spooky arabian - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 06-18-2009, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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spooky arabian

ok, I have been trying to despook my arabian, he is 7 yrs.old. I have rode him several times on the trails with very little problem, he has had the last 3 months off because I haven't had the time to ride,(working long hours) but anyways I have started to ride him this past week, started with just short trails rides, the first time I got on him the buckle to my helmet, hit the helmet and spooked him he ran off toward the pasture and I was able to jump off him, I got back on after I calmed him down and off we went for the trails, he did good kinda jumped a little when he saw a plastic bag on the side of the trail, but he didnt run off.two days later went for a other trail ride, he was a little nervous when I was tacking him up, but did really good on the trail.2 days later again went on other trail ride and he spooked at the same plastic bag on the side of the road this time he ran off, I finally got him to stop and calm down and the rest of the ride went good.Today I tacked him up(he was nervous again) walked him around to calm down and I got up in the saddle, walked to the driveway and back again,then to the driveway again and we stopped(I had to fix my helmet), then all of a sudden he jump out of his skin and darted for the woods, so I had to bale off him again.So I walked him to calm down again and went to get in the saddle and I knew he was going to run again(just by the look on his face)I put one foot in the stirrup and slowly got in the saddle, I didnt even get my right foot in the stirrup before he darted off agian, so I hopped off and stopped him,I just knew if I got back on him he was going for it again, so I lunged him for about one hour and then we called it a day.It seems the things that are spooking him he has seen a thousand times,Is there such a thing in despooking a Arabian?I heard someone say that not all arabians can be despooked, Is this true? I love this horse so much and I dont want to sell him, never know where he will end up at.I just dont know what to do, I have been desenitizing with everyting that I can think of, tarps, fly sprays, flags, paper bags.If he sees it the next day or even hours later he comes out of his skin.Anybody have any suggestions,I can check into a trainer but only if I can get them to come to my house, I would like to be here.I'm out of ideals what to do, I am almost scared to get back on him.He wasnt this bad when I first got him, he never ran off when under saddle.So anyone with any suggestionsplease let me know.

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post #2 of 15 Old 06-18-2009, 11:52 PM
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You need to continue to spend sometime in a classroom environment, like a round pen. I would keep working on re establishing ground manners, so that he can build up his trust that you will take care of him. You can keep introducing things to him in the round pen like the plastic bags of doom and the scary horse eating loud noises. Really sack him out... You dont want him to get away with bolting with you everytime you jump onboard because soon it becomes an aversion, "here comes the rider, I can act terrified and they will leave me alone."

You can try making him stop and face whatever is scary to him, like the plastic bag...or just make him go by it like its no big deal...I am sure people on here have lots of ideas for you. But I do not think it is because he is an Arabian, that sounds like a stereotype.
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post #3 of 15 Old 06-19-2009, 12:02 AM Thread Starter
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he has excellent ground manners.I usually just go by the spooky things but for some reason he still takes off.when I didnt ride him for 3 months I was still out there everyday, to feed and spend time with him.( he is not boarded) So I guess I'm going to have to build a round pen and start sacking him really good.I dont want him to take off when ever I get in the saddle.

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post #4 of 15 Old 06-22-2009, 10:56 AM
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If he never did it before then the only logical explanation is the time off. You might have been spending time with him, but he needs the consistancy with the scary things. it's like when a person watches a horror movie. the first few times, you jump at the loud noise, then you get used to it. but if you don't watch it for awhile, your going to jump again.
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post #5 of 15 Old 06-22-2009, 11:01 AM
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I would think it has something to do with three months off and a build-up of energy. What's he being fed and what is his turn-out like? Start back up slowly working him on the line or in a round-pen. Also if you think he is going to spook and it's making you nervous- your nervousness will transmit to him and make him jumpier.
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post #6 of 15 Old 06-22-2009, 11:23 AM
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I hate it when people make the assumption that just because a horse is a certain breed that they can't be despooked...

That said, it sounds like you need to spend some time doing ground work before rides. Use Flags, bags, and other tools to help desensitize him on the ground, and when he is calm and obedient from the ground, then get on him and start working from the saddle. Lay tarps down, have a bag sitting on a fence, things like that, and practice going near those kind of things. If he doesn't know how, already, I would teach him a solid one rein stop, so when you feel him building to take off, you can stop him effectively.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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post #7 of 15 Old 06-22-2009, 01:20 PM
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I just wanted to emphasize the groundwork and making him face what he's afraid of. I have one of those "spooky arabians" and she was really bad when I got her two years ago. I didn't have a round pen to work with her in, but in your case I would definitely recommend it or any type of enclosed area where he wouldn't be able to run away. By continuing with desensitizing him from the ground and various other exercises that will help you gain control of his front end and hindquarters, you'll gain his trust and will be able to convince him that those bags aren't going to eat him.
Are you familiar with one rein stops as the previous poster mentioned? Using a one rein stop when he bolts will allow you to get control of him quicker so you can take him back to the object he's afraid of and work him back and forth in front of it until he relaxes. The one thing I learned with my mare is to never ask her continue on when she's afraid of something until she's 100 percent relaxed in its presence. I wait for her to cock a leg or give a sigh and sometimes that would take 1/2 an hour so you need to have patience. I would also never get on her to begin with if she was noticely nervous. Make sure your guy is calm and relaxed before you even get on him.
I would be lying if I said my mare is completely spook-free now. She will still hesitate at a water puddle or some foreign object in her path, but because she trusts me I can easily urge her through the water or over/past the object. Sometimes a noise or movement will cause her to do a quick side jump, but she recovers quickly. She is definitely 100 times better now than what she was when I first got her and she'll continue to get better.
I think the 3 month break has a lot to do with it. When I start riding again in the spring after she's had the winter off, I need to spend of couple of days doing basic groundwork exercises with her. Just go slowly with him and don't expect instant results. It will take time and patience and you have to be willing to stay off him until you get that trust and respect from the ground first.

Stella - sweet, timid, elegant, lovely, lively, amazing
Luna - large, unattractive, naughty, adored

Last edited by 3neighs; 06-22-2009 at 01:22 PM.
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post #8 of 15 Old 06-22-2009, 01:32 PM
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It sounds like you are anticipating the spook and for all practical purposes - giving him permission to do so.

My anglo was hot. Not a fun thing when you are trying to compete 50 miles. I finally figured out if I TOLD her she was going to be scared of the rock, the sign, etc - she would look at it but keep going. Part of it was simply me. I was talking to her and thus giving her confidence and me condfidence that we would continue past with no more than the bat of an eye.

I follow the same training technique with my youngsters now. I start talking when I see the big scarey rock, killer squirrel, etc. One thing I never do is circle back round and round and round until they settle down. That seems to build the nerve jangle.
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post #9 of 15 Old 06-22-2009, 01:44 PM
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That's exactly like my mare. =) She's an Arabian too and when I got her she had had 2 years off! I started out trying to ride her right off the bat but then I discovered that if I lunged her over some ground poles and made sure she was focused on me before I rode she was so much better, way less spooky, didn't try to run off with people, stopped rearing.
I also try not to push her harder than she's comfortable with. For instance, she's pretty good in open areas (probably where she can see all the "monsters" the best) so I do most of my work with her in open areas but then I spend around 5 minutes with her in an area she's not as comfortable with, say the road. That way she knows she doesn't need to be scared of things around me becuase I will "protect" her from the scary things and not let her get too scared. If she starts getting scared (I try never to let it get to the point where she HAS to run away, I try to keep it to the ears pricked at it but not about to run) I like to have her bring her head all the way around to my feet on each side and then depending on her fear level I'll either have her walk past it with me riding her or if she's seriously scared I'll get off and lead her past it.

I doubt that that is gonna work for all horses but it works super well for Lacey. Now she only spooks at a few things if they come out of no where. She's fine with kids running up to her, people appearing behind her, bags, people on loud motorbikes, woods, remote controlled cars... all stuff that would have seriously scared her before.

I completely agree with 3neighs when she said to not get on when the horse is noticeably nervous. And make sure you can do a one-rein stop. I've never had to do it to Lacey but it seems to me that if your horse is consistently running off with you, you need to be able to stop him without getting off.

Good luck! =)

Edit: and like mls said, be confident! If you see something that you know might scare your horse and tense yourself up that is for sure going to set your horse off! With Lacey I try to tell myself that she's trying her best for me and if I trust her to behave herself she will, and you know what? She does!

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 06-22-2009 at 01:49 PM.
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post #10 of 15 Old 06-22-2009, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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Well lets see if I can answer everyone questions,
He is turned out 24/7 never in a stall,he is on 10% pellet feed with a round bale of tifton 44 hay and minerals(mixed with applesauce once a day)
I have been lunging him and working on despooking him with plastic bags, walks down the road anything I can think of, working on flexing(which he does very good at) I am doing on this from the ground with his tack on.I am not scared of him taking off when in the saddle intil he did do it, I'm not rushing in to just jumping into the saddle, I know alot of this can be done from ground work and thats what were doing now.
MLS: I'm not anticipating the spook from him I know with him if he does sense you are scared then he will be too, thats why I'm very comfy before I get in the saddle, he is a VERY smart horse and I think he really trusts me, I dont know what happened those couple days that he took off on me, we were just standing still in the yard and all of a sudden he jumped out of his skin and bolted he had NEVER done that before, so like ya'll said I think its from him having the time off. When working with him from the ground and he sees something that he is afraid of he kinda looks at me then blows and I just tell him its alright and calm him down standing in front of whatever it is.So I will take yall's advice to the round pen with me. And for the one rein stop he will do it when asked but when he took off on me and for the life of me couldnt get him to do one, he was not listening to me at all.thanks

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