Spooky, ADD Horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 05-31-2010, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
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Spooky, ADD Horse

The new horse that I am going to start leasing, Solo, tends to be rather spooky and ADD. He turns his head to look out every window and flinches at small sounds. The barn owner who was there when I was trying him out suggested earplugs so he couldn't hear small noises, would that be a good idea? And I was able to manage the distractions better by talking softly to him and wiggling my fingers to keep his attention on me while we passed windows. Any other tips for calming him down and keeping him focused?

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
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post #2 of 13 Old 05-31-2010, 01:06 AM
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I was just reading on another thread that a supplement--"something-stress" or "stress-ex"--totally transformed nervous horses into calm ones. Then there's the truism, "Your horse can only be as calm/brave as you are."
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post #3 of 13 Old 05-31-2010, 01:09 PM
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I've never heard of earplugs for horses. Some of those mesh ear nets can dull sounds though and look very fancy.

What do you mean by looking out of windows? Is the horse indoors (can't visualize...)? What happens when you get outside, does he calm down?

It's probably going to take a lot of patience to earn his trust so that he will take cues from you instead of panicing at little sounds. You could walk him by the windows slowly in circles several times until he relaxes and then reward him when he is relaxed.

I'm so confused that there are windows by your horse, lol!

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post #4 of 13 Old 05-31-2010, 01:23 PM Thread Starter
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Well this was the first time I had ever ridden him, it was a trial ride to see if I wanted to lease him. And the windows were in an indoor arena. And he wasn't really panicking, just getting distracted and flinching.

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
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post #5 of 13 Old 05-31-2010, 04:21 PM
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Kathryn, no offense, but can't you just lease a different horse? As far as I know there is plenty of all different barns in Maryland you can find a really nice horse to lease - well trained and without any issues. :)

The spooky one is a pain in butt to manage. I mean yes, you can deal with it and work on it (mine is BUT she's mine so I can't just go to the different horse, I have to deal with what I have), but if you want to lease a horse to learn something (like jumping/dressage/reining/whatever) you don't want to pay really for training that horse not to be spooky. Not to mention it may shy and dismount you on jump. Ear plugs do help, but to me it's pretty ridiculous to use ear plugs all the time in the arena. I know people use them on big show jumping, but I've never heard about using them on regular basis. Same with calming agent - despite all stories about magical change of the behavior I've never seen a horse who would go from fire cracker to bombproof "i don't care" type with those supplements. It may take some edge off, but the spookiness will be still there.
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post #6 of 13 Old 05-31-2010, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
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I feel like I overstated it, he really wasnt that bad at all. And OMG hahaha I've been looking for three months for a horse, and I only have 3 months until college, so I really can't look for another horse. I've looked at over 15 horses and he is the first one I have even liked, and I loved him. He is very well trained, but he has been at 3 different barns in the last 2 months so hes a little jumpy. It really wasnt a big deal at all, he would just twitch and look, like when a truck roared to life outside the arena door.

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
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post #7 of 13 Old 05-31-2010, 04:58 PM
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As far as I'm concerned, it's not a spook unless it has the ability to leave you on the ground. Otherwise it's just a bored, inattentive horse keeping himself busy. Try the earplugs and I bet you he starts looking at shadows/light beams.

First thing first (and especially before signing any lease contract) get a vet to do a full workup. You want to have a vet exam on record so if something happens to the horse while you are leasing it, you have a "baseline" to go back to. It also may bring up an issue that could be making him uncomfortable - leading to the inattentiveness.

Then you are going to have to sit down and ride the horse. Kee him busy, teach him new stuff and switch it up. Transitions, transitions, transitions and remember that perfect practice makes perfect. Use his boredom to your advantage - he is begging to be pushed.

Good luck
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post #8 of 13 Old 05-31-2010, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Anebel! In all his moving around lately he has forgotten how to get a flying change on his back legs, so that is the first thing we are gonna work on to keep him busy. Then we will find more things and it will be fun.

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
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post #9 of 13 Old 05-31-2010, 05:58 PM
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What can also help when you are riding is really to focus on what you are doing and ride as if you have a destination. When you are riding past a window think of something that makes you happy and calm like going on a vacation or seeing you baby cousin or something. The horse will feel that you aren't as nervous. Studies have shown that people do certain things when they are nervous without even knowing it. Remember concentrate on other calming things not the scary things.

Hope this helps!
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post #10 of 13 Old 06-01-2010, 09:59 PM
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I would bet anebel is right. If he's just "looky" and a bit bored, not to mention in fairly new surroundings, interesting work is the best thing for him. Mix it up, and give his brain a job. On a side note, while earplugs may be great on an ADD horse, I'm wary of them on a truly fearful, spooky horse though, because in my experience, spooks are MUCH worse if something startles them that they didn't hear coming first. Being prey animals, they depends so much on their hearing, it seems the plugs would make them more fearful, rather than help.

"Keep a leg on each side and your mind in the middle"
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