Well i ended up in the emergency room!! advice on spooking please? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 11-29-2012, 10:59 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Well i ended up in the emergency room!! advice on spooking please?

Well i went riding yesterday. I decided to take cloud out by the ditch to help him over come his spooking. THAT WAS A BAD IDEA! Here's what happened..

My fiance got cloud 3 maybe 4 weeks ago. we have been working on his spooking. Well hes been doing real good until i took him off by the ditch bank.

We were walking down the trail and he noticed a few cranes sitting there in the field along with some cows. He got alert right away he would not turn around or listen to my commands AT ALL. Then all of a sudden i started to feel him shake beneath me! The cranes started to make noise and made him shake more then they took off at that moment i realized oh shoot he is gonna freak out and run. as soon as i thought that i was right he did a 180 and booked it down the trail with me on him. at that moment my foot slipped out of the stir up and i was holding onto him by his main and saddle horn trying to get back up on the saddle. while yelling whoa and pulling the reins. he wouldnt stop. i slipped off and ended up falling forward landing on my head.

ALL i remember is landing on my head rolled on my back ( did a summer salt ) and seeing clouds belly and hoofs going over my face and then i was face flat onto the ground. My friend was with me walking next to him when this happened before he spooked. i sat up and yelled to cloud whoa and told her to go grab him and keep yelling whoa. he did stop about 40-50 feet away from where i landed. I went to stand up and ended up falling straight down again. once i got my balance i got back on him had her lead me back to the barn and i couldnt ride him far i got dizzy. well after that i took the saddle off and washed him brushed him and put him up. he wasn't scared after i got him or anything and i wasnt mad at him just dazed.

ANYWAY an hour after that happened my friend drove me to the emergency room and they said i had a minor concussion and my muscles got twisted in my neck. no horse back riding for a week. UGH

no negative things please if you comment but i have a question!

Can anyone give me as much advice on how to help him with spooking?! he is such a scardy cat. dogs scare him. birds scare him. leafs blowing in the wind scare him. someone help with advice please.
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post #2 of 21 Old 11-29-2012, 11:26 PM
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My colt acts similar, though I've been able to control him and he hasn't bolted, he gets spooky then is just a trembling mess. His problem tends to be inanimate objects. All I can really offer is, hope ya ain't too sore too long. My training is just more exposure and miles. Is cloud stalled? Maybe you have a pasture that'll give him more exposer to the world outside the farm? So he could get over stuff on his own time. Oh yeah, my colts newest terror is people in full camo. One guy hunts in a tree a few hundred yards off the back of the pasture, so he walks past them on the way there. Holy crap that geeks him out! He won't let the other horses in the back half of pasture till the guy leaves! And apperently stands and watches the guy while he's there.
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post #3 of 21 Old 11-29-2012, 11:38 PM
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Sounds like he's totally out of his comfort zone and doesn't know you well enough to trust your lead. I would suggest doing some ground work with him to gain his trust. Second thing is don't ride him out by himself again, get a friend with an experienced horse to lead you on out. Alternately, if your horse is good go ahead and pony him around off your horse to gain experience out in the big, scary world.
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post #4 of 21 Old 11-29-2012, 11:42 PM
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Get a trainer to flag him out. Essentially they scare the bejesus out of them until this stop moving. Eventually horses learn standing still will make the scary thing go away. I'm not expert in this but the theory sounds pretty right to me and I've had a friend do it with much success.

Try to build his confidence with small things, like balls and other things. Building to tarps and other "scary" things. The more "scary" the things you add to his "vocabulary" the less likely he will be to find things scary.

Also, he probably has no trust in you. He doesn't know you really from a hole in the wall. He is just doing whatever it takes for him not to become crane chow! Lol. You can work him from the ground to establish some kind of respect and trust and make him think your the herd leader.

Lastly you can be proactive about the spooks. I have been training a spook and spin-er and it took a few falls and several close calls but I now know she likes to spin left, anything that is going to catch her off guard is going to set her off and he head will pop right before she does it. Our turning point was when she went to go spin and I caught her and whipped her with the end of the reins until she passed the scary thing. I NEVER want her to think turning around is an option. She while she has done the slightly more acceptable leap a step forward/sideways she has yet to spin on me since the end of June. And she was a CHRONIC spinner. The other thing I did with her was put a solid whoa on her. As soon as I say the word and step into my stirrups she stops immediately. She has even slid a few times, she has gotten pretty good at it. We practice that whenever, where ever. Whoa means whoa, period.
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post #5 of 21 Old 11-29-2012, 11:54 PM
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One rein stop and make the horse think. I've gotten particularly good at this over the years with babies. As soon as you feel the horse tense, bend his nose to the inside and figure eight at the trot, pushing him into that trot, working hard, aggressively, make him work. It becomes harder to work by the scary thing than to be scared of it. Do NOT let him get his nose straight. If the horse's neck isn't bent he can brace and run off with you. He can't go as far if his nose is to your boot and you're making him go somewhere else.
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Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #6 of 21 Old 11-29-2012, 11:55 PM
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On that note I have pretty nicely trained horses but every single one of them will at least get slightly startled by cranes, even my old gelding who has had a million trail miles still tenses at birds flying out of the bushes.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #7 of 21 Old 11-30-2012, 12:19 AM
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So, in this instance, as soon as the horses head went up and he started to shake, I would have disengaged his hindquarters ( pulled one rein around to get control of the head while pushing the hindquarter on the same side around to get those hind feet crossing over one another), and in this instance, since he was obviously not in control at all, I would have hopped off while he was circling, and then attempted to either get his attention on the ground by doing some ground work, walk him away from the situation, or, worst case scenario, let him go (hey, sometimes it's them or you and you gotta choose your safety).

Now, if your horse would not disengage and respond to the one rein pull and move those hineys, he is not ready to be ridden out in the open yet, and you need to go back to an enclosed enviornment and teach him to give all five body parts ( head, neck, shoulders, middle, hineys) whenever he is asked. It should be so automatic to give his head laterally that no matter how scared he is, he will do it.

That is also the basis of the one rein stop mentioned by another poster, a way to stop a runaway by pulling the head around. Unfortunately, in most cases, you've got to get that head around within the first few seconds of trouble, once the horse takes off, you will need a large amount of open space to circle them down with one rein, and we don't always have that luxury out on the trail. Additionally, it takes some nerve and experience to circle down a terrified horse running at top speed. Though it does work well, and I have done it, you need to be secure in the saddle, very calm, and brace one hand on the horn or pommel and have the other bringing the horse in a circle. As he gradually slows speed, make the circle tighter and tighter, speaking soothingly to him the whole time. He will eventually run out of steam. You will then want to fling yourself off him and find the nearest alcohol source for yourself.

It sound to me overall like both you and this horse need to go back to the safety basics before you try to get him past spooking......he *will* spook again, and whether it is a big or small one, you need to be prepared to get him back under control immediately and instinctively, and that only comes with practice. Good luck to you, and be safe
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post #8 of 21 Old 11-30-2012, 01:59 AM
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Sorry for your mishap with your horse, I'm sure that would be scarey!
What I would suggest is do ground work with him and gain his trust and you as his leader.
I have a mare that is 10 now, I got her at 3 with 30 days of riding, she spooked at everything! You cough, sneezed, moved your arm quick she was ready to take flight. I worked with her in a round pen doing alot of desensitizing with her for a good month. I would have gotten off right away when he started spinning on you and try to get his attention on the ground. I also play sound effects in the spring, the winters it's too quiet here so they get too comfortable with it and when spring hits and all the kids/dogs/cats are outside they get jumpy. Clinton Anderson has some great conditioning CDs on his site with every sound imaginable and that sure helps. The biggest thing when they start getting panicky like that is not to panic yourself, one of the hardest things to do! Try and get their attention on you and if you can't from the saddle, dismount and try from the ground......safety first!
Good luck and keep us posted on how it goes....
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post #9 of 21 Old 11-30-2012, 11:33 PM
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Has anyone sacked him out (maybe what some people would call flagging)?

If done properly, it builds the horse's confidence, and teaches him to slow down/stop, think, and pay attention to you when he's in an uncomfortable situation. Important part of ground training. You don't actually want to scare the horse, though.

There are a few different ways to do it. Some require a really good sense of timing, but probably the easiest way is to lead the horse while carrying the scary thing in front of you and the horse. Horses are naturally curious, and since the horse is following the scary thing, it doesn't seem like a predator (make sure you don't make the horse think the thing is chasing him). This should help the horse build confidence.

I usually start out with a plastic grocery bag tied to a stick, but you can use whatever you want. I don't think this will totally solve your problem, but it should help.

After I've done this excercise with my young horses, I usually do a few other things, but it's hard to explain how to do so in writing. If you know a really experience horseperson who could show you how to do some stuff hands-on, that would probably be best. With the other exercises, if your timing is off or you don't know what you're doing, you could end up reinforcing the horse's flight instinct.
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post #10 of 21 Old 12-01-2012, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Nmgirl View Post

Can anyone give me as much advice on how to help him with spooking?! he is such a scardy cat. dogs scare him. birds scare him. leafs blowing in the wind scare him. someone help with advice please.
I personally do not think you can teach a horse to not be scared. What you can teach them is how to better manage the fear which eventually helps them build up their confidence which in turn...helps prevent spooking!

Originally Posted by Nmgirl View Post
We were walking down the trail and he noticed a few cranes sitting there in the field along with some cows. He got alert right away he would not turn around or listen to my commands AT ALL. Then all of a sudden i started to feel him shake beneath me! The cranes started to make noise and made him shake more then they took off at that moment i realized oh shoot he is gonna freak out and run. as soon as i thought that i was right he did a 180 and booked it down the trail with me on him.
I'm very familiar with this situation. There isn't much less fun than sitting on a rock hard quivering body that stands 4' above the ground and weighs 1100lbs and has zero interest in your input. To manage this successfully, you have to keep your cool and stay a step ahead. You also have to work this problem backwards. (hope you're comfy cuz here comes a book)

Okay, when you got to the shaking, not listening horse, he was already past his threshold. All that was left was the spin and bolt. Once they are shaking like that, they're only interested in leaving. What do you do? I'll give you a hint. You control those 1100lbs, not him. If you have someone who knows the one rein stop at your barn, have them show it to you. I'm not talking about the pulley rein. It's the one rein stop, hind end disengagement, used to prevent the bolt in the first place. For open space riding, this is by far the most handy tool you will ever have in your rider toolbox. Learn it, teach it to your horse at W/T/C in the safety of a fenced ring. Once your horse understands that you can stop him 100% of the time, it will translate into open field riding. If you had that tool with you when your horse started shaking, all that would have happened was the spin (which you sat out successfully) and then you would have taken his engine away and he'd still be standing there facing the monsters.

So now you're saying, what the heck good does that do me? He's still shaking and just going to try to bolt again. Sure he might try again. Most likely he will. But you will sit out the spin again, maybe even prevent that too the second time and prevent a second bolt. After a few times of trying, he might calm down and proceed on with his ride. If not, use your tools to slowly bring him away from the monsters. Once you get a safe distance from the monsters, he should calm down. At that point throw a big party and praise him for coming back to his senses. Let him know he's the man and can handle those monsters. Then start testing the waters again. Bring him as close as you can without him getting to the shaking point and take him away on your terms. Any time he even thinks about bolting, shut him down.

Okay, here's the good part. You've now done this a few times with him, prevented bolts and stayed on. He's probably thinking his rider feels more confident and in control up there. Maybe those monsters aren't so scary after all. At some point, you're going to take him to that same spot, and he's going to look at the monsters. You'll see him put one ear back on you asking for guidance. You will calmly ask him to move on...and he will!

How do I know all this? When I said I was very familiar with that situation, it's because my horse used to be petrified of wildlife. We're talking rock hard, shaking time bomb scared. He got himself so worked up in a field one day over a group of wild turkeys, it took us 30 minutes and a zillion one rein stops to get safely back down off the field. Two weeks ago, this same horse walked calmly past another group of wild turkeys, a few coyotes, and a deer. Where he used to just get rigid and panic, he now looks to me for guidance. As long as I am there for him to provide and answer for what to do, he's fine.

Hope this all helps.
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