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Horse ets spookier with work

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    #21
    My horses spooking got a lot better when I took him off that flake of alfalfa in the pm and replaced with grass hay. He is just not as reactive. Something you could try.

    Comment


      #22
      Warwick Schiller has a video on YouTube about training a young horse about not liking gates. I'm hopeless with links but I bet you could find it. I came across it while looking for something else.

      Do you have the same routine when you start work?

      Can you find some new exercises to do to keep his mind engaged?

      Do you trust him to ride outside of the ring?

      I dont think its pain related. He spooks because he has your number.

      And maybe he hates dressage. He may be bred for it, but that doesn't mean he wants to.

      Are you comfortable with setting up some ground poles and cavaletti or a very small jump.? There are some books that describe the benefits of working dressage horses over ground poles and cavaletti .

      This may not be the horse for you. I know you have the skills but if you arent an adrenaline junkie maybe you should consider finding a more suitable horse for your temperament.

      Some people like a challenge and the spooking and evading doesn't bother them. They have the patience and skills to work so they can get the best out of the horse. But most of all they have the confidence to wait it out.

      No offense intended, but this horse might do better as a Pro's horse. This is no slight against your skills but I wonder if you have the determination that a horse like this requires.

      He intimidates you and you have to change your mindset, and tell yourself "F the damn gate and full speed ahead!"

      This is a forward, very intelligent horse, and his personality isn't going to change. Hes always going to be a challenge.

      You and you alone have to decide if you are up to it. I think you are, but you also have to decide if you are up FOR it.

      Good luck . Hope this helps.



      Certified Guacophobe

      Comment


        #23
        Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
        A lot of times when a horse spooks the rider takes 17 laps of circles, walking to "regroup".

        The horse then learns that "spook" = "walk break".

        The best way to handle a spook is to ignore it and IMMEDIATELY ask to return to what you were doing pre-spook. If he dives and does a twirl cantering up the long side, ask for canter immediately again and head up the same long side, continue as if nothing happened.
        Exactly this. As I mentioned I ignore and give an eye roll. I've seen riders do odd things when their horses spook that either get them more amped up or teach the horse that spook = break.

        The thing is, you don't have to change what you were doing. You don't have to be dramatic. Just carry on. Don't whip the horse around in tiny circles, don't jerk on their face, don't change your gait, etc.

        ​​​​​​​Be persistent, firm, fair, and consistent.

        Comment


          #24
          [QUOTE=CanteringCarrot;n10609145]

          My answer to all of these questions, is basically yes.


          There are some horses, such as my previous Warmblood, that had to be ridden every single milisecond of the ride. Busy, busy, and onward. He was exhausting and better suited for a pro, quite frankly. While my P.R.E. is odd, spooky, and whatever else, I never feel at danger, and his episodes are short lived, and now more rare as he ages. My WB would take it to dangerous levels and also had big movement, my P.R.E. is smooth and easy to sit, so that definitely helps. A clinician once said (about my WB) that I was doomed and that he'd never touch a horse with that breeding! So I really know how to pick 'em He got along with my husband though (a big tall strong man), so maybe he was a man's man.

          TL;DR

          Are you going to tell us what the “Doomed” pedigree was? Please?

          Comment


            #25
            Ju-Lu, my horse was like that in her younger years...it was a pain issue. She was difficult to ride...pick the reins and go to work tension escalated rapidly and she would spook and shy and it was very difficult to get her past certain points in the arenas. She was very vigilant and she noticed EVERY alteration in the arena. A chair moved to a different place, something hanging on the fence that hadn’t been there before. The tension was just killer.

            What her problem was a bit fit issue. It took 2 years of frustrating rides to figure it out then another almost year of experimenting with bits to find one that didn’t pinch her. What she was doing was as you put her to work and picked up the reins, she started getting tense and gnashing the bit by rolling it up to her molars with her tongue then chewing the crap out of it. Obviously I missed that she didn’t like tongue pressure (hence trying to move it off her tongue) but the damage was from her fleshy inner cheeks getting pinched between the bit and her molars. I was horrified when I found the damage. It wasn’t readily visible. You had to gently grab her nose and peel the lip out away from her teeth at the corner of her mouth. At the least they were very bruised and at most (depending on how many days in a row I rode), the inner cheeks were blistered. The funny thing about the mouth is that it heals very well and after a couple days off, the evidence was gone. We might have a fairly decent ride after a couple days off then things went downhill the rest of the week. When her mouth was sore she was very spooky and tense. To the point of distraction. She seemed so preoccupied with the pain in her mouth (and rightly so) that it seemed like she didn’t even see what was going on around her and thus any movement or sometimes, even nothing, would set her off. Finally, nearly a year post discovery of the problem, I found a bit that gave her tongue relief and didn’t pinch her inner lips and it was like a switch was turned. All of a sudden, I was able to have relaxation. The downside...the bit I found is not legal but I have found a couple that are less worse for the pinching that enabled me to show and she was successful (mid 60’s at 1st level with chubby older ammy rider).

            I guess the long post is to say not to dismiss a pain issue. I did not see any questioning whether your guy has ulcers? He may not be painful when walking around on a loose rein but put him together and getting moving may cause acid to slosh around to sensitive areas. It is frustrating but keep investigating the pain angle.

            The Warwick Schiller and TRT (I think that is Tristan Tucker) horsemanship stuff is very good and helps them process situations better. I personally work with Karen Rohlf who has a Dressage based ‘natural’ horsemanship program. I have made good progress with dealing with the fallout of 2-3 years of riding with such tension for those few years and now I really enjoy my horse. Yes, she still spooks sometimes...she is a reactive breed and she just can’t help it. Now I just go with it,laugh and continue with the program and she readily goes back to work.

            Been there, done that. Good luck.
            Susan

            Comment


              #26
              Originally posted by J-Lu View Post
              outerbanks77, what is the TRT method?
              Tristan Tucker. He has a natural horsemanship approach, but works with warmbloods and is a dressage rider. He has an online training platform you can subscribe to.

              Comment


                #27
                Yep, mine is very alert ,very reactive, and very athletic. He's also 5 and 17hh. What has helped is electrolytes , TRT , and understanding him and building a relationship with him that is light on punishment which he doesn't understand unless he's been really naughty and KNOWS it's naughty ie nipping from frustration etc.
                I have had to become his safe place with the help of TRT in teaching him how to respond to his worries, and being extremely consistent.
                I have had to understand he's a flight animal who will get more reactive the more adrenalized he is and therefore give him breaks involving a lowered head position when riding him until the adrenalin subsides and not flooding him by forcing him into a situation he simply can't deal with.
                Luckily the ''can't deals'' are getting fewer and fewer the less flooding he gets.
                Majorly for him when riding is to let go of his mouth once he's responded to the bit , he had ulcers in his mouth when he came back from being started and I think will have permanent issues from that, so it's up to me to consistently ask, get a response, and then release every single time. He will never be a horse who lets someone balance on his mouth or waterski on a strong contact and I think that's fair.
                It's REALLY hard, but actually very fun at the same time to get something going with a horse my trainer says would have been totally ruined by now without this approach.Also, thank goodness for great coaches who can think outside the box!

                Comment


                  #28
                  Magnesium only works if the horse isn't getting enough out of his diet. Mine is one of those so magnesium helps his focus.

                  Helps. Some.

                  Cognitive behavioral therapy following Warwick Schiller's rabbit theory was the key for my horse. We have to do rabbit practice every so often, but he remembers the skills quickly.

                  The specific CBT we did taught my horse to take responsibility for not spooking at scary things and maintaining enough focus on me to respond to what I asked, when I asked. Part of the process involved me giving away my contact as we approached our version of the gates of doom (which varied from day to day) and expecting him to maintain track, gait, and speed. This was hard for him.

                  I'm sorry this is so vague and lacking in specifics, but I'd need a lot of words to describe what we actually did, how he responded, and what we did next.

                  Comment


                    #29
                    This is why I post here, you guys are great!!!!!

                    As a 4 year old, he was really, really spooky and difficult and I had his eyes checked by a vet opthamologist. Nada. He seems to really notice things in the distance, changing sunlight on things, and shadow patterns. It's not so much the Gate of Doom he's afraid of, it's what he thinks he sees beyond it. Today, I walked him in and out of the arena no problem through the Gate of Doom. He gets nervous until he reaches the perimeter and then once he's through it, no problem. I did flexions at the entrance and he was hard to flex because he kept wanting to look, and once he did flex he had his worried look on him face (he's very expressive). The NH trainer was again watching this after his 5 day clinic of working with difficult horses and said "I've got nothing".

                    The breeder says he isn't cryptorchid. He was started by my former trainer who has bred and started warmbloods for 30 years - knows what she's doing. He did buck her off and was very fearful at her place. I can't pinpoint any bad experience in his life.

                    I never just walk circles when he spooks when working. He HAS to go back to immediate work because he will quickly learn spooking gets him out of work. Yeah, we're way past that Beentheredonethat ! He gets a spur in his side when spooks away from the bend, immediate reward when he's doing well. The problem is that if I release when he's hypervigilant, he takes matters into his own hands. I have to "hold his hand". I think he thinks "he's going first" when I'm riding and can die. In any event, spooking does NOT get him out of work and can increase his workload. His workload includes transitions between and within the gaits and all lateral work. I'm not afraid of him at all. But I'm also not harsh or mean. I deal with the moment at hand and then deal with the next moment. I get in and then out.

                    I watched Tristan Tucker's expo at Indoor Brabant and talked to him about this horse. He didn't have a whole lot to say!

                    My horse gets electrolytes and we've been through so much together and have a great level of trust and rapport.

                    Kyrabee, thanks! I don't think it is a bit issue as he's in a Herm Sprenger training bit that is slightly larger than his small muzzle and slides well in his mouth. No lip pinching. All trainers think this fits his mouth well *for him* and I do, too. I did the bit journey with my last horse, who was very difficult to fit comfortably due to her thick tongue and low palate. My vet came out yesterday and did a dental, didn't find any problems in his mouth like bruising or soreing. She's well aware of his tendencies. He's literally in the easiest bit out there and goes well in it. It's his brain.

                    When he was a 3+ year old and shipped to me, he was a mental mess. Skinny. Needed tons of food. I had a vet internist scope him for ulcers because we thought he'd have major bloody ulcers. Almost nothing. She found a couple of minor lesions removing the scope and he had a full treatment of omeprazole. Her comments were that he can seem stressed and go through 2K miles of shipping and ulcers aren't his problem. No change in behavior with Omeprazole. He's had chiropractic work by vets. As a 4 year old, I had a well known (in my area) vet chiropractor come out and work on him. He was a bit reactive with her. She told me "I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I can't find any pain that is contributing to his behavior. The bad news is that I can't find any pain that is contributing to his behavior" He recently had an equine bodyworker work on him and she also found nothing out of the ordinary besides where he typically holds tension (neck, poll and shoulders).

                    Today, I turned him out in the arena after everyone rode and a mare owned by one of the guys helping with the clinic was turned out in the playground. I chatted with the BOs and a guy whose horse is in the clinic over beer for 2 hours while my horse stood at the Gate of Doom until his internal clock said "It's feeding time, people!!!" He should clearly understand that this gate area is not problematic..... We'll see tomorrow... But again, the problems seem to crop up when he's asked to work.

                    I so appreciate everyone's input and will really read them in depth. I just wanted to post that I'm really appreciative of everyone's comments about their knowledge and experiences!! THANK YOU for taking the time to post them!
                    Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                    Comment


                      #30
                      Originally posted by RedHorses View Post
                      Magnesium only works if the horse isn't getting enough out of his diet. Mine is one of those so magnesium helps his focus.

                      Helps. Some.

                      Cognitive behavioral therapy following Warwick Schiller's rabbit theory was the key for my horse. We have to do rabbit practice every so often, but he remembers the skills quickly.

                      The specific CBT we did taught my horse to take responsibility for not spooking at scary things and maintaining enough focus on me to respond to what I asked, when I asked. Part of the process involved me giving away my contact as we approached our version of the gates of doom (which varied from day to day) and expecting him to maintain track, gait, and speed. This was hard for him.

                      I'm sorry this is so vague and lacking in specifics, but I'd need a lot of words to describe what we actually did, how he responded, and what we did next.
                      Would you mind explaining this method and how you applied it to your horses? My horse has had extensive NH work when he was considered a "dangerous" 3-4 year old (and he was, he couldn't think through any problem, the NH trainer taught him how to break down thinking through a problem - made a HUGE difference in his approach to life). My horse interprets lack of contact as "abandonment" and takes matters into his own hooves when he's afraid, but I think he'd want to be a Western Pleasure horse when he's not afraid. He has an amazing trot when he's energetic (he's a sporthorse bred Westfalen) but could happily jog with the best of the Western Pleasure horses when he's confident enough to be laaaaaazzzzzyyyyy. How could this approach apply to a horse like mine? I'd LOVE to hear your feedback!
                      Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                      Comment


                        #31
                        I forgot to add that a friend had a horse (big younger Hanoverian) and his behavior was similar. It took a lot of vetting but they eventually found arthritis somewhere in his back/SI area, I can't remember exactly where. He was essentially retired at 5 (7 now) and can only go on light hacks because he becomes explosive when worked. So while it can be attitude and mental, it can also be physical. I can't remember if she had an MRI or scan of some sort done. I forget how they diagnosed, it was a few years ago now.

                        I mean, it's entirely possible for a horse not being able to advance to upper levels of any discipline due to attitude. It's just weird that everyone, including pros, is throwing their hands up and saying "I don't know/I've got nothing" I don't get it.
                        ​​​​​​

                        At this point, your actual options seem to be pursue further physical diagnostics, or ride through it. What else is there? You've stated his diet and keeping are good. I mean, if its to that point, try some calming supplements and see what happens.

                        ​​​​​​

                        Comment


                          #32
                          Have you tried a soundless ear bonnet?

                          Comment


                            #33
                            Originally posted by J-Lu View Post
                            This is why I post here, you guys are great!!!!!

                            As a 4 year old, he was really, really spooky and difficult and I had his eyes checked by a vet opthamologist. Nada. He seems to really notice things in the distance, changing sunlight on things, and shadow patterns. It's not so much the Gate of Doom he's afraid of, it's what he thinks he sees beyond it. Today, I walked him in and out of the arena no problem through the Gate of Doom. He gets nervous until he reaches the perimeter and then once he's through it, no problem. I did flexions at the entrance and he was hard to flex because he kept wanting to look, and once he did flex he had his worried look on him face (he's very expressive). The NH trainer was again watching this after his 5 day clinic of working with difficult horses and said "I've got nothing".

                            The breeder says he isn't cryptorchid. He was started by my former trainer who has bred and started warmbloods for 30 years - knows what she's doing. He did buck her off and was very fearful at her place. I can't pinpoint any bad experience in his life.

                            I never just walk circles when he spooks when working. He HAS to go back to immediate work because he will quickly learn spooking gets him out of work. Yeah, we're way past that Beentheredonethat ! He gets a spur in his side when spooks away from the bend, immediate reward when he's doing well. The problem is that if I release when he's hypervigilant, he takes matters into his own hands. I have to "hold his hand". I think he thinks "he's going first" when I'm riding and can die. In any event, spooking does NOT get him out of work and can increase his workload. His workload includes transitions between and within the gaits and all lateral work. I'm not afraid of him at all. But I'm also not harsh or mean. I deal with the moment at hand and then deal with the next moment. I get in and then out.

                            I watched Tristan Tucker's expo at Indoor Brabant and talked to him about this horse. He didn't have a whole lot to say!

                            My horse gets electrolytes and we've been through so much together and have a great level of trust and rapport.

                            Kyrabee, thanks! I don't think it is a bit issue as he's in a Herm Sprenger training bit that is slightly larger than his small muzzle and slides well in his mouth. No lip pinching. All trainers think this fits his mouth well *for him* and I do, too. I did the bit journey with my last horse, who was very difficult to fit comfortably due to her thick tongue and low palate. My vet came out yesterday and did a dental, didn't find any problems in his mouth like bruising or soreing. She's well aware of his tendencies. He's literally in the easiest bit out there and goes well in it. It's his brain.

                            When he was a 3+ year old and shipped to me, he was a mental mess. Skinny. Needed tons of food. I had a vet internist scope him for ulcers because we thought he'd have major bloody ulcers. Almost nothing. She found a couple of minor lesions removing the scope and he had a full treatment of omeprazole. Her comments were that he can seem stressed and go through 2K miles of shipping and ulcers aren't his problem. No change in behavior with Omeprazole. He's had chiropractic work by vets. As a 4 year old, I had a well known (in my area) vet chiropractor come out and work on him. He was a bit reactive with her. She told me "I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I can't find any pain that is contributing to his behavior. The bad news is that I can't find any pain that is contributing to his behavior" He recently had an equine bodyworker work on him and she also found nothing out of the ordinary besides where he typically holds tension (neck, poll and shoulders).

                            Today, I turned him out in the arena after everyone rode and a mare owned by one of the guys helping with the clinic was turned out in the playground. I chatted with the BOs and a guy whose horse is in the clinic over beer for 2 hours while my horse stood at the Gate of Doom until his internal clock said "It's feeding time, people!!!" He should clearly understand that this gate area is not problematic..... We'll see tomorrow... But again, the problems seem to crop up when he's asked to work.

                            I so appreciate everyone's input and will really read them in depth. I just wanted to post that I'm really appreciative of everyone's comments about their knowledge and experiences!! THANK YOU for taking the time to post them!
                            Am I correct that you had the chiro and bodyworker out once each?
                            And how long did you treat for ulcers, and did you also treat for hindgut also? Taper off?
                            Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014

                            http://notesfromadogwalker.com/2012/...m-a-sanctuary/

                            Comment


                              #34
                              This is such an interesting thread. A question for anyone else dealing with a similar situation, have you tested for Lyme? Anyone seen behavior changes/increased spookiness with a Lyme diagnosis?

                              Comment


                                #35
                                Start by watching these videos, or read my post and then watch. At least watch the first video before reading my post. The rabbit theory explains why there are good days and bad days - it depends on how many rabbits there are on any given day.

                                Theory of rabbits (5 min)

                                https://youtu.be/yfd8cpI-baw


                                Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for horses (20 min)

                                https://youtu.be/oqBSabZIW74


                                I did much of my initial rabbit practice on the longe. The goal was to have my horse volunteer to stand near the gates of doom (wherever and whatever form they might take on any given day). Rabbit practice looked something like this:

                                A quick WTH longe to check attention and response to commands done in a non reactive part of the ring/arena. The purpose was to get his mind into work mode.

                                Then started a pattern that would take us near the gates of doom. I liked the cloverleaf pattern for this as it breaks up the circles with straight lines and it's easy to do lots of transitions (trot the circle, walk the straight or vice versa) and it provides multiple angles and distances approaching the gates of doom, passing and turning away. Do you know the cloverleaf pattern?

                                Watching my horse carefully I asked him to shift down one gait as he approached the gates of doom, T-W, W-H, at the point where he began to show worry about the GoD. If he couldn't, the W or H might happen after he passed the GoD and that was okay! This is not about you must halt NOW if I say whoa! It's about helping him learn to let go of his rabbits and take responsibility for not spooking. After the downshift happened he got praised and we continued to the next leaf.

                                On each leaf there is a point where the horse is approaching the GoD. If he showed concern I would ask for the W or H. On the leaf furthest from the GoD that transition would happen pretty much where I asked. Any H that occurred where/when I asked meant letting him stand still for a minute (yes, 60+ seconds) or until he couldn't stand still because anxiety about the GoD was getting too much. Any H or W that occurred past the GoD was met with praise and immediately back to work.

                                The cloverleaf (or whatever) must be work. Lots of transitions - and the ones not affected by the approach to the GoD must be quicker and demonstrate attention and response to my commands. This is critical because I am creating a rest space for him beside the GoD.
                                ​​​​​​
                                As we worked the transition occurred closer and closer to the GoD. When the approach was in T he started to volunteer the W. After he volunteered the walk several times and could W past without any big deviation in track or speed I very calmly asked him to T beside the GoD. It sounds like the wrong thing, like I'm telling him to run away, but I'm actually saying listen to me and do this thing at the moment the GoD looms largest in his focus. As with the initial downshift it's not about NOW, but about getting past the focus on the GoD and listening to me.

                                Then we progressed to H beside the GoD. At first H happened well past the GoD, so praise and immediately back to work. Then H happened sooner. When he H next to the GoD I let him stand until he couldn't and asked him to walk on again before he moved on his own. This was only a few seconds at first.

                                Can you see what happens next?

                                The first time my horse volunteered to halt at the closest point to the GoD of the day and cock a hind foot and drop his head!! I knew we had cracked it (angels singing ). And that day's GoD was legitimately scary (odd noises and a narrow slice of visual input).

                                We did similar rabbit practice under saddle. We graduated to working past the GoD without the downshift. When approaching and passing the GoD I did as little as possible (quiet legs and hand) then asked him for something as soon as we passed it. As he got better about keeping his track and speed past the GoD despite his anxiety with no aids from me, I pushed my hands forward as we approached and let him take responsibility for maintaining track and speed. If he did drop to W that was okay, and I quietly asked for trot again. Oddly enough looping the reins often made him keep the track better.

                                https://youtu.be/zG5DhgEbiDk This figure eight at the GoD of the day is usually enough rabbit practice to remind my horse that he can let go of his rabbits. I should note that I did try this technique a year or so before starting the rabbit practice and it did not work for my horse at that time. He needed the CBT to learn to let go of his rabbits.

                                It took time and lots of rabbit practice, and rabbit practice on days I would have preferred to do dressage. It was worth the effort.

                                Does this epic help or muddy the waters?

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                                  #36
                                  Oh - my horse is Hanoverian/Westphalian X Anglo Arab.

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                                    #37
                                    Ju-Lu...I wasn’t saying your guy has a bit issue, just saying that physical pain can precipitate this kind of behavior. For my mare, it was in her mouth. I seemed to win the lottery with her on mouth conformation...NOT. That is the big mystery...Is it pain and if there is, and where is it? If only they could talk.

                                    Susan

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                                      #38
                                      So, a couple things come to mind.

                                      One, he's developed some new physical or neuro ailment that is exacerbating the spook. That will require some vet work to identify.

                                      Two, something in his feed is messing with him metabolically. Again some vet work / feed analysis / pasture analysis necessary.

                                      Three, he's one of those horses who spooks when he thinks the work has gotten too hard. That can be either just an attitude issue, or sometimes we don't realize that we have pushed them too hard for their current physical conditioning. This would be more on you to identify. He may need more conditioning, or a different routine when going to work.

                                      i had a horse that was a bit of a spooker. In the indoor, one aisle was a absolute horse killer. That I just ignored. It cast weird shadows and people would just randomly pop out (what the hell is wrong with saying "door!!!!" before popping around the corner????? Outside, he'd just get... distracted. I was best off with him to give him more to do so he *had* to focus on me.

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                                        #39
                                        Originally posted by rothmpp View Post
                                        So, a couple things come to mind.

                                        One, he's developed some new physical or neuro ailment that is exacerbating the spook. That will require some vet work to identify.

                                        Two, something in his feed is messing with him metabolically. Again some vet work / feed analysis / pasture analysis necessary.

                                        Three, he's one of those horses who spooks when he thinks the work has gotten too hard. That can be either just an attitude issue, or sometimes we don't realize that we have pushed them too hard for their current physical conditioning. This would be more on you to identify. He may need more conditioning, or a different routine when going to work.

                                        i had a horse that was a bit of a spooker. In the indoor, one aisle was a absolute horse killer. That I just ignored. It cast weird shadows and people would just randomly pop out (what the hell is wrong with saying "door!!!!" before popping around the corner????? Outside, he'd just get... distracted. I was best off with him to give him more to do so he *had* to focus on me.
                                        I'm laughing because people yelling "Doooooor!" spooks ME! The horse, however, is totally cool with it.

                                        RedHorses, you reminded me of something. Our indoor is attached to the barn. Both horses of mine tend to gaze out the door of the indoor that opens to the yard unless they're focused on me. The couple times either got really worked up and I had trouble redirecting it was because they saw or sensed that the trainer's horse was loose, barreling towards the barn, and about to flash past the arena door long before I could.

                                        It cracked me up because both times I vibrated my fingers on the rein and said, "There's nothing out there. Pay attention to what you're doing!" only to have a giant black WB roll up in the doorway a few seconds later. If anyone else my age remembers the show Growing Pains, there was an episode where the parents are struggling to get the youngest daughter to bed. She protests vehemently that it's not fair that she's the baby of the family and everyone else stays up later and she's sure she's missing all kinds of fun stuff. The parents are exhausted and keep telling her that nothing fun ever happens when she's in bed. Cue the doorbell ringing and they somehow end up with a carnival, pony, and a bunch of other fun stuff in their living room right as the daughter sneaks back down under the guise of getting a glass of water. I felt like that with my horses!

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                                          #40
                                          My main ride is Mr. Sensitive - any change is a BIG change for him. From day 1, my main #1 objective every ride is relaxation. On a good day, he’s a bit tense. On a bad day, he’s a spooky hot tamale. He sounds similar to yours. We have a scary arena door (and scary outdoor we’re getting reacquainted with that he didn’t mind last Fall). Super smart, athletic, gets amped up when pushed harder. What’s worked for us is focusing on the wins. Quitting early when he’s stayed calm and focused. ME staying super relaxed and patient. It’s ALWAYS better to back off with him rather than push him harder. And not pulling back or shortening the reins when he gets tense and spooky. I focus on him seeking the contact & steady soft contact with lower frame (not giraffe mode) which means more leg/less rein on my part. When he gets tense/spooky, I ask myself if I can relax even more, breathe, not grip anywhere. At least 4 days a week work is best for him and I focus on quality of work more than quantity of time under saddle. Good luck! I totally understand that what makes these types of horses cool also make them challenging.

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