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-   -   Teaching to Spook in Place (http://www.horseforum.com/horse-training/teaching-spook-place-78406/)

AllThePrettyHorses 02-12-2011 05:04 PM

Teaching to Spook in Place
 
My horse generally is not spooky, but when she does startle, she usually jumps a few feet either to the side or ahead. I try to just stay quiet and ride it out (what else can I do?) and she normally settles down quickly enough. Is there any way I can teach her to spook in place? Is that possible, or is it just a reaction they are born with and not taught? It would give me a lot more confidence knowing my horse isn't going to do anything when she gets scared.

justjump 02-12-2011 05:10 PM

You should just be teaching her NOT to spook period. Pat her, let her know it's okay, and speak softly.
Mines generally the same way, and with my experiences, there's nothing you can really do (not the gospel.. Just from personal experience (: )
Just do what you have been, let her know it's okay and it's nothing to be scared over!
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horsplay 02-12-2011 06:57 PM

Desensitize your horse on the ground to things first. I don't believe there is anyway to teach a horse to react. If someone jumped out of a dark place when you walked by your instincts would take over, there would be no thinking involved. You would either swing, scream, and/or run. Your horse has the same fight or flight reaction. It doesn't sound like your horse reacts too badly so I would say ride it out, comfort them and try to get them to investigate whatever scared them so it doesn't scare them next time they see something like it.

smrobs 02-12-2011 07:39 PM

Yes, it can be taught and I spend a lot of time teaching all my young horses not to move when they spook. By the time I am through with them, the most they will do is splay their feet out and flinch.

What I do is simply work their butt off whenever they spook and move their feet. When they jump, I will immediately take their nose to one side and push them into tiny circles as fast as they can go. If you start to get dizzy, then stop and switch directions for the circles. Before you let them stop, they should be puffing pretty dang hard and if it's warm outside, pretty sweaty. Do this every single time that they spook in a way that you don't consider acceptable and they will soon figure out that spooking in place (or better yet, not spooking at all) is much easier for them.

DieselPony 02-13-2011 12:16 AM

Just out of curiosity smrobs, do ever allow a stare and investigate period?

I was always told to let them check out what they spook at all the time a little so I'm just wondering if you allow greenies to get away with spooking for awhile or go straight to distracting them so they never learn to jump like that with a rider.

justjump 02-13-2011 12:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DieselPony (Post 926584)
Just out of curiosity smrobs, do ever allow a stare and investigate period?

I was always told to let them check out what they spook at all the time a little so I'm just wondering if you allow greenies to get away with spooking for awhile or go straight to distracting them so they never learn to jump like that with a rider.

Same here.. With my horse, if you do things like pull them in a circle and name them go as fast as they can, it makes it even worse because then the "monster" is even bigger and causes him to get even MORE scared. But that's just my horse. I guess different methods work with different horses.
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smrobs 02-13-2011 12:51 AM

If they want to just freeze and look, then I do let them just stand there and look at what they consider "scary". I only use the circles when they actually move when they spook. I cannot count how many times I hit the ground (or almost hit the ground) because a horse jumped 10 feet sideways with no warning.

My method isn't a punishment for spooking, it's more about teaching them "hey, even when you get spooked, you need to keep your focus on me". Perfect example is this little Arab that I started last summer. He would be so focused on something in the distance that he wouldn't see things close to him until they were right beside him, then he would jump out of his skin and want to bolt when he did see them. After using the circles every time he would jump around for an entire day's ride, he started to catch on and would only freeze and snort when he saw the scary things, then after he looked for a minute, I could ask him to continue on with no problems. It didn't take but 2 or 3 rides before he even stopped freezing, he would just snort and cock an ear at scary things but wouldn't shy away or even flinch.

From the very first moment I get on them, I do this every time they get all jumpy. It works wonders on horses who are hyper-reactive to being touched with your legs as well. If they jump or start to take off when I simply brush them with a leg, then I will start the circles and gently bump them on the side they spooked from; from their shoulder all the way back to their flank. It doesn't take very long for them to realize that your leg isn't a monster that's going to eat them and after they lose their fear, then they can listen to what you are asking of them.

Kayty 02-13-2011 01:32 AM

I do not give them the chance to stop and look at whatever they're spooking at. I know both ways probably work, but I believe that allowing them to stand and star and gawk at something for 5 minutes is reconfirming that this is something worth being worried about, because the rider has stopped and is looking too. Also patting and soothing - what does a stallion do in a herd? Does he stroll over and stroke and comfort mares that are worried about something, or does he turn around and give her a bite and tell her to get moving and get over it?

My horses, whether babies or schoolmasters, are made to work past the scary object. Basically I just entirely ignore it. If the horse leaps sideways, I'll spin them the opposite way to which they leapt, and then ride on. Next time I ride past it, I will flex a little to the inside and push them across with my inside leg. I don't look at whatever they're spooking at, just ignore and tell the horse to get over it. This way they learn that it's not worth worrying about, if the rider/boss doesn't care, neither should they!

justjump 02-13-2011 08:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kayty (Post 926658)
I do not give them the chance to stop and look at whatever they're spooking at. I know both ways probably work, but I believe that allowing them to stand and star and gawk at something for 5 minutes is reconfirming that this is something worth being worried about, because the rider has stopped and is looking too. Also patting and soothing - what does a stallion do in a herd? Does he stroll over and stroke and comfort mares that are worried about something, or does he turn around and give her a bite and tell her to get moving and get over it?

My horses, whether babies or schoolmasters, are made to work past the scary object. Basically I just entirely ignore it. If the horse leaps sideways, I'll spin them the opposite way to which they leapt, and then ride on. Next time I ride past it, I will flex a little to the inside and push them across with my inside leg. I don't look at whatever they're spooking at, just ignore and tell the horse to get over it. This way they learn that it's not worth worrying about, if the rider/boss doesn't care, neither should they!

Like I said, it's just what I do with my horse. If I did that with him, he would never get over it, because that's just HIS personalty. Sometimes just going by it works, or letting him stare at it works, it all just depends on what it is that hes scared about. Yes, sometimes if you make a big deal about things like that it makes it worse. Trust me, I've done my fair share of that. I was just saying what works for my horse. Giving the poster multiple things to try with her horse(:
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Kayty 02-13-2011 08:40 AM

justjump I don't believe my post was having a go at you?? As you just stated - giving the poster multiple things to try with her horse


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