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ASBnTX
Sep. 29, 2010, 02:25 PM
What are your strategies for riding the spook/scoot that suddenly leaves you with two feet of slack in the reins? This may be a special talent of horses with a pretty high neck-set, but I know some of you must know the feeling and how disconcerting it can be :) I try to bend him onto a small circle and then carry on, but then time it takes to gather up my reins can sometimes allow him to get momentum in his favor.

alicen
Sep. 29, 2010, 02:51 PM
I've found getting my hands low also helps, accompanied with an authoritative "Whoa".

n2dressage
Sep. 29, 2010, 03:23 PM
Very sticky full seat breeches :yes:

How far does the horse go before you get the control back? My horse at home spooks A LOT and I found that if I felt him tensing if I put him into a good shoulder in that he couldn't get away from me very well. He's now very good at shoulder in :D

naturalequus
Sep. 29, 2010, 05:44 PM
Prior and proper preparation so that the spook, if it happens, is short. If they are following your leadership and you don't spook along with them, you simply move with them and continue on - they learn to quickly relax because you're relaxed. If it's a young horse or a horse being retrained who is not yet sufficiently developed, I might turn them in a circle and have them disengage their hind end or put them on a circular pattern (helps transition them back into thinking mode), but usually if it's anything with any decent amount of work on it, I just remain relaxed and by the time I could possibly gather my reins and do something anyways the spook is over and the horse is back relaxed and ready to work. If you've taught the horse to follow your leadership and developed them into a calm and emotionally collected individual though the spooks are reduced to near elimination and are minute enough that you can just continue on in your work as if nothing occured.

CFFarm
Sep. 29, 2010, 06:45 PM
Prior and proper preparation so that the spook, if it happens, is short. If they are following your leadership and you don't spook along with them, you simply move with them and continue on - they learn to quickly relax because you're relaxed. If it's a young horse or a horse being retrained who is not yet sufficiently developed, I might turn them in a circle and have them disengage their hind end or put them on a circular pattern (helps transition them back into thinking mode), but usually if it's anything with any decent amount of work on it, I just remain relaxed and by the time I could possibly gather my reins and do something anyways the spook is over and the horse is back relaxed and ready to work. If you've taught the horse to follow your leadership and developed them into a calm and emotionally collected individual though the spooks are reduced to near elimination and are minute enough that you can just continue on in your work as if nothing occured.

This! I try to keep my center of balance with the horse and ask for forward as soon as the dust settles.

EqTrainer
Sep. 29, 2010, 08:34 PM
Ha ha, when mine spooks he spins and bolts. No warning and he is super athletic. He has literally left me in place, luckily my Velcro butt stays with him but my upper body... Not so much. I feel like a cartoon character. Luckily he's not a dirty spooker and stays straight when he does it.

As soon as I catch my breath enough to say WHOA he stops. But until then, it's about hanging on. My recommendation is teach your horse that whoa means stop now no matter what. And then hang on.

Gry2Yng
Sep. 29, 2010, 10:59 PM
Eventers slip the reins for drops. We have a skills that we practice just for quickly getting our reins back from the buckle. On course we usually ride with a knot at the buckle so we can find it quickly. If you practice, practice, practice this move you will be able to "pick up your knitting" quickly.

Grab knot with Right hand. Pull Right hand way back toward your right shoulder as you are reaching toward horses neck with left hand and slipping ring and pinky finger of left hand (or index finger of left hand) between the reins. You now have very short reins both in your left hand and can continue to pull to a whoa from there. You then take right hand off knot, move it to the right rein in front of your left hand grasping rein normally. Then reposition left hand to normal and ride on.

I think Jimmy Wofford has a video of this technique on the web somewhere. My older gelding LOVES to spook and bolt when he is on a long rein at the walk. This works well every time.

Donkey
Sep. 30, 2010, 12:14 AM
I know exactly what you are talking about Gry2Yng - that is an absolute reflex reaction for me. Too many years of my youth were spent on habitual spook'n bolters.

netg
Sep. 30, 2010, 01:40 AM
Prior and proper preparation so that the spook, if it happens, is short. If they are following your leadership and you don't spook along with them, you simply move with them and continue on - they learn to quickly relax because you're relaxed. If it's a young horse or a horse being retrained who is not yet sufficiently developed, I might turn them in a circle and have them disengage their hind end or put them on a circular pattern (helps transition them back into thinking mode), but usually if it's anything with any decent amount of work on it, I just remain relaxed and by the time I could possibly gather my reins and do something anyways the spook is over and the horse is back relaxed and ready to work. If you've taught the horse to follow your leadership and developed them into a calm and emotionally collected individual though the spooks are reduced to near elimination and are minute enough that you can just continue on in your work as if nothing occured.

My guy never had a rider he could trust on him consistently before me, so we had a LOT of the spook/bolt going on when I got him. I have worked a ton on lengthening his neck by freeing up his body to move, and as a result if he tenses/spooks, he can easily make my reins VERY loose in an instant. He essentially reverts to breaking out of a starting gate - push off from behind and jump forward. It used to take more than the short side of the arena to get him back controlled, but the other day he did it on a trail ride on the buckle - and he had stopped himself before I could get my second hand on the reins, even. As naturalequus said, they get better with work. Keeping calm and just riding through it, and getting them settled and thinking again works wonders.

I think my rein shortening efforts are similar to those described above, though I've never thought of them that carefully.

EqTrainer
Sep. 30, 2010, 09:55 AM
Hands up helps too.. Although when you are on the buckle, good luck.. Velcro butt is your friend.

ASBnTX
Sep. 30, 2010, 10:41 AM
I have worked a ton on lengthening his neck by freeing up his body to move, and as a result if he tenses/spooks, he can easily make my reins VERY loose in an instant. He essentially reverts to breaking out of a starting gate - push off from behind and jump forward. It used to take more than the short side of the arena to get him back controlled.

This is me now! We're all about long and low in our training right now, so when something does happen his ears are in my face and his butt drops out from underneath me before I know what happened :) Thankfully it's not often and this is the only vice in his repetoire, but when it does I agree that full seats are a must! He's very light, so once I regain contact, it doesn't take much. I'm working on teaching a solid and consistant "whoa", that's great advice.
We may have to go to working on those SI's on more tense days.

naturalequus
Sep. 30, 2010, 11:14 AM
My guy never had a rider he could trust on him consistently before me, so we had a LOT of the spook/bolt going on when I got him. I have worked a ton on lengthening his neck by freeing up his body to move, and as a result if he tenses/spooks, he can easily make my reins VERY loose in an instant. He essentially reverts to breaking out of a starting gate - push off from behind and jump forward. It used to take more than the short side of the arena to get him back controlled, but the other day he did it on a trail ride on the buckle - and he had stopped himself before I could get my second hand on the reins, even. As naturalequus said, they get better with work. Keeping calm and just riding through it, and getting them settled and thinking again works wonders.

I think my rein shortening efforts are similar to those described above, though I've never thought of them that carefully.

They so get better with work - it's the reason I hate the question: does the horse spook?? I don't even know how to answer that to prospective buyers! Of course it might spook, it's a horse. However they are sufficiently developed by that time (hopefully) that their spook is minimal. But it also depends on the rider.

One of my OTTB's was as you describe. He'd buck, spin, rear when he lost his lid and could no longer handle it emotionally - putting tons of slack in the reins. Then he'd react further because he was used to being punished for his fears and reactions. Once he learned he could trust, that I wasn't going to punish him for being scared or reacting as nature programmed him to do in his situation, and once he learned to think through situations and be calmer, braver, smarter, he relaxed completely and continues to do so. Prior and proper preparation all the way :) Horses don't have to be spooky, they can learn to rely on our leadership, same as in herd situation, and to not spook unless we do.

netg
Sep. 30, 2010, 11:29 AM
One of my OTTB's was as you describe. He'd buck, spin, rear when he lost his lid and could no longer handle it emotionally - putting tons of slack in the reins. Then he'd react further because he was used to being punished for his fears and reactions. Once he learned he could trust, that I wasn't going to punish him for being scared or reacting as nature programmed him to do in his situation, and once he learned to think through situations and be calmer, braver, smarter, he relaxed completely and continues to do so. Prior and proper preparation all the way :) Horses don't have to be spooky, they can learn to rely on our leadership, same as in herd situation, and to not spook unless we do.

My horse had a reputation of being "crazy." I have no doubt the time my trainer got to spend on him before I got him helped a LOT, but being able to build a partnership with me has helped, too. I think he thought my trainer was the only one he could trust before.

I remember the first two weeks I had him, he would do something wrong, then I would actually feel his body shaking as if I were going to really go after him. Once he learned the response to incorrect behavior was to ask again, he started relaxing, and is apparently a completely different horse than before I knew him. It's funny that his testing me was more to see how I would react to misbehavior and if he could trust me than to see what he could get away with.

SmartAlex
Sep. 30, 2010, 12:47 PM
I think someone should invent retractable reins like those dog leashes... or tape measures.

It's important to keep your center of gravity and your heels down. About once every two years I get caught by suprise. That's still a pretty good average since I deal with it on a monthly/bi-monthly basis.

BetterOffRed
Sep. 30, 2010, 05:04 PM
Is that like experiencing a sudden loss of cabin pressure?!? ;)

JK!

Hands down! Heels down! Look up and sit up! I say this with the exclamation points cuz that's how I think it cuz I swear I heard my instructor yell that at me for the 1st 2 years I leased a spooky TB....

OneGrayPony
Sep. 30, 2010, 06:17 PM
LOL - I used to get that as I was hanging off the side!

"Sit up, Sit up"

Well no sh*t. If I could, I would!!! :)

But I agree, Hands up, Heels down, and actually...relax :) I used to ride any spook by being relaxed through it. Now, as an adult I tend to tense up which just sucks because then you get slung off :)

naturalequus
Sep. 30, 2010, 06:32 PM
My horse had a reputation of being "crazy." I have no doubt the time my trainer got to spend on him before I got him helped a LOT, but being able to build a partnership with me has helped, too. I think he thought my trainer was the only one he could trust before.

I remember the first two weeks I had him, he would do something wrong, then I would actually feel his body shaking as if I were going to really go after him. Once he learned the response to incorrect behavior was to ask again, he started relaxing, and is apparently a completely different horse than before I knew him. It's funny that his testing me was more to see how I would react to misbehavior and if he could trust me than to see what he could get away with.

Haha yup, same here! My boy (now 6) wore a lip chain on the track (before I started grooming him), reared regularly in the paddock (though never with me once I took him over) and kicked out at people both on the ground and u/s (full double-barrels) - he had the "I'll-get-you-before-you-vet-me" mentality and had no emotional collection whatsoever. Anything could set him off (including his high energy level) and when that happened watch out! No one could figure out why I wanted my "crazy" boy. Uh, because he is competitive, athletic, a playful and fun character, and exactly what I was looking for in a jumper and partner?? :winkgrin:

Without getting into a long story, my boy was initially quite dangerous u/s (I stopped riding him his first winter) and had his uh-oh moments on the ground as well. His reactions were the same as your boy - he was behaving as such because he did not think he could trust me, not because he was trying to purposely misbehave. That is how I look at all 'misbehaviours' really - as reactions where the horse is responding and communicating according to how it knows best in the situation given. Correct the root issue (be it trust, respect, or 'balancing and developing' the horse emotionally and mentally) and the 'misbehaviour' disappears. If you don't discipline the disrespectful horse (this does not mean they cannot have limitations like not entering your space), you don't create resentment and eventually the horse starts looking to please you; if you do not punish the fearful horse for misbehaviours, they gradually start to trust you and you do not create more fear.

Obviously these horses are the extreme however I have found the same with any horse. When you develop them into calmer and thinking partners, spooking all but vanishes. Physically however, having a relaxed seat that moves with the horse means you are going to zig when your horse zigs though :p

netg
Sep. 30, 2010, 07:21 PM
Physically however, having a relaxed seat that moves with the horse means you are going to zig when your horse zigs though :p

This is so true! I think we all have our good days and bad days, and even the best riders come off sometimes. But relaxing into the saddle instead of tensing and holding yourself above it sure helps it appear as if your seat is velcro!

naturalequus
Sep. 30, 2010, 08:09 PM
Exactly!!

Gry2Yng
Sep. 30, 2010, 08:34 PM
I think my rein shortening efforts are similar to those described above, though I've never thought of them that carefully.

It is something I have had to teach - it is a MUST HAVE skill for eventers, so I have thought about it.

SmartAlex
Oct. 1, 2010, 08:54 AM
Is that like experiencing a sudden loss of cabin pressure?!? ;)


YUP! Put your head between your knees and kiss you a$$ goodbye!

netg
Oct. 1, 2010, 03:13 PM
It is something I have had to teach - it is a MUST HAVE skill for eventers, so I have thought about it.

1) I think it's awesome that you have, and I'm sure a huge benefit to them. And 2) I'm going to have to pay attention next time I have to do it to see if that's how I do it. I tried to replay it in slow motion when not needed today, and couldn't figure out what I do. :)

Gry2Yng
Oct. 1, 2010, 07:17 PM
1) I think it's awesome that you have, and I'm sure a huge benefit to them. And 2) I'm going to have to pay attention next time I have to do it to see if that's how I do it. I tried to replay it in slow motion when not needed today, and couldn't figure out what I do. :)

LOL! I couldn't figure out what I did either the first time I realized I had to explain it. Basically left the poor girl in a lurch and said, I'll have an answer for you next week. :lol: I can't even tell you who taught it to me/how I learned it.

Percheron X
Oct. 1, 2010, 07:51 PM
Eventers slip the reins for drops. We have a skills that we practice just for quickly getting our reins back from the buckle. On course we usually ride with a knot at the buckle so we can find it quickly. If you practice, practice, practice this move you will be able to "pick up your knitting" quickly.

Grab knot with Right hand. Pull Right hand way back toward your right shoulder as you are reaching toward horses neck with left hand and slipping ring and pinky finger of left hand (or index finger of left hand) between the reins. You now have very short reins both in your left hand and can continue to pull to a whoa from there. You then take right hand off knot, move it to the right rein in front of your left hand grasping rein normally. Then reposition left hand to normal and ride on.

I think Jimmy Wofford has a video of this technique on the web somewhere. My older gelding LOVES to spook and bolt when he is on a long rein at the walk. This works well every time.

This.