What do you do when your horse spooks? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 36 Old 06-01-2009, 05:59 AM Thread Starter
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What do you do when your horse spooks?

My TB is a fairly calm horse, but he does spook a bit, so I was just wondering, what do you reckon is the best thing to do when a horse spooks? Talk to them and calm them down? Just ignore it? Approach and retreat?
Mostly I try to ignore it, and when he gets over it and walks on I praise him. Sometimes I encourage him to walk up to it (if I can actually tell what it is :roll: most of the time I think it's him imagining boogymen in the grass) and have a look. But what do you do when your horse spooks? Whether it be on the trail or in the arena.
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post #2 of 36 Old 06-01-2009, 06:13 AM
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I think you already have the answer - all three methods you have outlined are good . It depends on what the horse is spooking at.
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post #3 of 36 Old 06-01-2009, 08:07 AM
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Depends on the horse. Usually one rein stop until they halt, then walk on. Though some of them learn to spook in place, and for those I just give them a sec, and walk on.

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post #4 of 36 Old 06-01-2009, 08:28 AM
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sort of depends on why the spooked... my horse also a TB was spooking in the arena and was truly scared.... had to really work with her and make her not afraid of that area of the arena (there are woods there) it took time. on the trail I can usually tell if the spook is truly from being afraid or her being naughty..... if naughty then she gets a smack, if truly scared I try to get her to approach the object and learn to deal with it.
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post #5 of 36 Old 06-01-2009, 08:28 AM
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All the above depending on the type of spook and the circumstance.
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post #6 of 36 Old 06-01-2009, 09:40 AM
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I like to just ignore it. Correct the horse (get them back into the same gait/frame/spot) and go back to work doing whatever you were doing. If it happens twice in the same area, I will do extra work in the area. When a horse spooks, they aren't focused on you and the job - they are looking elsewhere. If you can get horse focused on the job, the spooking will go away.
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post #7 of 36 Old 06-01-2009, 10:05 AM
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I would not just ignore it. This will cause your horse to become a "sissy" You need to build up his confidence of not being afraid of anything. one rein stop him and then approach and retreat is what I do. Ignoring the problem is not going to do anything.
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post #8 of 36 Old 06-01-2009, 01:54 PM
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I think you have the right idea - the method would depend on what the horse is spooking at. If it's and object go have a boo at it and let him sniff and whatever he wants until he is comfortable. If he bolts the one rein stop would work well then go back to the area he spooked at until he comfortable. If it's just a little jerk I would just continue on makeing him pick up the pace you had him at and go back to the same spot over and over until he is confident again. I agree with Olycowgirl ignoreing the spook isn't going to work you need to boost his confidence and that would eliminate future spooks.
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post #9 of 36 Old 06-01-2009, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Olycowgirl View Post
I would not just ignore it. This will cause your horse to become a "sissy" You need to build up his confidence of not being afraid of anything. one rein stop him and then approach and retreat is what I do. Ignoring the problem is not going to do anything.
I have to respectfully disagree. Ignoring it doesn't cause your horse to be a sissy. It can cause your horse to be more focused on you (the rider) and less focused on whatever is scaring him.

Also, you can't tell your horse not to ever be afraid. Fear is a natural thing for all animals, horses and humans. He's going to be afraid, but the intensity of the fear is what you can change and lessen (from a big jump sideways spook or a bolting spook to a spook in place)....by way of keeping him busy/redirecting that moment of nervous energy.

Ignoring it can simply mean that you don't react to the spook/spooky object (as long as it's not a runaway truck barreling at you at 50 mph)....

If you always take the time to approach the spooky thing (approach and retreat) this can backfire and cause a "sissy" horse....because what you might be doing is telling the horse "look at everything that might scare you" vs. pay attention to me despite the spooky thing and your horse might get the habit of looking for things to spook at.

-One rein stop and go on with your life
-Disengage the hindquarters quickly - sending the energy through the hip, so to speak...when the horse relaxes, release and walk on...
-Ask for change of direction, stop, back up, shoulder move over, give to the bit, speed up, slow down, etc.... take charge of the situation and the horse can calm down faster because he can't think of too many things at once. So, either he thinks of you or the spooky thing.

The basic idea is that you train yourself not to react to the spooking horse. If you clamp your legs around him or pull back on both reins when he spooks, you can become part of the problem. Instead, redirect and stay in control.
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post #10 of 36 Old 06-01-2009, 06:15 PM
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It depends on not what they spooked at, it's how they spooked. If they went into a blind terror then the best thing would be to calm them down then walk them past whatever they spooked at when they are calmed down again and have recovered. If they spook and just shy then it's best to stop them, let them get a good look at it, move on a bit, then go by it again.
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