Horse Freezes as a "Spook" - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 02-10-2020, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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Horse Freezes as a "Spook"

I was riding my friend's Morgan in the indoor arena. There are usually birds on the roof, and usually 'some noise', but on this occasion we were alone in the indoor and there must have been 200 birds on the steel roof.

I have to ride my own horse with 'stuffies' in his ears because he spooks at all the crashing and banging on the roof. So I'm trotting down the long side when a thunderous clattering above our heads makes this horse.....freeze. EEEK there goes the brakes! I had to laugh, it was so unusual. I could feel him tense up but he just wanted to stop and look around.

It happened again during the last part of the lesson while we were trotting. Huge bird noise like they are using hammers on the roof. My horse skids to a halt. Wow.

Are there other quirks like any personality traits in horses who react the opposite of flight when scared?
He is usually a head up, alert and nosy horse, not necessarily spooky in other ways.
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post #2 of 14 Old 02-10-2020, 11:22 PM
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A horse that when scared, "spooks in place" is a good one! That is the goal of a lot of trainers. You can't totally eliminate fear, but if the horse can control his body, then that is the goal.
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post #3 of 14 Old 02-11-2020, 06:13 AM
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2 of my horses are "freeze" in place spooks...then if warranted, wheel and be gone.
Other 2 are gone first, think later...
I prefer the ones who think not react, but...can't have it all.
I do find if family is riding a "freezer" and I a runner at the same time the thinker will calm the runner a lot...

I've learned to sit some incredible spins...and learned to land with a roll, & a laugh at myself.
My friends tell me its pretty funny to watch my face during ejection from the just know when it is uh-oh time.
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post #4 of 14 Old 02-11-2020, 07:45 AM
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Duke (RIP) rarely ever spooked but when he did it was a freeze.

My Arab (RIP) was the same way.

Joker would take a few steps then stop as soon as I asked. He may or may not do some in-place dancing.

Then thereís Rusty - who can drop his shoulder, spook on a dime, give you nine cents change, whirl around then plant his hooves and not move. None of that makes any sense but thatís his spook M.O., lollol

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I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #5 of 14 Old 02-11-2020, 09:45 AM
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A hard spook for one of my mares is the legs going in four different directions in a freeze and snort, the other mare is ten feet sideways. I like the first mares spooks better.

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post #6 of 14 Old 02-11-2020, 10:06 AM
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Trigger does this, surprisingly. He looks like a statue when hogs bust out of the brush ahead of us on the trail.

I say that though... one time we reached a sharp bend in the trail, sunlight swung around so the shadow of our right split rein wriggled across our path.

He teleported.

BRUH!? *me looking around very confused* What... oohhhhhh. Not a snake, ol son. Not a snake.
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post #7 of 14 Old 02-11-2020, 01:06 PM
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I've had a lot of different types of spookers and the one who spook in place are the best to deal with. They jolt to a stop and look but are willing to listen to you and carry on, The horses we have now are more this type.

then there is the type that spook violently to the side then stop, if you are still on, not too bad. One Arab/appy that I got free because of his spooking was the worst I ever rode for that. He was lightening fast, very agile and no warning, by the time he thought of spooking he was already landing 15 feet over there. He didn't take off so that was good. Usually you get a split second warning but not with him.

Then there is the type that spook and bolt, this often can be a bad habit that they learned along life's path in order to get out of work or going out on a trail. I have had a few of those but if you can work thru with it they usually come around and stop the bad habit.

You were mentioning birds on the roof,, I don't think I have ever had a problem with that or don't remember it. Snow sliding off a metal roof can be cause for spooking in our area. Makes a Gawd Awful noise.
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post #8 of 14 Old 02-11-2020, 01:34 PM
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The 'freeze and look' spookers are WAY better than the spook and buck/bolt spookers. I'd take one anyday!
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post #9 of 14 Old 02-11-2020, 03:03 PM
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My horse will plant her feet all splayed out, freeze and snort exactly how @LoriF described. This becomes problematic at high speeds. I can't count the amount of times I've almost gone flying clear over her head

She will frequently do this at the trot on the trail when she sees something on the ground that she hasn't yet learned to mentally process at anything faster than a walk. Often this is at a spot where wet ground is significantly darker than the ground around it and she needs a second to think about her footing. She does the stop freeze so quickly that she's back and moving at the trot and crossing over the "weird" spot before I even realize that she ever stopped for a fraction of a second. It's just like when the person driving a car taps the brake then continues on and you, as a passenger, go lurching forward and then back again, lol.

For this reason, I usually cross over one of my reins so that it's in both hands and acts as a brace against her neck so I don't lose my seat. If I see a full-on stop at something actually scary in our near future, I grab a bit of mane ahead of time and steer with the free hand.
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post #10 of 14 Old 02-11-2020, 05:28 PM
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I've never ridden in an arena, so I don't know. But I ride in wooded trails where there can be deer, turkey, etc. jumping out of bushes at the last second. My Arabians usually do freeze for a moment. Not a big deal. They always react to it before I see the animal. We just keep going. If you don't make a big deal out of it, it is unlikely they will.
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