Flash Gordon gave me this idea...
What does your horse NOT spook at that seem entirely spook-worthy? What does your horse spook at that is totally not a big deal?
My silly mare is road safe. We can canter down the road while people are passing us at 50mph (with my left arm and whip waving them around) and she doesn't blink. One day we were walking around the barn like normal, and she was absolutely terrified, frozen in place.... at the sight of a few pallets of construction stuff (I think bags of cement mix or something). It's been almost three years since that, and I'm still scratching my head over what on earth was so scary.
Another horse. My mare acted like it was a 3 headed monster with a 6 foot wingspan, jumped 10 feet sideways and then snorted like an idiot and would NOT settle down. And it wasn't a mini or a draft, it was a horse that she had previously met and knew --- I guess she thought it wasn't in the "right" place. Sheesh.
The other day, we were trimming trees in the yard and throwing the branches over the fence into the horse pasture.
Silly horse wanted to help when we drove in there to load them onto the trailer to haul them off.
Even with some bigger branches bopping him around the head, he still was trying to grab them and help load them.
In the middle of that, he stood there like a giraffe, looking into the yard, where a big tumbleweed was stuck in a corner.
The little dog was checking around it and making it move.
Mind you, it has been dry and windy and tumbleweeds have been blowing around for months now, not like he didn't know what that was.
The little dog, well, it is the only dog or for that matter, small white critter that ever walks around the yard, right by his fence.;)
My horse when he was gray. I was told some horses just don't like gray horses.
Jumps. It didn't matter what kind of weird formation, paint job, liverpools, double swedish oxers, whatever - once my horse knew he was supposed to jump it, he wouldn't spook at it. The problem with him was getting him to focus between the jumps, not jumping them.
At one show, there was stupid little green boxes (JUST like the ones we had at our home barn) but we had to canter past them in 3 out of four of our hunter rounds. He'd spook going past them, give them the rolling eye+snorting combo, etc. until we got to the fourth round when we had to jump them. As soon we approached the stupid things (instead of going past), he stopped spooking and jumped them. Funnily enough, lots of horses who had been fine cantering past them ended up refusing out at the stupid green boxes.
I finally took him into the jumpers - against all trainers' advice - and he cleaned up. Tight turns, twisty courses, etc. got him thinking about what's coming next as opposed to the long open spaces in hunterland that gave his over-active brain too much time to "think".
The bull dozer coming down the hill-working on the trails- right at him got an ear prick & a meh. The deer running across the path 20 feet ahead of us means a stop & startle.
First time I took my super green mare on a trail ride she went down a steep bank, crossed the millrace (about 3-4 feet deep x 20 feet wide) and went up the bank on the other side like an old pro. Standing at the top of the bank waiting for the other greenie, the wind blew and a tall blade of grass touched her leg. She teleported sideways and turned around like it was a mountain lion. At the time, she lived 24/7 in a pasture with knee high grass.
She also spooks at mini horses, but is donkey and mule broke.
Years ago when I went to the National Horse Show for the junior jumpers with my mare, they had those jump standards with the Orca whale on them (is it supposed to be Shamu?) in the schooling ring because the World Cup qualifier class was that night. All of the horses were spooking and freaking out except for my mare, who NICKERED at Shamu and walked up to sniff him. Made no sense.
She is, on the other hand, completely terrified of mini donkeys.
Both my TB mares have been looky but otherwise fairly bombproof.
My old girl would spook at ponies, rocks or a round bale in a field but wasn't fazed by helicopters, grouse exploding from the bushes, snowmobiles pulling sleds or any jump alive. My new girl can deal with almost anything except minis and donkeys (she starts shaking in her boots when she sees a donkey).
My TB gelding's spooks are almost totally ironic attempts to get out of work. He tried to spook at a jump barrel once that I had seen him playing with a few hours before; I told him to knock it off. The only thing I've seen him really afraid of is loud music and Grand Prix dressage horses.
Things my horse has been completed unfazed by: Construction equipment; a guy dragging a blue tarp covered with raked leaves and shaking it out in front of him as we rode down the street; quintain/chain mail/spear throwing/being involved in mounted combat; working cows; riding alone in high wind gusts; having a flock of turkeys descend upon him.
Things my horse spooks at: The dirt being kicked up in a slightly different pattern by the door; the jump that he already jumped; polka dots; a solitary rock; a ground pole.
My horse is the founder of the ironic spook.
Helicopters landing in schooling arena while being ridden
The trash man
Lumberjacks with heavy equipment and crashing trees
What is spooky
A twig that wasn't there yesterday
Pile o horse poop
Ill give him credit that he's blind in one eye but he was this way long before the blindness.
Out in the woods we once encountered a a guy cutting brush with a four foot blade deck attached to a Bobcat. He was hoisting the blades up to the sides of trees and making a heck of a loud racket while trimming. The horses reacted with intense but relaxed interest.
We also found a place on the trail where someone had mowed and bailed a single swathe of grass about half a mile long. For a week or so we had a hay bale lying roughly every 30 feet for the whole half mile. The horses all did the shorty spook and scoot thing for at least the first bail, sometimes 2 or 3 bales. One horse insisted on spooking at each and every bale down the entire trail. Come on guys, you can't tell me that you haven't seen multiple hay bales every single day of your lives.
Huge Combine tractor passing next to the dressage ring.
Umbrellas, even if someone is running with it and try to make signals at us.
Couldn't care less at the liverpool in the GP jumping ring.
Crazy running dogs or kids
A small dog on a leash, in a parc, who minds his own business, two blocks away from the show ground, while I'm trying to enter the ring. (Couldn't even see what type of dog it was since it was that far but did she stood there snorting, you bet!)
Another small dog on a leash on a show ground. My mare ended up sitting on a picnic table.
In between being spooky and not :
The clipper. She is scared like hell of the cable!
She really doesn't care about the big clipper going next to her ears but her back legs...not so sure.
She had no trouble with a cable free clipper.
Well, now that I think of it, she really doesn't like cables/leashes/and the likes.
My mare was fine with the police car (with lights), the bulldozer, the multiple cars which passed us, and the guy loading a tree he'd chainsawed into his truck.
She was not fine with the boulder on the front lawn which we had to pass at a distance of 50 feet. Or the fallen tree (in the woods). Or the squirrels. (Can you tell she's an OTTB?)
My gray filly is terrified of GRAY horses, I guess I should put a mirror in her stall .....:D
I board near an Air Force base. He saw a military person in head to toe camouflage and about lost his marbles.
This is the same horse who hung out with a camel:
A Sure-Fire Sign of The Impending Apocalypse:
A 3" X 3" Piece of Styrofoam Stuck in a Fence
I can do just about anything while I'm riding. Take my jacket on and off, wrap up in a cooler, sing, dance, etc. but lord help us if another horse coughs while we're working. Herself about jumps out of her skin. Really?
She's fabulous with things like helicopters, bikes, strollers, barrels, poles, cars, gun shots, and dogs.
Terrified of DH in his ACU's, when one patch of dirt is different colored than the rest of the dirt, and the mirror in the arena.
I used to occasionally show a QH mare that was totally ok with the ambulance coming into the show grounds with the lights flashing.
On the other hand, at the end of a class - clapping would send her bonkers.
Not remotely scary:
-The Thunderbirds (the USAF F-16 demonstration team) practicing overhead at 500 ft, so loud it hurts my chest
-having T-38s throw it in afterburner on a go around about 20 ft above him (in the trailer, the road goes right by the flight line)
-one of the barn cats jumping out of the woods next to the arena and damn near landing in my lap, scared the bejeezus out of me
-sirens going off next to the arena
-the ghost in the trees
-that log we've passed 5,000 times before
-that bucket that someone *gasp!* moved 5 ft to the right! What were they thinking, now it's going to eat me!!
-and my personal favorite: is, is that a new brush?! GET IT AWAY FROM ME!