Incredibly spooky horse, very frustrating.

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Incredibly spooky horse, very frustrating.

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    10-18-2009, 11:16 AM
Incredibly spooky horse, very frustrating.

Hey, I believe I posted a thread on here before explaining about how my horse bucked me off. Well thankfully he has not done it again since, but there is one quirk about him that I have never been able to get him through, and it's probably one of the most frustrating things I have ever had to deal with.
My horse is a great horse, he has a quiet temperament, great ground manners and he does great ground work. When I first rode him I thought he was simply perfect, he's comfortable, has smooth easy gaits, jumps everything. He still is, but he has ALWAYS been incredibly spooky, and now it's just getting impossible to have a great ride with him.
It's mostly in the indoor ring where he is spooky, which is strange because most horses spook at outside elements.
The indoor ring is attached to the rest of the barn, and you enter a gate into the ring, on each end of the ring is a gate to lease the the outside, and then to giant sliding doors to allow light in. And on the left end of the ring (Where the mounting block is) He is incredibly tense, shy and spooky. Almost impossible to work with.
He is generally fine on the other end, though a little tense on the rare occasion that that sliding door is open, which is rarely.
But as we approach his "bad" end, he throws his head up, trys to pop his shoulder, points his head towards the door and attempts to pull off the rail.
Now I can make him (Though it's nearly impossible) point his head to the inside and go right into the corner going to the left, but he is incredibly tense in doing so, and if I go into a trot or canter, he gets less and less responsive and going to the right he will not put his head down and he gets so high strung. Now at his previous barn there was no indoor ring, so I could see how he wouldn't be used to it. But I've been riding him for months. And I know repetition is key but it doesn't appear to be working. No matter how relaxed I remain, he will get tense.I've tried endless amounts of walking him by it fully tacked, with just a halter and lead rope, making him stand at that end while I talk with him and he remains PERFECTLY relaxed but as soon as I'm on him, and even if I'm in a full state of relaxation, he tenses up and sometimes he even spooks. And once he gets tense and spooky he is impossible to relax, and it's incredibly frustrating. So I don't know what to do, he's a great ride outside for the most part, but winter is coming and outside is no longer and option. How do I break the nervousness for no reason?
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    10-18-2009, 11:28 AM
Have you tried working him on that end with a relaxed, buddy horse? My experience has been that no matter how much a horse trusts us (or we think they do), they will always trust a relaxed buddy even more.
    10-18-2009, 11:48 AM
We've ridden him through it with several buddy horses and if other horses are around he some what relaxes, but even with another horse friend in front of him he still gets a little tense, and if that horse buddy leaves the scene, he goes haywire :[
    10-18-2009, 12:28 PM
Do you ever get on & just stand at the end until he calms down ?
    10-18-2009, 01:05 PM
I like what Gypsy girl said.
Do you let him rest where he is nervous? He will soon love that area :)
    10-18-2009, 01:16 PM
Not all horses try to get out of work all the time. When im on a nervous horse or a youngster that doesnt want to stand I just put them there til the relax/sigh/put their head down. Once they get over it they can walk & get a pat. Then they realize freaking out is not the right response & if they stay calm they will get rewarded
    10-18-2009, 01:50 PM
Have you had a vet do an exam on him?
If the horse was previously well behaved and the vices are slowly getting worse the first things that I would want to rule out are if he is in pain when being ridden and if he is maybe losing vision.
If all of his tack fits fine and he passes a flexion and eye exam with flying colours, then I would start addressing a possible training problem.
    10-18-2009, 04:09 PM
Have you had a vet do an exam on him?
If the horse was previously well behaved and the vices are slowly getting worse the first things that I would want to rule out are if he is in pain when being ridden and if he is maybe losing vision.
If all of his tack fits fine and he passes a flexion and eye exam with flying colours, then I would start addressing a possible training problem.
Great points Anebel!
    10-18-2009, 06:33 PM
@ the vet questions. The vet is going to be visiting the barn soon, he'll be looked at, we are also going to have him saddle fitted but he honestly doesn't express these feelings except for in those corners and sometimes if he spots something "Scary" outside.

And update!
I rode him today and decided to let the repetition and buddy horse I'd previously gotten have a chance.
I pretty much only worked him in the trouble corners, continously doing a twenty meter circle at that end at the walk, then trot, then canter till he was mildly relaxed about it. He was still extremely tense approaching the corner going towards the left, but was pretty o.k at the walk and trot, at the canter was extremely fussy, but I still made him do it, he was tense approaching the corner going to the right at the canter, but was not as bad as to the left and was very good about staying in the corners at all gaits and relaxed a bit after a while.

I started to do this trick, which I found very helpful (though I'm not sure why it even worked..) but with a collected, but not tight rein, I would palce the reins in my outside hand, and hold my whip behind my leg with my inside leg and give him repetitive taps through the corner, it made him stay in the corners which in turn helped him relax after a while.
I guess using my dressage whip would be an easier trick as it would have the same effect right? And I'd be able to have both reins in each hand?
There was also another horse in the ring who let us follow behind a few times, I would follow the horse through the corner, then circle way and make him go through again by himself. It really was slightly improved.
    10-18-2009, 08:47 PM
I guess my next question is, in correlation with my last post, would a dressage whip do the job of regular crops, because it seems using my crop behind my leg keeps him in the corners which helps him relax, as opposed to when he cuts the corners off. But I don't want my dressage whip to spook him or make him buck me off or anything.

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