Stop spooking! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 06-20-2011, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
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Stop spooking!

Lately my horse has been creating an inevitable axiom that whenever I ride past a particular end of a particular arena, he spooks!

It's only in the lower large arena, at the end by the woods, next to a bush that's planted in the corner.

It's strange because we've ridden him by there a million times with no issue. Now he can't get by it without spooking. My technique has been simple, ride him as if it does't exist, if he spooks put him back to work and not make a huge deal out of it, I don't anticipate either. No luck! He spooks every time he gets near the spot! Walk trot canter, and I never really see it coming.

yesterday it was particularly bad. I had him in the perfect frame, he was round, on the bit, had his head down. But whenever I got to that part of the arena he would spook. This is unusual because usually when he is being spooky he will put his head up, hollow out, and stop paying attention. His spooks were just so random, like, I had him cantering and he was in frame, head down, forward, I set him up deep into the corner approaching the push and nudged him forward with my leg so he didn't lose the impulsion. But as soon and he had straightened out of the first corner, he stopped DEAD, like, from a forward working canter into a dead halt, through his head up, and shy'd. I was absolutely taken aback by this it was very unexpected. I put him back to work and pretended it didn't happen but no luck.

My mom thinks he's reacting to the bush lately because a skunk sprayed it, but I'm just not sure.

Any opinions, advice?
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post #2 of 10 Old 06-20-2011, 09:58 AM
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I would work him very hard only where he is giving you trouble and let him rest at the other end of the arena.
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post #3 of 10 Old 06-20-2011, 10:04 AM Thread Starter
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won't that cause him to associate the troublesome end with hard work and cause resentment though?
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post #4 of 10 Old 06-20-2011, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Mickey4793 View Post
won't that cause him to associate the troublesome end with hard work and cause resentment though?
No and by No means will your horse develop a resentment to your being his "alpha" partner. In fact he will most likely have more respect toward you for being at the top of his "pecking" order.
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post #5 of 10 Old 06-20-2011, 12:05 PM
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No, he'll be too busy listening to you and will realize that acting up only gets him work!
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post #6 of 10 Old 06-21-2011, 05:14 PM
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Hmm, I'm the opposite. When my horses spook I don't want them to do circles around the scary object or get lathered due to "working hard" by something that they are leery of.
I would stop and stand. We'd park in front of the scary object and look at it. Depending on the horse and the situation in 2-10 minutes we'd walk off and come right back around the ring to stand and stare at it some more.
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post #7 of 10 Old 06-21-2011, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by gigem88 View Post
I would work him very hard only where he is giving you trouble and let him rest at the other end of the arena.

Sorry, but you have it backwards.
You want him to WANT to be there. So, no work in the scary area, only pleaseant rest.
In the other part of the arena, it's Work, Work Work! Then go back to the scary area, stop short of the region that has spooked him and let him stop and just stand if he will. Walk by the area, but off the rail, and then meander down to the other end and Work, work, work.

Back to scary end and rest with loose reain. You might get off of him and meander aro9und the arena with him following and pretend you are hunting for goodies in the sand, or "grazing" peacefully and just sort of edge closer to scaryland while you are busily occupied with something and allowing him to just stand by you. Pay him no attention, but require that he follow along politely and mind his ground manners.

Then walk away, nothing new, la de da. Mount up, work in other end and go back to scary area. When you work in the "good" end of the arena, try not letting him leave there until he is acting tired and kind of wanting to stop.
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post #8 of 10 Old 06-21-2011, 07:17 PM
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Oh no! I completely feel your pain! I had the same kind of issue over the winter with one of the horses I work with. I ended up just doing tons of groundwork before getting on. I would walk her right up to the horse-eating monster (ahem, tractor) and let her sniff it out and do whatever, but then we would do more ground work, moving her shoulders and generally just trying to ask questions and keep her attention on me. Can you walk him up to the bush from the ground? What also really seemed to help was to have another horse and rider in the arena that walked right by with no issues. As for when you are riding I would just constantly ask questions and keep the conversation going so he can't anticipate your next move, leaving room to scan for the problem.

It took some work but my situation did get resolved. Just thought I would add more ideas to the mix to help you out! Best of luck to you!
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post #9 of 10 Old 06-21-2011, 09:44 PM
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Well he's already tipped his cards and you know when it's coming. What about putting him into shoulder-in or a leg yield as you approach the spot so he knows you've got his number? Maybe add in an audible growl so he understands you're not happy with his new behavior? When he does get past it calmly, reward big time. If that doesn't work, Tiny's suggestion is best. Work his butt off at the other end and come back to rest.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #10 of 10 Old 06-21-2011, 10:12 PM
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I agree its the skunk scent after all skunks spray out of protection all other animals associate this scent with that. Get rid of the scent, and I think he should get over it. .
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