Suddenly Spooky?

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Suddenly Spooky?

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  • 1 Post By loosie

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    02-03-2012, 04:34 PM
Suddenly Spooky?

I haven't posted much at all about my dad's mare Josie, but I was wondering if you could give me a hand.

Josie is a 14yo Mecklenburger mare whom we have had for nearly 6 years. She's a special kinda horse. Actually, she's a fruit loop. You can be riding, she'll be going beautifully, or just walking or anything and then you're either on the floor or in the middle of the school wondering how you got there. She's had every thing checked by everyone and everything under the sun.. its just her!

Well, long story short, she's been at 'new' yard for 18months or so, tied up to groom and tack every day of that. Right opposite the rug rack, which is in frequent use in all seasons. We're unsure of what has happened, but she has a quick release snap which has been used a lot recently. Every time you get a rug down, or put one up, she completely freaks, and starts to shake. Once the rug is down, no issues with the rug being swung on to her either. I've rubbed it all over her, put it over her head, no issues. Held on to her when its being taken off and she nearly pulled me over.

We tried the 'stop being silly' thing, backing her up, making her stand firm with her head down, but she's just crazy over it! This has been happening for about a week now.

Ideas, people??
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    02-03-2012, 07:43 PM
Is she in season?
    02-03-2012, 07:54 PM
I think holding her while taking it off isn't a good move.. remember that horses need to feel like they aren't trapped.

What I would do, is desensitize the motion. Take that pad, put it on her back, take it off back on the hanger. Take that pad, put it on her back, take it off, on the rack, take it off.

Take that pad and hold the leadrope loose in one hand, shake that pad up and down until she quietens down. Stand up on a stool with the pad and hold it high above her head. Put it on the rack, let it DROP to the floor. (Careful at her reaction.) Pick it up and let her sniff it, rub it all over her and then put it back up on the rack.

Have others take pads off of the rack, drop them, wave them about. Stop when she relaxes. It'll take awhile.

Let her sniff it. Maybe even hide a treat in the pad so she finds it.

My horse used to bolt and do a sideways thing with the pad and the saddle. That's how we worked it out. Just be careful, you never know which way they'll spook.
    02-03-2012, 08:26 PM
Originally Posted by DuffyDuck    
Actually, she's a fruit loop. You can be riding, she'll be going beautifully, or just walking or anything and then you're either on the floor or in the middle of the school wondering how you got there.
Without more info only an educated guess, but it sounds like she may be extra sensitive & has either not had enough training or got enough trust in her rider, or she may have had incorrect training that has exacerbated her fears. Either way, paying attention to her, so that you catch her responses that come before the spook should help you be ready for it & stay on when it happens & also help her gain more trust in you. After all, if you're not paying attention enough to notice her worry, how can she trust you to look after her in such events?

Every time you get a rug down, or put one up, she completely freaks, and starts to shake. Once the rug is down, no issues
Horses learn by association, so either getting a rug down somehow hurt or frightened her, or something else hurt or frightened her at the time someone was getting a rug down.

Continuing to put her in a confrontational situation where she feels she must fight for her life is only further confirming her fears & if you are associated with this too, will make earning her trust much harder. So I'd advise first & foremost, quit tying her there, for now at least. Instead I'd find a place far enough away from the rugs that she can handle without panicking and with repetition & reinforcing her calmness, ensure she's actually comfortable with rugs coming down at that distance first. Then gradually ask her to come closer & ensure she's truly comfortable at the new 'intensity' before you go closer still.

I wouldn't tie her up or try to hold her tightly during this process, as this will cause her to feel trapped & more vulnerable, making panic more likely. In fact, through association, she may now have developed a bit of a tying problem, so you may find that's another part of her training that needs attention. Again, don't force the issue, but work gradually & non-confrontationally towards your goal. I find using a long rope wrapped around a rail, or using a 'Blocker Tie Ring' is effective, because if/when the horse panics, they aren't stuck, but can move their feet and put slack in the rope. With repetition & gradual increase of 'hold' on the end of the rope, you can teach a horse to *confidently* stand tied.

We tried the 'stop being silly' thing, backing her up, making her stand firm with her head down, but she's just crazy over it!
She's not 'being silly', so trying to punish her for it won't help. Imagine being in a foreign country with people you don't understand trying to force you to put up with something that terrified you. Now put yourself in the foreigner's place & think about how you could go about convincing that person that you're trustworthy & the 'scary' thing is actually safe.
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    02-04-2012, 12:23 AM
Just make sure when you are desensitizing you only stop when there feet stop.
Example: Take the pad, let her smell it them, then rub her with it then stand at a 45 degree angle to the shoulder shake it with your farthest arm at your side with about three feet of slack. If she moves stay at that angle and keep shaking when her feet stop you stop! Drop the pad and give "loves " let her relax and rub her again with it. Then repeat. Slowly move from your side to her side and then shake it all over her body. Through it over her let it fall on the other side. BE SLOPPY!!! TRY TO SCARE HER!! Then the moment her feet stop you stop let her relax and give loves. Never Hold the lead tight, let them move even if it means bumping into the rails she will avoid them, or learn to. Never force a stop it can lead to pushing rearing and charging, and if they pull you over it can create a bigger fear, then just the pad.
    02-04-2012, 08:11 AM
Hey guys, thanks for all the long detailed replies! I will get back to you all in a more thorough matter when I'm on my computer. As soon as the rug is down you can shake it, drape it over her head, flap it and she's fine. Guess o should have exzplained better lol I held on to her so she wasn't pulling back from the ties and therefore feeling trapped, I didn't hold her into position, the leadrope was loose the entire time but I don't want her doing a runner haha! This afternoon I will try and film what goes on.

She isn't in season either, and the fruitloop part is just Josie. It's nothing to do with training, it's just a warmblood mare whom likes to keep you on your toes. I don't like to ride her as there is virtually no warning before she goes.

As for my " being silly" comment, she on occassion tries it on. We had a head shy problem with her a few years ago after she had an op on her leg and whilst coming round smacked her head. Bridling was not an issue but grooming was. In the end we ignored her face using our hands to try and brush dirt off and in the end she had no issues.

It's interesting about trust though as she has a relationship with my dad that I have never achieved with a horse before. Hmmmm. Will film so you can all see ne think!
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    02-04-2012, 11:30 AM
Maybe it's just a case of she doesn't see it coming? How high up is this rack? Have you checked her for vision problems? Is the barn lit up?

But I agree, I'd tie her elsewhere until you can get to the bottom of it.

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