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Tell about your spooky, herd-bound, or not-too-brave XC horses

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  • Tell about your spooky, herd-bound, or not-too-brave XC horses

    I've recently acquired a little 9yo gelding who has spent his life doing dressage and low level jumpers. I'm interested in giving it a go with him in the eventing world, maybe do a beginner novice or two this spring. But, he's an Oldenburgx and is rather... lacking in the smarts department. Rather spooky, doesn't like leaving his friends. He jumps like a star, is pretty fancy... but seems to have this road block.

    Give me your advice, tell me your stories.

  • #2
    Well, my Rugby is spooky and not very brave either, and his list of accomplishments as an event horse would be a big long brag....so I won't include it....but I would say, just keep him in front of the leg ALL the time -- that is the key. Yes, they can look, but no, they cannot be reluctant, or blow you off when you politely ask with your leg. My spooky horse needs my leg as his guidance pretty much whenever I'm in the saddle, and once we got that learned, it was not hard to keep him going over just about anything and doing whatever was asked.
    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


    • #3
      I think it depends on how herdbound.

      My gelding would jump the first fence on XC and run backwards while rearing until I gave up. He did not make it as an eventer.

      My mare comes out of the startbox on fire, tries to run back to warm up between 1 and 2 and then gets down to business. She is worse in stadium and she has taken some time to get used to jumping in arenas with fences around them or not trying to run out of the ingate. She doesn't stop at the fences though but the in between was pretty hairy for awhile.

      If I can figure out how, my next horse will have zero herdbound issues.


      • #4
        My fancy, not so brave, spooky event horse is now a show hunter in Va.
        "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George


        • #5
          My green mare loves to jump, loves to go fast and feels the need to try to look at everything around her, because she knows there is something lying in wait to catch her in a vulnerable state.

          Yesterday we did our first hunter pace. I thought she might spook at a truck near the course that had a very energetic barking beagle tied to it. She couldn't have cared less about that, but took a big sideways elevator spook at a rabbit hole with freshly dug dirt around it...

          This was the first time we jumped a course we had never schooled before and I was happy with how she jumped, I just figure the more I get her out, the more confidence she will have. Which I hope will turn into less needing to be concerned about all the crazy things that may attack her. Fortunately, she's quite independent and not herd bound at all.

          Hopefully, the more you get your guy out, the more confidence he will have. The show jumper horses at my barn don't ever go anyplace other than their paddock or arenas, so if that is what he is used to, it may take him a while to get used to the great wide open. Good luck, I hope he comes around!
          Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


          • #6
            If he is obedient enough to go when and where you say you will be OK. If his spook and/or herdbound issues are stronger than his obedience you might have problems.

            My spooky spooky mare is now a hunter. She needed too much assessment time for "new and different" and couldn't think fast enough to be a good event horse.


            • #7
              You can overcome this to some degree (degree depending on the horse) and you have gotten a lot of good suggestions on how above.

              I just want to add that a horse such as this does not turn out to be a fun eventing horse for me because I, too, am an x-c chicken, tend to be spooky, and hate leaving the herd.... or at least the human equivalent! In all seriousness, this type of horse does not work out well for me because we feed of each other and eventually have a melt-down so it's important to know one's own limits and tendencies with a horse like this.
              "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals" Immanuel Kant


              • #8
                My gelding is quite spooky and a wimp, but loves to jump and has largely done okay (but OMG his first BN event! I do not think he looked at one fence in stadium because he was so busy looking at everything outside the ring! He stopped at pretty much every fence xc-- it was a very low-key unrecognized-- and eventually we parted company at the ditch.) We had a lot of one stop trips when we first moved up to Training, which is where the stuff Retread is talking about really started to come into play. And he still does things like
                this unexpectedly. You can't see it in the picture, but there was funny colored dirt in front of this fence so he was taking no chances! I'm pretty sure I said something completely inappropriate when I felt him start to take off 12 feet out, but at least my trainer wasn't there

                I think all you can really do is try it, and it might take time and a lot of patience, and it still might not work out. But that can be true of any horse.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Highflyer View Post
                  he still does things like
                  this unexpectedly. You can't see it in the picture, but there was funny colored dirt in front of this fence so he was taking no chances! I'm pretty sure I said something completely inappropriate when I felt him start to take off 12 feet out, but at least my trainer wasn't there
                  Wow, that horse can jump!
                  Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


                  • #10
                    My gelding who was spooky XC and not very brave, though a really good jumper, is the best fox hunter ever. Eventing him was no fun, hunting him is the best...they have to want to do it or it is no fun for anyone. You can only change so much with education, they are who they are in many cases...


                    • #11
                      Spooky I am ok with as long as spooky does not also equal stops or run outs. Some of the funnest horses I've ridden would spin and bolt in the other direction because of a poorly placed golf cart or bystander, but were totally game to jump. And while one of my all time favorite horses could be very looky, he was 100% reliable to get over the fence if he trusted you and you kicked like crazy. I had some super fun xc goes on him...and some sketchy looking ones, but I never doubted him because he would ALWAYS jump if I just kept kicking.

                      But herd bound and not brave, I'm probably less tolerant of. While a little bit of it as a green horse or even a little bit of it as they are older is fine as long as you know they are more willing to go with you than back to their friends, if it is a nappy, horrible battle every time you have to leave the warm up, the trailers, the barns, the start box...well, just not worth it in my book. There are a lot of fun horses out there to waste time with a horse who is telling you he wants a different career.


                      • #12
                        I agree with a few here who have said it isn't as fun if you are on a spooky, herd-bound horse that is "harder to ride"

                        I have to admit I have a point and shoot Morgan who is an angel and I have a BLAST on her (I was at the same Hunter Pace as JenM I started her myself when she was a coming 4 year old, and she is now 12 years old. She has NEVER been a spooky horse, and has always been willing.

                        I have to admit, for me, I wouldn't want a horse that was too difficult (whether that is spookiness, insecurity/unconfident, fire-breathing, what have you

                        I think if you are a strong, confident, experienced rider and you don't mind having to go through alot more "work" to ride/train - then you CAN get them going well.

                        Just seems alot harder with some than others I prefer to ENJOY my horses (sit back and relax and have fun) and appreciate not having them be "high maintainance" (or maybe I'm just lazy..hehehehe)
                        Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
                        **Morgans Do It All**


                        • #13
                          Oh, I have an XC chicken!! My greenie evented very successfully this past year, however, she is very spooky and not at all brave. And while we got around (and won quite a bit, thanks to our dressage), it was not always the prettiest round xc! Stadium was less spooky, but then, there aren't a lot of round bales with aliens...er, spectators...sitting on them in the stadium ring. I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt of being young and never having schooled at these places this year, BUT i suspect that she will not be the bold, enthusiastic xc ride that i would choose if i was buying them already going. And I suspect that as the questions become harder and more complicated that we will not have nearly as much success as we did this year.
                          IME, the best thing you can do is keep them in front of your leg and give them as much of a quiet, confident ride as possible, and hope that it rubs off on them


                          • #14
                            I wanted to chime in to say it depends.

                            My mare as a youngster (up until 6) was spooky, herdbound, and not very brave. I did my homework with her, suffering through a lot of verrrrrrry hairy trail rides , hauled her to a bunch of shows just to hack, and gave her a lot of positive, fun jumping experiences.

                            From about age 7 on, she has been a rockstar, clocking around all our xc courses with no stopping, looking or spooking. Trailriding can still occasionally be interesting, but no issues if there are jumps on the menu.


                            • #15
                              My somewhat-less-than-brave, herd bound 17yo ex grand prix dressage horse started out his eventing career with a stellar schooling trial where he refused to leave the start box then had 2 stops at the first jump because he was sideways looking at the trailers. Since then, I have just made sure that every time out of the box, I am positive, have my leg on and my whole ride says "go!". Since then, he has really turned on to XC and now really enjoys it. We still have the occasional sticky moment if we have to pass back by the trailers/barns but for the most part, he is fairly well self propelled these days. Good luck!


                              • #16
                                Sold him. Got really tired of having to school him endlessly and having to ride him around a x-c course like an angry German. Now have 2 mares that are brave, not spooky and not herd-bound. Way more fun!


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by slp2 View Post
                                  Sold him. Got really tired of having to school him endlessly and having to ride him around a x-c course like an angry German. Now have 2 mares that are brave, not spooky and not herd-bound. Way more fun!


                                  • #18
                                    She's now my dressage horse.

                                    Herd-bound I can live with as long as they GO. I can handle whinnying, a little wiggling leaving the start box, etc. but once they're rolling that should go away.

                                    Lots of sschooling solo, and hacking out will let you know if it's just the separation or if it's the XC itself. If it's the latter, I'd move on . . . at my age I only want to be out there on a horse that LOVES it.
                                    Click here before you buy.


                                    • #19
                                      you don't really know if it's fixable until you try it! So if you're willing to spend a lot of time working through the spooky/herdbound issues go for it! I'm currently in the same boat as you

                                      My overgrown pony neighs constantly but it doesn't effect his work- he keeps trucking a long and throws in a scream to anyone listening every so often. He's also Mr. What is that? But once he sees it he's golden.... soooo I think there is a future eventer hiding under the chicken suit he pretends to wear I know he's not a complete chicken because I've made him do some pretty hairy stuff!!! Like canter through a flock of canadian geese b/c they were in the riding arena and in our way! hahaha (the Pony didn't even blink an eye)

                                      Also making sure that he really trusts you...this is most important in a spooky horse... but hours in the saddle schooling through these issues is going to be the best way to tell, and not every horse will get over it, but it's a gamble (aren't all things related to horses???) and if you think he's worth it- do it!!!
                                      proud owner of a very pretty but completely useless horse (and one useful horse!)

                                      Horse Thoughts


                                      • #20
                                        Fleck was a little herdbound when I got him, although I wouldn't call him spooky by any means!! ha!! He's the horse that trips while walking and is like "Who tripped me"!

                                        But he was herdbound and just before I bought him he got eliminated at an event because he was anxious to get back to the herd. I spent many hours trail riding him out alone... just the two of us. He started off a little sticky and worried, but now.... we can school with a group, then leave that group and go off on our own. And he strikes out with a great forward walk looking for adventure

                                        Good luck!!!