trail spooks - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 05-31-2012, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
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trail spooks

I got a slight way out of my barn driveway tonight and a motorcycle came up behind us and slowed down to comment on my horse. He was fine with that to my surprise. A couple steps further someone had their trash out and he totally freaked unexpectedly and backed into oncoming traffic causing a car to come to a screaching halt. It was very scary. I circxled him numerous times trying to get him past it but he kept going into the road and traffic kept coming. I gave up and took him back to the barn and worked him hard in the arena. What would you have done?? I was intent on getting him past it..even went back to barn for a whip but ai feel like a failure. I don't wanna get us hurt out there either.
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-01-2012, 12:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hberrie View Post
I got a slight way out of my barn driveway tonight and a motorcycle came up behind us and slowed down to comment on my horse. He was fine with that to my surprise. A couple steps further someone had their trash out and he totally freaked unexpectedly and backed into oncoming traffic causing a car to come to a screaching halt. It was very scary. I circxled him numerous times trying to get him past it but he kept going into the road and traffic kept coming. I gave up and took him back to the barn and worked him hard in the arena. What would you have done?? I was intent on getting him past it..even went back to barn for a whip but ai feel like a failure. I don't wanna get us hurt out there either.
Get to where you can lead your horse down the road and be relaxed enough about it to make a phone call, or just enjoy the scenery without worrying about what your horse is going to do. The part where you're working him hard with the whip, I've done that quite a bit myself and I can't recall a time when it had the desired effect. Mostly it served to create dullness in my horses and a situation in which I found myself using more and more pressure over time for less and less response. The horse seems to make no meaningful connection between being rode down in an arena or round pen and going out on the trail. Personally, I've found the sticky thread here by Cherie on making good trail horses extremely valuable. If you're not feeling confident enough yet to implement those strategies under saddle, I would adapt those suggestions to leading on the ground. I've begun to do this very thing with a mare I have who's bad to spook on the trail and the results so far are encouraging. :)
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post #3 of 8 Old 06-01-2012, 01:08 AM
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Get more response to your 'leg' at home where you are not in danger. If you want to be able to ride a horse past 'new' scary things out on the road or trail, you have to have 100% control at home.

The 'leg yielding' exercises I use will get an obedient horse past just about everything. If it doesn't, you just do not have enough obedience instilled into your horse. The key in teaching this to a 'boogery' horse is to 'set him up' at home. I like the safety of a big pen or an arena to teach this. You just have to set up things you know he will not want to go past AFTER you have him willingly 'leg yielding' without obstacles.

Like everything else 'new', I want to do this schooling on a horse that is settled and quiet. I think it is a HUGE help to do this after a long ride and not with a 'fresh' horse.

NOTE: Do not 'show' any of these things to your horse before you attempt to ride him past them.

If he does not like garbage cans, set one up in a pen without showing it to him. I would set it right next to the fence or rail. I would ride past it repeatedly, turning him toward it right after he passed it and riding him past it again while it is on the other side of him. I would do this over and over -- for 2 hours if necessary -- until he just walks by with his head turned slightly away for the object and your inside leg holding him over very close to it as you go by.

Then, I would set it out about 20 feet away from the fence or rail and ride him between it and the rail. I would gradually bring it closer and closer to the rail until I could 'push' him right through when it was only 4 or 5 feet from the rail.

Next, I would throw a tarp over the fence and ride him by that -- same routine. When he would do that, I would drape the tarp over a barrel (or that dreaded trash can).

When I was working with horses and riders working toward CLEET certification, we used shopping carts, brightly colored barrels, people in big rain coats, and even used a pen with a pig in it and one with ducks and geese in it.
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post #4 of 8 Old 06-01-2012, 01:57 AM
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in your situation, at THAT time, I would have gotten off and hand walked him past the scary things.
Then, go back and do the homework as suggested by Cherie. Heck, i need to do that homework!
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-01-2012, 03:39 PM Thread Starter
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He actually responds better from the saddle than on the ground which is why I didn't get off. Guess that means I need to do alot more groundwork huh?
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-01-2012, 04:17 PM
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Whether he responds better from the ground or not, you always have more control of where your horse is moving from the ground. That situation could have been an entirely different post today. He was so distracted by the scary non threatening monster, he didnt see himself throwing the both of you towards the scariest, deadliest monster. That must have been terrifying for both of you and I'm glad everything turned out the way it did.
Try what Cherie has suggested. You could also try doing that ride early morning or late night when traffic is less busy.
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post #7 of 8 Old 06-01-2012, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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Very well said letagirlshowu. I kept trying to tell him he was gonna get hit by a car instead of having to walk past a garbage can, but he kept saying " i don't care, I would rather kill us both than walk past that can." ;) It was very scary and I have been learning to trust him but that is just too much. I wish I didn't have to ride the road to get to trails but I do. If it was a monster on the trail I could have taken my time and done whatever I needed to do but on the road forget it!!
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post #8 of 8 Old 06-02-2012, 11:55 AM
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Read the advice from Cherie. It is described in Basic Training for a Safe Trail Horse, where using boredom as a tool is effective. Horses dislike being bored with the same thing over and over. Teaching a horse to go past something about which it is suspicious or spooked by repeatedly turning it toward the object and going past until it becomes bored is the secret. You will become bored before the horse, but the horse needs to become bored and show no signs of seeing the object. Believe it or not...a horse is intelligent enough to learn that if it spooks or even shows suspicion of some new thing on a trail it will often choose to show no evidence of that rather than have a boring teaching lesson!!
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