Suddenly spooky? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 01-08-2012, 09:56 AM Thread Starter
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Suddenly spooky?

I've had Lucky since July. Before this week he has spooked twice. Both times it was very minor. His body sort of went to full alert and he took one tiny step sideways. Tiny little spooks.

This week he has been spooking at all sorts of things he's seen dozens of times. And not minor spooks. All four feet leave the ground as he jumps away then spins on his haunches and bolts. When I was leading him back to the pasture yesterday his head was way in the air and his eyes were wide so I could see the whites and rolling. We've walked through the barn hundreds of times. There have been no changes to the barn.

He is spooking both under saddle and when being lead. When he does it, I one rein stop him when riding, turn him around and make him go past whatever the object is without making a fuss so this isn't getting him out of work.

I just don't understand the sudden behavior change? People always compliment Lucky on being so sane and quiet. Why is this happening all of a sudden? Any ideas?
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post #2 of 19 Old 01-08-2012, 06:19 PM
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I've heard that some horses tend to get spookier in the winter months versus the summer. - as to why? I have no clue. My guy has suddenly started to act spooky as well ever since it has gotten colder outside. Hopefully you figure it out!


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post #3 of 19 Old 01-09-2012, 01:32 AM
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My normally unspookable horse has been quite jumpy lately. I am thinking it is the winter months that does it like Cowgirl said.

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post #4 of 19 Old 01-09-2012, 02:37 AM
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I would agree with the above or looking at him maybe having an eye issue like partial blindness that is making it harder for him to see things which is therefor scaring him... just a thought.

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post #5 of 19 Old 01-09-2012, 03:45 AM
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This sometimes happens in autumns/winters, when the feed changes from grass to hay, to horses who lack magnesium in their system. That was the case with my boy.

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post #6 of 19 Old 01-09-2012, 10:11 AM
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I agree with BarrelracingArabian, have his eyes checked.
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post #7 of 19 Old 01-09-2012, 10:36 AM
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Spooking is rarely caused by eye problems. Wind, especially gusty wind will put a horse on high alert because his senses are on overload. He is picking up smells and sounds that can originate quite a distance away but he's not sure how far and he's not taking any chances. Also turning to the horse and petting it after even the smallest spook is seen as a reward which in time will escalate. When walking the horse give him about 3' of lead so he doesn't bump you with his shoulder, focus on a point about a hundred yards away and keep walking. If he spooks, ignore it and keep walking. But don't try this when quite windy.
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post #8 of 19 Old 01-09-2012, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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I am afraid I am inadvertantly rewarding the behavior causing it to get worse. I don't pet or baby him when it happens. I try to basically ignore it and make him do what he was supposed to in the first place. But I'm afraid I'm not seeing a reward on my part somehow.

The vets coming out in a few weeks to do his teeth and ill have him checked over then just in case its a physical issue.

Thanks for the suggestions!
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post #9 of 19 Old 01-09-2012, 01:30 PM
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My mare has been quite spooky (small spooks) the past few weeks as well, whenever it gets very cold and theres a bit of wind you would swear theres a horse eating boogy monster coming to get her lmao! I continue doing whatever I was doing before she spooked, basically I ignore it, and it has never escalated to more then an "OMGHESCOMINGTOGETME" sidestep spook
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post #10 of 19 Old 01-09-2012, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dresden View Post
I am afraid I am inadvertantly rewarding the behavior causing it to get worse. I don't pet or baby him when it happens. I try to basically ignore it and make him do what he was supposed to in the first place. But I'm afraid I'm not seeing a reward on my part somehow.

The vets coming out in a few weeks to do his teeth and ill have him checked over then just in case its a physical issue.

Thanks for the suggestions!
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Spooking is not a vice or bad behavior. It is due to fear or uncertainty. You cannot alter that particular behavior by either positive or negative reinforcement, so you are not rewarding the spook by calming him...in fact, by calming and reassuring him, you are contributing to removing the fear of whatever sound or smell is bothering him...
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