Spooking while on a lead line

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Spooking while on a lead line

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  • Leading a spooked horse
  • Horse spooked on the lead line

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    07-11-2010, 03:15 PM
Spooking while on a lead line

Although my mare is quiet most of the time, I'm having an issue when I take her out of the barnyard area to let her graze on grass. I keep her on the lead line, and walk and talk to her, petting her etc. She is very nervous, and will spook for little things like a snap of a twig.

She seems to do this more with me than if my husband leads her. I'm not nervous when I handle her, and I'm the one that always feeds her, cleans her stall, and grooms her for the most part, but it's getting to the point where I am starting to feel edgy about leading her out, because yesterday she bolted and pretty much ran right through me and I ended up with a black eye because her forehead smacked me in the face as she bolted.

She didn't run far enough for me to lose the lead line, I still hung on, but got a rope burn in the process too.

She's a good girl 99% of the time, she will follow me to the barn and stop when I stop, even when she's not on a lead, and I can get her to back up when I bring out oats for her in the morning, no matter how badly she wants in the pail. All in all, I feel she is a very quiet horse except for the spooking issue.

I have ridden her inside her barnyard and she's great, but I'm afraid to take her outside her area for fear that she will bolt when I'm on her, since I can't even take her out on a lead line.

Comments or suggestions, anyone?
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    07-11-2010, 03:28 PM
Do you do regular groundwork with her? Try lounging her and doing other exercises like moving the forequarters and hindquarters, and backing her up. By doing this you are reasserting your role as leader. When she respects you she will be much less likely to push into you, as happened yesterday. She will also feel more comfortable in you as a leader, meaning that she will gain comfort from you. Instead of feeling afraid when she is out of the barnyard, when she sees that you are calm she will be likewise.

The next thing I would do after groundwork though is DESENSITIZING! You cannot ever do enough of this! Work on getting her used to bags, tarps, umbrellas, water, clippers, etc. Anything and everything you can think of. This will help her stay calm in a scary situation and have less "freak out" moments.
    07-11-2010, 03:37 PM
I haven't been doing too much yet because I wanted her to get used to her surroundings and become comfortable in her new home. I've also been a little concerned about working her too much because we've had extremely hot, humid weather which hasn't cooled down a lot even in the evenings.

She's been here about 8 weeks now.
    07-11-2010, 03:44 PM
I think 8 weeks should be plenty of time to get somewhat comfortable in a new place. Maybe a buddy would help comfort her?

As for the heat, as long as you keep it short and cool her down really well she should be fine. You can even hose her off after words and just make sure that she has plenty of fresh water. There are also a lot of ground work exercises that require very little physical effort, like the backing and moving her hindquarters etc. Unless you were absolutely working her into a dripping sweat, I don't think you are in much danger of overworking her. Just start with small amounts and build her lesson lengths over time.
    07-11-2010, 03:46 PM
What do you do when she spooks?
    07-11-2010, 03:51 PM
Ochie I was about to tell just what the person above me just posted... my BLM mustang Tyson would freak out when he would see trash cans. OMG it was crazy I just got sick of coming off him, so I started to leave the trash can right next to his feeder. Oh he did not eat for a few days but he got hungrey enough he made friends with the big old trash can.... after that rides were so much nicer....
    07-11-2010, 04:27 PM
It usually happens very fast, without warning, but if I see her head snap up and her eyes go big, I try to calm her down by talking to her and patting her. It works when I can do that, but it usually happens again, and sometimes she does it without warning.
Yesterday she just whipped around so fast I didn't even have time to move out of the way, and she just went right through me.
    07-11-2010, 04:29 PM
Yes, if I knew what she was afraid of, I would use that tactic, too.
    07-11-2010, 05:06 PM
Like the first person said the number one concern is her ground manners. 8 weeks is plenty of time to adjust. Your horses main job in life is to preserve yours. So even if she thinks something is about to eat her she should avoid getting you hurt. This comes from establishing yourself as the boss mare. Take your horse out more often and begin working on the ground manners from the moment you snap the lead rope on them. You need to be extra firm whenever she moves into your space. This is the first problem with taking her out. You can confidently take her out if you know she is not going to hurt you. It is a myth that if your horse is scared you can't control them. Don't allow bad behavior just because your horse is scared or spooked. She is currently not respecting you. She is better with your husband only because she respects his presence more. You can't love them into respecting you. Horses in the field as you know will stay out of the boss mares way at all cost. I think the the writer early was dead on with her advice to work on ground manners whenever you take her out. She will be happier with a job and less focused on the spooks. The spooks may still happen but if you are firm and consistent with your discipline and training she will get better. Always have carrot stick in hand and reinforce your ownership of the space around you even when she is spooked.
    07-11-2010, 05:13 PM
It's sounds like these are fairly explosive spooks, but any chance you can do absolutely nothing when she spooks? If you talk to her and try to calm her when she's excited, you'll only be re-enforcing her fears and/or bad behavior. If you just keep walking like she was still walking calmly next to you, it will provide a far different vibe to her. Walk confident, tall and keep the lead slack. Maybe use a longer lead rope so you have some like to let out if she does jump. When she spooks, let her back up or jump sideways, but if it's safe to do so, keep you body facing in the direction you want to go and do not acknowledge the spook. As soon as she puts slack back in the line, take it up and continue walking like nothing happend. If these are far more explosive, than the above suggestion sucks, but if she is just playing you, this might work. Only you can be the judge of that.

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