Your horse and your safety: When spooking - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 50 Old 10-28-2015, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Yogiwick View Post
Obviously you cannot expect the horse to NEVER have a little jump, but yes a well behaved horse that once a year does a little quick "start" at something is a whole different ballgame from the horse that suddenly explodes over nothing.
"Once a year..."
My contribution to this subject is based on owning a horse that is 24 years old, has been ridden thousands of miles in the last 12 years (I started her at age 12), horse shows, competitive endurance and trail, a half dozen formal "bomb-proofing" clinics, and STILL spooks a minimum of three times in an hour ride.
She is a granddaughter of the famous Arab *Bask, and has multiple lines to show horses, so I suspect genetics have created a personality that is easily worked up and made to prance and short. I read that no one who had ridden *Bask could say they never fell off of him.

When I started with this horse, I read and asked and searched and pulled my hair out trying to figure out how to get a horse to stop spooking. It seemed impossible to me to get anywhere with this mare because by the time I realized something had frightened her I was on the ground. It was like, "Is that leaf floating toward my horse's head...?" BOOM! Super fast twisting heels over head rodeo bucking.

It was impossible to imagine every scenario that might scare this horse and expose her to it. A donkey braying on a farm nearby, someone starting a chainsaw a half mile away, a squirrel, a garbage can, a leaf, her own water bucket. All of these things made her explode. I led her on long walks where I spent most of the time keeping my feet clear while she sprang up and down around me snorting.

Then one day, my mare froze for a second before bucking and I leaped off and calmed her down. Next she froze for two seconds, then three, and then we had something to work with. Once she learned that fear didn't mean death, we were able to make progress little by little.

After six months, the bucking stopped. After six more, she stopped bolting. I rode the spins, leaps and sidesteps at least half of the time for the next several years. At that point after trainers and clinicians and others trying to help me had marginal success, I met some crazy riders that took their horses out galloping and did some real adventure riding. They let me ride horses that made my little mare seem rather tame.

Once I learned how to really ride securely over all types of terrain, these huge issues I had with my mare became non-issues. My horse has become a solid horse for me, and I can get on and ride her out alone into the woods or on a busy road or beach. She will always spook and I can't change that. Now she simply shudders or drops down with her feet spread wide or does a gallop-in-place and then stops.
This is my "easy" ride compared to my other, more complicated mare who is not as spooky.
I appreciate those who try to understand their horses' personalities and motivations, like bsms and others on HF. The horse is never wrong, they have motivations of their own for everything they do.

Books have been invaluable to me and I've learned much more from them than any instructor. I took many, many lessons that didn't help me become a secure rider. What they taught me is to become what I call a "poser," which is someone who wins equitation classes but when the horse spooks violently they fall off or lose control. I also rode a lot of different horses for many years without learning the right things. I've learned the most from real people with real experiences, books, and from the difficult horses such as my mares.
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post #32 of 50 Old 10-29-2015, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Foxhunter View Post
I never said that books weren't a good form of learning but there is a heck of a big difference between reading something and knowing that you are applying it correctly.

Having the eyes on the ground counts for a lot more.

You can be Roding and honestly believe that you are doing it right but not betting the wanted result. Someone on the ground who knows what they are doing, can say, put a little more weight on your left butt, or look up, you are dropping your hip/shoulder/hand because you do not realise that you are doing it.

You cannot get that from a book.
YES and YES again, it is all those little unconscious things that eyes on the ground give you feed back on, simply invaluable.

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post #33 of 50 Old 10-29-2015, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by gottatrot View Post
...My contribution to this subject is based on owning a horse that is 24 years old, has been ridden thousands of miles in the last 12 years (I started her at age 12), horse shows, competitive endurance and trail, a half dozen formal "bomb-proofing" clinics, and STILL spooks a minimum of three times in an hour ride...

...I read that no one who had ridden *Bask could say they never fell off of him...

...Then one day, my mare froze for a second before bucking and I leaped off and calmed her down. Next she froze for two seconds, then three, and then we had something to work with. Once she learned that fear didn't mean death, we were able to make progress little by little...
Sounds like Mia raised to the 10th power. The beauty of the curb bit is that it got her to stay in one place for a couple of seconds, and by that time the motorcycle had gone by.

"Once she learned that fear didn't mean death, we were able to make progress little by little..."

That was Mia. I talked to her new owner (Bandit's former owner) a month ago. She still startles hard at times, and sometimes takes a sideways jump. But the family has all grown up on horses, and she doesn't bolt or buck, and the terrain is very open - so they are using her as a kid's horse. She jumps sideways, the kids laugh, and they go on. Except for that odd habit, she is the softest horse they own. And that laid-back reaction always seemed the most effective approach with her anyways. It worked well - that and giving her slack reins when she was nervous - better than anything else I tried during our 7 years together.

I saw no indication it had anything to do with trusting her rider or a relationship. Experience made her much better, but we did "The OMG Crouch" ("drops down with her feet spread wide") every 2-3 minutes for months, and then over a period of a year or more it mostly died away. As of last April, she'd drop a little and swerve 45 deg left or right about 3 times a month, which was vastly better than every couple of minutes.

She really needed to learn life wasn't that scary. She has spent some time now in a real herd with a stallion and a bunch of mares roaming hundreds of acres instead of a corral, so that might help her. Good horse sired by Gazaar, a popular Crabbett stallion of the 60s/70s.

Bandit initially thought he wasn't allowed to express an opinion, and I gather he is the sort who CAN be "pushed past" - which is what his former owner told me to do. He said you would lose a race if your horse hesitated for a half minute. But I don't race. I've GOT a half minute, or ten if need be.

Once he found out he could express an opinion, he started doing so and things go worse - for a while. But then he began to realize I really DID have a clue about what was worth scaring over, and he's settled down a lot over the last 2-3 months. If the trend continues, he'll become an alert but confident horse who checks in with his rider when things get dicey. That is what I want. Not a dead head who ignores everything. Not a horse who jumps at everything. But a confident horse who will check in with me briefly before trying to take things into his own four hooves...

Reading: I'd rather have a good instructor on the ground than a good book, but I find good books can be ordered from Amazon, while good instructors are few and far between. I'm thinking of asking my wife to give me 6 months of jumping lessons this spring as a birthday present - IF I can find someone in the area who knows what to teach and how to do it.
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post #34 of 50 Old 10-29-2015, 03:15 PM
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Bsms it is always something that I do have to think about and that is the distances over there.

People say they cannot get a vet out until three or four days time. Here I could have anyone of a dozen vets attend in an emergency. I guess it is the same with instructors.

Mind you, there are more poor instructors working here nowadays.

One book you would find interesting to read is Riding Logic, Wilhelm Museler. Gives you some very good exercises on and off the horse. Published in 1937, I just googled it and there are some for sale on US Amazon for a couple of bucks.

Well worth it.
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post #35 of 50 Old 10-29-2015, 03:34 PM
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Book ordered, $6.47 including shipping and taxes. That is about 10 minutes of a real lesson...

Vets charge me $75+ to pull into my driveway. More if I ask them to get out of the car.

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post #36 of 50 Old 10-29-2015, 03:51 PM
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Charges here are a lot higher even if they don't have the distance to travel. It would be roughly the same call out fee but meds are a lot higher.
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post #37 of 50 Old 10-29-2015, 03:57 PM
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I'm never convinced about Arabians and spooking, Tramp would happily ride through the busiest, noisiest and heaviest of traffic and never so much as flinch at anything but he could go down a quiet country lane and go all 4 feet off the ground because he spotted a different coloured leaf in the hedge - yet never worried about pheasants suddenly flying out under his nose. He would also stand tied in the barn and get all het up about 'nothing I could see' in one corner

Honey and Jazzy both do the 'monster in the corner of the manege' routine when they don't feel like schooling but you could put them loose in there and they wouldn't see it
Willow spooks with real power if she thinks you've gone on auto-pilot and then stands and gives you a look as if to say 'Well I'm over here, what are you doing on the floor over there?'
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post #38 of 50 Old 10-29-2015, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by jaydee View Post
I'm never convinced about Arabians and spooking, Tramp would happily ride through the busiest, noisiest and heaviest of traffic and never so much as flinch at anything but he could go down a quiet country lane and go all 4 feet off the ground because he spotted a different coloured leaf in the hedge - yet never worried about pheasants suddenly flying out under his nose. He would also stand tied in the barn and get all het up about 'nothing I could see' in one corner

Honey and Jazzy both do the 'monster in the corner of the manege' routine when they don't feel like schooling but you could put them loose in there and they wouldn't see it
Willow spooks with real power if she thinks you've gone on auto-pilot and then stands and gives you a look as if to say 'Well I'm over here, what are you doing on the floor over there?'
This made me chuckle. Those last two are EXACTLY how my old gelding was before we worked the spook out of him. First time I really had to get after him while leading, a leaf was blown across our path and he tried to climb up my shoulder. There was no shaking, no sweating, no real fear...he just thought that acting that way would get him out of work because it had always worked with his old owners. Then he tried to pull the "Monster in the corner of the arena" routine when my friend was riding him. She worked the snot out of him in the corner he'd spooked in and all of a sudden that corner wasn't at all scary any more.
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post #39 of 50 Old 10-29-2015, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by gottatrot View Post
Once I learned how to really ride securely over all types of terrain, these huge issues I had with my mare became non-issues.

I took many, many lessons that didn't help me become a secure rider. What they taught me is to become what I call a "poser," which is someone who wins equitation classes but when the horse spooks violently they fall off or lose control.
Yes! You can have your heels down and your back straight and win your class and still be the first to fall off. Not a month goes by that I don't run across another post somewhere about how somebody (usually Parelli) has no idea how to ride a horse. So the fact that he rode bucking horses for 14 years and stayed on 98% of them to the buzzer means nothing, because it doesn't look correct.

Sure, theoretically we could stay on better if we employed all the finer points of classical equitation, but my definition of riding ability is being able to keep one leg on each side of the horse. And until you develop your balance, you'll never stay on in a pinch, no matter how pretty you look.
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post #40 of 50 Old 10-29-2015, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Joel Reiter View Post
...So the fact that he rode bucking horses for 14 years and stayed on 98% of them to the buzzer means nothing, because it doesn't look correct...
The hardest part of staying on a spook is the lack of warning. Not saying I'd win a rodeo, but they are not comparable. And as I learn to ride Bandit after 7 years of riding Mia, I realize that:

A) I rode defensively.

B) I often rode ineffectively defensively.

By that I mean some of the eccentric things I did to stay on Mia were not really helping me stay on Mia, and I could have adopted better equitation without any greater risk of coming off. Since I trust Bandit more - he usually gives more warning, and he calms faster - I've been experimenting with trying to ride more like Morris or Littauer (or Larry Trocha, since I've gone western) said to ride. And you know, it isn't hurting my "sticking on" power. Maybe even helping.

There is a reason a former moderator I much admired (maura - miss her comments!) said she felt more confident in a jump saddle than a dressage or western saddle. There is also a reason many dressage riders feel confident, and why many more conventional western riders than I am feel confident.

GOOD equitation - which is not always the same as SHOW equitation - helps a rider stay on.

But you can also fake good equitation, where you look fine in a photo but have rigid legs, or where you are so busy looking good that you forget to feel your horse's back or monitor his attitude. And just as some showing involves riding a horse who moves, shall we say unnaturally(?), some positions the judges like are not helpful on a trail.

As VS Littauer stressed, riding is about balance in motion, not position in a photo. But good equitation is always rooted in good balance and moving with the horse. Anything else is affectation...
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