He spooks a lot. Mostly at a bush in the corner of the outdoor rings, actually, that's virtually the only thing that spooks him. I've gone by it nearly 200 times, rain shine, wind and no wind. And he is absolutely terrified of it, on random occasions. And oddly enough, only to the left! On some days, he will walk, trot, and canter by it like it's nothing at all. On random days however, for no reason unbeknown to me, he will just turn into a bomb about it. He will approach it with his head up in the air, back rigid, ears pricked. I will sit quiet in the saddle, half halt, talk to him, nothing will bring him down to earth. I'm not tense or nervous as he does this, I keep a perfectly calm disposition as he works himself up over nothing. I will walk him by it over and over, circle him by it, trot him and canter him by it, and he'll grow less rigid.
But then, out of nowhere about half-way to 3/4 of the way to the ride, he'll shy away from it, and then take a sharp turn and BOLT. I can usually collect him and bring him back before he reaches the center of the ring, and I keep my seat fairly well throughout this. I will then proceed to circle him and work him till he's exhausted by the bush as a punishment for bolting.
Here was the scenario yesterday:
I took him down to the ring, where two other horses were already being ridden. He does not mind other horses and actually feels more relaxed with their company. Seeing the other horses were riding to the right I decided to start him off to the right with them. There is a three day horse trial going on tomorrow so giant tents, taped fencing, signs and such are up all over the place, stuff he is familiar too. To add to that the wind was gusting so the tents were flapping. I rode him cautiously by the new equipment as it gusted in the breeze and he kept his head down by all the tents and such like they were no big deal. I walked him perfectly find to the right by all the commotion and the bush and then changed directions and tracked left, where he immediately through his head up and hollowed his back. At first he popped his shoulder from the bush and as a punishment for it I spun him in a circle and kept him on a small circle by the bush for a good 5 minutes. When he gave in to what I was asking I made the circle bigger and picked up the trot. As I trotted him by the tree he fell really hard on his front end, and thinking he was tripping I sat back in the saddle to avoid going over his head. As he picked himself back up he launched himself into the air in one of the worst bucks I've ever experienced, and I came off. He proceeded to run down the hill and graze on the grass.
Someone nice caught him for me and offered to assist me on re-mounting and take him into the indoor ring and just walk, and I proceeded to do so. When I got off my trainer greeted me at the gate and offered to take him down there and kick his tush for me. She cranked on his mouth and smacked him repeatedly with the whip till he put his head down and went on the bit and walked quietly by the bush.
Now. I've got mixed feelings. My horse is notorious for bombing at random times, for unknown reasons. Always to the left. He explodes on me atleast once every two weeks, and has thrown me three times, seriously injuring me all three times. [Yesterday he jacked my old tailbone injury and gave me a concussion, the first time he gave me a concussion so bad I don't even remember what happened, and the other time he broke my hand.] I've gotten advice from a few people, The first one was my instructor, she is a very wise woman and has a knack for handling problem horses, never have I seen a horse submit so easily than with her, she is a very old woman as been riding forever.
She told me this:
Due to all the commotion [tents and such] he probably caught the tents coming from the bush and then spooked. I tried to explain that he didnt really mind the tents from other angles, but she was convinced otherwise. I also tried to explain to her that his violent spooking happens on other occasions no matter what the circumstances.
My mom says: He's a horse that spooks, and she has forbidden me to push him towards the bush if he feels tense towards it.
We're going to get him a soundness check from the vet, but it simply isn't going to be possible immediately. But my mom has told me I'm not allowed to make him go by the bush if he doesn't go willingly. Is this sane advice? She said because if I get another head injury I'm not going to be ok, but I don't think it's right to let him go where he wants.
I do take lessons on him, and so does my mom so he's in lessons a few times a week, sometimes my trainer will ride him. He gets 2 packets of smartpak calming supplements with his PM grain. He gets turned out daily in a paddock that does not have grass to graze. He gets ridden once a day atleast every day of the week besides Wednesday.
I'm at a lost, I'm riding a bomb every time I get on, but when he's good he'd an angel, I seriously want to event him but this unpredictability is so extreme. What can I do?