training a spooky horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 01-20-2013, 11:24 PM Thread Starter
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Question training a spooky horse

hey i have a spooky horse he is spooked by nearly every thing from plastic bags to his shadow. i want to teach him to handle me moving on him and to help him do triks such as nodding and bowing. my questions are.
1. what is the best action to help him become bomb proof.
2. how can i train him to be ok with me moving and to feel comfortible if i ever stand on him.
3. how to help him learn different tricks

he can do them he just needs confidence i think. he is a black quarter horse and has a bad background before me and my mother got him. that is why he is not boom proof anymore. what can i do any suggestions. oh and i know i am a bad speller sorry for that.
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post #2 of 13 Old 01-21-2013, 08:14 AM
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It takes some horses a lot more to become "bomb proof" then others sometimes. I don't know his background but don't let that effect the way you train him (being too passive or accepting quarks because he had a tough life). The best thing you can do for you and your horse is groundwork. Keep exposing him to different environments and I recommend not trying too many of the tricks until he becomes more sound. Groundwork will increase his trust in you and in the long run make the add on training much easier because he will be more inclined to look for you. For you and his safety you need a strong base and this wont be achieved over night or in a week. Stick with groundwork training for now and exposure. Feel free to ask any questions about it if you'd like.
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post #3 of 13 Old 01-21-2013, 09:56 AM Thread Starter
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one question and then the back round. what kind of ground work? ok now the backround. around 2006 my moms project horse was sold thinking my stepdad bought him ( he didnt) two years later i was riding and my mom was pulled aside in the sale barn the stood a very ungroomed uncliped horse. he was skinny enough to see his ribs and hip bones. but five years later he is helthy anc happy. except for one thing they had him compleatly scared of everything. now he is more tolorent but still spooks more then most horses at the barn. and that is his backround
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post #4 of 13 Old 01-21-2013, 10:13 AM
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Unless you saw how he was previously treated you don't know what went on. If he sees you as being inferior to him (herd hierarchy), he will do what you say he is doing and he's finding out how well it works. What do you do when he spooks? Do you pet him and speak in soothing tones? If so you've rewarded his behaviour. When he spooks, ignore it and continue with what you were doing. As for plastic place it behind your back and rustle it back there, then gradually move it out beside you. If he seems leery, put it behind your back again. Keep in mind you are a teacher and you may need to teach him in small increments and keep him out of your space, the area about 3' around you.
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post #5 of 13 Old 01-21-2013, 10:29 AM
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So either;
a)you are not the leader(inconsistant, sub conciously rewarding him, pitying the horse, etc)or,
b) you have a genuinely spooky horse that will never be "bomb proof"

If A, which I suspect, first completely forget you ever thought/knew he was "abused". This is the best thing you can possibly do for him. Then you can start having a normal relationship. In the animal world pity=weakness, so someone who is pitying their horse can never have a normal relationship.

get a good groundwork book and/or DVD from someone, say clinton anderson, or buck branaman. Watch and apply.

If B, still get the book/DVD, this will help, just be prepared that he may never be the bomb proof type.
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post #6 of 13 Old 01-21-2013, 10:52 AM
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Put a lead rope on him and start walking him. Everywhere. Start with a little, and build up. If he is genuinely afraid of something, just get him to take one step closer and then YOU decide to turn around. If need be, back him up, get him to take a few steps closer, and then YOU decide to turn around.

In my limited experience, that is better for a horse than 90% of the desensitizing training that people do.
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post #7 of 13 Old 01-21-2013, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by mynxrider View Post
one question and then the back round. what kind of ground work?
Blue is right, you do not want to pity him but you can show compassion. It is now your responsibility to help him become the horse he is meant to be. I also want you to accept that he may not be able to become a trick horse. Some horses can not do everything (whether it's mental or physical), the last horse I trained was neglected, trained/tortured, not under saddle for eight years, yada yada yada. I tried to train him to work cattle but he didn't have a taste for it, he did however have good potential as a Western Dressage horse so I had to change my tactic. You need to work with him through his sticky spots but you also need to understand the why behind what he does. Is he genuinely scared or does he already have your number.

There are many different styles of groundwork out there. Groundwork, essentially, is you working with your horse from the ground to prepare him for when you are in the saddle. The best thing you can do right now is to search Natural Horsemanship. Research clinicians, study their styles, read their stories, find someone that you can look up to and use their method to help your horse. There are some really big names out there in the Natural Horsemanship world so you may need to do some digging to find someone that you like. There are many different styles out there and some work better for others. Do your research and invest in the equipment (or make your own, I made a flag out of a broken whip and a piece of tarp, not as sharp looking but has the same effect) especially a rope halter. Also, attend clinics if you can, you can never learn too much when it comes to horses.

Feel free to ask any more questions.

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post #8 of 13 Old 01-21-2013, 05:30 PM
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Being abused doesnt essentially make a horse spooky of objects - it would make the horse nervous of people or defensive
Spooky people can make spooky horses so try not to react to anything he spooks at and when he does spook ignore it and carry on - if you start saying 'Good boy its not going to eat you' you are actually confirming to him that there is something there to be afraid of
Apart from day to day routine I never desensitise horses - they get used to me flapping blankets around, making a lot of noise, dropping things etc and if they jump I never apologise. They have to learn to deal with it.
Having the horse trust you as a leader is number one priority and that means spending as much time around him as you can
Concentrate on basic groundwork for now - I'm not sure where you're up to with that. I'm afraid I'm not into all the 'trick' stuff as I dont see it as something I need to do - though when I was young I did all the standing up on their backs etc - its like rite of passage I suppose
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post #9 of 13 Old 01-22-2013, 12:01 AM
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As a fellow owner of a horse who spooks at everything..... time, patience and A LOT of desensitizing exercises.

*RedmansFoxyChic*Starlites Chapparral*ICF Take a Chance On Me*Jay Bar D's Sunshine Jaybar
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post #10 of 13 Old 01-22-2013, 12:14 AM
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I also have a horse who sometimes spooks. And a crow hop or sudden side step is always met with circles so small you'd think we were reigning. I work with him on the ground constantly. Almost daily ( hey some days the weather and life takes its toll). I'll walk him places he hates to go, he wears tarps, and we never ever baby any of them as far as keeping quiet or tip toeing around em. He never ever gets a soothing notion till he does something right. And he's learned the tone of my voice when I'm unhappy.
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