Spooky pony help please! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 09-10-2018, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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Spooky pony help please!

Hello, this is my first post on this forum. I'm not new to horses but new to ponies and need help with a little situation.

We leased a green section B welsh last winter and my 9 year old daughter fell in love with him. We always lunged him before riding because he was energetic in the cold weather. Everything was perfect no issues at all and he seemed to be a real gem. He came up for sale so we bought him in the spring.

2 Months into owning him and moving to a new barn, he unexpectedly bolted at a gallop while she was riding in the arena. She fell off and was not hurt thank goodness. Another rider cantered too close to them and he lost it. It took 3 weeks for him to settle again, he was really freaked out about her flying off him.

This week she put her rain jacket on while mounted - I was holding on to him - and he bolted again. I was holding the reins but he dragged me a few feet before stopping. Daughter grabbed mane and stayed on.

In between these huge spooks he is a good pony. He packs her around and does whatever she asks and is good on the ground. She can lunge him perfectly in a round pen and he listens well. His spooks are very unexpected and violent.

Clearly I'm worried that I made the wrong decision in buying him and am hoping there is some way to get through this without having to move him along. He jumps the moon and does anything you point him at. It all seems to stem from fear and not naughtiness.

He is up to date on everything medically, saddle fit, feet are great, etc. He eats hay and ration balancer, is worked 5 days a week. I ride him once in a while and daughter has lessons once a week. He is so good that she started cantering in lessons on the lunge recently.

Sorry I know this is long, just trying not to leave any information out.

So, what do you all think? Have you had to deal with something like this before?

I do believe it is fear based as his legs will shake and he trembles after the spook.

Last edited by Pocketpony; 09-10-2018 at 05:49 PM. Reason: Forgot to add
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post #2 of 4 Old 09-10-2018, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Pocketpony View Post
Another rider cantered too close to them and he lost it.

This week she put her rain jacket on while mounted - I was holding on to him - and he bolted again.
Welcome to horse ownership!



While some horses are advertised as "bomb proof", any horse can (and does) spook from time to time.


Yes, it's from fear. That's why it's called a "spook"! First he was scared of the other horse going by him. Then the next time he was scared of the raincoat.



Also, have you asked your daughter's TRAINER what to do? (You should.) You should also have the trainer teach your daughter and pony how to do a one-rein stop. Think of it as an emergency brake but these rare occasions that he spooks.



I would also take ground work lessons from the trainer (or if this trainer does not do that, find someone who does). Work on desensitizing the pony. You purposfully put him into "spooky situations" and teach him how to handle it, rather than just bolt. Walk over tarps, swing ropes around him, walk through pool noodles, etc etc etc. It about finding random things that might be scary to him and then teaching him how to deal with it on the ground. When he has those tools from ground work, then he will much better be able to handle it while she is in the saddle.



You will never prevent him from spooking 100% of the time. He's a horse. (errr, pony) It's going to happen from time to time; some horses/ponies more than others.

∞*˚ Βгįťţαňγ ˚*∞
It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.
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post #3 of 4 Old 09-10-2018, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Pocketpony View Post
We leased a green section B welsh last winter and my 9 year old daughter fell in love with him. We always lunged him before riding because he was energetic in the cold weather.
So he had been fine for - a few months or more? - except for you 'needing' to lunge him? And he's only 'spooked' a couple of times, but it's caused him & you guys to lose more confidence in eachother?

Quote:
unexpectedly bolted at a gallop while she was riding in the arena. ... Another rider cantered too close to them and he lost it. ... he was really freaked out about her flying off him.
Yes, that is something to be expected, that a horse may 'spook' or 'get the hell away very quickly' from another horse that's threatening - or otherwise spook and bolt at something frightening. You just need to be aware and ready for this possibility. But with training, you can prepare him to be less reactive.

That he became 'spooky' about being ridden after your daughter's... airs above the ground is also understandable. As I would have absolutely expected him to spook at her with a raincoat on him, if he hasn't been trained to be desensitised to that sort of thing. So I wouldn't class it as unexpected/unpredictable behaviour at all. Sounds like he just needs more on-ground training, to get him safer & less reactive.

Quote:
seems to stem from fear and not naughtiness.
It usually does. Or frustration/confusion. Or pain. If a horse is 'willfully naughty' it's only because they've been inadvertently trained that that behaviour works. IOW, they're still not being 'naughty', just doing what they have learned is 'right'.

I would suggest finding a good trainer, who can help him, and also teach you & your daughter how to help him & how to control him, so you will all gain more confidence with each other. And better 'read' him and understand horse psychology, so you will not take stuff for granted so be unprepared for him behaving like a horse.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #4 of 4 Old 09-11-2018, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pocketpony View Post
Hello, this is my first post on this forum. I'm not new to horses but new to ponies and need help with a little situation.

We leased a green section B welsh last winter and my 9 year old daughter fell in love with him.
Horses & ponies are still all equids and behave similarly in similar situations. You leased, then bought, a green pony for your greener 9 year old daughter. Not something I would have recommended. The expression 'green on green equals black & blue' came about because it's a pretty true statement.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pocketpony View Post
We always lunged him before riding because he was energetic in the cold weather.
Not at all unexpected, with the cool weather they have more energy for something other than sweating. However, I wouldn't rely on lunging too much or too often. You end up with a really fit animal who now has even more energy to act silly. Lunging before you ride for 5-10 mins each way, to give the horse time to 'get his brain in gear' isn't a bad idea, but any longer than that you're not really accomplishing anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pocketpony View Post
2 Months into owning him and moving to a new barn, he unexpectedly bolted at a gallop while she was riding in the arena. She fell off and was not hurt thank goodness. Another rider cantered too close to them and he lost it. It took 3 weeks for him to settle again, he was really freaked out about her flying off him.
Not unexpected at all, the horse came barreling up behind him, whizzed past and may have made nasty face/ears as he did it and scared him silly. He's green and obviously hasn't learned that it's ok to be passed by another horse. That takes a few times of being passed and learning nothing bad will happen. Also not unexpected that he got freaked about your daughter falling off, it might have been the first time someone got unseated off of him and, again peripheral vision, he saw something flying near his eye and it shocked him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pocketpony View Post
This week she put her rain jacket on while mounted - I was holding on to him - and he bolted again. I was holding the reins but he dragged me a few feet before stopping. Daughter grabbed mane and stayed on.
Again, totally not unexpected. I have older BTDT horses and I would not try to put on a crinkly rain jacket or poncho while I was still mounted. They have to learn not to be frightened by things like this, it takes repetitions. For now, if she needs to make any changes in her clothing, hats, helmets, gloves, whatever, she needs to dismount and do it on the ground. Let the horse see the items, rub them on him, crinkle them up (in the case of a rubber raincoat or poncho) so he gets used to the various noises.

Another situation for "Watch Out": I would not hand her a cup with ice or a sports bottle with anything in it while mounted. That noise can surprise him and get a BIG reaction. One of my sisters worst falls ever was because she took a sports bottle with ice in the drink up on our horse when he was still a youngster. She rattled the ice around and took off, dumped her on her head and put her in the hospital. Crinkly plastic sandwich baggy type things will get the same reaction. If she wants to do anything but ride, she needs to get off and do it on the ground.

You need a good trainer who specializes in desensitizing the young horse, not just training them to jump or lunge or canter, but will do all the things that just got your daughter dumped, until he's not spooky anymore. This all sounds way above your pay grade (and your daughter's) and is a good way for her to get hurt by his not so "unexpected" behaviors.

I've been given to different types of sage advice, and the older I get the more true I find them. #1 Horses are only afraid of 2 things. Things that move and things that don't. #2 Horses only have 2 thoughts in their heads when they wake up in the morning. What shall I eat and how shall I kill/injure myself today.
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