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Okay, so my horse is scared of EVERYTHING. I really don't know why. He was perfectly fine when I first got him, but it's getting harder and harder to walk him even, so I'm a bit nervous about riding him and having him spook at everything. First off, he's scared of cars driving even remotely close to him. He's even scared if he sees people driving by on the road. He's scared of all loud noises. He's scared of bags, doors, and the newest addition, people. I was walking him a few days ago to stretch his legs and he caught sight of a person jogging up the road and he reared, snorted, pranced, and tried to bolt. He was fine after I calmed him down a little, but when I took him back in the barn and put him on the crossties, he almost had a heart attack when someone walked into the barn carrying a bag of shavings. I don't know. I haven't been riding him lately due to icy conditions and such but I'm a bit nervous about riding him now. Any tips or whatnot on how to cure him of his fears?
 

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Haha, i can't stop laughing at the word scetchbag. It's a new one for me.

The only tip i can give you is you need to work harder to introduce these things to his slowly.
 

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Haha I use sketchbag a lot :) I guess I should try a bit harder, but I'm not exactly sure I know how to introduce him to things so he won't get scared.
 

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Horses are a lot friskier in the cooler weather, and we tend not to get as much riding done because of the snow/mud/ice. So I know in the summer my Mustang is nearly dead broke, and in the winter he is more likely to spook or have extra energy (which in his case is a good thing!) because he isn't getting as much riding as he does in the summer.

So how long have you had your boy? Is his whole environment new to him, or was he perfectly calm and normal at his current home and nothing seemed to change until the weather got colder? Does he have any turnout? If you can't ride, one of the best things you can do is make sure he has room to run around a bit on his own.

Hmm. I'm not sure what else to suggest. Horses are naturally afraid of things (how does that saying go?........Horses are afraid of two things, things that move and things that don't!), but usually with a lot of training, handling and life experience they get used to a lot of the things they are naturally afraid of. I think the big question is if he was fine before, and nervous and scared now, what has changed? The environment, the weather, the feed, the turnout, something else?

I wish I could be of more help.
 

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some good advice above. the only thing i would add, is take LOTS of walks. when you are leading him, you take the role of herd boss. the lead horse always watches for danger. if the lead horse (you) isn't scared, then the follow horse (him) learns that the object isn't dangerous. this may take LOTS of walks by scary things. if he gets leary of something, stop and let him look. take your time. he will learn that you aren't afraid to approach it FIRST, so he will slowly follow.

doing this over and over and over, he will not only desensitize to these things, but he will learn to trust you. if you say it's ok and reassure him, he will trust that he is safe. you are his leader and he will follow your lead.

this is a good thing to do in winter when you cannot ride, but also anytime. just be sure you have good tread on your boots so you don't slide if he pulls you.

also, if there is something scary ahead, stop often and just give him time to look, listen and smell. then go a few more steps and stop again. never be in a hurry to get him to the scary things
 

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Another thing I have found doesn't help is when you EXPECT him to spook at something. When you see the objects he is usually spooky at, you automatically find yourself tensing up and getting ready for him to spook at that certain object. Just relax, and don't tense up and shorten your reins when you see the object coming. He is then more likely to stay relaxed as well and see that his master is calm about it.

But since you say that he was fine when you got him, I agree that something must have happened for that to have changed. Is there something different that happened, like what trailhorserider has meantioned, or has his eyes been checked? Look for what might have happend that made this particular change.
 

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you havent been taking him out as much lately that might be the reason he is a little high... i mean im sure he did not get worked as much as he used to when the weather was better. Horses do get a little more ancy when its colder... so maybe if you lunge him before you get on the horse and then he might be fine. Lungeing does not just get all the yahoo´s out it also helps the horse to have a clean mind before you get on. Im not saying to lunge the horse to make it tired just get all the excess energy out so he is ready to focus on you.
 

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The first thing that jumped out to me,is him being drugged. How long have you had him? Some drugs can last up to several months. That might not be the problem, but if everything else is ruled out, you may have a very large problem.

I would just slowly work on de-sensitising him to everyone, and everything. If you have a round pen, put him in there, and take a longe whip, dresage whip or anything else and tie a plastic bag on the end. just slowly let him smell it, then rub it on him, etc.

You could also put him in the roundpen, you get out, and urge him on from the outside, and put "scary objects" all around the outside of the pen, and keep working him until he canters around nicely, and stops looking at all of the objects.
 

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My first thought is, if he was fine when you got him, maybe it's you making him nervous, they can tell when your afraid or nervous, and if you are antisipating him spooking you may be causing it to happen.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Trailhorserider, I've had him for 6 months. Nothing has changed except for the weather. But our weather has been kind of weird lately.. It'll be -26 degrees celcius one day and 14 degrees the next, but I don't know if that would have much to do with it. He does get regular turn out and walks every day + I lunge him close to every day.

Solon, yes. His eyes are perfectly fine.

JB44, I have been doing that quite a bit lately, but only with bags and parked cars.

Flamingauburnmustang, I try as hard as I can to not tense up. I mean, sometimes I'm totally unprepared. I just don't know what he's going to spook at anymore!

SarahHershey, It's been 6 months. I don't really think he's drugged because he still has his same quirky personality, he's just frightened of things now. Another thing I thought of is that I board at a public barn and some weird things have been happening there lately.. The mesh one one of the racing standardbred's stall had been completely cut open by someone and one of the horses was let out and allowed to eat all of the feed for the horses' breakfast. Also, someone stole the pasture gate. I was thinking, is it possible that someone might have done something to him to scare him? I'm not too sure..
 

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Java - have you had them looked at specifically by a vet. We had a mare that started spooking at everything and turned out she was going blind in one eye. It would be worth checking into.
 

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Since you said about the weird things happening at your barn, maybe that could be a possibility. Maybe someone really scared him, and now he is scared that is going to happen again, so he is spooking at everything now...

But it's not definate though....
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Solon, yes they have been looked at by a vet.
 

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The other thing to check is his food. If he is eating hay or some kind of hard feed there may be some mold or some kind of corruption in it. There are some types of food toxins that can cause a horse to go crazy, most common here in NZ is Rye grass toxins for which we feed magnesium.

If the food is all good your horse may be suffering from a mineral deficiency, or even an overdose of some kind whether it be a heavy metal perhaps, something that he has access to which you would never have thought could cause a problem, some lead based paint or something.

Don't know if what your horse is ingesting is the problem but could be worth a look.
 

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What is he eating? Did his food change dramatically between you and his previous owner? I'm sure the cold weather is contributing to him being a little extra goofy, but if he's gotten this bad, I would think it's something else causing it. When horse's change this much, a lot of the time it's too much energy being supplied in the food.
 

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It only takes one bad expirience to make a horse always scared, it might have just been a car that was really scary or a tractor trailer, make a big noise or a beeped horn. It might have been a person that hit him maybe or scared him.

It sounds like people are around your barn when nobody is looking. That could be the problem. One night someone could have been in there and he got scared and the could have slapped him or hit him with something..... or I could be over thinking the whole problem! LOL
 

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I think everyones suggestions here are great. I agree with the the fact that it could be you making the horse nervous, they are like sponges, if you get excited they will too. If you stay calm and in control, they will follow your confident lead. I was wondering if this horse was at all underweight when you purchased it? That can be used just like drugs in taking the spirit out of a flighty animal. If he was underweight, and is feeling healthy again, his true colors could be showing. The weather also plays a HUGE role in it, just like when you let your dog out in the snow and they run around at a million miles per hour. Horses feel "frisky" too. Its just not as fun or safe when it is a 1400 pound animal :)
 

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Keep calm yourself, and try not to think about his spookiness when you walk...horses pick up on our 'fears' or anticipations, and can thus react to things just based on that alone.

That said, when he spooks at something, instead of trying to 'hold him' in one spot, try to get his feet moving around you. Horses tend to react even more if they feel 'trapped', so just let him move around you in a circle, and IF the object is stationary, keep him there til he relaxes. If you can, have your friends help you in desensitizing him to 'human movement'...do the same as above, and just have the person move about at a safe distance from him, and let him circle around you if he needs to, and praise him for stopping, looking at the 'scarey thing' and relaxing. Then move on to something else.
 
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