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countof3 07-16-2012 12:57 PM

Ideas for spooked horse on trail
I'm new here, hi. My name is Christine, I grew up riding horses from a young age, I can ride both English and Western but prefer Western. I actually spent most of my youth bareback which I'm so glad because it really gives you a good seat when riding. Did for me anyway.

I'm now 43, hadn't ridden except on occasion for better part of 20 years. Leasing a Quarter Horse 9 year old gelding. He's my favorite kind, he has some personality, pushes me to be a better rider but is well trained enough to be great to ride.

We've gone out of the ranch a handful of times, ridden "around the block" so to speak, he's spooked on a couple of occasions but nothing major. Dogs that surprise him barking or some weird looking sign but mostly he will kind of prance/hop and then settle once he realizes its not a threat.

He has been trailed numerous times in his life, we have been together now for 3 months and even my kids ride him on occasion.

Took him out yesterday on a longer ride with two new people (new to us, so strange horses, strange people, going to a "new" place). We get about 2 miles into the ride, I'm pleased because he's not even reacting to dogs - even a loose one - he's watchful but calm.

We get down into a dry riverbed. We go under this bridge, low, kinda dark, he's a little apprehensive but does fine. We come out the other side and he just goes nuts. He goes into crow hopping, bucking, rearing, spinning around and basically is trying to bolt back to the barn. I never even came loose from it - stayed on him for another 15 minutes just waiting for him to settle and he never did. As soon as he felt calmer I'd try to move him forward and he'd start up again. The people I rode with were becoming concerned for obvious reasons as he wasn't just "spooked' he was throwing a giant 2000 pound tantrum and wanted nothing mroe than to bolt home and would not settle no matter what I did.

I finally had to recognize that the only way back was under that bridge, it was cement and the ceiling was only 2 feet over my head - arms length. I had to get off because he could have killed me if he panicked under there.

To shorten the rest of this story (just giving a background on me, the horse and the situation) I had to walk him home the entire 2 miles while he "flipped out" repeatedly. I had never seen him act this way, he was not hurt, and after awhile the other riders and I decided this was more deliberate than anything because when we rounded the corner to the barn he instantly settled (grr). One other rider walked him a bit for me so I could rest up on her horse (he was soaked head to toe from being so wound up and I was beat) and he was giving her grief too and she's a very seasoned horse person.

So my question is - I took the avenue of "remain calm" and I was talking to him, a couple of times when he got raelly stupid I did have to get stern with him but mostly I figured if I got animated or nervous that was only going to feed him. That tactic had zero effect.

Our plan next weekend is to burn him out in the round pen and get him out after and just work him off the ranch over and over. A lot of the people out there know this horse, the owner and have seen him trail fine dozens of times so they feel like he was throwing a giant tantrum.

This is a first for me. I've been on tons of horses that have spooked over this that and the other thing but never on one that flipped out and would not settle back down. I'll take ANY advice on this one. And we both made it back in one peice, no injuries which my main concern was he was doing so much spinning and bucking that he was going to put a hoof in something and hurt someone or himself.

Oh to add, the owner has never experience this with him. So I know *I* am part of this equation absolutely.

LoveHipHop 07-16-2012 01:25 PM

Eek! Poor you. Sounds like you did all the right things to me and dealt with it in the right way. I would have suggested maybe he was in pain (maybe why he stopped near the barn as he knew his tack was coming off soon?) but he was ok for the first half of your ride... although you said he was quite quiet, perhaps because he was hurting. Perhaps he was jumpy because it was a new place - like you said, taking him to more new places should gradually help! You could try desensitizing him with sheets and plastic bags too. Good luck!

BubblesBlue 07-16-2012 01:39 PM

I really don't know what to say but maybe this thread could help.

tinyliny 07-16-2012 02:24 PM

I immediately thought that maybe he got stung by a bee, just after exiting the bridge tunnel. Such places often harbor hornets nests because they are sheltered. the sudden eruption says "bee sting" to me. Once he lost it, he could not emotionally settle again and kind of realized how far he was from the barn.

I think you did everything you could have. For the next time, take a rope halter and long lead line, and if the throws a ruckus, get off and work him around you. I think it was wise that you stayed calm and used that approach, the fact that he would not meet your calmness with calmness means to me that he "needed" to be worked. He needed movement in his hindquarters, he needed an active direction, not a a calm void. So, that's when the halter/lead comes in handy for doing lunging .

That is my only suggestions. and kuddos for staying on. I would have been road kill in three hops.

countof3 07-16-2012 02:50 PM

Funny you should say that, I ALMOST put his halter and lead on the horn and then said "nah, only an hour". Famous last words right? I did let him lunge around me a bit but he was bucking so much I actually was getting concerned that he might hurt himself.

Honestly I've never seen a horse have that much stamina in my life LOL. I thought for certain he would burn out and be forced to settle, but no!

The bee sting/wasp was mentioned by someone else at the ranch later on on a phone call. He's a trainer out there, I'm going to ask him to go check him for possible stings. Usually they are in the ground and get their legs, I've seen it happen once before on a trail years ago. Good point.

countof3 07-16-2012 03:31 PM

BubblesBlue, thank you for that thread, I think it's awesome advice. While we were not walking up to things - I think it will be important for me to keep the focus on "do what I say, stop looking at everything". Because once he freaked taht is exactly what he was doing - he was scanning everything in sight and making himself frantic.

Thank you for sending that link :)

BubblesBlue 07-16-2012 03:37 PM

Anytime! I'm not really a trail rider myself but I still found the advice very helpful and I thought you would like to take a look at it too.

tinyliny 07-16-2012 10:08 PM

yesterday my horse was tied next to his buddy at the hitching rail (in a halter) and suddenly, completely out of the blue, he reared up and started to buck and haul back on the line so hard he almost pulle the post out of the ground. I was not there, but my friend leaped up and undid the quick release knot and moved him away from the pole. He settled quickly. All we can think is that he got stung by a bee.

And the other day, out getting my horse fromn the field where the herd was peacefully grazing, all of a sudden anotehr horse started to buck, fart and run, with his tale just thrashing about. I knew he had been stung by a bee. in his panic to out run it, he came very close to just running me over, twice. horses seem to really lose their minds when this happens. I just hope it never happens when I am on their backs.

countof3 07-16-2012 10:26 PM

I'm going to ask someone to check him for stings on his legs, belly and hindquarters. I can't get out until next Saturday and really want to know. But really it was that hour long walk back where he kept panicking instead of settling... maybe he just couldn't get past it? I really appreciate the input. I also wonder (and need to check) after a good solid 10 minutes of bucking and crow hopping, he may have also hurt his back with me staying on through it. I was glad I can but that's a lot of jarring on his back. I'm not huge but I'm solid, 170 pounds up and down on his back like that may have hurt him. I know MY back hurts today LOL!

countof3 07-16-2012 10:31 PM

OK the trainer out there is going to check him over for me tomorrow. We still want to work on him trusting my judgement vs. deciding a flip out session is a good idea - but if something was hurting, either a sting or him hurting his back bucking with me - would at least explain the continued panic. Especially since no one has ever seen him act that way, even me.

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