AHHH!! Cows!!

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AHHH!! Cows!!

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  • Horse ahhh
  • First exposure of a horse to cows

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    08-01-2011, 04:55 PM
Question AHHH!! Cows!!

I ride a pony who is petrified of cows. She will run sideways across the road and shake then try to spin and run home. This can be very dangerous as there are many cars
How can I un-petriefy her and how do I get her to pass the cows??
Thank you,
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    08-01-2011, 05:01 PM
Are you close to the cows? Our horses' pasture was right beside a big cow pasture (used to be, no cows anymore). Some of the horses look kind of bug-eyed the first day they see them, but they soon get used to them. I suppose the same thing could be achieved with tying a horse near them, or outside a cattle field and leaving it until it settles, but I'd be careful to tie safely. If you can't, just keep riding by them as much as you can. It's scary at first and she'll want to run away, but exposure is the best thing you can do.

If she runs sideways away from them, put your leg on and keep her in place. I have found that leg yielding them towards what they're scared of when they try to bulge, but not letting them turn and face/look at it, helps in a lot of situations.
    08-01-2011, 08:48 PM
Yeah, my guys is petrified of cows too. All you can really do is just keep exposing her to the cows. After awhile, she'll start to understand they aren't there to kill her. Just keep her facing them to some degree while she passes them. If you let her circle or turn her butt to them, in her mind, she's already succeeded in running away from them. Sounds like you're handling it very well.
    08-02-2011, 01:26 PM
The cows are just down the rode from us- not next to her field
Thanks for all the tips- I will try them and give you feedback!
    08-02-2011, 01:58 PM
Green Broke
Yup, just keep exposing her to them. But don't force her all at once. Take gradual steps.

Let's say she is comfortable walking by the cows if she is 300 feet from them. But she is uncomfortable and freaking out if she is 299 feet from them. Don't ask her to face the cow per se, but ask her to do manuevars that move her back and forth between her comfort "safe" zone that the zone where she is too close to the cows (from her viewpoint). Ask her to do walk/trot transitions, backing up, sidepassing, rollbacks, etc. Just anything to keep her focusing on YOU and doing what you are asking her to do.

Pretty soon she'll be walking comfortably when she is 299 feet from the cows because you've kept her mind busy on you and not the cows. Then start working at 298 feet close, the same thing.

Also, focus more at walking past the cows, rather than straight at them. I find this works best for most anything a horse is scared of. By asking them to just walk past the thing in question (and making them do manuevars as you go) it takes their attention off the scary object or scary cow and before you know it, they are walking right by it back and forth and then the horse realizes that there's nothing to be scared of too, now that they are that close and nothing has happened.

It will just take time. Go easy with her and just keep her in between that comfort zone and the " i'm freaking out" zone. And keep her focused and listening to you the whole time.
    08-02-2011, 03:25 PM
I am not suggestion doing this but have to share...

My friend was attending a clinic for cutting. Her QH was terrified of the cows! Blowing hot air and all. So the clinician told her to get off and he took the horse and turned her out in a pen with some cows. She ran around for about 2 minutes, stopped, took a breathe and was fine ever since with cows. My friend got back on her horse and continued with the clinic like nothing happened.

I also knew a horse that would be scared of paints/pintos because they looked like cows. He was a TB by the way.

Cows can look scary especially when the are all grouped together in one big mass. If your horse is not familar with their smell they can be intimidating. I would take your time and not push your horse.
    08-02-2011, 03:34 PM
I agree with the exposure thing but if they are close by why not lead her down the road to them and walk her past them until she is comfortable with them. You'll have much better control on the ground and it's safer for both of your rather than trying to keep your horse from bolting out in front of traffic from on top of her. That's what I did with mine when he was afraid of bridges, just give her a good long look at them and let her become comfortable around them.
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    08-02-2011, 03:41 PM
Originally Posted by wetrain17    
I am not suggestion doing this but have to share...

My friend was attending a clinic for cutting. Her QH was terrified of the cows! Blowing hot air and all. So the clinician told her to get off and he took the horse and turned her out in a pen with some cows. She ran around for about 2 minutes, stopped, took a breathe and was fine ever since with cows. My friend got back on her horse and continued with the clinic like nothing happened.


I would do this. Not so that the horse is swamped in the middle of a massive herd but if you know the guy who has the cattle I would perhaps speak to him and see if he has a spare field you could move say two or three cows into and turn your horse loose. Once he is fine with them I would ride him in the field with the cows and then progress onto the roads. Roads are dangerous enough at the best of times you don't need your horse spinning and bolting for home in the middle of traffic. I actually have done this with a few of my horses. We are on a farm so they have to get use to all livestock including chickens and machinery and now all my horses live happily in a field with sheep, cows, chickens, and a goat. If you don't know the guy then just do small steps as mentioned above. Good luck!
    08-02-2011, 03:53 PM
I have to say that I would do it with my horse to. But we know the dangers of a scared horse in a field can be. I just don't want her to try something I mentioned and have her horse get hurt because of it.
    08-02-2011, 04:27 PM
Brill thank you everyone
Yeah I can't turn her out with the cows because the farmer would shoot her so ill take the small steps
Thank you!!

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