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The mother of all spooks and my hands….

673 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Dreamcatcher Arabians
… where do my hands go while my horse decides he’s taking off to escape a commotion (rider fell right behind us)? Right up! Pulling the reins UP! Instinctively, I guess, as I should know better. How do I correct this?! I mean, he did stop, but it wasn’t elegant.

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Did the horse spin or just accelerate forward? If just acceleration, then just give the cue to slow or stop. If the horse spins, either correct him back using the standard turn cue, or (if he's gone past 180 degrees or needs to for balance) keep him turning through 360 degrees. I suspect my hands come up too, although that may be because A) I usually have some slack (western), and B) my horse usually raises his head in a spook.

Plenty of transitions may help. Spooks are just an unasked for acceleration forward, a sudden stop, or an unasked for turn followed by a sprint or stop. And sometimes a jump sideways or a jump over an invisible hurdle.
 

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… where do my hands go while my horse decides he’s taking off to escape a commotion (rider fell right behind us)? Right up! Pulling the reins UP! Instinctively, I guess, as I should know better. How do I correct this?! I mean, he did stop, but it wasn’t elegant.

I think you don't always have the presence of mind in that sort of a situation to plan where your hands will go. As long as you don't make a big deal out of it; not a lot of patting and talkiing and stopping to talk about it. Just get on about what you were doing as soon as you can. Your horse will forget and forgive any jerk on his mouth if you release soon and get his feet moving so that any anxiety can be physically dispelled.
 

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I think you don't always have the presence of mind in that sort of a situation to plan where your hands will go. As long as you don't make a big deal out of it; not a lot of patting and talkiing and stopping to talk about it. Just get on about what you were doing as soon as you can. Your horse will forget and forgive any jerk on his mouth if you release soon and get his feet moving so that any anxiety can be physically dispelled.
Good point - we ride bitless so the worse has happened to his nose. He was on high alert yesterday for some reason - we were 5 horses in the class.
 

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Yup - if you don’t have to be airlifted to a hospital - it’s a good ride. And especially since you ride bitless. Elegance is not particularly important in emergencies.

I found that lifting their head stops bucking but you have to do it before they are committed. Not the same situation but I have used this not particularly elegant solution before.
 

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I've yet to see a trainer, a professional, who looks elegant when a horse blows up. Doesn't matter if it's a bolt, a buck, a spook, a run out, a spin, doesn't matter a bit. Frequently the hands go up, especially if the horse has a history of dropping his head in preparation for a buck. If your horse doesn't buck and you're afraid he's trying to throw his head up to avoid the headstall (or bit for those who ride with one) then you can drop your hands to about level or just below the withers and spread them a bit, creating a 'funnel' to keep him somewhat straight. That's not real elegant either, but in an emergency, never mind the Chanel gown, you want down and dirty but effective.
 
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