My soon to be 6yr old Quarter horse gelding, Nemo, for as long as i've owned him (1yr) has always had a slight problem about getting worried easily. Its not like he's gotten worse over the year he's actually gotten 10x better. When i first go him i couldn't throw a blanket over his back.
Anyways, i was just searching for some tips or opinions on exercises or things i could do to help him with this problem. People have told me to "de-sensitize" him, but i don't want him to be patatoe head.. lol
Also, when he spooks he's really hard to get him to get over it and focus again. Any suggestions?
My horse was, and still can be extremely anxious. I found the BIGGEST thing which led towards him being much better, and MUCH easier to handle, was desensitizing him.
I started with smaller things like getting him used to my tools, a lunge whip, which i would flap round him, first far away, then when he stops moving i'd give him a release from this pressure. Then i'd do it closer etc. Then I'd use a tarp, they're great as a tool because they're big, bright, and loud! 'monsters' are all of these things ;).
By desensitizing him you will be building a very valuable trust with him, while also helping with the spooking/anxiousness.
I'd also suggest maybe adding epson salts into his feed, For magnesium levels. Or add a calming supplement?
Good luck :)
Oh and also when he's spooking, there are several ways of dealing with that. Some horses respond to actually showing them what the object they're spooking at is, by (trying!) to ride them up to it. Other option is to give them something else to think about, such as changing what you were doing, such as if you were just doing a 20m circle, start spiraling in, and out. Or if you were on a left flexion, change to a right flexion, and such. :) Just an idea, no doubt others will have other ideas which could be better!
my mare who is 11, I got at 3 with 30 days of riding, she was scared of everything! I coughed, she ran, her first instinct was flight. I did desensitizing with her, she's now 11 and she's no potato head LOL Working with her got her to trust me and me to trust her, I think you doing some ground work would really help you....just my opinion....
Have you had your horse checked for any health problems? I know it sounds funny but from experience spooky behavior, especially when they don't recover, can be a symptom of something physical. My boy gets spookier or more anxious when he is having an ulcer flare up. But more recently he started being super spooky, I couldn't even saddle him withouth him jumping out of his skin and it was discovered to be a magnesium deficiency. In fact through research I have found that anxiety, spookiness and inability to recover is the most common symptom of magnesium deficiency. A great website that lists general symptoms of magnesium deficiency
Basically I would double check that there is no physical issues going on that could lead to anxious behaviors before trying to desensitize him.
And by the way desensitizing doesn't necessarily make them a potato head, it just makes them spook at the less important things. Believe me, they will still react if there is danger, but if it's just a plastic bag, or the wind through the trees they will be more sane about it.
Horse could also have pain somewhere which will make on extremely reactive too.
Have teeth been checked? Could have broken bone somewhere too.
My horse was 14 when I got her, she's 15 1/2 now and she was very anxious when I got her. I'm a novice so I enlisted the help of a trainer in addition to our ground work and desensitizing, and consistency in all we do. IMO all of them have been vitally important in her improvement. She's still has anxiety but tries very hard to listen. For example I took her to a new place to ride by herself last weekend...there were tons of horses, people who were very loud. She was great...her ears were forward and she was looking and taking everything in, but listening well. When I got her under saddle, she was very forward and needed to trot it out and check it all out, but still listened when I asked her to change speeds or direction. We rode almost 2 hours and she barely sweat. In previous days, she would have been lathered despite the chilly spring day & we would have never been able to do the ride without my trainer. She only spooked once, and all she did was take a light hop to the side and then listened for direction. That's been how here last several spooks were. I like to use Clinton Anderson's desensitizing techniques which have been vital to both our safety. I definitely don't have to worry about my "nervous nelly" becoming a potato lol!
What is a potato head??
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