Desensitizing my horse, to.. the wind?!
 
 

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Desensitizing my horse, to.. the wind?!

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  • Spooky horse in wind
  • Horse scared in wind

 
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    07-26-2010, 04:42 PM
  #1
Yearling
Desensitizing my horse, to.. the wind?!

I'm going to keep this as short as possible, I have a pretty spooky, 12 year old, Appendix QH who has been boarded at the barn I keep him at for nearly a year now. He used to be explosive with his spooks, but with time, patience, repetition, and some MAJOR help from my trainer [along with a nightly calming supplement] my horse hardly spooks at anything anymore, and when he does they're usually little jumps to the side, and on a rare occasion he'll run off the rail and crow hop.

I've gotten him to be calm around his biggest fears: The corner of the indoor arena, the big pine tree in the small outdoor arena, small children, sudden appearances of various things [people, tractors, dogs etc]

But I still have one issue with him: Wind! On any particular gusty day [such as today] My horse likes to pretend like the wind is blowing him away [lol, a funny way to put it] He used to completely bomb and gallop, and he's gotten SO much better with his reactions, but it is still difficult, and I only have issues in the lower dressage ring by the forest. The wind will pick up, and if we're approaching the A end [where the forest is] at any gait, he'll prick his head up and king of stop paying attention to me.

When this happens I hold him on my outside rein and keep his bend to the inside and give him a nudge to tell him to go forward, however he'll still kind of duck off the rail approaching the forest if it's windy, almost like the wind is blowing him away haha. I'll give him a kick with my inside leg to push him to the rail and correct him when he does this, but I'd like for him to calmly go where it's scary to begin with. He only acts this way when it's very windy out.

So how can I desensitize him to wind? I circled him around the area's he was giving trouble, but couldn't get him to relax, put his head down, or go through without a fight. Help?
     
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    07-26-2010, 05:15 PM
  #2
Banned
Leave him outside in the wind all day. It doesn't matter where, as long as it's fenced in and he can't hurt himself on anything. He'll soon figure out that the wind isn't going to hurt him, and he'll relax.
     
    07-26-2010, 05:18 PM
  #3
Yearling
He get's turned out for several hours a day in a large pasture, he was turned out for 4 hours before I got there, in the same gusting wind.
     
    07-26-2010, 06:20 PM
  #4
Yearling
I think you will find that a large majority of horses tend to be spooky in the wind. If you live in an area that is windy most of the time, then its just hours in the saddle. If windy days are on the rare side, the horse may never be completely at ease. Their whole environment looks, sounds, and smells different on windy days. Spooky stuff!
     
    07-26-2010, 06:27 PM
  #5
Yearling
At most we usually get a strong breeze, which my horse is ok with.

The barn owner planted these REALLY long grass plants next to the ring, when the wind blows they look like fingers trying to grab my horse xD and don't get me started on those trees! Haha. I guess it is kind of freaky outside when it's windy.
     
    07-26-2010, 07:36 PM
  #6
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skipsfirstspike    
I think you will find that a large majority of horses tend to be spooky in the wind. If you live in an area that is windy most of the time, then its just hours in the saddle. If windy days are on the rare side, the horse may never be completely at ease. Their whole environment looks, sounds, and smells different on windy days. Spooky stuff!
This is very true. When it is very windy, it affects all the senses of a horse....everything is moving around, and both sounds and smells carry a lot further. It is one of the most unsettling environments possible for a horse, and I know many instructors that do not hold beginner lessons on very windy days, even with seasoned lesson horses.
As Skipsforstspike said, lots of hours in the saddle.
     
    07-27-2010, 06:18 AM
  #7
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey4793    



But I still have one issue with him: Wind! On any particular gusty day [such as today] My horse likes to pretend like the wind is blowing him away [lol, a funny way to put it] He used to completely bomb and gallop, and he's gotten SO much better with his reactions, but it is still difficult, and I only have issues in the lower dressage ring by the forest. The wind will pick up, and if we're approaching the A end [where the forest is] at any gait, he'll prick his head up and king of stop paying attention to me.

When this happens I hold him on my outside rein and keep his bend to the inside and give him a nudge to tell him to go forward, however he'll still kind of duck off the rail approaching the forest if it's windy, almost like the wind is blowing him away haha. I'll give him a kick with my inside leg to push him to the rail and correct him when he does this, but I'd like for him to calmly go where it's scary to begin with. He only acts this way when it's very windy out.

So how can I desensitize him to wind? I circled him around the area's he was giving trouble, but couldn't get him to relax, put his head down, or go through without a fight. Help?
My trainer always told me that you have the rest of your life to ride, so why feel like you have to ride on a crappy windy day? Don't ride and do ground work or something "fun".

The reason why your horse is acting like this is because the wind lower is sense of hearing and smell; horses are prey animals and depend on these senses. And from what I've read your horse is a follower who is very reactive. You need to give him a leader, once he can trust you, he will follow you though a snow blizzard.

How will your horse go calmly the first time if it's scary to begin with? You can't think like that. If you want him to back on the rail where the forest is then you should start in the middle doing small circles. And slowly move him farther and farther out. Constantly keep him thinking about what you're going to do next. Horses who have time to think, are the ones who get themselves and riders in trouble.

I think from what I've read the horse would relax more if you were more of a leader. Don't get off of him until he is better going out then what he went in doing. But, if you're horse is CLEARLY scared of that rail, don't even put him on that side, work at the other side. All you will be doing is stressing you and your horse out.
     
    07-27-2010, 07:02 AM
  #8
Showing
^ I'll add to that by saying that it could be your anticipation of him that either starts the fear or increases it. Sometimes little subtle changes in your body, such as a muscle tightening or a shift in your weight, can signal to him that danger is approaching. If that happens enough times (or just once or twice), then he learns to anticipate it.

If you expect him to get spooky when it's windy, then he will. I've seen some nice, safe horses get spooky with their rider because the rider was spooked and the horse learned that behavior. Your horse needs to take his confidence from you but the older he is (meaning it's gone on longer), and the more ingrained the habit, the harder it is.
     
    07-27-2010, 07:07 AM
  #9
Yearling
On the note of him trusting me and seeing me as a leader, he will follow me ANYWHERE from the ground, in any weather, but as soon as I get on his back it's like he thinks I'm no longer there even though I keep contact with my reins and talk to him.

I try not to anticipate anything, I try to pretend that it isn't even windy, but maybe I'm doing it REALLY subconsciously? I'll have to work on relaxing myself inside and out.
     
    07-27-2010, 08:09 AM
  #10
Showing
On the ground is very different then in the saddle; if it were the same, then breaking a horse to ride would be very simple - just teach him from the ground. Some horses are naturally trusting but most need to have that trust developed. Time and Patience.
     

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