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I have been working with a border Saddlebred named Kyle and he is great out but you get him inside and he is a basket case. He's nervous and tries to trot ahead of me when we are working on the ground. Lunging him doesn't work and just makes him more worked up. After awhile he'll calm down but only after I move another horse into a stall that overlooks the arena so that Kyle can see them and only after he drags me around for awhile. I'm a 95 lb. girl . . .so it doesn't take much. Would love any help or insight.
 

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Try turning him loose in there for a while. Let him check it out and discover all the monsters on his own.
 

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Totally agree. Let him loose and maybe instead of riding him get a buggy whip/lunging whip and just move him around some for a few work sessions. Let him work it out for himself. You can only lead the horse to the idea you can't make them think it. :p
 

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I agree, let him loose to let him know there are no monsters, maybe he was mistreated in the past that's why he is scared? Isn't it you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink? LOL.
 

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I agree, let him loose to let him know there are no monsters, maybe he was mistreated in the past that's why he is scared? Isn't it you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink? LOL.

How does being abused make a horse afraid of low lighted areas?

I was curious about horse eyesight so I did a yahoo search...
Horses require approximately 15 minutes for their vision to adjust when moving between differently lighted environments. Remain on familiar paths and keep to a slow pace after emerging from a brightly lighted barn for an unlighted evening ride or when turning horses out for the night.

Sudden brightness takes an equal amount of adjustment, as you notice each time you flip the barn light switch for the predawn feeding: Every occupant squints and blinks until his eyes adapt.
I agree with letting him run around the arena and let him find the monsters.
 

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All horses get afraid of things. All horses use the flight instinct as their protection from what scares them. I agree with old Monty Roberts--instill trust so that when the horse gets scared they look to you for safety and guidance. About the only thing that can keep you safe as for sure there will be a time when the horse you are on will get scared or spooked.

So my vote would be to help him over his fears by showing him that there is nothing to be afraid about--you are confident and solid and he will react to that-- if you are anxious because he is acting up he will go "see I knew there was something to be scared about!!".

Let him deal with it but help him with it. Always let him flee if he has to--controlled flight--long rope. The key is to stay calm and collected and exude this to him.

Try it and I think you will like the results--it will take your relationship to another level.
 

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I would agree with the letting him go. We did that with one that was scared of arenas in general. he was terrified of the signs. He had never been in one before I had him, and I normally rode him on trails. After he went and checked it all out we never had another issue in the arena.

I can understand how it could be difficult to do a controlled flight type thing with him. He's got a little more lead in his butt than you...lol. I've run into it before too. Just do what you are comfortable with to help him. 5cuetrain is definitely right that the more your horse trusts you the easier this will be as well. :)

Good luck.
 

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I do let him loose, but he stands right next to the gate or weaves back and forth in front of it.
In that case I would say make him move. Use a lunge whip or crop and push him to move around the arena. Do it as if you were a horse in a new herd pushing him around the pasture. Don't make him go fast, just haave him keep moving and looking around at a walk or trot. Don't put too much pressure on him, just enough to move him. Good luck :)
 

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I had a similar issue with my young TB mare. Free lunging helped a lot. Also having another horse and rider in there that are old soldiers at it. The other calmer horse helped calm my mare down. Now it's not so much an issue.
 

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I am going to disagree with turning him loose. If he doesn't like something, he won't go near it anyway. Chasing him with a whip will only encourage his fear.

Also - if the indoor is a place to work, it should not be a place to play. We used to allow the horses to tear around loose in our indoor to blow off steam. I had to retrain them that the indoor meant they had to listen.

Hand walk him around once in both directions (horses see out of each eye) and then mount and start his workout. Start at the end he is most comfortable at and increase the size of your circle until you are using the entire arena.

He could be claustrophic and seeing another horse helps to calm his fear of being closed in.
 

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Hmm, I might have to agree with mls. I made the mistake of letting my draft girl loose in the indoor to get used to it herself, didn't chase her or anything. She panicked and took a run at the gate. Luckily she didn't break through, but bent up the gate pretty bad. Needless to say, we had to buy a new gate, and her phobia was intensified.

Finally we had a trainer lunge her in there, until she was absolutely exhausted. Then, when she was too tired to be spooky, she was led around several times in each direction. Each time she was lunged a little less; after 5 or 6 sessions she walked in the arena calmly. Still very attentive, but not on the edge of exploding like before. After a couple more sessions I could ride her in there on the lunge, and she was fine.
 

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This is a post I used for a horse who was afraid of corners. Though the actual location is different, the fear still stems from claustrophobia, so it's the same method to get him calm again:

"Originally Posted by PaintingMissy
I also agree with having her stand in the corners. If you do any ground work like lounging you could work her in the corner of the arena which may help.
I sort of agree with this statement, once you have narrowed out any possible health issues. However, I would make corners a "fun" and relaxing place to be rather than somewhere where she has to work. Lunge her in the middle of the ring and then let her rest in the corners. Pretty soon she will love being in the corners of the ring, since they coordinate with rest and relaxation. This will be an especially good exercise if your mare is on the slower/ lazier side, since the resting will be much more motivational then for a speedy/ flighty horse.

(Random tangent, but this exercise will also work for barn/ pasture sour horses. Work them in their favorite place and then let them relax in the place they don't normally enjoy- like the arena for some horses. Soon the horse will think of the arena as a good place since they get to relax there, and the barn as being not as much fun place. Note, the horse will still naturally like being in the barn, but he won't associate it so much as permanent resting place!)"
 

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You know, I'm about to work thru the same thing with my new boy and I have had to work thru it with each of the babies I owned. Just take him in there, chase him around, let him figure things out. If he's really that bothered by it, anything that you do with him, do inside. Brush him there, tack him up there, ride him there.

Like I everything else, the more you do it, the more he'll get used to it.
 

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Sounds more like he may just be buddy sour; if having another horse in there helps, that may be it. He may just need to be worked by someone who can help him deal with his issue; he'll be able to out muscle you, so he needs someone who has a bit more strength to endure his fits. I'm not saying he needs someone who can beat his bum, just be able to hang in there with him while he figures out he can work in an arena by himself.
 

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My horse had a similar issue to this when I first got her. She was a horse in a herd of about 20 on a friends place. They let me pick one out, and I chose her. She was very wild, never had a halter on, been in a pen, nothing. When we turned her loose in the round pen she freaked out. She hated the fact of being in a closed spot. So we made it comfortable for her. We put a bucket of water for her, some hay, grain, put on some calm music. Anything that would help her calm down... Within four days I was on her back and could ride her into the horse trailer...

My point is... make it a comfortable spot for her... put the things she likes in there.. even if its food... I think keeping other horses away is a good thing... Learning to face things on her own is a big step for a horse, but something they need to learn... also I have to disagree with MLS... Turning a horse loose in the pen that you train in has no effect, if you train right... My horse lived in our round pen for the first four months of her training... it shouldn't matter where the horse is staying, you should instill in their mind that when you put that halter on, its time to behave and do whatever you ask of them...

also.. if your horse is overpowering you... take a rope (you can even use your lead rope) and put it over his nose... I am not a fan of stud chains... I understand the need for them.. but I would rather try something less harse before moving to something like that... and if he try to trot in front of you snap that rope a little.. not hard.. just enough to get his attention... since you are small that should help get his attention a little more..

I really hope this helps.. and you have been getting a lot of really great advise so far!
 
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