Frozen Horse? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 40 Old 11-22-2009, 10:24 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
 
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Frozen Horse?

So yesterday I sat up on Piper. Everytime she comes to something she is not sure about she freezes. It takes forever to disengage her. My trainer was on the ground talking about she dislikes when horses go "wooden". Anyone have this happen and please tell me things turned out ok, lol? Any tips?
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post #2 of 40 Old 11-22-2009, 11:00 AM
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I have ridden some horses like that and I have found that the best way to deal with it is just to let them sit there and look at whatever they are frozen from. If they look at it long enough, they will realize that it isn't going to kill them. I usually urge a horse to go up to the thing that is so scary (providing that they aren't absolutely petrified of it) and have them sniff it. It will not be an immediate change but most of the time, they will start to unfreeze sooner and sooner until eventually, they don't freeze at all. I would always prefer a frozen horse over one who wheels and tries to bolt away from the scary object.

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post #3 of 40 Old 11-22-2009, 11:02 AM
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When I watch my horse in the paddock, she does the same thing...if she hears something in the distance, her head goes up and she freezes. Usually, after about 10 seconds or so, she'll take off running in the opposite direction of the noise. I think of it as kind of a "before flight" warning. Which in your case, at least she gives you enough time to be prepared. I would say like its akin to an adrenaline rush for us, different chemicals start being released (acetylcholine, etc) and motor synapses stop firing. People may mistakenly think that a "wooden horse" is just being an unwilling horse. However, when a horse freezes, it often holds it breath, and when we ask it to go forward, it will do so with a burst of built up energy and may buck. When a horse's head is high, it just makes it easier for all those chemicals to flow from the brain to the body, so I would concentrate on getting him/her to lower his head and begin to breathe before asking him to continue any work. I don't ride my horse just yet, but when she does this on the ground when I am leading her, I rub the underside of her neck and her legs and it usually encourages her to drop her head and distracts her. She responds really well to a couple of low drawn out eaaaaasssy's. Its like she hears that and knows it means slow down and relax. :)

You may also consider using those little ear puffs to block out any distant concurrent noise.

Last edited by Seahorseys; 11-22-2009 at 11:07 AM.
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post #4 of 40 Old 11-22-2009, 11:06 AM
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I agree with smrobs...Eve was doing this exact thing the other day in the paddock. The neighbor dug up a bunch of dirt and left piles of it, which WERE going to eat her. I let her stare at them every time we walked past for the first 6-7 laps, then started asking her to keep walking but still glance at it, now she's ok-ish but we still have some work to do. I'd rather take my time now and show her there's nothing to fear than make her accept it faster and have a possible bronc episode due to a bird flying up.

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post #5 of 40 Old 11-22-2009, 11:07 AM
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Just allow her to stand and look at it. You don't want to force her up to the thing that scares her, that will blow any trust she has in you. When she is relaxed, back her up a couple steps and ask her forward again.
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post #6 of 40 Old 11-22-2009, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips. My trainer had her on a lead and was bending her each way. We practiced one rein stops. But at the end she was still "frozen" and stiff. She did the same thing when I tried to get her to cross the bridge. She just stood with her legs planted. We got her to cross it and she'll do it now. I'll work on lowering her head. : )
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post #7 of 40 Old 11-22-2009, 11:18 AM
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The freezing is a classic example of a horse being introverted when it's scared. It just freezes to the spot. These kinds of horses need you to slow way, way, way, way down. If you don't, they will explode, it's just a matter of time. Do everything like you are on Valium and never push her past a threshold.
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post #8 of 40 Old 11-22-2009, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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That is what I figured. We've been working really slow with her. But some things (like picking up her hooves by touching the inside of her leg so you can pick them out or flexing her neck) she picks up super easily and other things (like me sitting on her or crossing the bridge) she just stands there. Heck she wasn't even afraid of the tarp that was flapping in the wind the other day.
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post #9 of 40 Old 11-22-2009, 11:50 AM
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Yeah, Daytona will do this sometimes. I just let her look at whatever she's looking at, but it helps when you ask them to do something.

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post #10 of 40 Old 11-22-2009, 01:43 PM
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Well, I was always taught that it was good for a horse to "freeze" at something they are not sure of, rather than buck, rear, or run aways. I teach my horses to stand still when they get scared because it makes them think about it instead of just running for dear life while putting YOUR life in danger also.

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