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Young horse spooking alone

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  • Young horse spooking alone

    I have been riding my 6 year old mare for about 2 years alone in an open field 2-3 times a week. However sometimes she is more alert there and spooks. Normally does it take this long for a horse to become comfortable in an area like this? It also seems I cue her more, asking for bend, change of gaits disengaging and keep her mind busy spooking is less. Do hand walks in the area help?

  • #2
    Any horse can spook at any age. Any time. Any place. Depending on sunlight/wind/rain. Number of flies. Flights of birds. Time of the month. Last time I was blasting around a field that the horse knows like the back of his hoof, he spooked at a tuft of grass. Literally, a piece of grass. Basically, he was having a joke.

    Ride with the all important 'feel': feel the mood of your horse, feel when she is looking for trouble, when she is feeling playful, happy, and then certainly keep her mind busy, doing things so she won't have time to be spooky. If she is feeling chilled, then you can chill, if not, don't. Handwalking won't make a difference since she is just expressing herself and reacting to environment and emotional conditions.
    "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

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    • #3
      Most horses have days where they are more alert or spooky even in familiar surroundings.

      Sometimes it is weather ( cool/ windy etc..) But usually it is due to an over abundance of energy on my mare. I make her work it off asking for gait changes and do large circles and direction changes and soon she is concentrating on me not her surroundings.

      Work her a little harder when you ride or lunge before hand.

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by Willesdon View Post
        Any horse can spook at any age. Any time. Any place. Depending on sunlight/wind/rain. Number of flies. Flights of birds. Time of the month. Last time I was blasting around a field that the horse knows like the back of his hoof, he spooked at a tuft of grass. Literally, a piece of grass. Basically, he was having a joke.

        Ride with the all important 'feel': feel the mood of your horse, feel when she is looking for trouble, when she is feeling playful, happy, and then certainly keep her mind busy, doing things so she won't have time to be spooky. If she is feeling chilled, then you can chill, if not, don't. Handwalking won't make a difference since she is just expressing herself and reacting to environment and emotional conditions.
        Would hand walking with ground work incorporated when I see her tense help?

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        • #5
          since the weather has been raining a lot, I have been taking my young horse on a walk every day. ( rope halter and lead rope, not riding). The first day he was hopping around when he saw the flags on the neighbors new hot wire, trotted and snorted when the neighbors horses trotted up to see who we were, almost ran me over when the neighbors dogs came out to attack us ( Not Fun )! I took him out daily for a week and yesterday , he walked with his head down like an old hack horse! I will try to walk him all over for another month and its good exercise for me too.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Pinktamra2004 View Post
            I have been riding my 6 year old mare for about 2 years alone in an open field 2-3 times a week. However sometimes she is more alert there and spooks.
            a horse's sense of smell is pretty high, it could be the mare is smelling a predictor. Around here that could easily be a coyote or large cat.

            The greater trust your horse has in you the less they will rely upon their natural instincts

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            • #7
              Anything to focus her on you: ground work might help.
              "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

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              • #8
                I've found that some horses are naturally more confident by themselves, others are a bundle of nerves and are unhappy, no matter how hard you try to make them into a solo horse. The same with horses that like to follow in the back or lead in a group. Sometimes you get one that is okay doing both but they usually have a preference. I've met some horses that prefer riding in the city, down paved roads with traffic, but do not like riding in the deep woods or vice versa.

                If you have consistently been riding the same area for 2 years (assuming you ride regularly), then your horse probably isn't the confident type and the spooky traits you are seeing are there to stay.

                My paint horse just tossed me off yesterday because I was riding bareback and she spooked sideways. I've had her since she was 2 years old and she's 16 now. It was a mistake to ride bareback because i would not have come off with a saddle on. It was not a big spook. She immediately stopped. I think she was shocked that I came off. She does have a spook to her but she always stops after about 3 seconds. That trait is not going to change!
                I do trust her to ride solo, because she always stops if she gets spooked, and that is far better than my thoroughbred that would spin bolt and leave you to walk back.

                I would consider selling, if both you and your horse are unhappy riding solo.

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                • #9
                  Yes to what others have said: some horses are just "like that"--they're always going to be a little spooky, a little high.

                  But there are some things you might do to see if your horse is just "like that" or if there are specific issues that she's reacting to.

                  The first big question is: how spooky are *you*? Do you anticipate her being on tiptoes when you go out, or are you calm? Have you ever had a trainer or a trusted friend who rides well try riding her out where you find her reactive? Sometimes it's not the horse's reactivity, it's the combination of horse and rider anxieties that produce the spookiness.

                  Try going for shorter walks and returning before you begin to feel like she's a coiled spring; try singing while you ride (really); try putting some cones out in the field and doing patterns around them to get her to focus more on you and the cones.

                  I'm not sure that I would hand walk her in the field unless you're very sure that you could hold her if she spooked. Having her get away, even once, and run home, possibly scaring herself with a flapping leadrope or reins, won't be helpful in the long run.
                  "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

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