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Spooking Horse Complications

This is a discussion on Spooking Horse Complications within the Horse Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Horse spooking on lunge
  • Spooking as bad behavior

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    01-08-2013, 06:48 PM
  #11
Trained
Please don't lunge the horse. It is very detrimental to joints and when used to wear a horse down can cause injuries.

If she wants to spook, or whatever, go sideways. What I get my riders to do is when the horse gets "fixated" on something (a precursor to spooking), they flex the horse to the inside, away from the distraction to get the horse's attention. If that doesn't work then the horse gets to do a small circle, a transition, or something and the inside leg pushes the horse over to reinforce that the horse must listen to the flexion, and thus the rider. When the horse stops looking, you give as a reward. Then repeat repeat repeat.
Then there is also a clear escalation of aids, and eventually, simply flexing the horse will "snap them out of it" and they will focus on the rider.

Good luck!
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    01-08-2013, 06:59 PM
  #12
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~    
Please don't lunge the horse. It is very detrimental to joints and when used to wear a horse down can cause injuries.
Not to draw away from the topic at hand completely, but can you elaborate on how lunging is bad for a horse? Sometimes I like to do a little walk-trot roundpen work prior to riding to remind my gelding who he needs to listen to (make sure he's listening to commands to ho, turn, back up, stand, change gait, etc). Are you referring to constant movement in a circle as being unbalanced and therefore detrimental?
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    01-08-2013, 10:42 PM
  #13
Trained
Anabel, I like your method for dealing with spooking and fixation (will probably use it with my gelding), but I'm curious regarding your statement about lunging. Can you elaborate? Do you mean all lunging or just when it's a 30-40 minute constant circular motion?
     
    01-08-2013, 11:46 PM
  #14
Trained
There's lots of research and ideas on lunging, try Googling. Basically moving in a circle at speed causes a lot of stress on the horse, especially their stifles. I avoid lunging unless for young horses with side reins. Bringing horses back into work should be done as much as possible on straight lines, and "wearing horses down" should be done with turnout, handwalking, a treadmill or by a rider with good stick em.
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    01-09-2013, 01:50 AM
  #15
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by MN Tigerstripes    
I'm not generally a fan of lunging a horse to get the "crazy" out before riding... You're basically trying to get rid of excess energy to make her a little easier to handle in the short run.
When utilized properly, "lunging" is not to "get the crazy" out of a horse... at least, not directly, It is an exercise that allows the handler to establish basic control with the animal and make sure they are on the same page before mounting. If you have a problem horse, establishing control and trust on the ground will translate into the saddle.

I'm always a bit confused when people are opposed to it (lunging), and would rather just hop on a horse that clearly has problems trusting his/her rider and challenges them (whether by spooking, etc)... by hopping on, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage when the horse decides to bolt/buck/jump/whatever its bad behavior is. Lunging is a tool you can use to build a better relationship with your horse, you aren't supposed to just put the horse on the end of a rope and run it ragged, lol. The point is to get the horse's attention (gently), and make sure it is tuned in to what you are asking it by requesting gait changes, etc. If you work enough with your horse, staying in a tight little circle is not necessary... my horse has learned to respect the lunge whip/my body language and pretty much goes where I point him - down the rail, or otherwise.

However, I suppose if all you've ever witnessed a person doing while "lunging" the horse is running it ragged and letting it "get the bucks out", or whatever else, I can see why you'd consider it getting "the crazy out", haha. There is definitely a difference!

My horse used to be very spooky. He still has a strong natural "flight" tendency, but through lunging exercises and riding exercises focused on getting/keeping his attention on me, the rider, his "spookiness" has decreased by approximately 85%, if not more.

Anyhow - I responded directly to the lunging statement because I was going to suggest lots of time doing groundwork, including lunging. I'd question the competence of an instructor who thinks it is okay to use a "spooky" horse routinely in lessons, unless all the students being taught with her are experienced and learning problem solving skills... which, if they were, the horse wouldn't be so spooky anymore? Hmmm... probably a good thing she's found a new home.
     
    01-10-2013, 12:41 AM
  #16
Trained
SH, I know that about lunging, that's why I said I'm not a big fan of doing it for "getting the crazy out." It's supposed to be a training tool, not a "ooh my horse is crazy, instead of training it, I'm going to run it around in circles and let it buck for 30 mins before I ride" thing.

Like I said I do it rarely, generally when Soda is being a major ass and will not pay attention in the saddle for a couple rides. Again, I am by no means a lunging expert, so it's not something I do often.

Thanks for answering my question Anabel, I've read some on it, not a ton.. Most of what I've read seems to be talking about constant lunging or doing it for extended periods of time. Though in hindsight, it's probably just as damaging to lunge a horse for 10 minutes when they're bucking around like idiots then it is to do regularly when they're relatively calm.
     

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