Horse afraid of cattle
How do I make him not be?
I live in a farming community. There's a field with cattle down the road from my house. The way my neighborhood is set up forces you to ride down the road passed the cows in order to get to the dirt roads, fields, and woods to ride. There's not another way to get there.
And my poor boy is absolutely terrified of them.
When he sees them he doesn't buck or rear or anything, but he starts sweating and he spins once or twice and once he just decided that he was done for the day, spun around and bolted for the barn.
I've worked with him to the point where he no longer bolts, but he still sweats and prances and veers to the way other side of the road and wants to just run by. He acts the same regardless of if another horse is there or not.
When the cows aren't in the pasture or are far enough away, he's fine. He looks at them like a champ and just marches right by, but heaven forbid they be by the road because then they're obviously a monster coming to eat him.
There aren't many cattle. Never more than 10. There's always a bull (kept separate most of the year), a few cows, and their calves. The cattle never pay him any attention, they always just eat.
What gets me is that he used to work with cattle. His old owner did rodeo stuff with him - barrels, flags, poles, and some team penning and cutting.
He was mostly a barrel horse, but he dabbled with the cattle.
So at one point in his 18 year life he was with cattle on a pretty regular basis. He was even kept with cattle at his old house.
Also, my father's slaughterhouse shares a driveway with our barn. My dad picks up deceased cattle on farms and processes them for the pet food industry. So he he sees cows -albeit dead ones- every day. The dead ones don't bother him. Just the live ones.
I've had him for nearly 4 years now and he's always been afraid of the cows.
Do you think something might have happened involving the cows and that's why he's afraid? Or do you think he's just using them as an excuse to be a knucklehead?
How do I get him over his fear?
Putting a cow in our pasture is not an option (Dad said).
Any other ideas?