Spook Spook and more Spook. - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 37 Old 12-31-2013, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 17
• Horses: 0
Spook Spook and more Spook.

Hello folks. I've only used this forum a couple of times, but if I bring this up to my trainer one more time she's going to hit me. (joking, I just bug her with it a lot and she's wonderful and working with me, but sometimes I just like to hear some other opinions and ideas.)
Anywho, I adopted a 10 year old chestnut OTTB mare in August. She lives up to the "hell hath no fury like a chestnut TB mare" saying..I'll tell you that much.
She had been returned twice to the organization I adopted her from for being "dangerous" and was on the verge of being euthanized, basically. A few years ago she had been fostered at my farm, which is how I found out about her, and my trainer said she was extremely distrustful and explosive when fearful or mad, but a wonderful horse when calm and relaxed.
When she came to us it was clear she's grown more of a brain than she used to have. She no longer charges or strikes out at you if scared or reprimanded and she has far more respect for your personal space...in fact she's downright affectionate 98% of the time. When on the ground or in the barn she's only slightly reactive to scary things. She'll turn and look and I'll have to do something to get her attention back so she doesn't overthink it, occasionally she'll give a sideways jump if something really scares her.
My biggest issue is under saddle. All of the sudden EVERYTHING is out to get her. Every jump we ride past, every gust of wind, every other horse in the ring, every sound...TERRIFYING. She is not a bucker or a rearer, and as for taking off she'll throw her head up and take off for a few strides, but getting her back is easy. It's just getting her to stop focusing on everything and working is almost impossible. I will get her collected and focused and then something will happen and I'll get little miss unfocused horse jumping at everything. Usually I can get her back from it in a few minutes, but it gets frustrating when everything brings out a spook. Her spooks aren't terrible, but it gets old.
I've been doing some natural horsemanship groundwork with her (call it what you will, I like the groundwork and think it's done great things for a lot of horses and humans. I modify it to my liking). Letting her stop and look at it does no good, as she then just obsesses over it, and ignoring it and trying to work her through it seems to make her anxious about it....I'm at a bit of a loss.

Anybody have any good....bombproofing or anti spooking advice? lol. I would like to eventually event with her, which is going to be difficult if I can't get her to be a little less ridiculous! I would also love to go on a trail ride without fearing for my life. I mean, what's so scary about deer anyway?
FirstFed is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 37 Old 12-31-2013, 02:51 PM
Super Moderator
Join Date: May 2012
Location: CT USA an English transplant
Posts: 24,602
• Horses: 3
I would first consider that a horse that's been tossed about like this one is quite likely to have ulcers and the discomfort from them will cause tension and stress which often manifests itself in a spooky horse
After that the more general handling you can do the better the bond will be and therefore the more the horse will trust you as a leader it can rely on in what she sees to be dangerous situations. Whatever she does you have to stay unreactive and calm. I don't suggest a lot of soothing talk to a scared horse because IMO its like telling the horse that there is something disturbing. You have to stay one step ahead of them but not in way that they will pick up on and sense your fears
A relaxed rider = a relaxed horse
I always ride green horses or nervous horses on a light but good contact and teach them to respond to leg cues so if they do spook I'm onto them immediately and they don't get to go anywhere - a jump on the spot isn't going to get you bolted with or under a truck if you ride on roads
PunksTank and Bagheera like this.
jaydee is offline  
post #3 of 37 Old 12-31-2013, 02:59 PM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 40,790
• Horses: 2
a really hard, fast workeout might help her. Could I do that? no way. can you? you would know. if you can't, can someone else take her and just canter and canter and canter her.?
Kayty and Bagheera like this.
tinyliny is offline  
post #4 of 37 Old 12-31-2013, 06:15 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 13,402
• Horses: 0
If she is run until she's really tired, she's likely to be much less reactive *at the end of the workout, but IME this tends to have the opposite effect in the long run. That's the reasoning of 'lunge the crap out of them before riding'. Aside from other reasons, as time goes on, they'll just get fitter & you'll need to run them longer for the same effect.

Agree with Jaydee, especially that first & foremost I'd check/treat any physical problems that may be exacerbating her behaviour. Don't discount diet & nutrition either. High starch/energy, too little magnesium & too much potassium are some common dietary reasons for behavioural problems.
Cherie, jaydee and PunksTank like this.
loosie is offline  
post #5 of 37 Old 12-31-2013, 06:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,627
• Horses: 0
Sometime the work them real hard and canter and canter them till tired works. Had it work before also have had it backfire on me. My daughters paint gelding was spooking at everything we took him out and cantered him for miles every day. It worked for him the spooking stopped. Depends on the horse could also end up with a super fit horse that's still got the spooks in them.
spirit88 is offline  
post #6 of 37 Old 12-31-2013, 07:20 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Vidor, Texas
Posts: 2,805
• Horses: 3
You gotta keep her engaged and her mind very busy. She sounds alot like my gelding. It took awhile to get the same trust in the saddle that I had on the ground. Whatever she spooks at, work her until she's foaming. She'll learn those boogers are less of a threat than you!
gigem88 is offline  
post #7 of 37 Old 12-31-2013, 07:24 PM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 229
• Horses: 2
Can you try some desensitizing from the ground? Hanging "scary things" in a round pen with her, or slowly introducing them to her? Or is she a completely different horse under saddle then how she reacts on the ground? I agree double check her food. It's amazing how that impacts their moods.


pbeebs is offline  
post #8 of 37 Old 12-31-2013, 07:30 PM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Who knows these days
Posts: 1,814
• Horses: 2
Don't anticipate her spooking. Don't think "oh my god there is a cat over there she's going to spook", just ride her past the distraction with a little more leg and keep yourself calm. If she spooks, put more leg on and some -tiny-, -gentle- half-haults could be a good idea, but don't overdue it. Remember to breathe and don't tense up with your body, because she will feel it.
tcvhorse and Bagheera like this.

“Thoroughbreds are the best. They’re lighter, quicker and more
intelligent. The best of any breed is the Thoroughbred horse, the best
of that breed is better than any other breed." - George Morris
EliRose is offline  
post #9 of 37 Old 12-31-2013, 11:31 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 1,112
• Horses: 4
I wonder how this horse would do out on the trail, on rough terrain. if her feet and mind are busy,she has less time to spook and worry. Make her bend and move around trees, bushes, rocks. She will be too busy to worry and will gain confidence in you as her leader.
Posted via Mobile Device
flytobecat, Cherie and Bagheera like this.
Foxtail Ranch is offline  
post #10 of 37 Old 12-31-2013, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 17
• Horses: 0
I co own her with a girl who is much stronger than me physically and also has quite a bit more experience with OTTB's, so she's able to work her harder than I am, which does help as I"m building up my own stamina.
She's known to get aggressive on the lunge line and will turn and charge you, I haven't attempted it yet because it's not serious enough that I feel like tempting fate on that one. I'm still gaining her trust and don't feel like screwing with that right now. If I had a round pen that I could just send her out in, I would. But I don't.
She has had her health/feed/etc etc etc etc etc etc etc (and etc etc etc) assessed by a veterinarian and everything is as it should be.
I've tried the desensitizing on the ground but she doesn't react with me standing next to her as she does when I'm on her back. On the ground it takes much more to get her spooked.
I wish so much I could stop looking at things and thinking "oh god she's going to spook at that". Because I'm asking for it....but that's where my brain goes. Which is why I'm glad I do have someone else in on this with me who's better at this than me. lol
Thanks for the advice everyone. :) Happy new year!
FirstFed is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Riding Out a Spook! Nocturva Horse Riding 13 10-30-2013 10:38 AM
Spook Less CD Farmchic Horse Training 7 03-07-2013 06:05 AM
What to do when they spook.... ridesapaintedpony Horse Riding 12 03-28-2012 05:31 PM
Spook training mystikal222 Horse Training 1 09-01-2011 11:44 AM
Spook - Contract EquineLover Horse Law 3 04-25-2011 03:06 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome