Posts Tagged ‘spooking’
Posted in Bad Habits, Behavior, Biting, Desensitization, Ground Training, Nipping, Personal Space, Respect, Training, What Every Horse Should Know, tagged attitude, biting, confidence, equine, ground training, horse, horse behavior, spooking, training on January 28, 2012| 2 Comments »
Posted in Bad Habits, Behavior, Desensitization, Forward, Riding, Safety, Spooking, Training, tagged attitude, horse, horse behavior, horseback riding, spooking, trail riding, training on April 8, 2011| 1 Comment »
Hi Mrs. Hill,
I have another problem. In October a crazy wind came and blew away all the leaves from the trees. The change in the way the forest looks freaked Dolly out, and she hasn’t been the same ever since. Just recently (like the beginning of this month) I’ll get to this place in the trail that is a telephone line right-of-way. It has two hills that are pretty steep and not the type you’d go cantering up and down. The second I come out of the forest trail and into this right-of-way, Dolly begins to try to gallop off with me. She’s become very agitated there. The first time I figured there was just a moose out there since I had seen three the night before.
But its continued until she actually started to rear and leap and crow hop on me. She’s never reared before and its gotten to the point where its scary. I love her and I’ve put so much work into her, but I can’t figure out a way to get her to stop, trust me, and relax. She’s sending me mixed signals. I’ll ask her to move forward and she’ll throw a tantrum and buck and spin and rear, then when I stop her all she wants to do is paw through the snow and eat. So I know somethings not out there. Do you have any suggestions? I would really appreciate it if you did. Thank you again!
You need to work on this at home first, then on the trail in “safe zones” and finally in those “hot spots”.
First you need to be very aware of your own body language when these things happen. Even if you are alarmed when your horse starts freaking, your body, your seat, legs, back and arms and hands, and most of all, your mind, must be calm, cool and collected.
Then you need to perfect a means of control and give the horse something else to do. You should learn how to do a one rein stop and then once your horse is stopped, ride her in a series of circles and half turns calmly and not in too-tight of a bend until her behavior de-escalates.
You’ve halted her freaking behavior and given her something else to do.
A one rein stop is different from a double which is kind of like a spin, what your horse does when she is frightened. In a double, the horse’s head and neck is turned rather sharply in one direction while his hindquarters are moving in the other direction. It is like a turn on the center.
A one rein stop is just the rein signal. You want the horse to stop, not keep moving.
A one rein stop is best done with a halter, bosal or snaffle bit as you will be using direct rein signals.
To initiate the head and neck bend, reach down the rein close to the horse’s head and take up the slack.
If your horse tends to spin to the right when she freaks, you want to work on this to the left. You’d grab the left rein and hold her into the turn until she stops moving her feet. Then yield – let go of the rein signal. Drive the horse forward with your legs and then do some gymnastics – circles, half turns, serpentines.
Once you’ve mastered the one rein stop at home, you should set your horse up at home to “freak” and have your aids ready. You might have someone carry a strange item toward you or try and ride her past some balloons or an opened umbrella or waving plastic sack.
Once you can control her no matter what happens at home, set up these same situations on a safe part of the trail.
Each time and in each place that you control her and give her something else to do, it will build her confidence and make it easier in the next situation.
Finally, ride to the trouble spot. It should be a piece of cake.
But take the time it takes to perfect it BEFORE you go back to your trouble spot.
Be safe and enjoy your horse.
Posted in Behavior, Riding, Safety, Training, tagged attitude, bolting, confidence, equine, exercises, ground training, horse, horse lacks confidence, horseback riding, lessons, nervous horse, riding, spooking, spooky horse, training on August 10, 2010| 1 Comment »
Teaching a Horse to “Spook in Place”
First off, thank you so much for creating and maintaining such an extensive informative website. This is a tremendous and very precious resource for every rider and horse owner.
Like many of your other readers, I have a question regarding a spooky horse and after reading your related articles, I still feel I’d like to send you my specific issue hoping that perhaps you have another tip for me.
I have a 5-year-old fairly inexperienced filly who shies on the trail. Having known me since she was only a few hours old, she trusts me completely. I have done a lot of groundwork with her (including sacking out, just like you describe it in your article). At age 4, I asked the rancher to start riding her and to give me arena lessons to improve my own skills so I don’t make mistakes with such a young horse. I have been riding her for the last 2 years myself, always starting in the arena before we ride out on the trail. I try to have another rider on an older calm horse with me and when I’m alone, I ride one of my other horses and just lead her along so she can get used to the sights and sounds and wildlife. (Note: We’re in a remote area of British Columbia, Canada, none of my three horses has ever seen a stable, and both my mare and filly were born on the open range.)
She is calm and willing in the arena but very nervous in the forest. She shies away from tree trunks and large rocks, sometimes even the sudden appearance of her own shadow. Usually, I’m able to stay in the saddle and remain calm. It’s not too bad when she’s following another horse, but it’s terrible when I ride her in the lead. I have experienced spookiness with her mother, whom I purchased at a young age and she naturally settled down over time. However, this filly is much more athletic and extremely fast, and every once in a while she shies so hard that can’t stay in the saddle (and I’m not the only one). She sort of “sucks back”, spins, and takes off in the opposite direction within a split second. I have landed pretty hard several times and even torn an MCL once. I am not afraid of riding her but don’t want to get injured again either.
So, my question is, do you have any suggestions? Is there a way to teach her to “spook in place” rather than spin and run?
Thank you in advance for your time!
© 2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information
Always in the case of extreme spooking, be sure there is not a problem with your horse’s vision. If your horse spooks from one side and not the other, and especially if you see any unusual marks or cloudy areas in your horse’s eyes, you might want your veterinarian to take a look at her eyes for damage. Horses have blind spots and vision that is different than ours so be sure you understand how your horse sees – I discuss this in How to Think Like a Horse.The best way to prepare your horse and yourself for these unexpected sights on the trail is to set things up in your arena to simulate the bears she is imagining when she sees a tree stump.
Horses are such creatures of habit that if she is used to going along in your arena day after day with things virtually unchanged, if you add something new every day, you will build up her tolerance for these visual surprises. And it will give you a more controlled format to learn how to deal with her usual reaction.
I like to start out by hanging a jacket or blanket on the rail, then add something on the ground like a bright white bucket “out of place”. You can get creative by devising things that you know YOUR horse might react to – perhaps tie a helium balloon on one of the rails, or teach her to approach a person that is opening and closing an umbrella. And of course, once a horse is used to a certain thing in a certain spot, all you have to do is move it to get their attention again.
While you are unlikely to encounter buckets and umbrellas in the forest, using them as props can help you learn to predict your horse and to develop desirable patterns in your horse and you.
You never want to intentionally scare your horse.
You want your horse to be able to trust your judgment so never ask her to approach or walk over something dangerous.
Start small and gradually build your horse’s tolerance to odd things.
You might choose to lead her past these things in your arena before riding her past them. And like you do on the trail, it helps to have a calm, seasoned horse nearby as a role model.
Have a plan in mind for when she whirls – if she tends to usually go to the right, be ready for that with a solid seat slightly to the left and keep you legs long and heels deep. Also be ready with the opposing rein, especially if you use a snaffle – if the horse whirls to the right, have the left rein ready to hold her straight.
One other thing you should emphasize in your arena work – forward motion. Be sure you can send your horse forward to any gait and within any gait. In other words, be sure she positively knows to move forward from your seat and leg aids. Work to develop upward transitions with instant response from your horse:
halt to walk
walk to trot
trot to canter
I hope this helps and you have safe riding.
Please let me know how you make out.