Horse is spooky on trails?
My mare is very spooky on trails. She doesn't bolt, but will jump sideways. I have worked with her lots on trail rides, but she just doesn't seem to improve. The reason I am stressed about it now is because our boarding stable is closing, and we are moving to a new house with no arena and only trails.
Is there any way to help her? I am a confident rider, but I too prefer the arena. I've done huge amounts of groundwork, sacking out, walking her along trails (from the ground), etc. Do any of you have suggestions? Or is it just her personality? She is a very high strung, excitable, 9 year old appy. I just cannot figure out what else to do.
She is respectful on the ground and under saddle, even on trails. She is just extremely spooky and scared.
Well, if you're being forced to move then you two will become trail champs soon!
Read the thread at the top of the page about training a fearless trail horse. So much good reads in there.
You could do more groundwork at home to work on your team relationship, but sounds as though you've already done that, so my advice is just time and miles. That's what it took for my boy. If you can learn to redirect her attention before a spook great. But exposure will be your best training bet.
Happy trail riding!
Get a bunch of miles hacking out with another fearless/bombproof trail horse. The confidence the other horse exudes will help build hers, and eventually all that scary stuff will seem less scary. Only exposure will help lessen it.
The above mentioned "How to train a fearless tail horse" thread is excellent.
As is riding with a seasoned companion.
Other than that my advice would be to ride confidently and relaxed as if you expect no issues as your tension will be transmitted to your horse. This can be easier said than done sometimes.
The fearless trail horse thread is pretty good, so I also recommend that.
If she works well with other horses, a quiet buddy might help. However, some horses are riled up by the presence of other horses and can just end up behaving worse, so be careful.
Clinton Anderson has a good DVD problems on the trail...you can often find them used pretty reasonable but I find it very helpful. I agree with many tips on here. A solid trail horse helps them tremendously. Also keep them working/training on the trail. If they are focused on their job they use the thinking side of their brain rather than the reactive. That's why I like Clinton's DVD. Again, miles and experience will help, along with age lol!
There's a lot that can be done as far as desensitization, but, just like anything else, only due diligence and the experience that comes as a result of it will help.
Expose your horse to as much as you can. I can watch my mare's ears and tell if her mind is wandering.....if it is, I talk to her, and do a few off trail tasks that makes her move her feet and think about something else.
I think the problem is more pronounced if the horse is leading.....so like others have said, get an experienced horse in the lead and follow along for awhile....but, take the front some, as that's where they really learn. It's easy to follow but harder to lead.
Wow! Thank you guys so much! I like the idea of watching her and moving her feet when she gets nervous. I'll look into buying the Clinton Anderson DVD too.
What do you guys think about ponying? Good idea or not?
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In general I think ponying is great! :) In this situation though I'd go with a bombproof trail buddy as a lead like one of the other posters mentioned.
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If it helps, the first time I moved my horse, he actually became more brave and started looking to me for guidance instead of becoming more spooky. I'm guessing it's because it was suddenly just him and me instead of him and all his buddies, but it really seemed to make him grow up a bit. I'd almost be happy with a horse who just jumps sideways instead of one who spins and bolts. Just try to keep your confidence up and don't expect her to be bad, or that's what you will get. Approach it from a standpoint of being the one she looks to in her new environment and she might surprise you.
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