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Frightened Horse - best way to overcome fear?

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    12-14-2013, 08:15 PM
Originally Posted by Zexious    
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.
lol the horse is checking out the new lambs (a month or two old here). The one on the left that you can half see is a larger adult. They are Shetlands, one of the smallest breeds, and they are pretty cute if I say so myself :) and friendly- (the one in my sister's lap is sleeping in that position... he has his head stretched down on the other side lol)

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    12-15-2013, 07:10 PM
Super Moderator
I don't think the horse was actually frightened by the dog collar but was using it as a good excuse to have a high tail around the field had she been truly frightened then she would have gone to the furthest point away from the dog and stood and watched.
She will become frightened of the dog, collar or not, if you think she will be - they have an uncanny way of reacting to your thoughts!

Just take the dog out with you and ignore her behaviour.

As an aside, better than the Elizabethan collars is to get a child's swimming arm band and use that inflated, around the dog's neck. Works just the same without restricting its vision.
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    12-15-2013, 07:45 PM
Excellent post Foxhunter.
    12-15-2013, 08:19 PM
Make her face her fears!
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    12-17-2013, 01:05 AM
What a great idea re the arm band, might be time now, she has just learnt to use the collar as a weapon lol. My horse is getting a lot better now with exposure - but, you know what she is a bit of a drama queen, initially she did go to the far end of the paddock but kept on coming back up for 'looks' of course she got attention !
    12-17-2013, 01:12 AM
Our dogs haven't been around horses at all so they are only allowed on the otherside of the fence. Have known my horse for 6 months or so (learnt to ride on her ) but only had her on the property for about 5 weeks so am a bit unsure on how fast to take things. Just want the dogs and horse to be safe. Luckily she is used to sheep and cattle, oh and your wee sheep look gorgeous :)
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    12-17-2013, 01:20 AM
I would get a helper and have someone hold the horse and someone hold the dog and introduce them (without the collar for now!) No reason not to introduce them, just make sure to keep them separate unless you are right there until you are sure they are ok together.
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    12-19-2013, 11:46 AM
Some good replies here! I'll just add this. A horse has the capacity to get used to about anything that scares him so long as that scary thing doesn't cause him pain and that his fear isn't amplified by your own. All horses spook at times, but look at it as an opportunity to build upon your relationship! He will follow your lead if you're not scared when HE gets scared. Of perhaps greater importance than your reaction to the thing that scares him is your response to his fear. Anything you make a big deal of, he also will but if you can remain cool when he jumps and snorts then pretty soon he'll believe you and settle down too. I don't think of trying to make him get used to it, nor do I try to make him ignore it. Both of those things hold the possibility of adding more fuel to the fire, though both are popular approaches. Instead, I simply acknowledge the fear, take appropriate action to control the situation if necessary, and then let it go so that my horse can too. :)
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    12-19-2013, 08:50 PM
Originally Posted by Pastures Green    
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 :)
I guess I'll be the odd man out with a slightly different approach.

Since you say your horse is stable and not prone to spooking readily I would suggest having the dog (in collar) freely walking around outside a paddock. You be with the horse (halter and lead). Feeding times are good since the horse will be focused on getting fed instead of just the dog (and as suggested, actually feeding can be useful with this too). Talk with the horse to calm it (it's not what you say, unless you've taught it words for being calm - they can be taught words-, as much as it's your tone). When it settles down in the presence of the dog give it praise (you can even wait until it shows even a slight calming response before feeding...they'll equate that to a reward). You're also there with the horse being calm and not focused on the dog (which translates to the dog not being a problem and not mattering). Be the "lead". If the leader doesn't worry about it then the herd tends not to either.
Doesn't always work easily with all horses though. Sometimes the horse sees themselves as the lead or at least on par with you. Then they are less concerned with how you react and more focused on what they feel the risk is. In those cases you're being calm does not always translate as not being a threat to them.

At any rate. Whether you're with the horse or the dog, as has already been pointed out, exposure and time should help the situation.
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    12-20-2013, 09:33 PM
Super Moderator
Horses get brave very quickly if they follow the fearful thing.

Have your husband lead the dog and you lead the horse behind him and the dog. Do this at a distance that is comfortable to the horse. This works very well with cattle, 4 wheelers, motorcycles, etc. Do not let the dog face the horse or take even one step toward the horse. Just keep following the dog and then put them both away. Do this 2 or 3 times, following closer each time. You should see a great deal of difference in the horse's attitude if you do not force the horse and let it decide it is OK.
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