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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My horse is an 8 year old Standardbred(ex-pacer),Monty. When out on a ride he can sometimes get very excited and starts to get cheeky. He changes gaits very quickly and spooks a lot. It is not very fun for me. Is there any advice on how to calm him down?
 

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Put a lt more work into him, double the distance you are travelling, keep the pace at a strong trot or canter, work him hard up any hill and ride him until he is tired and listening.
 

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Hi and welcome,
Is there a pattern or consistency to the behavior? i.e., does he act this way in a specific area? are you alone or riding in a group? How long has this behavior occurred? What sort of equipment is he in? What do you know of his history?
Working him longer and harder could fix the problem it could just get him more fit so he can act like weenie longer. I would start with some desensitization work and getting him to realize that no matter what happens his feet don't move. This maybe something to start work on in the arena. If riding on the trail is not fun then I would give the trail a break. You or he may not be ready for the challenges of a trail.
 

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You have to think about why he is acting up. Could it be because of ill-fitting tack or has a sore back, neck, mouth etc?

First, if you can, try going for a ride with someone else. Sometimes being with another horse while riding can calm them down.

If that doesn't work, check your tack. If that isn't it, see if he is hurting anywhere. Possibly have a vet out, though I know that can be expensive.

Good luck!
Hoped that helped!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I usually ride in a group and he is just in an all-purpose saddle, simple bridle without a noseband and snaffle bit. I only know that he was a pacer and then a Trail Horse before I got him. I am actually a trail guide, so I think I can handle it. He tends to spook at kangaroos and things I cant see that scare him. He also dislikes the arena a lot. He bucks and it is not him being excited in the arena. His previous saddle was rubbing so I replaced that one, but besides that his tack is fine.
 

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best thing to do is try to stay calm yourself, have you ever done ground work with the horse to gain his respect as his leader and listen to you? Alot of times doing ground work really makes a difference in a spooky horse. My mare was 3yr. when I got her with 30 days of riding, I did a lot of ground work with her in the round pen before I took her out. Once I got her out, she would get nervous or spook because deer would jump out but she always listened to me and stopped.......I think ground work makes a world of difference in alot of horses.....
 

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As a trail guide, you are riding in front of the group right? which makes him lead horse. Is he better as a follower horse? I knew one horse who was a spooky mess and would rear if asked to cross water as lead horse. As a guest horse who was second or third in line, she was fine and would cross water like a champ. She needed to borrow another horses courage and see them do it first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Monty is usually better as a leader, he tends to try and overtake the horses ahead of us and he normally has a very soft mouth but he just wont care if I try to stop him.
 

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Hi and welcome,
Is there a pattern or consistency to the behavior? i.e., does he act this way in a specific area? How long has this behavior occurred?
Can you answer these questions? I feel like looking at these questions in more depth might help you determine what the issue is. Horses don't do things without reason. So you need to start being observant, take mental notes next time you're out on the trail.
 

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When you feel him tighten find something to circle a few times, then something else, trees, bushes, rocks, another horse and rider, etc. Get his mind and feet busy and keep the circles fairly small so he's bending. This will bring his focus back to you. When you feel him relax, ask him to move forward. If you are consistant with this he will figure out that when he gets to work when he begins to lose his focus.
 

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I like Saddllebags suggestion as the first solution to try. Practice one rein stops and use rough ground as another way to shift his focus back to the work and you. The more he has to pay attention to his feet or your commands, the less he can pay to his own agenda.
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Try keeping him busy with little things like side passing, listening to leg yields, doing lots of transitions, and riding along the quarter line, instead of on the track. You can even be changing the pressure on the reins by taking and releasing. Finally, do LOTS of circles. What I find really works is making a big circle, medium, then small circle, then spiralling back out. I also love to not just circle at the end of the arena, but rather do circles from the middle of the long ends. What ever you do, always keep your horse busy and focused on something so that he doesn't have time to be switching up his gaits. Also, if you find that he's spooking in one particular area, walk him by first. Let him get a good long look so he can see there's nothing there. From then on, ride with confidence and a strong leg, seat and hands, and don't let him look at that 'scary' area anymore. If you ignore, he will learn to ignore it as well. Good luck!:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Try keeping him busy with little things like side passing, listening to leg yields, doing lots of transitions, and riding along the quarter line, instead of on the track. You can even be changing the pressure on the reins by taking and releasing. Finally, do LOTS of circles. What I find really works is making a big circle, medium, then small circle, then spiralling back out. I also love to not just circle at the end of the arena, but rather do circles from the middle of the long ends. What ever you do, always keep your horse busy and focused on something so that he doesn't have time to be switching up his gaits. Also, if you find that he's spooking in one particular area, walk him by first. Let him get a good long look so he can see there's nothing there. From then on, ride with confidence and a strong leg, seat and hands, and don't let him look at that 'scary' area anymore. If you ignore, he will learn to ignore it as well. Good luck!:)
I haven't trained him to do leg yields and those fancy things. I want to, but I don't know how either. I don't take lessons; he is just a pleasure horse for riding out in the bush. It sounds like a really good idea, but I can only do the circles :(
 

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That's okay! Circles are still a great start. Maybe you could try asking for the transitions and praise him when he listens. I try to ignore the bad and praise the good. Just keep working on him! I'm sure things will work out. :)
 

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I think his being pushing when not the lead horse, wanting to race as it is may be part of the same issues. He does not respect or know the cues for slow and stop. I would start to focus work on getting a really awesome stop and an even better back up. The polar opposite of forward is back up and back up starts with a good stop. Slow is just a phase of stop. Work on a good stop. That way even when not the lead horse he can stop or slow down.
 

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Step 1: Get calm yourself.

Step 2: Develop the ability to stay calm no matter what happens or what he does. Just handle what needs to be handled in that moment and disregard all 'what-ifs' that come to mind. You have to become the EYE OF THE STORM. Calm. The horse will eventually enter your sphere of assured influence and reflect that same energy back to you.

Step 3: Repeat until horse is cool. If he spooks 99 days in a row, reassure him 100 and you should be good!
 

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I like what Ian says for any horse and any situation. The problem is that it can be so difficult! I did notice a huge difference with my gelding when I go out calm and when I go out stressed. I am stressed means he is stressed means we are both more stressed. I go out stressed, get on him take a deep breath, relax and he chills right out. That said chilling out may be the tip of the iceberg.
 
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