Frustrated by anxious horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 45 Old 07-14-2019, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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Frustrated by anxious horse

I've had my horse, Ursula, for 9 years. She was a green 5 year old when I bought her and hadn't had much handling. Not all of the handling she had was gentle either. She had been frequently ear twitched, and man-handled, and that was obvious in her behavior, but she seemed to have a great temperament, and she does, most of the time.

She went from being extra green and overall confused under saddle to an easy, uncomplicated ride. She was super ear shy and now lets me play with her hears. She came to me being hard to catch, but now she comes right up to me and stuffs her head in the halter. She has impeccable ground manners. She's been shown maybe 10 times, just at open shows. She handled it great. Didn't win much, but behaved like a champ. She loads and trailers well, stands very well for the vet, farrier, and bathing. She is a rockstar on trails, been calm in situations where other horses might have reacted badly, like sudden appearances of wildlife, cold and windy weather, etc. She crosses water, doesn't mind riding or leading through tight spaces. She can ride out alone or in a group. She really is the perfect horse... almost.

Her problem seems to be an emotional one. She can be unpredictably spooky and takes forever to come back down to earth after something scares her.

A few weeks ago, I was taking a lesson and she spooked at the mounting block and I fell. My instructor said we just rounded a corner and she saw it in her other eye and that seemed to startle her. After that she was in a panic, eyes rolling, pulse jumping out of her neck, and I had to cut the lesson short. She's not afraid of the mounting block. She's seen that block and ridden past it in the same manner a million times. I'm pretty sure it was just mental overload from the lesson that stressed her out and made her anxious. Anyways, I hurt my shoulder in the fall and was unable to ride for a little while after that, but I've been doing groundwork and desensitizing work with her in the round pen a few times a week since then, and I'm getting really frustrated with it.

The first few times in the round pen after I fell she was terrified, jumpy, spooking at everything from the lunge whip to her own lead rope. She's better now after several round pen sessions, and I broke out my mom's parelli stuff, swinging that stick with the string all around her, touching her everywhere, making a point to switch it from one eye to the other, or touch her when she shouldn't be expecting it, and while she's moving. I got the big green parelli ball out and have been lunging her around that, making her follow me on a lead while I roll it in front of us, letting her eat treats off of it, lunging her while bouncing it like a basketball. She's been progressing well, and getting back to her usual self, but my issue is, I know she'll do it again. This is a pattern with her.

Several years ago, the neighbor's lawn mower back fired while I was in the middle of dismounting. It startled her, and she bolted. It took me weeks to be able to get off of her without her bolting half way through and even for a while after that I couldn't get back on after I got off because she'd be a nervous wreck after a dismount. Took months for her to get over it.

A few years ago we were trail riding, and my whip got caught on a corn stalk. The corn started following us, this scared her so she bolted. She's been weird around corn ever since. I used to stop and let her eat a little of it while on a trail ride and she used to love it. We can ride around it again, but she still won't eat it.

Basically what I'm looking for is advice on how to help her not completely lose her marbles when she spooks. Ursula doesn't spook often, but when she does, it's a big deal, and it takes her a really long time to get over it. This is an issue once every 2 years or so, and in between she's laid back, and super willing.

I've noticed she's most likely to spook when she's anxious about something, like a particularly challenging lesson, or a break in her routine. She's better when I'm working with her alone. She doesn't like the attentions of more than one person at a time, or strangers. It's not about the thing she's spooking at. Its about her mental state leading up to it.

It's hard for me to remedy these things in the most obvious ways. I don't know enough horse savvy people to give her significant exposure to people she doesn't already know. Moving her to a busy lesson and boarding stable would undoubtedly help but that's not an option due to budgetary restrictions. It's hard for me to mix up her routine much because I work full time and have very narrow windows of time before and after work to do anything with her.

I've investigated all the obvious. Her saddle fit is checked annually, her teeth are checked every 6 months. She's been seen by a chiropractor, had massage and acupuncture done. I've had the vet check her vision and hearing. She's been tested for lyme. She does have a history of gastric ulcers, but has been treated and on a preventative program. The ulcers have not returned. She gets daily turnout with other horses, and has access to forage 24/7. She's done several dressage clinics, and has had professional dressage training. I've had at least 4 different instructors/trainers work with her.

I just can't keep going through this. I can't afford to keep falling off when she spooks like that. I can't afford the medical bills, or missed time off work. I'm usually a pretty solid rider. I'm 30 and have been riding since I was a kid. I could count on one hand the number of times I fell off before I got Ursula but she's about doubled that number with her anxiety. I've ridden all kinds of horses, and worked through a number of problem horses, even overly-spooky horses before, but Ursula is just different. She has me stumped and she's wearing down my patience. My riding instructor has recently recommended that I get another horse because she thinks this is just a part of Ursula's personality to get anxious sometimes, and that she's not a good fit for my situation right now, that maybe I should sell her on to another rider that has a more flexible schedule to put in the time and give her the varied exposure she needs to get over herself, or keep her and retire her. Unfortunately, I love this horse and don't want to sell her. I'd have one hell of a time finding the right buyer for her with her history. I also can't afford a second horse right now. One is enough for my budget. I'm backed into a corner. I need to find a way to fix this problem once and for all.

Sorry this is so long. I simultaneously needed to vent and wanted to include all relevant details. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

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post #2 of 45 Old 07-14-2019, 04:51 PM
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How absolutely frustrating! As the owner of a reactive horse, I sympathize greatly.

It sounds like you have done a very good job ruling out medical issues. My only other thought along those lines would be testing for Magnesium and Vitamin E levels.. but honestly I think that is a stretch since her anxiety isn't constant.

I agree with your instructor that Ursula's issue sounds emotional. Some horses just cannot deal with mounting pressure and I am not sure that having more time to work with her would necessarily solve that issue, as it sounds like you have come leaps and bounds from where you started already. More time may lessen the severity of the reaction perhaps, but I don't think you can eliminate it totally.

My horse Phin is extremely reactive. He started as a spook, spin and bolter and over the course of several years has progressed to a startle or maybe a small hop sideways. While this is a great improvement over how he was to start with, it's still got the potential to put me on the ground. While some things I can predict his reaction to (loud noises), other times I am caught totally off guard (deer literally falling out of the underbrush and crashing at our feet, not a problem; a medium-sized rock on the side of the trail that wasn't there last time, horror!).

I often ride with a heart rate monitor, so its been fascinating to see that even though his outward reaction to scary things has seemed to improve, his heartrate still skyrockets. At the start of a ride, a friend once commented on how chill he was compared to years ago, walking along on a loose rein as we warmed up, but she couldn't feel the coiled spring I was sitting on or see his heartrate of 170 bpm reading on my watch. So I have not taught him to be less anxious, I have simply taught him a different way to handle that fear. Phin is never going to be non-reactive.

If Ursula starts getting anxious, can you diffuse her by changing up what you are doing or is any ongoing stimulation too much? Perhaps taking a 5 minute timeout to focus on something else (even hopping off to do groundwork or some light massage) could keep her from hitting her boiling point?
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post #3 of 45 Old 07-14-2019, 05:36 PM
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Jesus what you wrote is making ME stressed! I am also having to find a solution to my own mares spooky behaviour which is very uncharacteristic of her - or was. I am fortunate though that we dont have any mounting or dismounting shenanigans because that would terrify me. I personally am anxious mounting ANY horse anyway as I feel so vulnerable so I spent MANY MANY sessions just working on mounting and dismounting. She went from trotting off before your leg was over to now standing still like babe.

Now as for the spooking what has helped me is the one rein stop or circling, practising both directions. I really only use them as absolute last measures. I had her bolt badly after a tractor backfired in a field next to the trail. But as hindsight is 20/20 and with the help of many posters here I came to realise there were several other factors involved; being in heat, picking up contact before a bridge, lack of good vision of the field itself due to foliage. It was a true, terrified bolt not just a jolly down the lane. Ever since then I have made sure that I work on my one rein stop on both sides in a safe environment both from a walk and trot. I had to work my way up to trot. Sometimes she does want to break out into a canter but these days I catch it early and we're A-OK. IF I had space and it was safe I'd be much happier to work a larger space but you just have to deal with what you have in the moment. You do have to train the one rein stop otherwise you risk them being unbalanced. I have had some dicey moments but they have been 10x more manageable since practising these and made me 100x more confident. It used to really stress me out. I do ofc stress - I think most of us recreational riders would tbh - but it's not like my heart is tickling my tonsils.

Arm yourself with tools to help YOU cope. I also am now hardcore working on my flexibility and balance every. single. day. just to be a better rider and more agile. Lastly, it's OK to just work on mounting. The other day I got on her bareback which took 5 minutes of convincing before she was still as a statue (she actually threatened to buck the one person who tried it before me but she sort of hopped on without warning and a bony bum. I've ridden bareback plenty times no issues myself). I was on her for 30 seconds. Then I got off. That was it. Our entire session. I don't compete so really just do as I fancy. It makes me feel better and she also learns that mounting doesn't always lead to difficult workouts or scary hacks.

@phantomhorse13 your post is incredibly reassuring, in knowing that we're not alone. I am interested about this heart rate business. Might invest in one myself out of curiosity... or should I. Hah!

I look forward to seeing other responses and your own progress OP. You're not alone!
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post #4 of 45 Old 07-14-2019, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by phantomhorse13 View Post
How absolutely frustrating! As the owner of a reactive horse, I sympathize greatly.

It sounds like you have done a very good job ruling out medical issues. My only other thought along those lines would be testing for Magnesium and Vitamin E levels.. but honestly I think that is a stretch since her anxiety isn't constant.
If you have the budget to try out Magnesium, I encourage it. My mare Minnie has a lot of fear, and is still getting over her anxieties. When I first got her and still occasionally, she will tremble when I enter her 'bubble' whether it be during brushing, haltering, or just visiting. Whenever we have a setback in our progress, whether it be because of Minnie scaring herself or something spooking her at just the right moment, it would take us quite a bit to get back to where we were.

When I brought her home, the first thing I ordered was Magnesium 5000 from SmartPak. I noticed a difference in her general anxiety, and the number of incidences that we would have with scary things lessened greatly. When she does spook at something, it seems a lot less extreme. I was willingly to have her second ride be on the trails, which I never thought we would be doing if you were to ask me a few months ago. We were able to walk past a scary scrap metal pile with nothing more than a glance, and when one of the dogs ran into her hinds legs by accident she only scooted her butt up a little.

A 160 day supply of the Magnesium 5000 is only $70, so it could be worth a try. There are shorter day supply options, I just opted for something that would get me through the summer riding season, and really see if it helped at all.

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post #5 of 45 Old 07-14-2019, 07:41 PM
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You're saying that her mental state is what has caused the issues, such as her being anxious or worked up before the spooks. Yet both the mounting and the lawn mower sound rather sudden.

Do you feel these were after her being worked up beforehand? Or would they have spooked her anyway?
If you can see it coming, and it's such a rare thing, I'd just suggest not working with her when she seems to be upset like that. Maybe you could skip one occurrence and cut it down to every four years...? By then she'll be so much older and more experienced. It might never happen again.

From how you describe your horse, I think you would be hard pressed to find another one with less issues. I think of my current horse as not very spooky, and he spooks at least every couple weeks or so.

It's more difficult for me to give advice, because I'll accept a hard spook with the risk of falling off every week or two, and would be thrilled if it happened every year or two.

One thing I would suggest for a horse that remains worked up and has issues after the spook happens. If she spooks, try not to react and instead make everything calm again. Even if you fall off. Don't think you need to keep working her or make her do difficult things. That will only cement it into her brain that this is a bad experience. What she needs is calmness so she can realize she overreacted. If you try to make her work through it, or keep going while she is not calm, this will create issues that last longer.

It might seem like you are rewarding a horse if you take them out grazing or let them stop a ride after a spook. But you're talking about a horse that gets upset very rarely, and can't think when she is upset. She won't connect that. Instead, you'll teach her that calmness can follow quickly after being scared. Horses want to know "is this a big deal, or not a big deal?" The last thing you want is to make them think it is a big deal.
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post #6 of 45 Old 07-14-2019, 09:09 PM
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Hi, firstly, while if she's fine generally, I think it's less likely an issue that she's deficient, I agree with others who have suggested extra magnesium. Also I'd consider the rest of her diet/nutritional balance, reactivity to toxins in grass etc, as this can cause 'behavioural issues'.

Originally Posted by kiltsrhott View Post
I just can't keep going through this. I can't afford to keep falling off when she spooks like that. I can't afford the medical bills, or missed time off work. I'm usually a pretty solid rider. I'm 30 and have been riding since I was a kid. I could count on one hand the number of times I fell off before I got Ursula but she's about doubled that number with her anxiety.
To the first bit, I understand that attitude & fear. You are riding a large prey animal who doesn't have the ability for rational thought, with her own instincts, attitudes, emotions, so you just have to weigh that up yourself regarding riding ANY horse. But if your horse is wonderful doing all sorts & only tends to have a bad reaction to something every 2 years - IMO that's great & I'd consider that a very safe horse(good luck finding a better replacement), as much as that lable can apply to any. That she seems to 'overreact' for so long afterwards seems to be the big issue? Maybe that's her, maybe it's you & how you go about things.

So... you fell off 5 times by about 21yo & you have fallen off 10 times in the last 9 years. Doesn't sound too bad to me. But, esp as I get older, I'm less willing to risk falls too. You can't 'proof' your horse to every single thing, there will always be risk. But you can cut down on that 'count' by avoiding doing things that stress her out, or that are higher risk, and you can avoid riding her if she is stressed.

I've noticed she's most likely to spook when she's anxious about something, like a particularly challenging lesson, or a break in her routine.
It is one thing to work on improving, to challenge, but if the horse becomes anxious with lessons, something's not right. Perhaps you're asking for too much, too soon, perhaps it's going on too long, too intense, or your timing's out or she's otherwise not getting enough reinforcement. Perhaps for some reason she physically can't do what you want, or it's hurting.. If she isn't reinforced/doesn't understand/can't do something, she will become confused, frustrated, anxious, reactive if you keep asking. Once a horse gets anxious & emotional, they quit being able to think clearly, to learn, and just get more reactive & anxious under pressure. So a big part of effective teaching is to avoid/minimise confusion & stress, and to recognise when it's happening & quit *before* it becomes a Thing.

So... if there are particular situations that you know she stresses about, set up lots of easy, short 'sessions' where she can 'win' at them without it being too much & then be stress free back in her 'comfort zone'. In that way, you can 'stretch' that comfort zone & gradually get her comfortable & confident doing those things.

She's better when I'm working with her alone. She doesn't like the attentions of more than one person at a time, or strangers. It's not about the thing she's spooking at. Its about her mental state leading up to it.
One of my horses, due to horrible experience a long time ago, still has a 'phobia' about men, and due to my situation, while he's had quite a few good experiences & no Bad since, I haven't been able to give him enough 'exposure' to get him over that completely. So I just accept that I have to be a bit more careful when there are guys around he doesn't know.

But I also appreciate that my own anticipation & responses can make matters worse. And that horses sense our smallest 'bodylanguage', even if we're unaware we're transmitting. Eg. if I'm expecting/worried/overly focussed about something, even if I'm not very, or I'm trying hard to 'hide' it, I might still be just a little bit tight, a little bit abrupt, etc. Which can cause him to wonder & worry about what it is I'm worried about, setting the ball rolling, having him more on alert, more likely to 'spook'. So, not sure if that applies to you, re 'it's about her mental state leading up to it'.

And as for control when you find yourself in that situation, agree with Kalraii that *teaching*(not forcing) a 'one rein stop' really well is really helpful.
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post #7 of 45 Old 07-14-2019, 11:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your input! I did try a magnesium calming supplement back when she had ulcers (before the ulcers were diagnosed) and it didn't help, but I guess if she had ulcers and a magnesium deficiency, she still would have been in pain from the ulcers and I may not have noticed any benefit from the supplement. So I'm adding smartcalm ultra to her next smartpak shipment and I'll see if it does anything. I'll try other possible solutions from there.

Practicing a one-rein stop won't really help. She has very good brakes and doesn't run through her bit at all. When she anxiety-panic-spooks she sits down and scoots sideways or surges forward very quickly. I'm lost in the sit. She just drops out from under me and I have no horse between my legs anymore. I'm on the floor before I even know what happened. I have no time to react.

Then once I fall off she's mentally gone. She's quite the people-pleasing horse and really tries to take care of her rider. She gets really upset when she thinks she's done something wrong. This is a good quality when trying to teach her new things or when giving her commands. She never fights me, and bends over backwards trying to understand me. But when she makes a mistake, she gets very upset and depending on how bad the mess up is in her mind, she sometimes comes entirely unglued. I've never gotten upset with her after a fall. I sometimes get back on and sometimes don't, depending on how I feel and how she seems to feel. I did not continue my lesson after the last incident, and she still held onto the fear for weeks after.

Probably part of the reason this only turns into an issue once every couple of years is I can usually see it coming and avert a crisis. Ursula does usually get tense, and visibly nervous before she explodes. Usually diverting her attention or working her through it with an exercise she's familiar with is enough to take the edge off, but every once in a while, I'm caught off guard. During our last incident, she started off the lesson pretty tense. I had rushed to the barn from work and brought her in early to get her ready for the lesson in time. She was out of sorts from the change in her routine and the rushing around. We took some extra time to warm up before diving into the lesson and she had seemed to settle, but I guess I was wrong and she lost it in the middle of an exercise early in the lesson. Some of the other stuff that's happened, has been stuff that would have spooked her anyways, and I get it. That lawnmower backfire was enough to scare me. I'm not expecting her to be dead to the world around her, but it's the fact that once she is scared, she can't let it go, and whatever scared her becomes a source of long-term anxiety. Each incident becomes a drawn out issue that lasts for weeks or even months. It sets us back significantly with our riding, and has made it impossible to make significant progress. I guess there is a lesson to be learned here. The next time she's anxious at the start of a ride, I won't get on. We'll just ground work it for the day. This should help us avoid at least some disasters.

I described an issue with dismounting in my first post and I may not have been clear. It was an issue only during a dismount. She's never been bad for mounting, and it's been years since she's had any issue with dismount. She stands very still for both. The recent issue with the mounting block did not involve mounting. We had been mounted for a good 20 minutes and she violently spooked at it while riding passed it.

I am aware that any horse is capable of spooking sometimes. It happens. They all do it. I've been unseated by a spook or two on other horses, but never has it become such a pattern with another horse, and never has another horse held on to their anxiety like Ursula. Another issue I have is how violent her spooks are. No one can ride through that. They're absolutely explosive in nature, happen very fast, and she's a big horse. It's dangerous, and her brain totally shuts down. I'd rather ride a horse that snorts and shies at random stuff every day than a horse that's usually very good but periodically loses her mind in dangerous fashion.

I will admit, my confidence is shaken every time this happens. I have taken lessons on other horses in the past when this happens, to help myself overcome it. It helps, but obviously has not resolved the issue for Ursula.

It takes a lot to unseat me. When I was a kid, I was often the one put on the problem horses, or new horses. I'd help with backing youngsters. I've seen my share of bolting, bucking, rearing, and general misbehavior, and yes, I've been dumped because of it at times, but it was always a one-time thing with an explanation in lack of mileage and exposure, a freak accident, or something else, and after a few minutes, the horse would be back to normal and we'd be on our way. This is different.

She sounds a lot like your horse, @phantomhorse13 . We have made a lot of progress over the years. Some things she has learned not to get upset about at all, but most of what I've done is teach her to better handle the anxiety. She still gets nervous fairly often. The first year I had her was a mess. I couldn't take lessons at all because she was terrified of the person on the ground. She freaked the first time a took a lesson and my instructor touched her neck. She still gets really anxious when someone else is in the arena while we ride, but usually keeps enough of a lid on it for us to get through a 45 minute lesson, and the instructor I have now knows to approach her with caution and pay close attention to her body language. We live near an army post and the artillery drills don't bother her, but don't let someone on the ground touch her while she's being ridden. She can handle a deer popping up in her face on a trail ride, but the same pink mounting block she's seen 1000x is terrifying.

A friend of mine runs a riding program. Many of her students are adults, and she was looking for a larger horse to add to the program. I told her she could use Ursula for free if that meant Ursula would get some training and experience. She declined, admitting that Ursula scares her and she would not trust Ursula with her students. She will not ride Ursula herself. About half of the trainers I've worked with will not get on her themselves. The instructor I was with a few weeks ago is one of them. She is the one encouraging me to find a different horse. This upsets me because when she is good, she's amazing, but when she's scared, she is absolutely terrifying. She is simultaneously the best and the worst horse I have ever ridden.
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post #8 of 45 Old 07-15-2019, 12:55 AM
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I think from your first post I got the impression this was a non-anxious, calm horse that doesn't spook except for every couple of years, and then it's a big one. But this last post sounds more like a horse that is not actually calm, but is anxious and you and your instructor manage that anxiety.

If that is the ongoing state of the horse for a few years, then I would consider that not an unusual "blow up" incident, but rather the personality of the horse. Quite possibly, some horses have different vision or hearing that does not work as well with the usual horse brain. Combine this with a sensitive personality, and it can be challenging.

As far as I can tell, there are three things you can do:
1) Accept the risk, and keep riding her while trying to work on not letting her anxiety get to the level of an explosion.
2) Keep her but take less risk, and don't have her do anything that normally causes anxiety. That would mean you would trade less risk to yourself for not doing all the things you want with her. This is actually a fairly common approach I've seen with people who have horses with anxious personalities - they stop riding them or only ride them in certain settings.
3) Find the horse a home with someone who doesn't mind an anxious horse. It does sound like your horse has many good qualities. But that doesn't mean she is right for you, and it sounds like you may have riding goals that are not working out well with her personality.

It's a personal thing for you. Something to think through carefully and decide what you need, what you can deal with, etc.

I wouldn't let words from others deter you, since many trainers and instructors won't get on horses or say they scare them or are dangerous. I've dealt with that quite often. Assess the horse for yourself. If you feel she is too dangerous for you, don't assume she is too dangerous for another, because someone might be just right for her. The words like dangerous, big, explosive, fast, shuts down, those don't have to be things that keep her from getting a good home. People say those words a lot about horses. Some of those horses have quite useful lives.

For example, I've found some horses that completely lose their mind for a bit can sometimes not be as bad as horses that are thinking and continuing on and on with a behavior. It can be easier to get a horse to where they don't lose their mind very often than it can be to deter a horse that has not lost their mind but is having extreme behaviors anyway (long term). I say that after having one horse that would lose her mind, and two others that didn't but still were difficult. Also, a tiny explosive horse can be more difficult to stay on than a large one, because even a small horse can overpower you and they move so dang fast. Plus I can say from experience that there is not much difference in pain or injury coming off a 17 hand horse than a 14 hand horse. Especially if you get bucked up in the air first.

My point with all that is just to think about what is emotional or reaction to others' words, and try to separate that from your actual experiences and what you want from and for the horse. Since you've made so much progress, I'd say you probably know what your horse needs. You seem to know how to improve her ability to deal with things. The fact that you haven't reached where you think you need to be might simply be because that point is not actually attainable with this horse.
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post #9 of 45 Old 07-15-2019, 01:14 AM
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Hmm, your update gives me a very different idea than your first post did. It seems that she is NOT OK for the most part & just freaks on the odd occasion or for a few known specifics, but is a generally nervous horse. More reason to look into nutrition for starters - and magnesium is also a nutrient that is used/needed by the body more in times of stress, so that may be a 'vicious circle' type factor.

It also sounds like even when she is 'good' it may be more that she is just 'keeping a lid on it', holding it together, rather than truly calm & confident & relaxed? Perhaps she's also a horse that is not so extroverted, tends to internalise, hold her breath even, not show the 'minor' signs as easily as some horses, so things just build up without you realising, until they're 'too much'. The mounting block or your dismounting for eg were just the 'final straw', not the reason for the spook. You know how even minor stresses throughout the day can build up inside, until by the end of the day you might end up losing it at someone for saying 'how was your day'??

I have/had a horse like that, that I didn't realise how he was really feeling - he was 'quiet', obedient, tried hard, but every once in a while - often when I thought he was quiet & obedient, so ready for something more - 'out of the blue, for no reason' he would just explode with violent, 'over the top' reactions & fear. Guess I was just more used to 'louder' extroverted horses, because it took a trainer(after many others, different tactics, desensitising, etc, etc) saying 'listen to his breathing' when he was 'quiet' & me to say 'I can't hear or feel it' for me to realise he was holding his breath! And there were other 'quiet' signs, that all was not well with him. I realised that although I'd never *intentionally* punished him for it, because I'd kept 'pushing' when it was too much for him, he was afraid to tell me how he felt, afraid to make mistakes & be 'corrected'. I still have him, he is old now, and he IS now pretty well unflappable, I'd trust him implicitly with my 6yo niece, or smaller kids to be led on these days. But it took that revelation that I had to 'listen' to him better, to not unwittingly 'push him over the edge', before I could really get through that.

Last edited by loosie; 07-15-2019 at 01:20 AM.
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post #10 of 45 Old 07-15-2019, 06:16 AM Thread Starter
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Ursula is nervous a lot more than she actually explodes but the things that stress her out are consistent. As I said in my first post she is generally truly calm. I don't have the budget to take lessons every week. I mostly ride alone or hack out on trails alone. In these scenarios she is rarely stressed. She is truly calm when I am the only one involved and when nothing out of the ordinary is happening around her. It is really only an issue when another person, someone she doesn't see every day, is around. Every single explosion has happened after or during a lesson or when someone else was with me and had attempted to interact with her. Even someone else taking the reins from me while I run to the bathroom can be enough to upset her.

Certain people are better than others. It depends on the person. Though the odd thing is she seems totally fine away from home. When I've had her at shows she's cool as a cucumber. The last show we went to was a benefit show for a therapeutic riding program and she was the center of attention among many people in electric wheel chairs and all she did was soak up the attention.

kiltsrhott is offline  

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