Ok so I'm pretty good with my horse, Iceman...but I think I've figured out what he's afraid of. I have worked with him in the 'desensitizing' round pen which has all sorts of scary objects. I've ridden him in there, lunged him in there, touched him with stuff all over. He does really well. I am getting ready to do a hunter pace with him, it will be the first time I, personally, have had him off the property - I only bought him a couple months ago. Anyway, he's afraid of shadows. He's afraid of going into a shadowy area (tree's and such). Usually he's ok, I can feel him tensing up and I just talk to him and continue to urge him on and he might hesitate a little but usually goes, maybe just a little on edge...but he goes. So, since I'm trying to prepare him for this hunter pace and being off the property, I have taken to riding him on various areas of the property where he's not been ridden before. Areas you don't usually ride horses, around the back side of the barn, around the house (there's an above ground pool), across the property to the other smaller barn. He's done really well, maybe a little nervous around the smaller barn but I just did some circles and then made him stand before I allowed him to go back where we came from. Today though..... :evil: I took him into a pasture where there currently weren't any horses. The gate was opened, I asked the BO if I could ride him in there and she said sure. Now, there's lots of scary things in there. There's a pond with a small wooden walk out platform, a lean-to where the hay it put, and it's MOSTLY tree'd. I walked (rode) him across the pasture and I thought he'd at least react to the ducks at the edge of the pond, but he really didn't pay much attention to it. As we got closer to the tree line though, I could see where his attention was focused. Into the trees. I just kept my leg on lightly and encouraged him on. All of a sudden he just spun, did a 180 and took off. I can say it was funny because I didn't get hurt. It was like I was left riding a cloud of dust, like in one of those cartoons. I, literally, landed on my feet like I had just hopped off...only I didn't, my horse just wasn't under me anymore :?: I walked after him, telling him to 'whoa' 'ho' etc... but he just kept trotting off toward the gate into the pasture. He didn't LEAVE the pasture, stopped where there was some hay :roll: . So...I got back to him and LED him back to where he spooked and into the scary trees. He was definitely on edge but he followed, after a brief hesitation. Once he seemed calmed down, I remounted and tightened my grip on the reigns and rode him around. I did NOT let him run back out into the open area (which is what he wanted to do). Instead, I walked him back out, made him turn around and walk back towards the trees and did small circles as we got a little bit closer. Each circle he tried to 'lean' towards the direction he wanted to go, but at my insistance went the direction I told him to. I RODE him back into the scary tree area, talking to him, telling him 'easy' and 'it's ok' 'good boy' etc...and then rode him out of the tree area in a different direction, the other side of the pasture. Sorry, I'm ranting because I'm irritated by it. I'm sure if there was another rider with me he would have been better, maybe not taken off after I was on the ground. And there ARE going to be other riders at the hunter pace. I'm just wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to 'fix' this problem, aside from just doing it over and over again. I'm a little insulted, it's like he doesn't 'trust' me to not lead him into a dangerous situation. I keep telling him I wont let anything eat him, but he doesn't believe me apparently :-(
This is a survival instinct. A little kid wouldn't want to walk into dark, scary woods either. Lots of horses aviod shadows, and their eyes adjust to changes in light more slowly than a human's. I've noticed this even when I'm working a horse in the round pen. It has solid sides, so it casts a shadow, and they try to avoid the shadowed area. I would recommend lots of riding where he is scared, but I would try to find someone who could ride a more experienced horse with you. It is amazing what they learn from watching each other.
Good luck at your hunter pace.
I was told that he is 'brave for a blue eyed horse'. I guess horses with blue eyes are more prone to be spooky? He has two blue eyes, with only a little brown in his right one. I wonder if they 'see' differently? I have ridden him on the trails out there with other people and then also alone. But once I started taking lessons and working more in the arena, I found that when I took him on the trails alone, he was starting to be spooky again. Like it was unfamiliar territory because he hadn't been out there in a couple weeks. One time I was riding him alone out there and a deer went bounding out of some bushes a good 20 feet or so in front of us, but Iceman still threw his head up and did a 180. But he didn't go anywhere. I had a good grip on the reigns and just said 'whoa' and he stopped. I turned him back around and got him going forward again. Tense, but we finished the ride just fine.
You've got to earn his trust. You can't be irritated at him because you haven't come upon enough variety and situations that he is a little insecure and you help him out and he leaves braver. Try not to over-do it. Pick a simple thing that he will be insecure about and help him through it. Teach him to believe in you that you aren't going to lie to him and scare him. You have only had him for a couple months, these things don't come overnight.
Don't overface him and then be irritated that he wasn't brave. Some horses aren't, so its our job to show them we can help, but it takes time, and a little goes a long way.
Set him up to be a winner, so ride out with a quiet/brave horse to give him influence.
I suggest you take it slow @ your hunter pace also, don't enter him in something he's not mentally ready for.
Blue eyed horses see no different from brown eyed horses. Total myth. All a blue eye means is that they eye is lacking brown pigment. Could your horse have a vision issue? Yes. Is it related to your horse having blue eyes? Nope.
Whirling and bolting can be a serious evasion which must be tackled forcibly as it represents a deliberate test by the horse of the rider's mastery. The rider's counter moves should be forceful.
Shying is a natural response of a nervous horse at a new situation. The treatment
calls for gentle patient perseverance.
To cope the rider must first work out whether the horse is genuinely fearful or just devious.
First I would ask the previous owner if they experienced the same problem.
Two months of ownership is not a long time. Your horse could be testing his strength against his new owner or on the other hand he could be nervous of his new surroundings.
As a start I'd be riding on shortened reins and extra brakes - the horse needs full use of its neck to whirl (and bolt).
I agree Koomy56. You must earn his trust. How does he know he can trust you? It's kinda the same as getting on a motorcycle with someone you havn't known long enough. Would you just hop on with that person knowing that both of your lives are in their hands? I sure as hell wouldn't. It's the same thing with this problem. It takes time. The only thing you can do is some desensitizing, and the most important thing is to keep heading out on the trails. Good Luck!
I think you should get his eyes checked. We once had a young gelding who was a pet to ride, then he started getting mroe and more spooky and none of us could figure it out. When he was starting to go blind all he could see where shadows, so it made him super spooky and hard to handle!
It can either be fear or disrespect. Not being there means that I can't tell you which one it is.
Gaining his respect will go a long way to solving both problems. Remember that respect comes first, then trust.
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