    04-13-2012, 02:44 PM
  #1
Weanling
Nervous and won't listen in indoor arenas

I wish I could take my horse to shows, playdays, and clinics, but I have one problem; my horse acts up, won't focus, and gets very edgy, jittery, and tense in indoor arenas. He is so intent on looking around and spooking at the slightest noise and looking at the bleachers, equipment and setup out of the ring, that I can't even get his focus on me. He almost ignores me.

Usually when we get there, we'll walk in and get to warming up by just walking around the rail for about 5 minutes. This is when he looses focus. Right away, he get's tense, becames alert, his head goes up, and while we're walking around, he thinks he sees something, and wheels away and either trots or lopes away from whatever spooked him, whether it be a trashcan, a barncat, or a shiney doorknob. I can't keep him from running back to the entrance and of the arena. We'll be walking around the rail, I keep as calm as I can, (but I have to keep on my toes in case he decides to try to turn and run) and he'll stop for a quick second, look around, and try to turn back (Sometimes he sees something and spooks and shies away from it, and tries to run away before I get a hold of him). He'll do maybe a quarter turn, and I can get a hold of him, and try to get him to move forward again, but with head held high, snorting and acting nervous, he usually won't budge, and tries to turn back many times while I attempt to make him go where I want to. Usually he is the least tense, if at all, down at this end. This is where the opening is, and all the parents and trainers are over here on the rail by the gate talking. Beyond the opening, there is a parking lot. On the opposite end it is the worst. He often tries to turn around and run back to the other end of the arena. In the back half of the arena he spooks often, and is always tense.

I was at a playday a few weeks ago, and we were waiting in the barn on the side of the ring for our names to be called for the next event (which I believe was poles). He was standing calmly, and almost half asleep, Then our names were called, I knew we were going to have to take it slow, so I walked in there as calmly as I could for his sake, yet I was holding my reins tight in case I needed to. He walked calmly for a few steps (not even to the poles yet), so I kicked him into a trot, and about halfway up the poles, he out of the blue tried to turn back, and he got himself almost all the way turned around before I reached down and pulled him in. When we got to the first pole, he trotted around it, then stopped and tried to run(we were now headed towards the 'safe end' of the arena), but I stopped him, and tried to make him back up hoping it would make him think about me and not his surroundings, but he completly ignored me, and kept his head up and alert, and wouldn't move. We went through the rest of the pattern with most of the same patterns, stopping and trying to turn back.

Please help me, I am at the end of my nerves, and I have had to quit going to the show barn because of this. It is very flustering and embarrassing to me, and he never behaves in there.
     
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    04-13-2012, 03:15 PM
  #2
Green Broke
It sounds like you need to do alot more riding, working on control and respect, and go back to some respect building ground work. He is taking advantage of you big time(frm what you've said in your post)
Quote:
I walked in there as calmly as I could for his sake, yet I was holding my reins tight in case I needed to
sounds like you are anticipating trouble and getting nervous, which won't help.
Quote:
I kicked him into a trot
you should not have to kick a horse into a trot
Quote:
he trotted around it, then stopped and tried to run(we were now headed towards the 'safe end' of the arena), but I stopped him, and tried to make him back up hoping it would make him think about me and not his surroundings, but he completly ignored me, and kept his head up and alert, and wouldn't move. We went through the rest of the pattern with most of the same patterns, stopping and trying to turn back.
He likely doesnt trust you and needs respect, I would go do some lessons if you can.
Corporal likes this.
     
    04-13-2012, 04:12 PM
  #3
Showing
He's using anything as an excuse to leave the arena. When he hauls you back to the gate, work his butt off doing small circles with plenty of reversing directions. It will be hard work for both of you but only when you feel him begin to lose the tension in his body do you ask him to walk to the far end. Anytime he hauls you back to the gate, make him work hard. Keep him to a trot, not canter as he may opt to buck when he can't have his own way.
     
    04-16-2012, 02:44 PM
  #4
Weanling
@BlueSpark: I kind of am, and it makes me tense, even though I know this is bad bad, and only makes it worse.

I did not actually kick him, I never do. It was more a firm nudge with my calves (or sometimes a tap with the spurs- but I don't use them much, only when I want him to respond to leg aids.)

The mojority of the time I went up there, it was for my showmanship clinic or lessons(I only went to playdays twice) I go to lessons every saturday for speed events and stuff :)

@Saddlebag: I tried doing that once, I did circles in both directions for about ten minuites, and tried to just walk around, and we made almost a lap -at a walk- around the arena before he spooked again. It was progress, but we stopped after that.

Anyway, we don't own a trailer, so we can't get up there every opportunity we can to work with him there, which I know is really wha
----

Will finish typing post later!
     
    04-16-2012, 02:55 PM
  #5
Trained
TexanFreedom, your horse is dangerous, at least in an arena. He needs a great deal of retraining time in order to retrain his fears. You are asking to be thrown, dragged or worse taking him to these "play days" (???--never heard of them). If you must take him somewhere, sign up for a clinic with a good re-trainer who can demonstrate what you need to do to establish leadership with him and learn to calm his fears.
Just FYI--if he didn't have a problem with arenas when you bought him, then you have trained him to fear them. If he was sold to you as "finished", he wasn't, and the previous owner sold you their problem.
A Finished horse (or broke, or WHATEVER term you prefer) means that horse will be obedient in average circumstances, like tied to brush and tack up, obedient to the farrier, calm on a trail, or an outdoor arena, or an indoor arena, or load in a trailer, and do these things calmly, as well as listen reasonably well under saddle with good to novice riders.
Yours isn't finished.
Get a trainer to help you.
     
    04-16-2012, 03:17 PM
  #6
Green Broke
Quote:
and do these things calmly, as well as listen reasonably well under saddle with good to novice riders.
I know several "finished horses" that will never be good for a novice. Some horses just have a personality that tests new riders. If you fail the test, bad behavior surfaces. On cirtain horses no amount of training fixes this, they will always need knowledgeable riders or riders that have an instructor to help. Sounds like he tested, didn't get the response he needed and has started acting out.
     
    04-16-2012, 03:24 PM
  #7
Trained
Blue Spark, I can agree with you without splitting hairs about a definition of "finished." The OP is obviously not an experienced rider.
     
    04-16-2012, 06:47 PM
  #8
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexanFreedom    
@Saddlebag: I tried doing that once, I did circles in both directions for about ten minuites, and tried to just walk around, and we made almost a lap -at a walk- around the arena before he spooked again. It was progress, but we stopped after that.
And he figured out that you were a pushover.

I've had a similar issue with a particular portion of the trail where I ride. Shying, backing, jigging in place, planting feet down, flat out ignoring legs, seat, and whip.

So instead of giving in or escalating the physical pain, we went to work on the corn field right next to the scary trail junction. I made her do gymnastic after gymnastic (trot circles, canter circles, simple lead changes, leg yields, TOF, shoulder in, etc etc) for about ten minutes, then go back to the trail entrance. Refusal? Back to work. Try again. Refuse? Back to work. Rinse wash repeat.

Did that for about an hour and got her down halfway. Gave her a pat, went home. Tried same thing again a couple more times and now that trail is not a major problem. I need to keep leg on to get her down there, but now she will do it. Eventually she will walk on down on a loose rein if I so want. Because I will make it disobedience to be tiring work and I will make obedience pleasant.
     
    04-16-2012, 07:55 PM
  #9
Green Broke
My horse will carry me for days on end on the trail without a single spook or signs of nerves. Used to be if you put him in an enclosed arena he would get nervous, probably wouldn't spook but might, wants to leave arena and god forbid if there's a dark corner in there.

The fix? I did two things, one was to ride his butt off in that arena. Second was to just turn him loose after riding his butt off and letting him figure out it really isn't all that scary.
     
    04-18-2012, 06:55 AM
  #10
Showing
Let me be clear. This is a dangerous situation for both of you. I am not going to offer you ways to fix your horse as I don't want to be responsible for anything relating to you.

Therefore my advice is simple: Get a trainer and ask for help.. or sell the horse and take lessons on horse handling and confidence building riding.

Here is my reasoning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TexanFreedom    
I wish I could take my horse to shows, playdays, and clinics, but I have one problem; my horse acts up, won't focus, and gets very edgy, jittery, and tense in indoor arenas. He is so intent on looking around and spooking at the slightest noise and looking at the bleachers, equipment and setup out of the ring, that I can't even get his focus on me. He almost ignores me.
Okay this right there worries me! He sounds completely untrained and he's not respecting you at all. This is an absolute recipe for a complete and utter disaster. He needs more training. By a trainer.

And you need to either get some training yourself on how to work with a horse (not just ride) or you need to get a different horse. You are both going to end up seriously hurt!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TexanFreedom    
Usually when we get there, we'll walk in and get to warming up by just walking around the rail for about 5 minutes. This is when he looses focus. Right away, he get's tense, becames alert, his head goes up, and while we're walking around, he thinks he sees something, and wheels away and either trots or lopes away from whatever spooked him, whether it be a trashcan, a barncat, or a shiney doorknob. I can't keep him from running back to the entrance and of the arena.
Again... lack of respect. He's psyching himself out.. why? There's no leader for him to follow. You're supposed to be his leader. Since he's obviously got your number.. he knows he can get out of anything by pretending things are just.. terrifying. And again... recipe for disaster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TexanFreedom    
We'll be walking around the rail, I keep as calm as I can, (but I have to keep on my toes in case he decides to try to turn and run) and he'll stop for a quick second, look around, and try to turn back (Sometimes he sees something and spooks and shies away from it, and tries to run away before I get a hold of him). He'll do maybe a quarter turn, and I can get a hold of him, and try to get him to move forward again, but with head held high, snorting and acting nervous, he usually won't budge, and tries to turn back many times while I attempt to make him go where I want to. Usually he is the least tense, if at all, down at this end.
Look.. if you let him have an opening like that, any horse will try and be an idiot. Horses need focus. Focus comes with asking them to do something, and then another thing.. and another thing. Like oh hey! Let's change directions.. let's do a leg yield.. let's move into a trot. Let's stop and back up. Let's stand still then move off into a large figure eight.. etc.

It should not even progress to "and he'll stop for a quick second" No! You push him on. YOU are in charge.. the horse follows YOUR cues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TexanFreedom    
This is where the opening is, and all the parents and trainers are over here on the rail by the gate talking. Beyond the opening, there is a parking lot. On the opposite end it is the worst. He often tries to turn around and run back to the other end of the arena. In the back half of the arena he spooks often, and is always tense.
Of course he's more tense.. he's a metal building and there is probably echo. But it doesn't matter, he is trained to deal with it. If you can't train him or pay for a trainer.. get another horse. This will get you killed one day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TexanFreedom    
I was at a playday a few weeks ago, and we were waiting in the barn on the side of the ring for our names to be called for the next event (which I believe was poles). He was standing calmly, and almost half asleep, Then our names were called, I knew we were going to have to take it slow, so I walked in there as calmly as I could for his sake, yet I was holding my reins tight in case I needed to. He walked calmly for a few steps (not even to the poles yet), so I kicked him into a trot, and about halfway up the poles, he out of the blue tried to turn back, and he got himself almost all the way turned around before I reached down and pulled him in. When we got to the first pole, he trotted around it, then stopped and tried to run(we were now headed towards the 'safe end' of the arena), but I stopped him, and tried to make him back up hoping it would make him think about me and not his surroundings, but he completly ignored me, and kept his head up and alert, and wouldn't move. We went through the rest of the pattern with most of the same patterns, stopping and trying to turn back.
You don't kick a horse into a trot. I'd run away if I was your horse too. It sounds like he just doesn't get a chance and he doesn't sound trained. You both need coaching.. separately. Then together. You ride with your body, not your hands. You ask nicely, then up the pressure until you get what you want. When you get what you want, the pressure STOPS. Next time, you ask softly and until they give you what you want, up the pressure.

Simple pressure release. No pulling.. no kicking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TexanFreedom    
Please help me, I am at the end of my nerves, and I have had to quit going to the show barn because of this. It is very flustering and embarrassing to me, and he never behaves in there.
You need to find a trainer for him and for you. Or you need to get another horse. He sounds like quite a mess, but judging from your post you do as well.

Please, for the sake of your safety and his. Get a trainer or sell him.
     

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