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Confidence building after some sketchy rides

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  • #21
    Originally posted by anneelshoff View Post
    Since then, my confidence is waning. His spooks are usually leaps to the side with a snort and then it's like nothing happened. This week is no exception but now he is spooking at everything and I wonder if he is "faking it" because he doesn't have any play time or if it's a combination of that and previcox that gives him relief from any pain.
    Horses don't "fake" spooking. Or lameness. Or any of the other issues they're accused of "faking" when their rider can't fix it.
    With the very decreased work load and confinement, I'm pretty sure you have your answer. The poster above who suggested cutting back some or all of the grain as a starting point gave good advice.
    The other possible problem is if you're nervously anticipating a spook, you'll probably get a spook.

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    • #22
      I call that particular move the "Arab teleport". Patent pending. After years and years of riding my quirky 3/4 Arabian gelding, I got a chance to ride a cutting horse for the first time and felt right at home!

      Horses may not "fake" spooking, but I found that my horse DID use spooking as a way to change the subject. If what I was currently asking (or not) him to do was either boring or difficult, he would start actively searching for "scary" objects. I learned to keep him busy and never do the same thing for more than a minute or two at a time. Shoulder-fore/shoulder-in is your friend when he starts to get distracted, as are transitions within and between gaits. Keep him actively listening to you and looking for your next command, even while hacking (once you are ready for that again).

      Also, learn to keep one eye on his ears. My guy would cock an ear down towards the ground when he was preparing to spook, and that was the only indication he'd ever give of what was coming. One minute we'd be quietly trotting down the rail, and less than 5 seconds later he'd be standing 20 feet away, looking at me where he'd left me on the ground.

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      • #23
        structure, structure, structure!!!!
        In hand work is the best for arabs, to focus them on you as the handler. Not just "loinging in a big circle" but bit flexions, backing up when sound, shoulder in, etc.

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        • Original Poster

          #24
          Thank you all for your help. All of my rides thus far have been supervised by my trainer or another experienced rider in my barn and we lunge for 5-10 mins before. Wish I could do more but the vet really recommends minimal lungeing at least until his toeing-in is corrected some with shoeing. Took a few days for him to get used to shoes and bell boots but he seems to be settling in now. He was moving around like a Saddlebred for a day or so
          While riding I have been keeping him focused and noticing the ears, body tensing, etc. and putting him to work on a different move (shoulder in/half halt/transitioning gait/small circle). I've also had a 19 year old dressage rider at my barn have a go and she did well - only one big spook for her! She was raised riding Arabs exclusively so she read him well. No atomic spooks in the last two weeks under saddle so that's an improvement! We are doing groundwork before every ride and I'm going to lead him out to the scary hayfield this week to do some walking about. I do a majority of my trial riding with friends who have older, calm quarter horse mares who keep him calm and put him in his place! He's usually just so focused on impressing them that he rarely spooks on the trail!! I just won't be going out alone again for a long time. This whole experience has taught me a lot and now, instead of being discouraged, I'm excited to learn more about groundwork and how to communicate better with my boy. We've actually been having some fun with free lungeing and he's been very cooperative! The trail obstacles are coming back out today
          Most importantly, my body and confidence is recovering from my fall, three weeks later!!

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          • Original Poster

            #25
            Originally posted by Gloria View Post
            I'm lost. Are you saying that he is fine in the ring, fine at trails in a group, but not when you are riding in a field with loose horses? There is only one horse that I trust to ride in such setting, and he is the boss horse, 17 years old. No other horses dare to bother him. With young ones, there is too much herd dynamic at play that I no longer bother. Yes, I can keep other horses away in the field, but it is too much work on my part. I just want to ride and have fun.

            Otherwise, is it not an option to ride in the ring? There are also a lot of ground exercises you can do, at walk, that can bring his attention back to you, respectfully, but you need someone to show you in person. I have some pistol hot horses and these ground exercises have been invaluable.
            Just FYI - NOOOO!! I would NEVER ride my horse in a field with loose horses!!! Not sure how that came across but absolutely not.

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