Join Date: May 2009
Location: Mid Northern TN
I like what Brighteyes posted, and now that I think of it, Jayne and I did a lot of that too. We had success under saddle in the arena and went for trail walks for the first month or so.
Then I just sat a lot of spooks, always staying completely loose and on a loose rein, even when I knew there was something scary coming up. If I tensed up, then it was a guarantee he'd get nervous. It did sometimes mean I was a few (gallop) strides behind when he did bolt away from the scary thing, but he also learned that I would "let" him get away from the monsters when it was "really" necessary in his mind. Because of that I think, I never had any issues with him fighting me and rearing or bucking when scared. He would always slow down and stop when I finally got my mind back in place to ask him to, which was usually 50 feet away from the monster. ;) Over time and miles, he just came to trust me that life just really isn't so scary, and started trying to pretend to spook to see if I would let him, which I shut down immediately.
I sometimes would pre-emptively "spook" for him- ie, when I knew there was something that he was going to freak about, I'd just turn him around and ask him to canter the other way. That way the whole idea was mine and he got even more practice at obeying me. I don't know if that would work for everyone, as you have to get your horse to the point where the brain and feet can work at the same time, but I felt like that built his trust in me a lot and kept him in a "listen and obey" mindset rather than a "OMG! PANIC! RUN!" one even with scary things about.
You've been together 5 months, which isn't very long. So long as you're still having fun with your horse and not living in fear that he's going to kill you, I think there's time yet to work on settling him down. Just ooze calmness and confidence when you're out there. Fake it 'til you make it and you'll get there. :)