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mandee28 11-22-2012 10:06 PM

A HOT little Pistol!
I have an 8 1/2 year old Arabian gelding named Pistol. And he is just that... a pistol. He is very jumpy and definitely not bomb-proof! He is a very sweet horse with a wonderfully human personality, but he is so spooky it's hard to enjoy riding him. Does anyone have any suggestions for me to try to get him to calm down and HOPEFULLY become the trail horse I would like to have? :?

Chevaux 11-22-2012 10:36 PM

How long have you had him? What are you doing with him now?

Thunderspark 11-22-2012 10:48 PM

Are you nervous while riding him because they can sense that which makes them more nervous.
Try doing some desensitizing with him, slapping a stick/string, twirling above their head, swinging the rope around their legs, tossing the rope over them.....there are alot of things you can do to desensitize horses.....

mandee28 11-23-2012 05:49 PM

I have had him since May 2012. We are still getting used to each other. Right now I can ride him around in our pasture with and without saddle. We usually just take it easy and walk around but he it very alert and tense all the time. I am easy on the reigns and don't believe I am 'nervous'. I never had an Arabian before either. I work with him every day to gain his confidence, leading, riding, trying new noises etc. I dont let him 'win' either, as far as not wanting the saddle or turning a different direction than I want him to go. But God forbid there are birds or squirrels in the trees! You would think normal noises like that wouldnt scare him...

Sharpie 11-23-2012 06:08 PM

Keep at it. Some horses learn to relax, some horses learn to relax at least with one rider, and some horses never learn to relax, or so I've been led to believe. My gelding came to me in part because he was "Too Spooky". Today, 13 months later, and we dealt with trash trucks, rockets, dirtbike, three bicycles and a loose dog without more than a sideways look.

Working with a good trainer and building a foundation of solid manners, awareness, and leadership in all the small normal things will make everything else a bit easier, no matter if it's a real monster or an imaginary one.

mandee28 11-23-2012 07:23 PM

Thanks Sharpie for the ray of hope! I hope he'll come around soon!

Brighteyes 11-23-2012 07:42 PM

My horse was the same way! I feel for you.

Ground work. I wanted my mare to feel like she was the best horse on earth and could do anything she tried excellently. I loved the hell out of her every time she tried something new. Just walking away from the barn was a love fest. Every step towards something scary bought forth praise.

She was spooky, so when something scary was happening on the ground, I never made her stand still. I only asked her to stand when I had a reasonable chance at success. I let her move if she felt like she needed to get away, because horses are never wrong. If she's scared, she isn't lying and really felt like she needed to move. When I stopped denying her the option to move and look at scary things on the ground... That's where our trust began. Meeting scary things on the ground and learning to deal with her emotions.

After she was good on the ground with all manner of noises and crazy looking things, I put MILES on that horse. Miles and miles and miles. We trail rode for three and four hours JUST at a walk. Loose rein. I didn't ride so much as I sat there calmly and allowed her to look and explore. After a month or so, she got brave. She's unflappable now.

poppy1356 11-23-2012 07:44 PM

What are you feeding him and how often does he get worked?

My 19 year old arab absolutely has to be worked a minimum of 4 days a week, no exception, otherwise she turns into a fire breathing monster. She is on a low/no sugar diet but she's an arab and has energy to burn. She gets spooky, flightly and all around pissy if not worked enough.

Sharpie 11-23-2012 07:59 PM

I like what Brighteyes posted, and now that I think of it, Jayne and I did a lot of that too. We had success under saddle in the arena and went for trail walks for the first month or so.

Then I just sat a lot of spooks, always staying completely loose and on a loose rein, even when I knew there was something scary coming up. If I tensed up, then it was a guarantee he'd get nervous. It did sometimes mean I was a few (gallop) strides behind when he did bolt away from the scary thing, but he also learned that I would "let" him get away from the monsters when it was "really" necessary in his mind. Because of that I think, I never had any issues with him fighting me and rearing or bucking when scared. He would always slow down and stop when I finally got my mind back in place to ask him to, which was usually 50 feet away from the monster. ;) Over time and miles, he just came to trust me that life just really isn't so scary, and started trying to pretend to spook to see if I would let him, which I shut down immediately.

I sometimes would pre-emptively "spook" for him- ie, when I knew there was something that he was going to freak about, I'd just turn him around and ask him to canter the other way. That way the whole idea was mine and he got even more practice at obeying me. I don't know if that would work for everyone, as you have to get your horse to the point where the brain and feet can work at the same time, but I felt like that built his trust in me a lot and kept him in a "listen and obey" mindset rather than a "OMG! PANIC! RUN!" one even with scary things about.

You've been together 5 months, which isn't very long. So long as you're still having fun with your horse and not living in fear that he's going to kill you, I think there's time yet to work on settling him down. Just ooze calmness and confidence when you're out there. Fake it 'til you make it and you'll get there. :)

Thunderspark 11-24-2012 12:17 AM

I have a 10yr. old mare which I have had since she was 3. She had 30 days of riding on her and that was it. The slightest movement, noise, sneeze....anything and she would be running!
I also had a 5yr. part arab gelding boarded here, he was so jumpy like her, so we did the same things we did with my mare. We did alot of ground work, I played sound effects (everything from screaming kids, chain saws, other horse noise, cars honking.....etc.).
My mare I worked with her for a couple months in the round pen, for 3yrs. I only rode her with a halter/bareback pad. I did lots of desensitzing with I can sit on her and shot a cap gun off and she just stands.
Now my friends with young/spooky horses like me to come out and ride with them, horses read off the others on you have someone to ride with who has a horse that is laid back?

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