Riding Out a Spook! - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 14 Old 10-29-2013, 05:21 PM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 484
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i've generally been fine.. but last friday i fell twice !!

I had a fall unrelated to a spook, my fault, off balance on a jump and my horse is head shy and i balanced on her neck.. bad. Well anyway - when i got back on and walked my horse through the same jump, she landed great but started freaking out because she remembered loosing me last time and me falling on her neck and how traumatic that was for her :)

My fatal mistake the second time... I pulled back when she started the bolt but then when she squirmed I did the classic knee pinch and leaned FORWARD to keep my balance. I just can't resist the fetal position yet!

and as you all know forward is a way out of your saddle... you need to lean back.. and pinching creates energy, not grippiness... these natural instincts which have kept us save for years are now our enemies.

Had I leaned back and not pinched w/ my knees, maybe... it would have been different? My instructor got on after that one and took my horse through the same jump. She acted similarly, started bolting and wanted to wiggle, but my instructor got her under control and did it again until she was smooth again and the horse learned that spot wasn't an 'evil' spot. And she did it w/o worry. So there is a way that works.

I suspect you've just learned to do more of the right things than the instinctual wrong things. I hope I can remind myself in that split instant should it happen again!
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post #12 of 14 Old 10-30-2013, 01:13 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 314
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I've only fallen off my horse once, so far as I can remember (my last horse I fell every time I rode bareback); I adjusted to the 'way he spooks' fairly quickly. Rush does however have the uncanny ability to go from Okay-Country Pleasure to Top Ten Reining horse in about .03 seconds.

Let's see... I decided it would be a great idea to ride my Country Pleasure horse outside (he does love being outside versus the arena, but he is NOT a trail horse, nor is he settled enough to know what to do with himself outside). He gave me no issues at the walk and trot, though when we were cantering, he wouldn't stop.

"Rush, that's a fence."

"I know mom, isn't it awesome! Ouuutttsiiiiddddeeeeeeee OuO"

"Rush, no for real, that's a fence. Slow down, I don't know what lead you're on."



"Oh, you're right, trotting would be a good id- WAS THAT A BIRD?????" *sliding stop*

I went over his neck and landed on my backside fairly hard To his credit, he didn't run off, even though I hadn't let go of the reins (I decided to ride in a full bridle that day), and I'm sure that didn't feel good having his mouth jerked around with two bits in it. I fell because when I ride with my stirrups, they're up just high enough to apparently topple me (I now ride with them where they are suppose to be). I found out the hard way that when he spooks, I push myself against my stirrups as a brace (which is not good when said pushing puts you out of the saddle, on the neck, and then on the ground).

The second time I did ride it out, by the grace of God alone. I was riding him side saddle in the indoor arena, and someone must have ridden in it since the last time I'd used it, as the stirrup was jacked up waaaay to high. Because I'm stupid and trust this horse (skittish though he may be), I was not holding the reins, bent at the waist over the saddle to adjust the stirrup. We weren't next to one of the gates that lead outside, but apparently close enough that when a bird decided to take off, he thought something was trying to kill him and promptly spun in a manner that would put any reining horse to shame.

I didn't even realize what had happened until after it was over, and my fingers were super glued to any part of the side saddle I could get a hold of. (Thankfully those jump bars make it impossible to come out of a side saddle! Just clamp down your thighs and you're set!) Again, to his credit he did not take off, despite how easy it would have been considering I was not anywhere close to my reins.

You fall a bunch, and then eventually your body just knows how to anticipate your horse. You're growing as a rider, congrats!

Last edited by Bedhead; 10-30-2013 at 01:18 AM.
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post #13 of 14 Old 10-30-2013, 05:01 AM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Western Australia
Posts: 159
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My old riding horse had a spook which would leave me hanging in mid air wondering where the horse went. She didn't spook often but when she did her backend would drop and then pivot out from under me as she spun round ready to run.

The last time it happened she was trying to tell me a dump truck was behind her. I wasn't paying attention to her or my surroundings and the truck dumped a noisy load of gravel right behind her. The next thing I knew I was on my butt looking my girl in the knees. She'd spun right out from under me and was facing me giving me a confused look.

It took me a good year to learn to sit that spook but I haven't been dropped by a spooking horse for some time now - touch wood.

"People say a horse can't cry; but they don't know, because we cry inside" Mark Twain
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post #14 of 14 Old 10-30-2013, 10:38 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 2,964
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Step one: learn a one rein stop. If your horse spooks violently or goes to bolt, yanking back on both reins will almost always result in bad things, frequently a horse that panics even more and goes into a blind bolt or bucking fit. When your horse spooks, you should AUTOMATICALLY have your panic response as a one rein stop.

Step two: when something bad is happening, your horse bolts, bucks, spooks, etc, relying on your stirrups, or reins for balance is the WRONG response. sit deep. resist the fetal position, back straight, lower back relaxed. If you tense up and freeze, you will come off. Often reminding your self of what you are supposed to be doing during minor events(like saying "heels down, back straight, breath!") will transfer into how you deal with large spooks. Also, mentally, you have to be committed. If your first thought when your horse spooks is "I'm going to fall off, this is going to hurt", you likely will fall off. You have to WANT to stay on.

Step 3: Practice, practice, practice. you are training muscle memory. it takes time for the right response to be automatic. Practice a one rein stop. Regularly remind you self to be relaxed, heels down, back straight. Take every spook you deal with as a learning experience.

Personally, I have been on for every spook out there. the 'spook-n-buck', spontaneous lightning speed side pass, leap-the-random-tiny-object, stop-from-a-canter-and-reverse, stop-trotting-downhill-and-leap-sideways, random spin, bolt, lightning sidepass/leap forward like a gazelle combo, spook violently at a full run and any imaginable combination there of. The more you ride, the better you'll get.
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