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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 20, 2008
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    647

    Default Horse gets spooky in the indoor when it rains...

    Normally my horse is quite calm. Sure, he can have his moments but he more often than not keeps his wits about him.

    The exception is the indoor arena. Apparently, the rain on the tin roof turns the building into so fierce horse eating monster. Great. He is better than he used to be but still not great. He used to prance in place, spook, bolt, ect. Now, he spooks and just has to look around all the time. I try to work him through it but he never really settles.

    Also, if there is movement outside the door that flips him out too. However, I can deal with that. For the most part when it is not raining he is fine. He will be more likely to get sassy in there but by no means is he naughty.

    I thought about trying those ear plugs. I wonder though if he can't hear properly if it would make him more spooky.

    As far as training him goes i work in there when it rains. I don't know what more I can do. I really do believe he is sincerely upset by the noise caused by the rain.

    This takes me back to my very first riding lesson as a kid when the snow slid off the roof and I in turn slid off my horse's back. I would much rather remain on my mount. Any one have experience and thoughts about how to handle this?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 8, 2003
    Location
    Michigan
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    939

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    Perhaps the combination of scary noise and the pressure to work is compounding his behavior. Next time it rains, perhaps just hand-walk him through the arena, talking him through it. Maybe even put a flake down there or a little grain bucket and let him associate rain with good things?



  3. #3
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    Jan. 20, 2008
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    Oh yes, I have tried the no pressure approach. I can't tell you how many times I walked him around that indoor. He only got more spooky.

    I have not tried bringing food into the mix though. Well, let me take that back. I did try treats.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 28, 2006
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    1,989

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    I tend to work a spooky horse on the aids right away....it takes their attention off that which scares them. A little half halt then forward, some leg yield.....I will just start the work in the least scary part of the indoor and work my way towards the problem area. Same with the ground work indoors....don't just hike around and stop if he gets scared, make him pay attention to you....put a little pressure on his nose, make a kissing sound and when he puts his head down to submit, THEN reward him with a treat.
    "The stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than others, but by being better than she used to be."
    David Brooks



  5. #5
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    Jan. 20, 2008
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    Bogey, I do agree with you. What do i do when the entire indoor is the issue?



  6. #6
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    May. 27, 2008
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    East Jesus No-Where
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    I would do some lunging and ground work during the rain for a while. Like suggested, not a stressful amount, but just trasition, direction changes and what I like to do as well is lunge using the rail (as long as it won't inconvience anyone) so you arn't just running circles in one spot and getting him anxious, lunge the entire arena. Lots of praising for those good behaviors like dropping his head and not coming TOTALY unglued. I had a horse with this problem, a VERY LARGE horse and working it out under saddle at first was just not a safe idea. I also agree with supper time in the arena during the rain if it is feasable. Amazing what happens to a horse when they attach a situation to oh so yummy food!

    Good Luck! And stay safe, don't ride out of pride; do what you can safely in the situation, it's hard to enjoy your horse if you have a cast on!
    “Four things greater than all things are, - Women and Horses and Power and War”



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2008
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    Western NY
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    I agree with using food; a flake of hay would distract my horse from Armageddon. d; Can you turn him out in the arena for a while when it rains? Maybe try for a little while when it's a light rain; put him there with some hay, and then take him out when he's acting calm. Do that several times with rain of increasing intensity each time?



  8. #8
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    Mar. 28, 2006
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    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bogey, I do agree with you. What do i do when the entire indoor is the issue?
    same thing...put him on the aids right away. I have a horse here who we could not even get IN the indoor when he first arrived. I just did the ground work ....worked him right in the door and then around the arena, having him submit with the preassure on the nose. He got to the point where all I had to do was make the kissing noise and he would put his head down. His spook was dangerous on the ground because he would leap and strike out...there was no way I was going to feed in to that with treats.
    I still have to put him right on the aids at the walk in there. I don't stop and pet and soothe him....honestly, he gets worse when you "spook" before he does and make a big deal out of something.
    That's JMO, for what it is worth!
    "The stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than others, but by being better than she used to be."
    David Brooks



  9. #9
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    Feb. 23, 2008
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    I'm with Bogey - and my own take on it (which has worked for my spookier horse) is when the horse says "what the heck is all that noise???" you say "don't worry about it, we're busy doing these complicated patters/transitions/exercises right now, pay attention to me". But as another poster said, if you feel you are at risk of losing your seat, do exercises on the ground. I don't always recommend lunging because most people don't have a lot of control of a horse on the lunge. Instead perhaps doing work in hand/with a halter, but of a complex nature. Something to learn before the next rainy day if you don't do ground work. For example, walk ten steps forward, turn left, halt, back up four steps, move hindquarters over 90 degrees, walk forward ten steps, turn right in a small circle, etc. So it's a complex pattern he has to focus on YOU and what you are asking.

    If he isn't likely to unseat you, make a plan under saddle of a pattern relevant to your discipline - different size circles, shoulder in, transitions, etc. that keep you and your horse very busy.

    I find my spooky horse NEVER spooks if she is paying attention to me, and if I see her start to flick and ear towards something (the door, etc.) we immediately get busy - calmly, as if that was my plan all along - but off we go in a serpentine, or spiral or some other figure that she needs to pay attention to.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep. 29, 2007
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    585

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    Quote Originally Posted by twofatponies View Post
    I'm with Bogey - and my own take on it (which has worked for my spookier horse) is when the horse says "what the heck is all that noise???" you say "don't worry about it, we're busy doing these complicated patters/transitions/exercises right now, pay attention to me". But as another poster said, if you feel you are at risk of losing your seat, do exercises on the ground. I don't always recommend lunging because most people don't have a lot of control of a horse on the lunge. Instead perhaps doing work in hand/with a halter, but of a complex nature. Something to learn before the next rainy day if you don't do ground work. For example, walk ten steps forward, turn left, halt, back up four steps, move hindquarters over 90 degrees, walk forward ten steps, turn right in a small circle, etc. So it's a complex pattern he has to focus on YOU and what you are asking.

    If he isn't likely to unseat you, make a plan under saddle of a pattern relevant to your discipline - different size circles, shoulder in, transitions, etc. that keep you and your horse very busy.

    I find my spooky horse NEVER spooks if she is paying attention to me, and if I see her start to flick and ear towards something (the door, etc.) we immediately get busy - calmly, as if that was my plan all along - but off we go in a serpentine, or spiral or some other figure that she needs to pay attention to.
    Totally agree - my last horse had been a giveaway because he was a bolter, any excuse was good enough, and he was used to getting away with it because his previous owner (and the trainer who crammed his head in draw reins) were terrified of him. He was mighty surprised when he did it to me and nothing escalated but we continued working like nothing happened at all. Shoulder in, haunches in, transitions, change direction, didn't matter just as long as he was required to focus on me and not look for excuses to spook. After about a month of trying his old behavior, he gave it up completely.



  11. #11
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    Jul. 24, 2008
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    Earplugs DO help!



  12. #12
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    Sep. 29, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by saultgirl View Post
    Earplugs DO help!
    But what good are they in the long run when you can't use them at a show? Then you have to take them out and the horse gets assaulted with sound at a volume that's intensified, and he already has a problem coping with sound. IMO better to just ride through it until he's desensitized and is made to work through it, not pay attention to it.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb. 1, 2001
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    A lot of people use earplugs at shows. Not unusual at all.

    I agree with keeping the horse busy and paying attention if they are spooky in that type of situation. I also make the work demanding - to send the message that if you behave nicely, the ride is basically short & sweet, whereas if you are spooky and not behaving well... we are going to Work.Really.Hard.

    My horse is essentially a lazy/quiet type. He is not fond of noisy indoors (rain, snow sliding off, etc.) Like the OP's horse, I think he's genuinely concerned... BUT that doesn't mean I am going to cater to it. Horses that aren't consistently obedient can get you hurt - and I'm too old to tolerate that anymore. Riding is not a democracy in my world; it's a benevolent dictatorship. My horse has a very nice life and gets asked to work for less than an hour a day. For that hour, he needs to do what I ask, when I ask for it, and to the best of his ability. Period.

    In the early days with this horse, if I was perhaps riding alone later in the evening or he was really being an idiot when I first got on, I'd give him a chance to settle for 5-10 minutes. If I couldn't get him on the aids, I would longe him in the scary part of the arena until he was truly TIRED... then I would get on and do my regular ride. The following night I'd get on and normally I would have an obedient horse - even if he had tense moments. It didn't take him long to learn that behaving that way meant a lot of d*mn work and he'd rather just suck it up and behave!!!
    **********
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
    -PaulaEdwina



  14. #14
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    Jun. 17, 2001
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    Besides the ear bunnies, use your head a little bit, make it a little less scary.

    Sometimes disgression is the better part of valor, as they say, and there is not a thing wrong with avoiding that spot where the gutter is banging and gurgling right on the other side of the wall. Or that one corner where the rain falls out of the gutter in sheets like Niagara.

    No reason you have to hop on and challenge them with something scary right off the bat. Keep them busy in another part of the arena until you feel the edge start to tire off. Then you keep them on the aids as you start working closer and closer to that booger spot and do NOT start a fight, just keep going. And DO NOT EVER STOP to look at something scary-teaches them to stop if they are in doubt and can hint to that little prey brain maybe there IS something there.

    If all else fails, that's why we have lunge lines, don't get on a fresh horse in a spooky situation.

    Oh, putting food in most indoor arenas just teaches them they can eat there...they don't seem to mind the spooks but when that food goes away, the spooks come back.

    Besides that, putting food in alot of indoor rings would get you invited to leave in a heartbeat as many share the rings and it can degrade some of the fancier footing. You know, the stuff you have to take the poop off of.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  15. #15
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    Jul. 30, 2005
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    I agree with the putting him to work posts. You're basically saying to him 'I'm in charge, there's nothing to worry about, so we're working.'
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  16. #16
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    Nov. 10, 2005
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    I use ear plugs for my TB mare.I probably really don't need to any longer, but it's a cheap fix. I really like getting on my horse and having pretty much the same horse every time. She was always very reactive, and I found that by muffling her world it kept her brains between her ears instead of out in the distance somewhere looking for things to spook at. She can hear me as indicated by her flipping her ear back when I talk to her. She just isn't reactive any more. The other thing that helped her was tons of desensitization stuff. Good luck with your horse.



  17. #17
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    Sep. 1, 2004
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    north of Atlanta GA
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    I had a horse like that. In the 6 years or so that I owned him, he never got over his fear of the rain on the arena roof. He was a saint when it wasn't raining, the kind of horse you could put beginners on, but the minute it started raining he became a lunatic. I could ride him outside in the rain and he was fine but the indoor became a place of horror for him in the rain. I tried everything mentioned already and nothing worked. The ear plugs helped some but he was still nervous. Work and food didn't help at all. I hope you have better luck than I did. I just gave up and either didn't ride when it was raining or when I did ride, I knew it would not be a productive session.



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