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spooking at everything

This is a discussion on spooking at everything within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Spooking mule

 
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    06-07-2010, 12:46 AM
  #11
Banned
One other really silly suggestion that, though unlikely, may have something to do with it. Next time your vet is out to the barn, have him/her check his eyes. If he is losing sight, it could explain why he is spooking at most everything. Don't get paranoid...just a suggestion.
     
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    06-07-2010, 02:06 AM
  #12
Trained
I disagree with turning them to lok at whatever is spooking them.

I don't want my horse conditioned to stop and look at everything it think it scary. I want my horse conditioned to look to me for guidance and to obey when I ask them to continue on the line and speed we were before they spotted the object. Imagine being in a dressage test, a show ring, a cow pen, and your horse stops what you are doing to look at something spooky - Not ideal.

When my horse spooke, I bring the head away from the object, and use my leg and seat to keep the body travelling the same line, and if possible same speed, until we are past it then I give back the rein, a quick pat, and on we go.
     
    06-07-2010, 03:08 AM
  #13
Green Broke
If he spooks at everything including your leg moving, he sounds like he is very insecure and very sensitive. He is new to you, correct? How long have you had him?

When I first get a new horse, I find that they really don't know what to expect out of me, just as I really don't know what to expect out of them. You are both sort of feeling each other out and finding out how each other reacts to things. While ideally your new horse shouldn't be spooky, I do think horses are spookier in a new place with a new rider and with a new routine because they just don't know what to expect. If he reacts strongly to you moving your leg for instance, perhaps a previous owner spurred him if he didn't react immediately and he didn't repond quick enough. So if you move your leg slightly he will then have to learn that you aren't going to get bent out of shape and spur him for instance. (Maybe it would be a good idea to leave the spurs off until you get to know each other better?)

Maybe he never was really ridden with other horses coming up behind him like that. My neighbor had a mule that was that way. He was very goosey and jumpy if someone came up from behind.

So I wish I had better suggestions. If it is just minor spooking, hopefully it is just the insecurity of a new rider and a new home and him not knowing what to expect of you. In that case, he should get better and better as he learns things aren't going to hurt him. But it could be he is a nervous horse that will always be prone to spooking. But hopefully he will gain confidence in you as a rider and most of that will go away in time.

It could also be that he is green broke and lacks some training or experience. But leaving off the spurs for a while might help him relax until he gets to know you better.
     
    06-07-2010, 08:01 AM
  #14
Trained
Although you will get a lot of suggestions and opinions (and they are all good to try), the common thread will always be to keep putting more and more miles under saddle (and I mean lots of miles). The more experience your horse gets, the better it will be, even if it doesn't eliminate the spookiness completely (which has a lot to do with the disposition of the horse, too).

A couple things to keep in mind...

As you read suggestions and methods, consider what your horse spooks at and the environment that you ride in. Folks on this forum ride in a lot of different environments and how to handle the problem can be much different if your horse spooks at a deer jumping out of the woods, cars and shopping carts in a parking lot, alone, in a group, or even the weather (e.g. On a windy day, there are a lot of things going on to keep a horse's senses busy).

Finally, when you ride in the real world, remember that we have dulled ourselves to a lot of what goes on around us, but a horse does not. Even a 'bomb proof' horse is always still aware of what is going on around it. Every ride is different.

Keep riding along and don't get frustrated.

By the way, if the horses going up from behind are running, this is normally considered bad form on the trail as it is natural for a horse to get excited as if there is some unseen danger that they need to run from, too.
     
    06-07-2010, 11:04 AM
  #15
Weanling
Spooking can have multiple causes, psycological or physical. It can also have multiple roots, so you shouldn't think that it is just one, either. These are also just a few root causes that I've dealt with in the past with my horses.

The Bored or Souring Horse: I had this issue with my old lease Freddy. If we were schooling in the indoor arena, he would always spook or shy from at least something that day. We thought it was vision problems at first, but the vet told us otherwise. But we also found that if he wasn't schooling on the flat, he almost never spooked. Even at shows, when his rider was nervous, he would never spook.
The solution? Variation - taking him outside for hacks or walks around that farm, going to gymkhanas, jumping, finding new and challenging exercises for him to do inside.

The Nervous or Aggressive Rider: As riders, we know that it can be difficult to control our emotions or actions in a difficult situation. This was also a part of my problem with Freddy - I was nervous and frustrated.
The key is to be calm and confident. When you are nervous, you become an alarmed herdmate and the fear is mutual. When you become angry or aggressive, you become a predator already attacking. When you're confident, you are a leader who promises the herd, "This is where we are going and it is safe."

The Skeptical Horse: Our morgan cross at home, Toby, is a skeptic. When he was about five, he was physically beaten by a trainer - and it drained every bit of his confidence and trust in people. He was on his way to becoming a low-level hunter, now he is unrideable. He is now ten, and we are just starting to get that confidence and trust back. Every new situation is scary to him - strange people, different halters, et cetera. Every little thing that a casual horseperson would never think of.
Trust takes a very long time to build. Skeptical horses will not accept you as a trustworthy leader right away - it may take days, it may take years. The main idea with Toby is that we take it slow, very slow. We never force him or pressure him; we'll just take him to where he is comfortable that day, reward generously, and leave it for the next day.

Physical Implications: Anything from blindness to mild lameness can concern a horse. When Freddy was starting to become unsound or lame (in his legs or back or neck and whatnot), he would being more flighty because he was "guarding his weakness" as an article I'd read had termed it. Also check the tack.


Dealing with a Spook: Ride forward with an open mind and quick thinking. Instead of focusing on the object your horse is spooking at or what he is doing while spooking - things you do not have control over, find something you do have control over to bring his attention back to you. Little things like the bend in his ribcage or his neck. Be prepared for a spook and watch his ears, feel the difference in his step. Know how your horse generally spooks; does he balk, bolt, rear, or something else? Don't force, but convince with confidence. Don't stop and turn, don't back up, always forward. Find something you can use to relax your spooky horse. With Freddy, it was riding in a long-low frame or even a low-deep-round frame on a figure-eight. Other riders thought I was crazy - riding a known bolter on a loose rein. But Freddy was able to stretch, relax, and focus on a confident rider who wasn't afraid to let him "be".


And remember - don't be afraid to back down if you are scared or under confident. You cannot force self control. You don't have to work by yourself, either. A creditable trainer will know how to work through it with you.
     
    07-07-2010, 04:12 AM
  #16
Foal
There's alot of good information here. I have a mustand mare, born in the wild, was caught as a yearling. She is halter broke and we are still working on getting her ready to ride. I've saddled her, and we are working on getting her desensitized. She is so paranoid she spooks at everything! I think that is her personality. However she is getting better, but it is a very slow process. I assume because she was born in the wild and imprinting from mom, gave her a much stronger instincts. She is a little scary because when she spooks it's pretty big. She will leap in the air, like you're flying a kite! Depending on what it is she thinks is so scary, she usually will get over it pretty quick, and snorts and is like oh ok that wasn't going to eat me. But I don't think she'll ever not be spooky :(
     

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