Lacey has traditionally been very bomb-proof.
She does get spookier when she doesn't respect (trust? Not sure since she can't speak english) the adult on her back (kids can do anything with her and she's just fine).
She's never been one of those really jumpy horses.
There are a few things that really get her: bright spots in the forest on a dark day (due to a congenital defect in her eyes which basically renders her blind in dark-dusky conditions, so light in darkness looks REALLY bright to her), small-medium stand alone objects (rocks, benches, single firewood sized logs), things that were moving but stop (besides cars/trucks/vans, those can do anything and she doesn't care), etc.
Anyway, she's developed a new fear and it's EVERYWHERE: things "appearing" out of nowhere/appearing then disappearing.
Today she full on bolted with me because there was a white dog (bright thing in darkness, of course) in the forest off to the side of the trail and she apparently didn't see him/her until the dog jumped off a ledge. She was about to be gone (she even threw in a couple of good crowhops for spice, I ended up climbing her neck a little
) and I was just riding her in her halter so I basically would have been dead...thankfully I was able to ORS her around to look at the dog and she calmed right down. The dog wasn't being at all aggressive, it was just that he/she had been still when I tried to show Lacey that he/she was there, then he/she moved after we went past.
Of course, when the dog's owner came walking past with his other dog (that the owner had been struggling with to get leashed) who was lunging and barking at Lacey, Lacey couldn't have cared less. And when the owner and both (leashed) dogs walked past us going the other way, she didn't even look at them twice.
I can't really pinpoint when this started, but she's started spooking at birds, cars appearing at the tops of hills, basically every change in her environment that she witnesses. Things can be drastically different on the trail from the last time she went on it and she doesn't care. It's the change happening while she's there that scares her out of her mind.
It started out as little flinches at birds and such but now it's full on "PANIC!!! *side-scurry*" to things like birds and falling leaves.
A thought is that maybe she's just bored. She gets all excited about being out after a good spook. Like after her mini-bolt, she did not want to turn for home when we got to the end of the trail. She wanted to keep going and look at everything. Of course, she was also flinching at every little movement she saw in the trees, but she wanted AT whatever was coming for her.
Another thought is that a lot of this seems to have started after I started doing more "I'm the dominant one here" stuff. Like, she wasn't behaving this way before I started "leading from behind" while we walk over to the trails... But at the same time, I started that before the spring took over and now it's really spring...
I don't know, I really would like to solve this because it's really not fun to be riding along, afraid to canter because your horse *might* decide that's a good time to realize that there are invisible zombies leaping of the forest to your left or right and that dramatic evasive action is needed...
I'm really not a super brave rider. I'll stick with it and get the job done but I really don't enjoy that. I'd much prefer to just go along, trot in the trotting spot, canter in the cantering spot, gallop in the galloping spot, and walk the rest of the way with no spooks or other silliness. Of course, I realize that the only bomb-proof horse is a dead one, but the fact that these spooks are escalating is a problem for me.
Do I get my friends to hide in the woods then jump out and feed Lacey carrots? I don't even know.
Side note: today while we were riding, we happened upon a man firing a gun into a target right next to the trail. Did Lacey care? Did she even flinch or really look at him? Psh, of course not! That's only a crazy loud noise!
She's the same way about bombs, literal bombs. "Oh, that noise? What was that? Hmmmm"
Sorry for the length... *hands out cookies*