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Horse only spooks some days, but not others.

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  • Horse only spooks some days, but not others.

    Some days I take my horse out on trail rides and he is bombproof. Nothing phases him. He is so brave! ( Motorcycles, ducks, animals, tractors, YOU NAME IT. )

    Some days he is so spooky. He is a bolter which is dangerous.. He will get scared at everything. (leaves, shadows, people, animals, YOU NAME IT!)

    Why is his personality so different from one day to the next. Same equipment and everything.
    Why could this be? What can I do?

  • #2
    Normal horse. There's a good thread right now on riding the spooky horse, go check out the advice.

    As far as different on different days, that's horses. Could be weather. Could be how much work he got yesterday. Could be vision problems. Could be changes in environment or things that happened overnight at barn. Could be intermittent arthritis pain or hoof pain. Could just be feeling resl good and playful some days. You need to troubleshoot IRL.

    Usually horses are spookiest alone, in wind, in chiller weather and if they are well rested.


    • #3
      The best thing you can do for yourself is keep a riding journal. Write down what he does every day, the temperature, rain/wind, if he goes out alone or with others, etc. It will take some time - but a month in you should be able to look back at all the data and identify some patterns.


      • #4
        Mine had Lyme. Autoimmune disease comes in “flares.” I’d definitely work with vet to rule out physical causes.


        • #5
          The colder it is the more ithey will want to move to warm up. The quickest way to do that is to go for a buck.

          Heating feeds, Spring grass, being in the realm of overfed and underworked can lead to being on a tightrope, with them being better after a day of work and then worse with days off. To check stop all grain, feed grassy hay low on sugar for a month and see what kind of horse you have at the end. I say a month as it takes them as long to get out of that ream than it took for them to get into it and taking them off the grain does not work overnight.
          Last edited by SuzieQNutter; Jan. 14, 2020, 04:10 PM.
          It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.


          • #6
            There's also the "familiarity" thing. If the horse has been out on the same trail recently, or continuously, they usually feel safer. Although once they've become familiar with an area they are sometimes more sensitive to any changes.

            One of the biggest spooks I had this summer was when my mule spotted a piece of equipment on a loading dock next to a familiar trail. He goes by that loading dock every Sunday, so recognized that the "thing" sitting there was new. He's not normally afraid of such things, but this thing hadn't been there the last 100 times he'd gone past that loading dock.


            • #7
              You also need some riding tips to stop the bolting. How is your one rein emergency stop?

              Spooking and bolting can happen together but not necessarily. I know lots of horses that spook but never bolt, whereas the one true bolter I knew as a kid didn't spook, just took off unpredictably and would bomb across roads and through traffic.

              Usually a horse that spooks then bolts does so when it has unseated it's rider and realizes there's no one at home up there. A spooky horse requires proactive riding and correct equitation every single moment, no zoning out on the trail or slouching in the saddle.

              If you are a newer rider which seems likely from your post then this horse might be a bad fit for you. Try getting an experienced rider or a trainer to ride him and see what they think.


              • #8
                Age can also be a factor. My 5 yr old has days where he forgets to bring all his brain cells, while the 23 yr old is reliable as clockwork. They take time to mature just like people.

                It's also not uncommon for very smart horses to "invent" things to spook at just to entertain that busy brain.

                Both things are completely normal. The key is how you handle it, which is trickier with a bolter. An experienced friend or trainer's input is worth pursuing to help you & horse stay safe.
                Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                We Are Flying Solo


                • #9
                  Usually I roll my eyes at supplements as they seem like high priced hand waving to me. But my vet recommended supplementing with LOTS of Magnesium and my guy who’d become unaccountably sensitive and spooky is a different horse. (It takes a long time for the stuff to build up—about three months.) Might be worth a try.