When a horse is scared... - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 18 Old 02-03-2010, 08:20 PM
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I take a deep breath and then try to find what she is afraid of. If it is legitimately scary, I will try to get to to walk up to it slowly, or get off and lead her as this gives her a boost of confidence. If I absolutely don't have time or know she is just being silly I will take a deep breath, make her look where i want her to go and very firmly using my seat, legs and reins make her walk past it.

"May your trails be crooked, winding, crooked, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view" -Edward Abbey
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post #12 of 18 Old 02-03-2010, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by MacabreMikolaj View Post

I find that method works with most horses, but I also find it extremely annoying and time consuming. My horse should move past objects because I asked him to, not because HE'S decided it's ok. It would be the day I'd start getting off and reassuring him for every little spook. And to be honest, that could very well have been WHY he spooked so much. He was getting "good attention" for negative behavior. My Arab mare is a spooker, and if I let her, she'd walk up and sniff out every object. She's learned over the years that she can look all she likes, but she better keep moving forward, so she's stopped shying from objects.

I only did this when I was ground working. If he spooked at something on the trail, tight circles worked. In the riding ring, I kept taking him by it...trying to get closer each time. It took 5 times going by a scary blowing tarp that was on the outside of the ring before he finally stopped paying any attention to it.
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post #13 of 18 Old 02-03-2010, 10:44 PM
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I agree with all that was said, though I have had horses who would come AT me in fear and it would become a very dangerous situation and the only way to keep them from harming a person was to give them a quick spank just to tell them to get out of my space..but as long as they aren't coming at me I do the same everyone else says, let them see the object, get them moving so they can get their mind off of it...

I have had one issue I never found the solution to, though. I had a GREAT pony who was what they call "bombproof" all the time except during storms. He had great respect for me and would do anything I pointed him to and nothing on earth phased him except for storms. The sound of the rain on the roof above his head, the sound of things crashing as the wind blew them, the wind in general, etc. etc...and he would get crazy and impossible to control, no amount of groundwork or anything else I tried could get him to calm down. At one point when he was panicking and "misbehaving" when I was trying to put his blanket on, another boarder smacked him right in the face without permission which only made him much more fearful in the long run (and man was I pissed..)

But anyway..I don't own this horse anymore but I'd love to hear suggestions for what to do in this situation if I come across it again..with this particular horse I'd either fight my way through it with him or avoid the situation altogether..
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post #14 of 18 Old 02-03-2010, 10:51 PM
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Depends on whether the horse is extroverted or introverted with his fear. If the horse is extroverted (high head, running around, snorting, prancing, basically lots of movement) I will match that energy then add just a tad more so I get noticed...once I have the horse's attention I will give him a task to do, or a pattern to stay on until he is calm and thinking again. I never ever punish a horse when he's scared. I will never push the horse past his threshold of where he is comfortable....if you do, you are asking for an explosion.

If the horse is introverted with his fear (frozen to the spot, not blinking, catatonic in extreme cases, hesitant, explodes suddenly "for no apparent reason" etc) I RETREAT RETREAT RETREAT. I back off and allow him the time he needs to come out of his shell and start trusting. These horses may not be running around with their heads in the sky, but they are very scared on the inside and when the pressure becomes too much for him to handle, that is when he explodes "for no reason at all." Potential to be a very dangerous situation.
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post #15 of 18 Old 02-03-2010, 10:58 PM
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Location: NW WA
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Our instructor just stands there with the horse allowing the horse look at whatever it was. Then she has them look at it from a different angle. If they spook going in or out of the barn, arena, fence, etc. she has them go in and out several times once they're calm.

I remember in one of my daughter's lessons a lady had a baby in an infant carrier. The paint had never seen or heard a baby and every time he went by the gate he'd get really alert and a little spooky. She'd have her look at the baby one way, then turn around, and do it over and over again until eventually he was able to walk by the baby without any issues.

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post #16 of 18 Old 02-04-2010, 07:40 PM
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If my horse is genuinely scared of something, and not just being an idiot, I'll lounge him around that "scary spot" or object until he's fine with it. If it's something I can pick up, I'll wave it around him, touch him with it, etc. If he randomly spooks at something, he doesn't get in trouble, we just go on and act as if nothing happened. When you make a big deal out of things, you're reinforcing the horse's thought of "uh oh scary thing!" and only making the problem worse. Act like it's no big deal and soon they'll know it's not.

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post #17 of 18 Old 02-04-2010, 08:01 PM
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First off I make sure to always try to remain calm and relaxed. You gotta remember that you are the herd leader and if you are afraid it is unfair to expect your horse to be calm.

When I deal with a scared frozen( or bolting or combination of both) horse:
If it moves back, go with it, don't jerk the lead or fight it, that just reinforces it in its head that whatever is truly scary and bad things happen when you go near it. Just go with it until it stops, then use your lead or carry a crop or small buggy whip and get its feet moving around you to disengage its mind.

When it relaxes move forward and reward it for doing so, but do not let it avoid what it is afraid of. Keep it working until it chills out. The worst thing you can do is let a scared horse stand still. Take baby steps and ask little things of it, do not expect too much, a few steps and a stop is progress, it means the horse is trying to use the thinking side of its brain, reward this with a rest, then keep going.

Ω Horses are a projection of peoples dreams Ω
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post #18 of 18 Old 02-04-2010, 08:30 PM
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Location: Western Mass
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When I'm riding my horse and he is absolutely frozen about to explode, I let him get a good look at whatever's bugging him, then urge him forward, and walk him by it 209830428 times till he's calmed down about it significantly. Then I will stop him in front of the area, and feed him a sugar cube [on his back, yes he has mastered the art of taking a sugar cube from my hand from his back, and seeing as how they dissolve there's no interference with the bit.] This is my way of telling him, see that's not so scary, here's a sugar cube for trusting me! Then, when I'm off his back and cooling him down I will stand with him in that area, let him touch the scary thing with his nose, and tell him he's a good boy.

I remember once I was riding and he was absolutely horrified, frozen, because of an orange traffic cone in the corner of the arena. I walked him by it over and over, then trotted and cantered by it till he was significantly calmed down. Afterwards I let him touch it with his nose, then proceeded to pick it up and pet his nose with it. He got the jist of what I was trying to say :]
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