Horse spooks when it's windy?
I have a 5 year old Mare named Andie. We've just started riding again for this season after doing lots of ground work and working on her manners. Today (4/9), Was our second ride (Yay!)
But, I'm having trouble riding her when it's windy. The last time I rode when it was windy, Andie spooked and I fell off getting a minor concussion.:-( The pen I usually ride in is an open grass acre. I walked her around it not even a full lap today, and she was instantly tense and wouldn't stop doing a nervous-type of prance.I noticed when it's windy, she's on edge (I kind of understand because she's young and still learning). Her head is up high and she looks around alot with her shoulders tight-like she ready to take off, which really makes me nervous since I've fallen off.--How do I get her attention and show her that just because it's windy,nothing is going to attack her?? MY 26 year old pony was with us and was as mellow as ever.
I'm 15 years old, and have been training Andie on my own since I got her a year ago. I don't have a round pen, or an indoor arena so it makes things a little more difficult. Are there any simple exercises or things I could show her so she's more comfortable riding on windy days?? I'd really like to help her because I can tell she's trying to be good but she is to caught up in things caught in the wind ( especially leaves..).
Any suggestions or ideas? Anything would help bunches! Thanks :)
Unfortunately some horses just seem to be susceptible to the wind. Prey animals are affected by the wind because it reeks havoc with their ability to sense danger. It impairs their sense of hearing and smell, so naturally some animals become very flighty and nervous.
This is where you are going to have to step up as the leader, you know how you said she gets nervous which then makes you nervous? Well you have to take it the other way, you have to be calm and assured which will transmit calmness and assurance to her. You have to ignore the wind and ride her as if its non existent. If she reacts to the wind ignore her action and keep pushing her to do as you ask her. In a nutshell you are just going to have to ride through it.
My mom has a gelding twice Andie's age (an ex-dressage horse no less) who is really spooky in the wind. INCREASE groundwork during those windy days and lots of leadership in between... Why should she be afraid of anything if you are there, as the calm lead mare?
What we do with our tb at the barn on windy days is walk him on lead in the place we will be riding him on windy or even rainy days (indoor during those times) he seems more calm when we go out and just relaxed, just portray that the arena(or field) is the place to be. That usually works from what I've noticed. p.s. Congrats on the 2nd ride!
I agree with ButterfliEterna; think about what you want her to do... be calm in the wind when riding, right? Well, what comes before? You on your feet. The ground work is always a HUGE part of training and is a great basis to a major issue such as this. What I used with my 9 year old Arab gelding was the clicker training. We worked with small tricks and he became more confident with me as the leader. He learned patience, trust, and how to solve a problem using his BRAIN. I feel that sometimes we push our horses so far expecting them to be able to work through anything if we just tell them to, but sometimes they don't understand how to logically think the issues at hand out. Imagine if you were the one going outside on the windy day. You are all excited the breeze running up your tummy and you just want to go, but someone on your back is holding down and telling you to listen. I wouldn't even more so if i was really scared. When I think more into my horse when we got him (if this helps) he was first used in an endurance race once. He got some placement and so i thought he was a sound horse. NOT! He was dancing around and sweating up too quickly the whole trail ride! I thought he was nervous and or excited, but now thinking he just didn't know how to handle the situation. He was told to run and run faster if something spooked him. I believe that's were the race came into play. Which i see as STUPID, but moral of the story look at how she reacts on a line in a gusty day out of pasture or what have you. Train to help her understand what to do. I taught my boy to lower his head with pressure to the poll then later the nice slight half halt to the bit. He settles and now has a job.
So consider what your mare would enjoy as her job... work it on the ground then put the saddle on. Maybe just practice with leaning on the saddle without sitting. Work on standing still with the wind and you approaching.
I'm sure you will meet together and be able to solve this bump in the road. Great work on the prior ground work and keep it up!!!
If your horse is giving you signals that he is not paying attention to you, and is nervous, you've got some work to do BEFORE you get on! Use this opportunity to solidify groundwork. Put the horse on the lunge line and work on transitions, walk - trot, walk - canter, canter -trot, and canter - walk. If he is attentive, and no longer spooky, then I might consider getting on the horse, if you feel he is behaving reliably. If not, put in a good groundwork session and call it a day! Life is too short, and there are so many opportunities to train, ride, and connect with your horse, there is no reason to put yourself at risk when you are getting signals that all is not well! Ride safe, and good luck!
She won't be worried about the wind if she is truly focused on you. Work her harder on windy days - push her and make her think! Set up some cones or ground polls and get those feet moving & her brain engaged. Convince her that YOU are much scarier than the wind. Ground work, ground work, ground work!
With horses new to riding I'd make sure every time I got in the saddle was a win. I would do lots of ground work on windy days an ride as much as possible on calmer ones. I walked my saddle bred like a dog on windy days until it was no big deal to him. In doing that I found on calm days he didn't mind all that great he was just manageable. But after several rides he got closer to the way I wanted him. It also may be a good idea at using a snaffle to practice taking away his head. Teaching yourself to react to a spook by taking his head is a good habit. He must be taught this in advance. For many horses it's like an off button. I'm sad to say that riding means falling off. It really stinks you where injured the first time. It generally isn't a big deal. My mom loves me more than anyone ever loved anyone but I caught her laughing once when I got bucked after riding over some ground bees. Keep your ego out of it and do what make sense. You seem pretty accomplished already. Good luck!
my NH trainer came out last night and worked with my horse and i in the round pen next to the freeway. Our barn is right next to a HUGE freeway and i tend to stay away from the round pens closest to it, as my horse acts like he's going to flip over and die from the noise. I avoid it, he avoids it, we both get nervous about it, and it just causes problems. So we worked for 3 hours solid in the round pen nearest the freeway last night. By the end of the night, he was all ears and eyes on me. It was amazing. Just gotta' push through it and be the leader!
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