Overly spooky horse, am I doing it right?
Hey guys, I want to event my 13 year old appendix horse Mickey someday in the future, but as some of you know he is VERY spooky especially outside. Some of you may know about how he bucked me off and I landed on my head hard once when he spooked at something in a field.
Well I want him to get over this stuff! I've been working hard with him to get him comfortable with all three of our arena's and it's paying off, he pays attention much easier (He is still an airhead sometimes, but I can get his focus on me much easier than in the past.) And now when he does spook at something, his reaction is less severe. He'll jump to the side instead of bolting off or bucking.
So this is what I've been doing to get him more comfortable in the forest, a place where it's hard to get his attention and he's a little tense. I've been riding him on our trails as if they were an arena almost every ride, walking and trotting loops through it, cantering up and down the straights, cantering up hills. It seems like the excessive exposure is paying off.
Am I doing it right? Any other advice on things I can do to make him more comfortable in the woods by himself?
Also, he has a bad habit of when going down hill no matter how long his reins are he JERKS his head down violently, basically turning himself into a catapult! There's a hill at our barn that is severely steep, seems like it's almost 90 degrees at one part, that is always a part of the cross country courses whether you go up it or down it, (comfortable going up it) but I'm terrified to go down it because he jerks his head so bad! Even if I sit back at a 150 degree angle I'll still be jerked. How can I stop this habit? I have been working him on smaller hills, but he still jerks.
He also gets incredibly frisky if he's in a group or in a competition setting ( I know from past experiences doing hunter paces) If he's in a group he always ends up in the back no matter how briskly he's walking and then he gets hollow and nervous that he's behind everyone and starts pacing and pulling on me! Anything I can do about this?