My Spooky Horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 07-28-2013, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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My Spooky Horse

Okay, so I have a 12 year old gelding. He is a chestnut and he has a white eye. He is very sweet and gentle but when I ride him in the indoor arena in the stables, he spooks (he is a dressage horse). He has been in this arena for 8 months already. I fell off him twice already in 5 months. He just turns around and gallops to the fence. I would tell him to turn right but he wouldn't listen and he would just turn left. I would lose my balance and grip him with my knees but that is when he started to buck so I fell off.
Sometimes, it is not that severe but it still gives me a heart attack whenever he spooks so I am too afraid to stretch him in the beginning when I ride which is not good.
Are there any techniques to solve this?

(I'm sorry, I put this in the wrong category but :S)

Last edited by dressagefreak; 07-28-2013 at 11:44 AM.
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-28-2013, 12:05 PM
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First of all, how is he riding out and in other locations? Also is he spooking at actual things or fairies? Finally have you only had him for 8 months or is that to do with the arena?

I would guess that he is just being naughty and not paying attention and has now figured out how to get out of working.

So how to get around it, firstly, get a trainer if you don't have one already so you can nip this is the bud quickly as its a dangerous habit!

If this is not a possibility or in addition to, make sure your horse is concentrating on you when in the arena, lots of transitions, shapes. I once read somewhere (can't remember which famous rider said) that if there is a specific area they are spooking at, try avoid it in the warm up if possible (perhaps working only in one side of the arena) , and then when they are concentrating on you incorporate it, so you are not setting yourself up to fail (if that makes sense).

I am also going out on a limb by saying this but you mentioned he is a dressage horse, so is it possible he might be a bit soured by the arena? If you think this might be the case maybe just have a week or two of hacking for a refresh or try schooling in a field if available?

Hope this helps!
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post #3 of 13 Old 07-28-2013, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flipper View Post
First of all, how is he riding out and in other locations? Also is he spooking at actual things or fairies? Finally have you only had him for 8 months or is that to do with the arena?

I would guess that he is just being naughty and not paying attention and has now figured out how to get out of working.

So how to get around it, firstly, get a trainer if you don't have one already so you can nip this is the bud quickly as its a dangerous habit!

If this is not a possibility or in addition to, make sure your horse is concentrating on you when in the arena, lots of transitions, shapes. I once read somewhere (can't remember which famous rider said) that if there is a specific area they are spooking at, try avoid it in the warm up if possible (perhaps working only in one side of the arena) , and then when they are concentrating on you incorporate it, so you are not setting yourself up to fail (if that makes sense).

I am also going out on a limb by saying this but you mentioned he is a dressage horse, so is it possible he might be a bit soured by the arena? If you think this might be the case maybe just have a week or two of hacking for a refresh or try schooling in a field if available?

Hope this helps!
I agree with Flipper.

If you can't get a trainer, or a coach to help you, you should try doing lots of patterning, direction changing, and things like that to help keep him focused on you, and not the "scary things".

These videos helped me quite a bit with my mare on the trails, they may be helpful in your situation, too.



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post #4 of 13 Old 07-29-2013, 09:11 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flipper View Post
First of all, how is he riding out and in other locations? Also is he spooking at actual things or fairies? Finally have you only had him for 8 months or is that to do with the arena?

I would guess that he is just being naughty and not paying attention and has now figured out how to get out of working.

So how to get around it, firstly, get a trainer if you don't have one already so you can nip this is the bud quickly as its a dangerous habit!

If this is not a possibility or in addition to, make sure your horse is concentrating on you when in the arena, lots of transitions, shapes. I once read somewhere (can't remember which famous rider said) that if there is a specific area they are spooking at, try avoid it in the warm up if possible (perhaps working only in one side of the arena) , and then when they are concentrating on you incorporate it, so you are not setting yourself up to fail (if that makes sense).

I am also going out on a limb by saying this but you mentioned he is a dressage horse, so is it possible he might be a bit soured by the arena? If you think this might be the case maybe just have a week or two of hacking for a refresh or try schooling in a field if available?

Hope this helps!
Um, I had him for almost a year now. He has no problem when I ride him in an open area. Well, he does spook sometimes but it's minor but when I ride him in indoor arenas (wherever) he would spook a lot. My trainer says it's okay but I don't feel comfortable when I ride him. Would you like to see a video of when he spooks? I feel that he is just so alert and aware of anything and it is hard to bring his concentration back to me so if it is an open area, he would be more relaxed.
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post #5 of 13 Old 07-29-2013, 09:20 AM
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I'm going to be the bad person and say...Its you. You are nervous on him, causing him to be nervous. Its like pouring gasoline on fire. You need to be more confident in the saddle. He is looking to you for a firm leader and you are not measureing up.

Perhaps this horse is not a good fit for you and it'd be wiser to find a horse that isn't as reactive for you to learn on.
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post #6 of 13 Old 07-29-2013, 10:17 AM
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Yes a video of him spooking would be good!
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post #7 of 13 Old 07-29-2013, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dressagefreak View Post
Um, I had him for almost a year now. He has no problem when I ride him in an open area. Well, he does spook sometimes but it's minor but when I ride him in indoor arenas (wherever) he would spook a lot. My trainer says it's okay but I don't feel comfortable when I ride him. Would you like to see a video of when he spooks? I feel that he is just so alert and aware of anything and it is hard to bring his concentration back to me so if it is an open area, he would be more relaxed.
ClaPort is exactly right. It is YOU. And I don't mean that in a rude or offensive sense, but it is true.

Horses needs riders/handlers who are confident. If the rider is confident, the horse is confident. If the rider is uncomfortable or nervous, the horse will be too. If the rider is afraid, the horse will be too.

You'll have to work on controlling your nerves, before you can attempt to control him. When you are in the indoors arena, you need to imagine and pretend you are riding outside and nothing can go wrong. Take deep relaxing breathe to keep your body relaxed. And it sound silly, but singing keeps you and the horse relaxed. Pick a relaxing tune and sing or hum it. Even if your mind is in panic, do not let it show in your body. Do not tense up; do not grip on the reins. Stay relaxed.

When you horse loses focus on your because he is trying to spook at something, you HAVE to get his attention back on you. It can be making small circles, or stopping and backing, or sidepassing. It doesn't matter as long as you keep your horse's feet moving, in the manner that you ask him to.

I can totally understand you being gun shy after getting bucked off a couple times, but you've got to beat your mind at its own game. Think confident and your horse will be too.

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post #8 of 13 Old 07-29-2013, 05:29 PM
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Rider fear probably contributes to the situation, but doesn't explain it all since he's fine riding outside.
Being "arena sour" is a possibility.

How is he working in hand in the arena, lunging etc.? Have you tried working near the scary spots while you're safe on the ground?

What about problems with his eyes? If his sight is impaired it could explain being spooky indoor and not outside.
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-29-2013, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dressagefreak View Post
Okay, so I have a 12 year old gelding. He is a chestnut and he has a white eye. He is very sweet and gentle but when I ride him in the indoor arena in the stables, he spooks (he is a dressage horse). He has been in this arena for 8 months already. I fell off him twice already in 5 months. He just turns around and gallops to the fence. I would tell him to turn right but he wouldn't listen and he would just turn left. I would lose my balance and grip him with my knees but that is when he started to buck so I fell off.
Sometimes, it is not that severe but it still gives me a heart attack whenever he spooks so I am too afraid to stretch him in the beginning when I ride which is not good.
Are there any techniques to solve this?

(I'm sorry, I put this in the wrong category but :S)
Get a trainer.

You need some serious help with your riding, and you need some serious help with the breaking of that horse because he's now taken advantage of you and its unlikely it will get better unless there is something there to help you, or even put some training rides on him for you.

Find a trainer you can work with for a couple of months.
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-30-2013, 04:37 PM
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This won't solve all your problems, but if a horse ever spooks and takes off on me, I use a one-rein stop (AKA your emergency brake.) Now it is hard, especially for a beginner, to even think to use this when your horse takes off and everything happens so fast, but I learned it in the beginning and made it a habit, and no it is an automatic response. When the horse bolts, take either your left or right rein (might be easier to use the one in the direction he's turning already) and pull that rein so that your horse's nose is darn near touching your leg. A horse can't very well run while bent in a tight circle. They may spin around for a second, but if you can practice one rein stops ahead of time (work them into your regular riding, and reward your horse with a release when he stops as soon as you apply one.) Now, this won't solve your nervousness/ lack of confidence, but it may curb the bolting part a little bit.
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