Frightened Horse - best way to overcome fear? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 12-13-2013, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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Frightened Horse - best way to overcome fear?

Hi all you great and knowledgable people out there :)
I have a wee problem with an unexpected reaction. My girl is 6 years old and is pretty steady, can be obstinate etc but doesn't tend to scare easily. However one of our dogs has had to have an Elizabethan collar put on to stop her from pulling out a drain in her chest. My horse totally freaked when she saw her. Tail raised, snorting, galloping around, coming back to fence and starting all over again. Her nostrils are as big as saucers and she is way out of her comfort zone. This morning I took our dog past her paddock as I feel she needs to get used to this (what would happen if I was riding her on the road and a dog popped up with one of these on) but being new to the horse world not sure how fast I should move with this. This morning she was just the same. What is the best way to train and familiarise your horse with something that obviously scares the half to death ? My thoughts were to simply keep taking the dog by the paddock until she realises there is no threat, but what if she doesn't? Any and all advice would be appreciated :)
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post #2 of 28 Old 12-13-2013, 05:12 PM
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Just do what you're doing, take your dog around your mare everyday. Don't make a big deal of it or bring any special attention to it. Horses are comfortable with what they know and hate change/new things. After 3 or 4 days, they're usually much better.

On the sixth day, God created the Quarter Horse.
On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
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post #3 of 28 Old 12-13-2013, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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Frightened. Horse

Thanks PaintHorseMares, much appreciated, will carry on. Cheers :)
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post #4 of 28 Old 12-13-2013, 06:00 PM
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If you have a friend who could hold the dog on a leash, you could, if you feel safe, walk her past him with you between her and the dog. That way if she spooks, it should be away from him AND away from you. Don't put her between you and the dog or she might spook away from him and right on top of you.
Give her lots, LOTS of room--in other words you & she to be quite a distance from the dog the first time you walk past him. You be matter of fact, ho-hum--what dog? no big deal, keeping your focus forward to the point you are walking to.
If she handles that calmly, then rinse and repeat , but a bit closer. If she seems nervous or upset, then increase the distance untill she can relax as you walk past. After however many passes it takes (she is the one who decides), you and she will finally get close enough for her to be calm and even curious close to the dog. When she shows calm curiosity, she has probably conquered her fear of the horse-eating dog.

Just wanted to throw out another option,,if you have the time and a helper.
Be safe!
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post #5 of 28 Old 12-13-2013, 07:57 PM
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Do not feed her. Put hay by fence, and let her out to eat it and then walk dog by several times.

Belly will overcome OMG every time.
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post #6 of 28 Old 12-13-2013, 10:46 PM
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If you could have someone watch the dog for a few minutes I'd take the collar off, let your mare smell it, rub it on her, and then when she figured out it was no big deal have her watch while you put it back on the dog.
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post #7 of 28 Old 12-13-2013, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone, will try taking the collar off the dog - didn't even cross my mind to do that. My help is hubbie who is a bit nervous of my big beautiful girl so not a good mix. She was a wee bit better this afternoon when we passed the paddock, but freaked out again when we stopped, in fact she galloped around and then went and hid behind some long grass and was peeping over the top ! Back to strolling for now. It all kicked off last night when I was feeding her her favourite food which she refused to come back for so I may try restricting her food once I have had her sniff the collar. Thanks again, really don't want to get it wrong
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post #8 of 28 Old 12-14-2013, 02:06 AM
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I would get her used to the collar on the dog too. Moving collars are scarier, looks like a weird alien dog.

You can imagine the first time my horses saw this:

adults in full fleece bouncing through the snow (and yes they are as tiny as they look, horse is maybe 14.2.. they really do bounce!)

As you can see with the sheep right there they have gotten very used to them, and we even put them out together sometimes (nasty horse tries to eat them if they get too close but everyone else gets along great)

My dog had a cone for several months. He is used to tagging along and being underfoot (literally, he stands under them). While non of the horses were afraid of the cone with the two that were up there same nasty horse really went after him and very sweet clueless horse was VERY curious. I removed him so he wouldn't get hurt, even by the curious one accidently. There is hope :)
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post #9 of 28 Old 12-14-2013, 08:22 AM
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I would take the dog into the pasture with me and offer the horse a little grain or carrots. When a horse lowers it's head to eat it relaxes. It also senses if you're not concerned about the dog then it's ok. Just carry on as usual.
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post #10 of 28 Old 12-14-2013, 10:56 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
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Sorry to be off topic, but... Yogiwick, are those sheep things full grown? o.O So cute...

Best of luck with the frightened horse, OP! Sounds like you're getting some pretty solid advice.

The sensitivity of the internet baffles me.
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