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Trail riding the easily startled horse...

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        02-23-2014, 08:46 PM
    The more you go out with this horse the better you will know the horse too. I have learned over the last 5 yrs the little things my mare does before something peaks her interest. Such as a sudden stop, ears perking or refusing to go forward. Once I learned to pay attention to her it seems that the trail spooking has lessened. You can never prepare for all the what ifs. For example our neighbor drives 18 wheelers and my mare is good with the noise but coming back in the other night one of the trucks was parked and not a soul around and the air brakes made this noise. Scared her and I both. She took a few steps sideways and now when we walk by the truck she has ears perked
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        02-23-2014, 11:53 PM
    In addition to desensitizing and going out with another calm horse (and read the great sticky by Cherie), something that can keep your horse more relaxed and using her mind on the trail is to keep her busy. Work on sidepassing, leg yields, etc. Backing, circling, or anything you're working on, just keep stopping and doing little exercises - often. This especially works when your horse is a little tense or in the spring when they seem to have pent up energy. When I first get a horse, I develop all these little exercises at home, and then just keep doing them all along the trail. After a while, it really does relax them. I think it keeps bringing their mind back to you and teaches them to trust you. It boils down to a leadership thing -- if they really trust that you can take care of them out in the big world, they won't run, they'll trust you...even though they may give a little jump/spook. But I think once a horse starts bolting in fear it can become a habit really fast, so you are wise to make a strategy to deal with this.
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