Can I bombproof my horse?

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Can I bombproof my horse?

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    06-01-2010, 10:51 PM
Can I bombproof my horse?

Hi everyone,

I have a 13 y/o TB/QTR horse. He is 16.1 and I am 50 y/o intermediate rider. When I inherited Indy from my son, he was dangerous, disrespectful, and spooky about everything. I bought Clinton Anderson videos and worked through all the groundwork and riding exercises. Indy is a new horse now. He is sweet as sugar and respectful and I love him. The problem is that he is still spooky about stupid stuff. He won't bolt for the barn or spook at a mailbox. But he will jump out of his skin at something that pops up. I just can't seem to control his reaction when it comes unexpectedly. I have fixed countless static fears that he had. Like fear of the hedge and fear of cross ties. For example, he stepped on a stick that made a snap sound and jumped vertically. I flew out of the saddle. My daughter and I were riding in our arena when my daughter (who was lying against her horse's neck) suddenly sat upright. Indy took about 4 steps sideways like he was cutting cattle. I fell off him. I am afraid that I will get hurt one of these days. I bought the book "Bombproof Your Horse" and I have been working through the excercises but I don't know that it will do any good. My wife wants him off the farm and he is for sale on for a $1000. I can't help but think I am making a big mistake selling him (especially for such a low price). Can he get so that he is really bombproof or will he forever spook at unexpected things that pop up? Thanks for reading my long post.
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    06-01-2010, 11:00 PM
Can you send him off for training? That way a more experienced person can help you work out his problems and teach you how to handle him and work through his spooks.
    06-01-2010, 11:51 PM
It sounds like you've made a ton of progress so far. I'd hate to see you quit now when it sounds like you only have one hurdle left, however big it might seem right now.

I saw a good show recently where Chris Cox took a very spooky horse out into the trails and had a friend jump out of the woods shaking a plastic tarp. The horse jumped out of his skin, but Chris just made the horse face the object while his friend kept shaking the tarp until the horse stopped reacting to it. His only rules were never pull on both reins at the same time and keep the horse facing the scary object. The horse can back up until last week, but he has to face the object. The logic was the horse will not necessarily become not afraid, but instead will learn the manage the fear better. I'm not suggesting trying this under saddle the first time unless of course you have a very solid seat, but maybe you could try similar exercises from the ground. Just make sure you have the helper person on the same side of the horse as you so he doesn't jump on you! Good luck.
    06-02-2010, 12:16 AM
Thanks Rici for your suggestion. My question is: is it possible to work this reaction out of Indy? Do you think it is possible? I am not offended that you recommend professional training. I am no authority on horse training. I have studied Clinton Anderson's techniques and have put them into practice and seen amazing results. I just can't get this last hurdle crossed. And this is a hurdle that needs to be crossed or I will cut my losses and move on to another horse.
My Boy: I have envisioned turning my arena into a "house of equine horrors" so scarey that Indy thinks anything he comes across is nothing in compared with what he has already experienced. But before I embark on this, I want someone to tell me that it will work or that it would work if it were done right. I have heard many people who know horses tell me that horses don't really change their level of spookiness and my vet today told me that "not every horse can become a police horse" meaning that not every horse can deal with the scarey situations that police horses are subject to. Can Indy change or will he forever cry "holy for cover, oh never mind, I guess it was nothing after all.
    06-02-2010, 12:30 AM
Not too sure where you are, but there is someone here in Ny who does mounted police clinics-you and the horse work together-usually in teams with more experinced horses, to work through a situation similar to your "arena houes of horrors" you talk about. It is called gentle Dove Farm, Joann Long is the instructor. I will say, hre horses are awesome, but have audited her clinics, and some horses who tend to be the more fearful ones, seem to have a very hard time with so many objects at once. It is very overwhelming for them, which makes the rider more nervous, and they certainly don't seem better by the end. Most do tho. Joann stresses baby steps and lots of praise and reinforcement. However much you try tho, there will always be the unforeseen, and IMO, if nothing else, it is valuable to know what your horse does when they spook so you can be a little more prepared. You just cannot prepare for every possible situation. I have a great "bombproof" guy who has done a lot, but will say- I had never opened a beer on his back and I was on the ground rather quickly! :))
    06-02-2010, 12:36 AM
Green Broke
I think it IS possible, but it will take time. I had a similar issue with a track quarter horse I sort of inherited years back. It took me about 2 or 3 years of working with her but she ended up so bomb proof that I was able to lease her to a 10 YO beginner rider.

Time and patience....... and lots of throwing stuff his way, letting him react.....and then making him face it and investigate if he wishes.
    06-02-2010, 12:38 AM
I am quite interested in what people have to say on this thread. My trainer told me that my horse will always have a somewhat spooky personality and I can never train it out of him. I can get him very responsive to cues so I can control him when he does spook, and be alert and have lots of exercises to do when he is nervous, but that he will always be somewhat of a scaredy cat. So, I am guessing it is somewhat in your horse's DNA.
    06-02-2010, 12:40 AM
Frank, that is too funny. Thanks for the encouraging words. I am in N. Virginia. I need to update my profile, etc. I am willing to do the baby steps if there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
    06-02-2010, 12:45 AM
I have heard myself saying that my TB/QTR cross has a TB brain. A very knowlegeable person told me once that my cross often ends up like my horse. It is rare to get the qtr horse brain from that cross.
    06-02-2010, 02:28 AM
There is certainly a light at the end of the tunnel. It may be a long, twisty tunnel, but you will get to an end. =]

Just take your time, be patient. I only suggest a trainer who can work WITH you [not the "ship your horse off for 60 days" kind] because once you get the basics and can figure out the best way to work with Indy, you'll be able to apply the same techniques if anything comes up.

I would suggest a Tie-Blocker Ring. You can Google it, I'm much too lazy to do it for you [=P]. It's basically a loop you run a really long rope through, and you introduce "scary" things. Your horse will run backwards and you feed him rope until he stops, and then reel him back in. Then you repeat again and again and again. There are some pretty neat videos on YouTube of it in use.

I'm going to tell you what I do with my horses, but you have to keep in mind that my horses aren't actually scared of it, they just act up a bit and will fake a spook at something because they find if highly amusing. When they are just looking, I just let them look for a minute, and then move on. When they are actively "afraid" [balking, moving away, etc.] I will NOT let them retreat. I am Alpha, I will not make them go anywhere or around anything that would harm them. They know that, they just forget. =] Another thing to remember is my horses react pretty slowly. Only once has my mare "bolted" away from something quicker than I could react. Usually, I can catch them before they give a true "spook."

Best of luck!

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