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Tobysthebesthorseever 04-26-2013 08:11 AM

Horse is scared of Cavalettis
Hi all. So my new horse and I were working on cavalettis about 3 weeks ago. Before hand, we (my trainer and I) had longed him over a very small jump (1-1/2 feet) and he did very well on it, no freaking out or anything.

But the next week, when I walked him over some cavalettis, he freaked out, refused, and started running to the side. I don't know if this helps at all, but he always ran to the right side, never to the left. He never liked galloped, just for like one step he felt really fast, like he was about to run, but calmed down or I got control of him before he could.

When my trainer grabbed him and lead him over while I was riding, he did just fine, and behaved like a gentleman.

Later, after my lesson was wrapping up, I lead him over from the ground, and even when his foot hit the bar, he was fine. He was so good!

But earlier in the lesson, when his foot hit the bar, he freaked out! (Okay, so he never bolted or bucked, he just sped up to a trot(he's really lazy))

Why do you suppose that that is what happened? I was using cavalettis because he needs to work on his feet coordination, as the week before he forgot to put his foot in front of the other and fell. He CAN do them, as he free jumped beautifully.

What can I do to make him not afraid and to work on his coordination? He really should work on it, as I don't want to repeat him falling again, and soon he will be coming to live at my house, and a trainer won't be working with us every time I ride.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!!

MyBoyPuck 04-26-2013 09:40 PM

I would break this down into small achieveable steps to build up your horse's confidence. Start with a single cavaletti on the ground. Walk over it until he's calm, then trot until calm, canter until calm. Usually works best on a very large circle, changing directions occasionally to mix it up a little. Once he's good withi it on the ground, raise it to the medium height and repeat. Then add a second 9' after the first and repeat the exercise at ground level and then medium height. I wouldn't put them at the top height until your horse has the muscle to do it, and 9' is a canter distance. This way, if he panics at the trot and breaks to a canter, he won't get tangled up at a 4'6" trot distance and lose his confidence. Once he's got that, add 3rd pole and repeat.

Be sure to not catch him in the mouth over the poles, keep your upper body back and centered over him so he only has to worry about losing his own balance and not have to compensate for yours. Grab mane if you think he's going to take a bad spot. If he always runs out to the right, hold your crop in that hand and shut the door on that side with your right rein and leg. Be a confident rider for him and he will return the favor once he understands that he will not be overfaced.

Good luck!

smaile 04-27-2013 06:56 AM

How old is your horse.? If he is recently started to broke in than it is quite normal for them to be ok with things like cavaletti in one day, but spook from them the other.
Though it sounds like your horse is not so scared. I would rather think that he is just being disrespectful (maybe not the best word, but I just can`t think of a better one at the moment.)
Anyway, if I were you I would ride him over cavalettis like nothing has happened. Or if he gets super-spooky and starts to buck and bolt etc. and you can`t handle him, you could ask your trainer to ride him for couple of days. :)

Tobysthebesthorseever 04-27-2013 07:47 AM

Thanks for the replies.

MyBoyPuck-thanks-it sounds like a good idea! When you were talking about losing ,y balance, I won't need to worry about that for a while since I am only learning how to do cavalettis and jumping. I won't be actually jumping (1 1/2 feet +) for at least a year in my lessons as my instructor says I need do flat English work for a year or so before she would feel comfortable and confident that I wouldn't get hurt. As much as I want to jump NOW-I'm glad that she is so concerned for my safety;) it would REALLY hurt to fall off my 16.2 hh horse with my 5'2 self =D

smaile-Toby is 9-10 y/o. He wasn't recently broke to ride, but he's fairly recently (as of 4 months) been started being out back to regular work, which was when I decided I liked him. It's a complicated situation sorta, or at least a looooong story. Long story short-was a single family horse, owner died, donated to barn, only used once in a while (2x a month?), I fell in love, now is worked once a week or more.
It is true that he could be disrespectful, my trainer says that that is his personality. Actually, she said that "no one messes with him cuz he's so big, but no one respects him cuz he's a goofball." =D ('no one' are the horses in the herd)
But anyways, yes, he does need to work on accepting the fact that I am in charge and NOT him.

Thanks for the advice!

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