What to do with spooky horses
I just met a new friend who loves to ride horses as much as I do. We have been riding together for a couple of months now. She has a young horse that spooks at everything. If we meet someone on the trail and they have a dog, my new friend becomes worried that her horse will spoke because of the dog and it usually does. Not only does it spook at dogs, but at everything, leaves, squrriels. other horses, trash cans, people, and even trees that have fallen down.
My horses, ( I have four now) are not usually spooky at all. They are use to many different trails and around many different situations. I notice recently her horse is so jumpy that my horse has started to be a little jumpy if I ride behind her horse. So, when I ride with her I started to ride my horse (G-Man) in front and keep him in a running walk and busy paying attention to me and it seemed to help him from being so jumpy.
This month I have started breaking a young two year old filly, Cinnamon. I am concerned about riding this young horse with a horse that is skidish . So, I asked her to ride one of my horses that is very confident and doesn't usually spook at anything and is really easy to handle. She was willing to ride my horse but wanted to get use to her before she rode her on the trials. I had her to ride in a large arena to get use to my horse, Dancer. I let my dog go over to the arena with us because I thought it would be good for the young horse, Cinnamon to get use to dogs riding with us.
Now Dancer,the horse that my friend was riding has ridden with this dog over a hundred times so I wasn't worried about the horse being nervous about the dog. We started riding in the arena which is a very large arena and I had my friend ride one end and I was going to ride the young filly and the other end with the dog. There is cattle in the field running around and other horses in another field and a tractor going two fields away and several things that I wanted my young horse exposed to under controlled circumstances. My little filly was doing great.
Now my friend was very nervous about the dog, cattle and the different things going on and I reminded her that the horse she was riding was used to all this. I no more got it out of my mouth when this experience horse that I have ridden many times with out one situation, spooked and stopped real fast throwing the person on her neck. This scared my friend and she was ready to bail off. I calmed the friend down and she rode a little bit longer in the arena but I noticed from then on my horse that she was riding was acting like she was scared of everything. My friend did not want to ride her on the trail. So we didn't ride the trail.
The next day, I rode the horse that I let my friend ride. I went back to same arena had the dog with me and the horses were in one field and the cattle in the other field as it was the day before. The only thing different was the tractor wasn't there and I was riding her by myself. The cows even ran from the horse when I got to close to the fence were they where at. She didn't do a thing.
I was wondering why she acted that way with my friend but was fine with me? I am wondering if it is because she is use to me and I feel confident riding her. I don't know what she spooked at with my friend, she thought it was the dog.
Does anyone have any insight on this? I would like to help my friend but not sure what to say to her....:oops:
The horse being fine with you and not your friend points to her being at fault. You know your horse and you're confident with her, she can sense that and feels there is nothing to worry about, you will control any "scary" situations.
Your friend sounds very nervous and seems to always be anticipating a spook or something going wrong. Your horse picked up on this and felt the need to control the situation herself which probably resorted in the spook.
We have a "spooky" horse at our yard. It all depends on who is riding him. If I, or anyone else with more experience rides him he tries a spook but we just move on, show him there's nothing scary at the bottom end of the arena and for the rest of the lesson he is absolutely fine. If a novice happens to ride him, or simply someone who doesn't know how to deal with the spooking, he does it more and more, until eventually they are riding in one half of the arena because they can't get him up there.
He is the horse in my avatar, a 16.2 BFG.
Although it does depend on the horse and their confidence, I think a lot of it comes from the rider too :-)
By the way, I love the looks of your horse. What breed is it?
He is an Irish Draft, we have 20 others (not all Irish Drafts, other horses lol) :-)
I would be willing to, but right now I am spending my free time trying to get some time on this two year old before the weather gets to cold for me. lol.
The real reason is ...... I am also concerned about hurting her feelings. She is very sensitive when it comes to her riding abilities and her horse. Her horse was at the trainers all last winter and she said that the trainer worked with her riding her. She also mention that the trainer said that she didn't sit in the seat correctly and it made her mad. She feels that she knows what she is doing. She also has been riding a lot longer than I have. I don't know if she would appreciate me trying to ride her horse to "fix it" when she doesn't think there is anything wrong with it or her. She is blaming the trainer for any faults that her horse has with spooking. She thinks that they did not spend enough time working with her. Until she rode my horse I guess I thought the same thing.
Are your other draft horses at pretty as that one? I never seen one like it. Around here quarter horses are popular, and of course TB. I ride gaited horses but they are not very popular around here except with my friends. We get teased alot. I don't mine.:lol: I enjoy the ride.
We don't just have drafts, we have a couple of Warmbloods, a couple of Hensons, a couple of Hanoverians, a Cob type and some small Welsh Sec A ponies :-)
I really enjoy riding with her but concern about the behavior of her horse. She also lets her horse eat grass while we are riding. I see it as another problem with the horse because she has a hard time making her go because her head is always down looking for something to eat. She is used to riding her horse alone. I don't think my friend has done very much trail riding especially not with this horse. I keep trying to find excuses for her and her horse , I guess I take trail riding a lot more serious than she does.
She often complements how well behaved my horses are. I may use it as a way to lead in how to help her horse. I will also talk about how different trail riding is then showing horses and even ask her more information about how to show a horse. I think that has been a lot of her riding experience. Any other suggestions, we are suppose to ride together tomorrow. :wink:
She lives next door to me and I don't want to loose her as a riding buddy.:-(
Unfortunately, this sounds like a situation where you're going to have to not worry about hurting her feelings or tip-toeing around her. She needs to know that she's the one who is causing the problems. Not the trainer. Not the horse. Her.
I had a similar situation with a friend of mine. She has a 16yo quarab gelding that she's had since he was a two-year-old unbroke colt. She sent him to a trainer for a FULL YEAR to break him out and put some time on him when he was 2.5. The first time she rode him at the trainer, he bucked her off hard. Now, even 14 years later, she refuses to let anyone else ride him because he *might* buck...even though he's never bucked since. She also swears that her horse is afraid of heights and has to be led down hills, or along narrow trails with even a slight drop-off on one side. Funny thing is that when she actually swallows HER fear that he's going to react and just make him do it, he's fine. My best friend and I have been working on her for two years to get her past tranferring her fear to her horse.
Simply put, if you anticipate something bad is going to happen, it will. Why? Because horses are prey animals and look to the dominant horse (in this case, their rider) for direction on if they should be frightened of something or not. If the dominant/lead "horse" is tense or afraid, the horse will feed off that. Conversely, if the lead "horse" is calm and confident, it lets the horse know that everything is ok.
Right now, she and her horse are dangerous. To themselves and others on the trail. It sounds like she needs to do a lot of arena riding and desensitizing, for her horse and for her. While she's on the ground, she needs to encounter the things and objects she has issues with. Once she sees that her horse is fine with these things when she's not in the saddle, she might start to realize that she's the problem. Maybe suggest one day that you guys try something different. Say you want to get your youngster used to the trail without having to worry about reacting from the saddle, or that you want to guage how she'll do on the trail without having to worry about being distracted by being in the saddle so you can see where her issues are. Suggest you guys go on a trail walk, where you tack up, but hand walk your horses on the trail, not ride them. Maybe it'll show her where the real problem lies.
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