Spooky horse!! - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By Dawn854
  • 1 Post By Hackamore
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post #1 of 6 Old 04-16-2014, 03:17 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2014
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Spooky horse!!

Hello my names lauren,

I've just bought a 4yr old welsh section d gelding who appears to be scared of everything! He's not bothered by most traffic except for motorbikes - but is scared of things at the side of the road like bollards or even rugs on the yard that have been left over walls etc. he even seems scared if the water trough. I'm hoping this is because he is young and has moved to a new farm with me. But does anyone have any ideas on how to cope with it or how to improve him? Any ideas would be helpful- thanks xx
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post #2 of 6 Old 04-16-2014, 05:28 AM
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Ride confidently. If he spooks, let him have his baby moment and don't punish him for it. Be the leader, and if he refuses to go past an object, do circles near it and really make him work. Get his focus on you rather than the scary object. Then when he's listening to you and not looking at what's spooking him, rest him near the object to reinforce the idea that it's actually a good place - he gets to chill there without working! Lots of leg and seat and as little hand as possible, you don't want him to get too claustrophobic. And relax! Tell him how silly he is and smile. :) If you tense, it'll only make things worse.
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post #3 of 6 Old 04-16-2014, 07:43 AM
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The previous response by Dawn854 is good advice.

I will also take these nervous type horses out riding with an experienced horse. The confidence of the seasoned horse can sometimes reassure the nervous horse while getting them some exposure to the world & the spooky objects. The horses instinct to stay with the heard will usually prevail and the less experienced horse will follow the other horse through places that he may not go through alone with little resistance, and at the same time building their confidence. We might do this a few days and then take him out alone through the same areas.

You will need to make the decision if he is safe for you to ride and if not then take him out on a lead, but expose him to the world. In either case the fix is exposure and wet saddle blankets.

Best of luck.
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post #4 of 6 Old 04-16-2014, 08:25 AM
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Both great answers above!!

My current mare used to be absolutely terrified of everything!! Now she's only scared of pigs.... I did the above and this mare improved amazing.
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post #5 of 6 Old 04-17-2014, 12:27 AM
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I would also do some ground work with desensitizing with him......he is still young but if you gain his respect/trust he wouldn't be spooking at everything but trusting you......even if you start off on the ground instead of riding, better safe than sorry.....

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post #6 of 6 Old 04-18-2014, 01:39 AM
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Agree with all of the above. Remember, he's only 4yo, still immature & even if he was started early, he still hasn't had all that much experience. On top of that, new environment, new experiences - he's a prey animal, so rugs hanging on fences for eg aren't an 'even' or 'only' - they're one more potential threat. Horses are 'hyperspecific' and don't generalise well, so I'd be thinking about starting at the start with this young fella. On top of that, and very importantly, YOU are new to him. He needs to develop trust in you as a worthy leader, so he doesn't feel on his own in a scary world.

I'd personally stay at home or in an environment he's comfortable in - certainly not go play in the traffic - until you develop a relationship with him. I'd also be inclined to then take him out & about on lead, or if poss. with another confident horse. I think depending on the level of his anxiety, Dawn's idea of working & resting *near* the 'scary' but not forcing him to approach it is a good one.

BUT depending on how edgy he is about it - maybe going out with you at all currently causes him stress which gradually escalates if it keeps going & the rug on the fence is just a 'final straw'. Because once a horse is frightened & emotionally reactive, even if you force him into something, he really CAN'T think clearly in that state & his fear can still escalate. So I'd ensure that you're not pushing boundaries too hard & when you're doing stressful stuff with him, keep it as low key as possible, with short sessions & stress free breaks in between.
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