Spook Spook and more Spook.
   

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Spook Spook and more Spook.

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  • Horse spooks more with training

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    12-31-2013, 02:38 PM
  #1
Foal
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?
     
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    12-31-2013, 02:51 PM
  #2
Super Moderator
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
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    12-31-2013, 02:59 PM
  #3
Super Moderator
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.?
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    12-31-2013, 06:15 PM
  #4
Trained
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.
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    12-31-2013, 06:51 PM
  #5
Banned
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.
     
    12-31-2013, 07:20 PM
  #6
Started
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!
     
    12-31-2013, 07:24 PM
  #7
Foal
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.
     
    12-31-2013, 07:30 PM
  #8
Yearling
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.
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    12-31-2013, 11:31 PM
  #9
Yearling
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.
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    12-31-2013, 11:34 PM
  #10
Foal
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!
     

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