Selective Fear - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 02-05-2017, 08:04 PM Thread Starter
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Selective Fear

So, as I was riding merrily along today, Gus decided to be afraid of one particular boulder. We pass this boulder every day, and he never has a problem with it. Sometimes, he will jump at a car that goes by, or a row of fence, or a pole, or, or, or.... you get the idea. My point being, the fear seems "selective", as if he is just deciding to be afraid of something today. I know he's not actually scared because usually, he uses the opportunity where I'm caught off guard to rip a giant pile of leaves off the bushes, or a mouthful of grass. Now that I think on it, I think I can only count a handful of horses I've ridden who are really steady and don't try to be afraid of things they're used to. This makes me wonder - why do our horses do this? Why do they "pretend" to occasionally show signs of fear towards things that on any other day they're fine with? Are they trying to get out of work? Are they genuinely afraid? How do you handle it when your horses do this ?
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post #2 of 26 Old 02-05-2017, 10:35 PM
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I often wonder if what they are reacting to is a smell. Something we don't have the sensory equipment to discuss with them, you know? I believe they perceive a rather different world than we do -- I know my dogs do. Why not the horses?

The way I handle spooks, including spooks at things that my horse has encountered before, is always the same -- first I assess it myself: is it in fact dangerous? (probably not). I assess my horse: is she just startled, or wary, or is she holding on to her desire to spin and bolt by a fraying thread? Some hills aren't worth dying on. Then I decide whether I am going to say, Oh for heaven's sake don't be ridiculous, girl! and push her along, or prepare for working through some evasion moves, or just get out of there before she loses it entirely. I try to never put complicated thoughts, aspirations, or plans into her head. Horses are not that complicated.

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post #3 of 26 Old 02-05-2017, 10:39 PM
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Mine will do that when they are feeling especially good or not wanting to work. And all mine have a job to do. Either the sport horses or ranch horses.

So... as I literally tell them "Unless it is bleeding or burning, we have to get this done." I used to tell my kids, and sometimes co-workers, the same thing. I will growl or say a grouchy "Aaaack!" paired with forward impulsion with seat and legs and a cheerful "Let's go!"
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post #4 of 26 Old 02-06-2017, 01:16 AM
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There are different kinds of spooks
There are the true fear spooks, when something suddenly pops out, ect, then there is the 'feeling good spook', when a horse has either been conifned or fed too much sugar, so he he bursting to throw in extra moves, that he should have had a chance to burn off during turn out
There is the habitual spooker, that can go by the same place in the arena, for example, and spook there every time, and last, but not least, is the fake spook, where a horse has learned to use spooking to get out of work, either by the rider then not making him go where he rather would not, or putting him away for the day
To deal with a spook, you first have to know as to what kind of spook you are dealing with. Fear spook, you just ride on as if nothing happened. Habitual spook, or fake spook, you get after that horse and make him work
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post #5 of 26 Old 02-09-2017, 02:34 PM
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Smilie, you forgot the 'is she awake?' Spook!
jaydee and ThoroughbredBug like this.
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post #6 of 26 Old 02-09-2017, 03:42 PM
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My gelding spooked at our white dogs running behind a tree line. He spun and stayed high headed, snorting and prancing around for awhile.
He later noticed a snall white-ish rock and spooked slightly at it, but right after realized it wasn't the dogs, it just seemed similar in that instance.
I don't think they do it on purpose. They live more simply than we do.
And they can smell and hear far better than we can. Some kind of animal could of marked a rock, a tree, bridge, fence or w/e and they will notice that while we never do unless we saw the animal mark it.
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post #7 of 26 Old 02-09-2017, 03:59 PM
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Redz did this sort of thing last night. I found it quite amusing, really.
There was a blue barrel next to the arena, where we keep all of the poles (for jumps & whatnot)...every time we'd pass by it, he'd pin his ears at it, & look at it like...oh no! So after my ride I got off & walked him up to it...turns out he didn't even care about it! Knew he was just being silly/trying to be lazy!

Unless, it turned out to not be a monster when I walked him up to never bothered him before, it's always there.

Ride more, worry less.
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post #8 of 26 Old 02-09-2017, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Foxhunter View Post
Smilie, you forgot the 'is she awake?' Spook!
Willow definitely knows how to do that one!!
Anyone who's ever experienced the 'monster in the corner of the arena' trick knows that they'll use the excuse spook thing.
I've known K to spook at things that she usually doesn't worry about when she's tense for some reason. She can get 'clingy' for a day or two when she's in season so needs some slightly different riding tactics when she's like that. Getting after her only makes it worse

Just winging it is not a plan
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post #9 of 26 Old 02-09-2017, 04:45 PM
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I have sat some spooks in my time but one of the funniest was when out on Tom, I was cantering along the top of a ridgeway. There were people on the path so I went to the right which meant jumping a bank, something I did on him. He jumped the bank, landed on the top and landed facing forward on the take off side!

On the other side werema pack of Old English Sheepdogs, the people walking bred them and had about eight or nine out with them.
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post #10 of 26 Old 02-09-2017, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Foxhunter View Post
Smilie, you forgot the 'is she awake?' Spook!
Yes, there is that one, LOL! Luckily, most times that' awake' is in question the rider is so relaxed, that muscle memory just has the rider 'go with the flow" !
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