Thrown from/Fell off of horse - Correct Response?
   

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Thrown from/Fell off of horse - Correct Response?

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    08-02-2011, 10:28 PM
  #1
Foal
Thrown from/Fell off of horse - Correct Response?

After our ride tonight, October and I stopped to talk to my friend before we got back to the barn. We were about 100 yards away from the entrance to the barn. I was on October, and my friend was standing on the ground. We were standing about 50 feet away from a shed that her son was working in. (We pass by/stand near this shed on a daily basis). A sound in the shed spooked him and he took off towards the barn, loosing me in the process. I had felt him tense up and had a split second to push myself off to the side of him...so I sort of jumped off, but landed on my rump.

He ran straight to the barn and just stood there waiting for me. After I got my breath, I went to him, got back on, and rode around the yard for a few more minutes. Then I got off, and walked him over to the shed, banged on it, had him touch his nose to it, etc. He did not seem too concerned over any of it.

My question it, did I handle this correctly? Is there anything I could have done better? I am not new to riding, but the horses I have ridden in the past have been extremely broke, and spooked at nothing. I am pretty new to having a horse who, although he has good training, can be a little spooky sometimes.

This is also the first time in about a month he has REALLY spooked over anything. He has gotten much better since I got him about 4 months ago - we have done alot of desensitizing with him.

Sorry for the long post, any suggestions are appreciated!
     
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    08-02-2011, 10:39 PM
  #2
Trained
Not that I'm an expert or anything, but that's EXACTLY what I would have done in the same situation. Glad you were able to anticipate and bail in time to avoid injury.

Do you know what exactly the sound was that spooked him? Maybe try having someone make that sound again where he can see?

I have a very level-headed two-year-old who would "spook" when I would clean the brush off on the hitching rail (dust it across the rail to get the excess dirt and hair off). He would spin toward the sound and back away, or jump to the side. I started cleaning the brush right in front of him and after a few times he realized that it wasn't going to eat him and is now fine with me cleaning the brush wherever, even if he can't see it (he had nothing done with him except occasional turnout for 18 months, so just about everything is a somewhat new experience for him). Maybe try something like that with October and the sound that spooked him (if you can identify what the sound was)?
     
    08-02-2011, 10:47 PM
  #3
Yearling
My guy is pretty spooky... I have been working with him for a little over a month now.
Keep in mind that they are still flight animals, and will always have a level of unpredictability no matter how "broke" they are. I tend not to allow my guy to look at things. I don't walk him up to the scary traffic cones so he can stare at them and build... so instead I simply leg him on, and make it ALL my idea. I'll make him work by it 500 times until it's boring. Flags, plastic bags, etc... they are all things that I expose him to. I allow him to respond to them, but NOT react. He's allowed to be scared, but he's NOT allowed to bolt or flip over or god knows what! Haha!
     
    08-02-2011, 10:48 PM
  #4
Foal
Unfortunately, I have no CLUE what it was that spooked him. That's why I banged on the wall, pushed the door closed, etc when we walked back over to it. Fortunately, I have a decent amount of padding in the rear if you know what I mean...broke my fall quite nicely.

I was told by someone that horses will sometimes "pretend" to spook to get out of working. Is this true or not? The only reason I ask is because we had just had a pretty hard workout and he was getting a little irritated with listening to me.
     
    08-02-2011, 10:53 PM
  #5
Yearling
I dunno about that... kinda' sounds like Anthropomorphism. Ha!
     
    08-02-2011, 10:57 PM
  #6
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by KatyLeah    
I was told by someone that horses will sometimes "pretend" to spook to get out of working. Is this true or not? The only reason I ask is because we had just had a pretty hard workout and he was getting a little irritated with listening to me.

Oh, it's true! Trust me on that one!! My old gelding was a PRO at "spooking" to get out of work. His owners totally reinforced it by letting him get away with it. If he even ACTED like he was going to spook, they got off him and put him away. He was a monster in-hand because they let him crawl up their shoulder if he got "scared." It took a solid month of being a bit forceful and MAKING him do what I asked before he realized that I wasn't going to give in like his old owners did. And that was just on the ground! We had to retrain him from the ground up because he was so awful. The first time my friend got on him (he was a bit much for me to handle at first because of his constant "spooking" to get out of work), she was riding him in the arena and a jack rabbit rustled some bushes. He absolutely FREAKED, even though he saw the rabbit and knew what made the sound, and took off across the arena. As soon as my friend got him back under control, she took him right back to where he'd spooked and made him work while I rustled the bushes. He NEVER spooked in that spot again. Finally, after over a year of retraining him (we worked slow because it was literally like working with a new, unbroke horse...had to teach him to lunge even!), we were able to use him as an off-lead bareback lesson horse in a french link snaffle for a little 8yo girl who had been thrown from a horse and was terrified of them. We were in the arena and he never once spooked, even though there was another horse schooling in the arena with us (the little girl's sister, riding my friend's big arab hunter gelding) and there were a couple of dogs running around the property.
     
    08-02-2011, 11:14 PM
  #7
Showing
I think you handled it the only way it could have been handled. Because there had been a fair amount of time between the spook/fall and when you caught him, trying to punish/correct that particular behavior would have been moot. He would not have associated the correction with his earlier reaction. The best thing you could have done was get back on and ride him around the shed again, which you did.

Like Drafty said, the problem comes when people begin to fear the spook and be proactive by simply avoiding the confrontation. That's when horses figure out that acting silly = humans dismounting and putting them away.
     
    08-02-2011, 11:20 PM
  #8
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by smrobs    
I think you handled it the only way it could have been handled. Because there had been a fair amount of time between the spook/fall and when you caught him, trying to punish/correct that particular behavior would have been moot. He would not have associated the correction with his earlier reaction. The best thing you could have done was get back on and ride him around the shed again, which you did.

Like Drafty said, the problem comes when people begin to fear the spook and be proactive by simply avoiding the confrontation. That's when horses figure out that acting silly = humans dismounting and putting them away.

Im glad you posted. I lurk here alot and I always really like your responses and advice, so thank you :)

I don't fear the spook, honestly, I tend to put in situations that I think he may not be extremely comfortable with because I want him to get used to as many "strange" things as he can. I absolutely will not put him away or end our ride if he acts up...he wants to be silly, then we can continue to work, and work harder than we were before. I don't want him to think that throwing me/me falling off means that we are done working.

Thanks again for your response!
     
    08-02-2011, 11:27 PM
  #9
Green Broke
You sound like you did the right thing. I would have done the same thing. (Except I wouldn't have bailed on purpose. I'm still young and dumb and just try to hang on no matter what!)

I've never punished or disciplined a horse for getting scared. They are flight animals, after all. But it is important how you treat them when they do get scared. As it was pointed out, if you quit a riding session when the horse gets scared, they will learn it's a way to get out of work.

I won't pat or "comfort" them when they get scared, but rather try to confront what made them scared, if possible. I'll do simple easy exercises near the scary thing in question (such as pivots, sidepassing, backing, etc) to reinforce that I still want their attention on me even if they are unsure of something in the environment. Eventually, since I'm not making a big deal of the scary object, and asking them to do things instead, they'll come around too and realize the scary thing is not so bad and that it is just easier to pay attention to me.
     
    08-03-2011, 03:09 AM
  #10
Doe
Weanling
The best advice I can give you is to be alert. Not meaning to be critical, just observation but it's sounds like you were paying more attention to your friend and the conversation than your horse. Statistically horse riding is more dangerous than many of the 'extreme' sports. Glad to see luck was on your side that day and you weren't hurt.

Too many people forget that and I see them riding or leading and on the mobile phone and paying no attention to the horse. Or they are twisted around to talk to someone else. How many people could control a bolt or spook one handed and off balance? Especially if it's not a horse they have years of experience with.

Leading a horse from the ground or from it's back requires our full attention. Otherwise the horse will feel the difference and know when we are not 100% there. If you had been paying full attention to the horse, chances are the horse may not have spooked the same, or at least you would have been able to control it. Prevention is always the best cure.
     

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