I started leasing an Arabian gelding a couple weeks ago and I don't know what to do. Obviously as an Arab, he's got energy. The barn where he is has two arenas, upper and lower. Riding in the upper one he is sooooo fun and I love riding him! He doesn't buck up there anymore once I've worked him down. But when I bring him to the lower one, he keeps looking at EVERYTHING and spooks and bucks even if nothing is moving. It's so random. I get very frustrated and disappointed when I ride him down there. But I love him in the other ring! I don't know what to do. I'm hoping to move him closer to my house at the end of the month but I don't know if he would be crazy and spooky In a new place like he is in the lower ring. (Even though he's been at this barn for 4 years he still spooks down there)
Is there anything I can do to get him better down there like he is in the upper ring? Any suggestions/opinions?
I don't want to just give up and find another horse, I love his good side! I just want to make the bad side better lol
Well, I won't try to tell you how to deal with your horse, but I'll share my experience with the Arab I evented for many years. He was a spookaholic, sort of an adrenaline junky. It didn't take much to set him off, then it seemed to progress from there. My salvation was my trainer who taught me how to lunge PROPERLY, with side reins, so he had to work, and he was always lunged before riding. Even so, the first year he would just take off on the lunge until he crashed to his side. He figured it out eventually and we were pretty successful, but I always had to be in the tack a good hour and a half before our dressage test so that he could get all (or most) of his lookiness out of his system. Good luck to you!
I have been around many arabians throughout the years as well as many other "hot" breeds and it truly comes down to finding out what makes them tick. I'd evaluate him management in general such as feed and turn out but aside from this if he is the first arab you have really dealt with seek out a trainer who has worked successfully with arabians in the past and get some help.
Only ride in the lower arena. He may have been there for four years but not ridden consistently in the lower one because of his spookiness so to him it is still scary. If I am working with a horse that is a bit scared I will first hand walk them around the arena. Lunge him in the arena and don't stay in one spot. One trainer I know recommends changing directions three or four times for the spooky. As soon as he relaxes one direction change to the other. Be prepared to spend alot of time and don't be in a rush. If you don't have time maybe do some hand walking in the spooky arena or let him eat a bit of hay or grain in the arena (if possible).
I know he is fed something called LS, I don't know much about it. He gets a lot of turnout, in a big paddock (mostly all day) with 5 other geldings. I try to ride him 5 days a week. I would like to ride in both arenas so the workouts don't get stale. There's also a field where I want to ride but he's even worse out there. And I'm not sure if he's better with others because I ride on my own. Usually I'm the only one there when I go.
Yeah when I first started leasing him, I lunged him in both arenas. He was super quiet on the lunge line, just going along perfectly fine. It's only when I get on him when he get spooky and weird
My Arab cross is pretty spooky, and has certain triggers. What is helping is a recent clinic, where I was advised to ride with a much shorter rein, and to just focus on keeping her straight/controlling her shoulder. Micromanaging hat shoulder has really decreased her ability to find things to spook at.
My question is though, is the footing the same in both rings? Consider the horse isn't comfortable in the one ring (footing harder or softer bringing out a soundness issue) and so is more reactive/upset in that ring. Also might be a learned response: is that ring used for different things?
If this is a learned response, then you might want to create a positive association with the ring by taking him down there in hand and giving him treats or massage when he is not being naughty.
Hmm maybe I'll try the shorter rein. I've been riding on a kind of longer reign because he's out of shape and his owner told me he needs to stretch at the canter. But I'll definitely try that. The footing seems to be the same in both arenas. But the surroundings are different so maybe that's the trigger? The good ring is behind the barn, and he can see some other horses that are turned out. Maybe he feels more comfortable with the other horses around? And the bad ring is out of sight of the other horses and we can just see the field and some woods
The good ring is behind the barn, and he can see some other horses that are turned out. Maybe he feels more comfortable with the other horses around? And the bad ring is out of sight of the other horses and we can just see the field and some woods
I bet this is the issue. He may feel uncomfortable out of sight of the others, and many horses find woods spooky (there is a lot going on in there to see/hear). I would see if you can get someone else to ride with you down there to at least confirm whether or not this is his issue. If it is, you might try riding him down there with others for a while before trying it solo again.
I second the idea that he should really have a buddy in the "scary" ring. My barn's indoor makes all sorts of odd noises in the winter, if the wind is blowing, snow coming off the roof, etc. No one rides alone in the winter. Even the bombproof horses get worried if they don't have another horse in there. If your horse isn't used to the scary ring, don't try to get him used to it by himself. If you must be in there alone, I'd handwalk him for fifteen minutes all around, up and down, by all the doors, etc, and feed him treats the entire time. Then a fifteen minute ride. Then get off and walk around again with treats. Then a ten minute ride, get off, cool him out, more treats, and go home. Arabians are smarter than most people. Get him to associate scary ring with good things, instead. After a couple of weeks he's going to be dragging you down there to get his treats. Take it slowly!
I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry
I agree with the shorter rein and keeping him "busy". Also, now with the addition of his buddies being out of sight that might be the bigger issue. I agree with the others to see about having someone ride with you in the "scary" arena.
I have a super spooky horse but I have learned to handle it pretty well. Just some tips that work for us...
1. Your horse can sense when you are nervous. A spook automatically makes us catch our breath and tense up. This makes the horse more tense and nervous. BREATH. Breath deep so you can hear your breath. Talk to your horse in a calm, low voice. Relax your body. Move on from the spook like it was no big deal.
2. Keep him thinking. Do transitions, circles, figure 8's, ANYTHING that keeps him from focusing on the monsters outside the ring!
3. If you think he is too tense to ride safely, get off and lounge him. When he calms down, get back on. Do it again if you need to. If you ride by yourself it is better to be safe then sorry.
4. When he relaxes (it will happen eventually, I promise!) give him lots of love!