Gelding's strange spooks - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 13 Old 12-04-2012, 06:17 PM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Brandon, Manitoba Canada
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Originally Posted by DixieKate View Post
Today as we were cantering through a pasture, my mare spooked at a pile of poop... She whipped out some cool moves to avoid that poop pile, but somehow I stayed put. Needless to say, we made many circles around that poo pile. All day today I felt like her brain was saying "what's that!? well, what's that!? what's that over there!? And that!?" Each day is a learning experience.
It's too funny sometimes what their little brains will think!

My horses are the joy in my life.....
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post #12 of 13 Old 12-05-2012, 09:04 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Resaca, Georgia
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Thanks everyone for the replies.. My hubby is a very confident rider. He is not looking for the spook but is always ready.

He is not afraid to get off and has before (like I said we are tooooo old and our bones not as hard as they use to be). We use to think that the horses' vision was odd because he would spook a lot at a log that might be laying funny, or sometimes a rock with sunlight on it. We just cannot figure out the horses trigger for a spook. Normally the horse will stop, look, sometimes swerve and go around with much ENCOURAGEMENT from hubby, EVERY once in a while his spook is a back up and no amount of trying to get him to go forward will work. THAT can be dangerous when we ride in the mountains and he starts backing up off the side of the trail down a steep hill. THAT is what we really need help with. Hubby has tried turning him instead of going straight toward whatever is spooking the horse, sometimes that will help sometimes not. The only time the horse will willingly go forward is if me and my sweet YOUNG mare ride past the spooky thing first. The hubby's horse will walk by it but still look at it like the spooky thing is going to jump up and bite him..

OH well. We will keep working and hope for the best..


RhondaLynn is offline  
post #13 of 13 Old 12-05-2012, 02:42 PM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Eastern Montana
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My daughter's horse was terrible for spooking at little nothing things when we first got him. A couple of his spooks included spooking at a dog, dragging my daughter and running through a BW fence. Another was spooking at something at the end of the arena and running to the other end slamming into the fence. Both luckily with little injury. We decided to follow Clinton Anderson's Method and started him on the Fundamentals program. Within 3 weeks to a month we had a changed horse.

One of the principles he uses to get horses over spooking on the trail is to REALLY put them to work when they spook. This means going on trail rides in situations where you are there with the express purpose of finding things for him to spook at and then working on it. I would only go with another horse if that other horse is really calm and dead broke.

When he spooks put him to work either in tight circles or serpentines, something where it is uncomfortable and gets his blood pumping. He can only think about one thing at a time and his mind will be taken up with working and less on spooking. Once he feels relaxed and little softer, let him go past the scary object again...if he spooks again, repeat. It may take several rounds but eventually he will begin to realize that unless his rider tells him RUN! it really isn't worth spooking at is WAY too much work.

I can't stress enough doing this in an area where there is plenty of room and good footing. Don't pick a cliff face or narrow overhanging trail where things can go wrong in a hurry. Be SAFE! You may even try beginning this in an arena by introducing something that you think may scare him (such as a daughter's horse's nemesis) and start to get comfortable with it in a controlled environment.

Also be sure they are as soft in lateral flexion as possible and that he and the rider both know the one rein stop. It could save your bacon in an emergency. Eventually with a repetitive pattern of "spook...go to work" they seem to get a mind set of "Please don't let me see something to spook at...I don't have the energy". Another part of this pattern that is part of the CA program is alternating sensitizing exercises with desensitizing exercises. Like lunging followed by rest and slapping the stick and string on the ground. At first he may not like it but keep it up until he stops or shows some sign of relaxing. As soon as he shows a sign of relaxing, immediately take the pressure (slapping the string on the ground) away and rub him. I do 10 strikes of the string on the ground (working up to as hard as I can over time) in 3 sets on both sides, basically 30 strikes on each side. And as long he stays relaxed that is it. He gets rubbed anytime he shows a sign of relaxing...licking lips, deep breath, cocking a leg etc. If he gets worked up on a set then that set doesn't count and I do it over.

Over time I introduce new things that may scare that I KNOW won't hurt him. Plastic bags, pool noodles, toy cap guns etc. using the same process. In between sensitizing exercises do desensitizing. They eventually learn that to make scary things go away all they need to do is relax or look to you for guidance. It is also really important to keep your body language relaxed and soft while doing this so they get the cue from you that they need to relax.

Clinton has a really good video that is not too expensive for solving spooks on the trail. It would be a good investment and I am sure it will make him a better horse. Good luck and stay safe.

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