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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

So for the past few days Chinga and I have been living on a high, so something has to go wrong. Yesterday he was being stubbon and wanted to keep eatting his grass when I was trying to bring him in from the grazing yard. So I grabbed a peice of hession from the fence and "flapped" it, didn't touch him with it. He watched me the whole time I did it. But he still spooked and cantered a lap of the rope (I had him on a lunge so I let it go till the end). So I thought that maybe he hadn't seen it or something, so I took him into his paddock and rubbed him over with it and he was really nervous, so I got him to stand up and managed to rub it down his legs. So I finished off on a good note and gave him his dinner.

Today I was standing with him at the fence and it was rather windy, usually he has no problem with wind and is practically perfect and hasn't spooked in the past three months (he was pretty green up until then!). Then the hession material got caught in the wind and basically fell to the ground at his feet, next thing I know he is pawing at it like its going to kill him, honestly anyone would think he had been bitten by a snake, so it touched his leg and he went absoluty crazy, galloping and bucking around the paddock. He had pure TERROR in his eyes, so once he was relaxed enough for me to put him on a lead, I picked the hession up and he trotted circles around me, pulling, ect. So I dropped it and he pawed and pawed and pawed at it. After that I took him and the hession up the back where we were all by ourselfs and I managed to work with him enough to put it on his back. So I placed it on his back, didn't throw it or anything and he reared and squealed, like a lion was trying to eat him or something, so then the hession fell off the back and he kicked out at it and galloped down the paddock. Honestly, he was in a horrible shape afterwards wouldn't lead, kept thinking everything was going to eat him, so I put him on the lunge for five minutes to settle him and then after he walked a good circle I finished him off. So since its not really safe for me to work him with it just yet I was thinking about hanging it on the fence near his food and just putting it in places around the paddock when I'm there and carrying it around with me. I know this sounds absolutly un-believeable and even I who saw it and dealt with it, couldn't believe it. So any suggestions would be great, I don't exactly want a 16.2 hh horse rearing on top of me because of a peice of material. Thats going to "eat" him. He doesn't/won't mean to hurt me but he will if he continues to act this way. I would just like to add, no suggestions that would involve hurting him (I'm sure I won't get any from this forum) he has obviously had a problem with it in the past, so I really don't think that will solve the situation.

Thankyou to everyone who gives excellent advice and those who read this. It is muched appreciated.
 

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Maddie, my only suggestion is to keep at it with him. Leave it lying around or on the fence throughout the day. Also, don't chase him with it. Keep it slow, theres no need to flap it in his face if you're trying to teach him its not scary. Start slowly and once hes used to it, then you can start doing stuff like that. The approach and retreat method should work wonders with him I think.
 

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Thanks Sarah! I wouldn't chance him with it. He'd most likely chase me back. I'm hoping to leave it on the fence tomorrow because chances are there will be someone there for most the day, I really don't want to leave him alone with it in case he gets into trouble. I was rather shocked with the way he reacted and I am still trying to think up a reason for him to behave this way, he has a rug made out of the stuff. He's never really paid attention to it, I think he may have never noticed it. He's never been bothered by towels, cloths, ect. So it is something with this exact item. He was very *thinks of appropiate word* cheeky (still don't like that word) this morning when Maraya walked past his paddock and he tried to bite at her! Usually he has perfect"ish" manners, most the time his wonderful! We did have quite a bad storm last night, so he might have been a bit shaken up. When I arrived he was wonderful though, apart from his little herssion incident. He's usually got better manners for me then anyone else, as I work with him. I'm going to disscuss the issue with my trainer tomorrow to see what she thinks of it all. But any more advice is 100% welcome.
 

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I was once given some advise on another forum that this will kinda pertain to...

Her theory was that half the time, horses spook at items because we give them the idea it's scary. For example, we walk them past said scary thing on the fence and it falls, they step sideways and what do we do? We pick up said scary thing saying, "easy, it's ok, see?" *shove scary thing under horse's nose* "see? it's ok..." and this give the horse the idea that he needs to stop, glare, sniff, and react to said scary thing. What would happen if you disregard his initial sidestep and carried on? Keep the scary thing where it was, but don't make a big deal of it...yeah, you want him to be ok to walk past it, but does that HAVE to involve him sniffing it and accepting it being rubbed all over him? Is him accepting it as a scary thing on the fence and just walking past it calm not enough?

In NO way am I saying you *shouldn't* desensatize him to it, but it depends on how you do it. Another example that this other girl gave me was with regards to her mare - she'd trail ride her past a fire hydrant and she'd always been ok with it. Didn't like it, but walked past fine...one day she just started spooking at it for no reason but instead of an approach/retreat method, this girl took that opportunity to make the mare work. Circles, transitions, serpentines...WORK, and the mare soon forgot about said scary hydrant. The next day, same spook so same workout...wouldn't you know it though on day 3 that little mare walked right past the hydrant, eyeing it wearily, but didn't sidestep, shy, or spook.

I guess my point is that not ALL scary things need to be thoroughly introduced...depends on the horse. If his sheet is MADE out of the scary material, it sounds as if he's just making it into a game to get OUT of work. Like he's making YOU work to get him to accept it instead of making HIM work for not accepting it. Not sure if any of that made sense, but her advise helped me and my youngster. Eve was terrified of the back corner of the riding paddock for the longest time and my method was to walk over there, whoa, look around, show her there was nothing in the trees...but that got me nowhere except back in that corner doing the same darn thing because she knew then she didn't have to work. As soon as I started ignoring her googly eyes and sidesteps, made her walk on past it and ignored whatever she thought she saw over there, she started ignoring whatever it was she was seeing over there...

I'm in no way saying to ignore his new spooking habit, but find a productive way to address it. If the approach/retreat method is making him antsy and rear, try something else. Try putting on the edge of his stall, try keeping a piece in your grooming kit visible, try just having it around but never asking him to allow it on his back or belly...ask him to accept the SIGHT of it before the TOUCH of it. How old it Chinga? I find between ages 2 and 6 is when they make up reasons to not do what you're asking, some legitimate, some not...it's your call to see which are which. Good luck and let us know how it works out!!!
 
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