The spook has nothing to do with the rock, so don't bother with "finding rocks" on your next trail ride.Some of you may recall that on our last trail ride, we were almost done (literally 30 feet away from our trailer in the parking lot) when a giant, horse-eating rock jumped out of the tall grass where it was hiding and attacked our horses. Pony spooked twice, and Moonshine spooked once, but that was enough to unseat my daughter, who isn't used to sitting out spooks since Moonshine has never spooked under saddle in the 3.5 years we've had her.
Next time we're out there, I've found some very nice large scary rocks to ride them around, but I'm not sure when we should do it. Certainly the beginning of the ride would be a bad idea, if they're already up, right? But the end of the ride didn't seem to be a good time either LOL. Any thoughts? They both need to get over this rock thing.
Horses can and do spook at things. Very random things. And sometimes out of the blue (like Moonshine). Calm yourself, calm your horse, do what you can to end on a good note, and then forget about it.
You need to change your train of thought. The spooking has nothing to do with the object. It has to do with YOU the rider, and your horse's confidence.Sure... but I think the more lurking objects we see and work through, whether they are stumps, or rocks, or rubbish piles, the better. I understand that even if I desensitize someone to one particular rock, that doesn't mean they won't freak out at another rock. I do, however, believe that horses can generalize (I know a lot of people don't). So if we walk around five scary rocks, two stumps, and one random pile of junk and nothing actually attacks them and they stay relatively calm, eventually they will start to become less worried about all kinds of similar objects.
You can ride around 100 rocks, but if you are tense, if you are unsure, if you are letting your horse be afraid, then you are going to continue to have spooking problems.
Now instead, if you ride around 2 rocks and the whole time you are calm and relaxed, and you are asking your horse to focus on you (lateral movements, leg yield, stop, back, pivot, soft in the face, etc etc etc), you have now shifted your horse's attention to you and taken their attention away from being scared, and away from the rock, and now the rock is not an issue.
For trail riding, you absolutely cannot desensitive your horse to everything. It is just impossible. So instead, focusing on training your horse how to respond when they are afraid or unsure. This isn't as easy to do for a sudden thing, like a bird flying up suddenly. But very easy to do if you notice your horse's head go up in the air, they slow their gate, they start to balk up, etc. That is the exact time that you need to immediately take over when you recognize those first signs, and get the horse's THINKING side of their brain working again, and get it switched off the FLIGHT side of their brain.