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Spooky horses in the hunters?

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  • Spooky horses in the hunters?

    Curious as to how many here have or have ridden a spooky horse in the hunters successfully? What did you do as a rider to help with the issue? My new horse is very very looky, not naughty (no spinning, bolting, bucking, etc) at all and not nervous, just likes to really look at stuff backs off a bit. He is quite green so I hope this will improve with regular work ( he is getting regular pro rides too). In the meantime, I would love to hear some positive stories of how others have dealt with a spooky horse.

    Oh, and he has been looked at by a vet and no vision or soundness issues. I think he's just a looky horse.

  • #2
    Sometimes it is impossible to prevent a spook, but try to make sure your horse is always paying attention and listening.
    Sarah A. Ward

    Washington and Lee University Riding

    Comment


    • #3
      Probably not what you want to hear, but I dealt with my spooky hunter by selling him as a dressage horse. They are much more forgiving of spooks.

      Honestly, I really wanted to keep the horse. We tried everything to make him more relaxed, but it's just who he was.

      He's much happier now, and so am I.

      Just a question...is your horse chestnut with lots of chrome? There's an old wives tale about spooky redheads. Mine fit the stereotype. Just wondering if yours does too.
      ~ Citizens for a Kinder, Gentler COTH...our mantra: Be nice. ~

      Comment


      • #4
        I have a chestnut with lots of chrome that I did in the eq but also toyed around with and won in the junior hunters in. He's spooky but I just rode through it and it actually made him jump that much better.
        There ARE supplements to make them relax. Not shots, supplements.

        Comment


        • #5
          I dealt with riding a spooky horse in hunters by learning to ride without stirrups http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pi...&id=1293060230

          This picture was taken at an A show doing children's hunters. The photographer's flash sent him wild, threw a buck and galloped around the course. But we got around and I finished the course (without stirrups). It was embarrassing but he was a cute horse and fun to ride. Next round, spooked at the photographer again. After that we asked for no flash on him, which sadly meant no pictures, but he was great after that and picked up ribbons. He was also prone to peeking at jumps and look around the arena, sometimes spooking at walls. I just rode him forward with lots of reassuring leg and tried my best to simply ignore his spooks. Not sure if I would like that behavior long term, but he was a green project and his new owner seems quite happy with him.

          So I don't have much useful advice, except watch out for photographers! and that's what schooling rounds are for.

          Comment


          • #6
            Age and show experience should help your horse.
            Bought my horse at age 3 and spooked at everything.
            Now at 5, he's sailing around the show ring like a pro.
            Give him some time to grow up.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by SkipChange View Post
              I dealt with riding a spooky horse in hunters by learning to ride without stirrups http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pi...&id=1293060230

              This picture was taken at an A show doing children's hunters. The photographer's flash sent him wild, threw a buck and galloped around the course. But we got around and I finished the course (without stirrups). It was embarrassing but he was a cute horse and fun to ride. Next round, spooked at the photographer again. After that we asked for no flash on him, which sadly meant no pictures, but he was great after that and picked up ribbons. He was also prone to peeking at jumps and look around the arena, sometimes spooking at walls. I just rode him forward with lots of reassuring leg and tried my best to simply ignore his spooks. Not sure if I would like that behavior long term, but he was a green project and his new owner seems quite happy with him.

              So I don't have much useful advice, except watch out for photographers! and that's what schooling rounds are for.
              OMG your leg is amazing!
              You're my "no-stirrup" hero ahha!
              BeesKnees
              Hunters should be galloping - George Morris

              Comment


              • #8
                With more experiance he should get better. If you are a nervous rider then it will be a lot harder, if not impossible. Spooky horses need a brave rider and pick up on nerves very easily. They also tend to be a lot more sensitive. Schooling over different "things" helps a lot, not just your regular schooling poles. I went to my local dollar store and got many "different" things like bright colours, funny shapes, buckets and hay bales are great too. Be creative! Get some plants or small trees that are growing where they should not be and pull them out, put them under or beside the fence. The trick is since you know he is probably going to spook or back off try to make him get over it the first time so he knows if its funny looking he still has to jump it. Start small and school over it till it gets boring. School over many "different" looking kinds of jumps. Don't get anything that could make noise in the wind or when hit.

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                • #9
                  Hi, is he spooky at everything or just at/mostly at the jumps? In general, desensitization is a wonderful tool. . . I had a very fancy, very spooky young one (but only at the jumps). He would jumps so high and hard over a tiny crossrail he wouldnt want to jump it the next time, because he'd scare himself. This is what I did to build his confidence - I got a very long lead shank, put all the jumps low enough so I could step over them, and I led him around and over EVERYthing - for about 3 weeks. We worked up to trotting in hand over any jump, including the liverpool. We'd turn him loose in the ring while we built a new course every week too. Everyone thought I was crazy, but you know what? He jumps anything, anytime, any distance now!
                  Dina
                  www.olddominionsaddlery.com
                  http://www.facebook.com/olddominionsaddlery Like us on Facebook!!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SkipChange View Post
                    I dealt with riding a spooky horse in hunters by learning to ride without stirrups http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pi...&id=1293060230

                    This picture was taken at an A show doing children's hunters. The photographer's flash sent him wild, threw a buck and galloped around the course. But we got around and I finished the course (without stirrups). It was embarrassing but he was a cute horse and fun to ride. Next round, spooked at the photographer again. After that we asked for no flash on him, which sadly meant no pictures, but he was great after that and picked up ribbons. He was also prone to peeking at jumps and look around the arena, sometimes spooking at walls. I just rode him forward with lots of reassuring leg and tried my best to simply ignore his spooks. Not sure if I would like that behavior long term, but he was a green project and his new owner seems quite happy with him.

                    So I don't have much useful advice, except watch out for photographers! and that's what schooling rounds are for.


                    that's awesome! and makes me want to do a lot more no stirrup work!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      JMO A looky hunter is a good hunter, they will jump everything there best everytime.. and with leg to back it up and show mileage you'll have something nice. My junior hunter always looked at the jumps like he had never seen them before.. but, he wouldn't ever stop, on top of it all he had a great expression. So, personally i have no problems with a spooky horse.
                      Courtney Palmer
                      "Laurentide"
                      "Pandora"
                      RIP "Noble Gesture"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My successful Adult Hunter from years ago was very spooky. Much more so at home though, definitly to the point of ridiculous...at times he would spook all the way to the arena at the farm. All the spooking was non-jump related though...

                        When he got to the shows he was much better. And again it was never jump related and he never stopped (well once due to slick conditions on the grass but he more slid to the jump and managed to stop than an actual refusal) and he marched around Eastern States (champion there 2 yrs in a row) and major shows such as WEF, Ox Ridge etc... His only not so great show indoors was at Washington in the very first Marshall and Sterling Hunter Finals. He was eyeing all the banners and the blinking lights at the restaurant at the far end. He did jump around there but we were a low score. He won a couple of those Classics though at other shows and also did the First Year Greens in FL as well.

                        It was a challenge certainly but he was fun and had great qualities such as a super long step and lopey easy canter...

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Thanks for all the encouragement, it's great to hear some success stories. It's funny because he's actually more spooky hacking around the jumps in the ring..........looks at them like they are going to eat him or something and much less spooky when ridden down to the jump and actually jumping it. You can really tell that he wants to jump the jump, doesn't feel like he wants to stop at all. The good thing is that it is a really slow spook, more like a slow bulge away from what he is looking at. My last horse was scared to death of all the flowers at the shows so I got very good at making flower boxes and other scarey things. Time to go to Wal-Mart!

                          He does have a beautiful expression and is a very good mover so I hope that I can learn to give him the ride he needs. He's definitely a project so I am in no hurry. I am sticking to flatwork and letting my trainer do most of the jumping for now, so he gets a consistant good pro ride and builds confidence to the jumps.

                          I don't have any experience with supplements that would help this. What would you recommend? I'm not opposed to trying something if it's safe and not crazy expensive (and I am not talking about drugs, that I won't do).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MintHillFarm View Post
                            My successful Adult Hunter from years ago was very spooky. Much more so at home though, definitly to the point of ridiculous...at times he would spook all the way to the arena at the farm. All the spooking was non-jump related though...

                            When he got to the shows he was much better. And again it was never jump related and he never stopped (well once due to slick conditions on the grass but he more slid to the jump and managed to stop than an actual refusal) and he marched around Eastern States (champion there 2 yrs in a row) and major shows such as WEF, Ox Ridge etc... His only not so great show indoors was at Washington in the very first Marshall and Sterling Hunter Finals. He was eyeing all the banners and the blinking lights at the restaurant at the far end. He did jump around there but we were a low score. He won a couple of those Classics though at other shows and also did the First Year Greens in FL as well.

                            It was a challenge certainly but he was fun and had great qualities such as a super long step and lopey easy canter...

                            Oh my, I think I have your horse's twin...lol. I think he is going to make a heck of a hunter derby horse, because he doesnt spook at the jumps, but is spooky enought to be brilliant.
                            "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
                            carolprudm

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My mare was really spooky at home, but is getting better. At the shows I've found a few things really help:

                              A few minutes on the lunge line - mostly to get rid of nervous energy. Do more trotting, and let the horse play if they want - keep lunging until they will stretch down and relax - switch directions every 5 minutes or so.

                              Lots of hand walking around the horse show - put the chain over the nose, carry a crop -- this is all to make sure they are paying attention to you and respecting your personal space.

                              When riding -- either at home but especially at the show -- think forward forward forward -- try to ride in a ring where you can do circles, change direction (without running into people), transitions, anything to get their attention on to you.

                              Here's one secret -- my horse is less spooky at the show than at home, I think because there is so much to look at at the horse show, they can't fixate on one thing as much.

                              Keep your eyes up, heels down, and you'll work it out!!!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Laura855 View Post
                                Thanks for all the encouragement, it's great to hear some success stories. It's funny because he's actually more spooky hacking around the jumps in the ring..........looks at them like they are going to eat him or something and much less spooky when ridden down to the jump and actually jumping it. You can really tell that he wants to jump the jump, doesn't feel like he wants to stop at all. The good thing is that it is a really slow spook, more like a slow bulge away from what he is looking at.
                                Sounds just like my horse! She loves to look at things, especially when the jumps have moved or are freshly decorated. Canter to it to jump and she's happy as a clam. My solution is to give her more things to do (leg yield, shoulder in, change in gait, etc.) in order to get her mind off of thinking scary thoughts. At shows she REALLY looks but is almost climbing into your lap begging for guidance. Using ear puffs have really helped her tremendously! I think she has a slight ADD tendency and I've been told the ear puff sit on an accupressure point that relaxes the horse.

                                Good luck! My horse jumps great when she goes into the show ring without schooling fences. Just needs a very supportive leg and accurate ride.
                                "Beware the hobby that eats."
                                Benjamin Franklin

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  So it sounds like you have a new horse? Congrats - and give us the details!
                                  www.retiredhorses.com
                                  Blogging about daily life on the retirement farm: http://paradigmfarms.blogspot.com/
                                  Paradigm Farms on Facebook

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                                  • #18
                                    Save your money on the supplements. He is just a looky youngster and you will just need to get the miles on him...no supplement "cures" greeness unless it's full of valerian or something. There is no deficiency of anything except miles.

                                    Just make sure you NEVER, EVER let him stop and sniff stuff. He has to keep going. Even if you have to go to another part of the ring and do something else, he has to keep going, he may not stop and you are not getting off. Do that and you reward the spook and that is impossible to train out of them.

                                    And the best ones are Looky...just go look at Rumba's rounds. I bet that one has a real spook in there too...turned into expression and brilliance by great riding and training.
                                    I'll take the spook over the deadhead any day.
                                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I like a leg yield for a horse like the OP's who looooooooooks at stuff but doesn't explode. It's great because you can feel it coming when they puff up and bulge to one side. So I just give them a little touch with the opposite leg and ask them for a couple of steps toward the scary object. It usually distracts them just enough.

                                      Now, the exploders, I have no love for.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Findeight: this is exaclty what my trainer says........."more forward and don't let him get behind your leg, just keep going". I also have to remind myself to quit trying to have everything be perfect right now and not worry if his head is up a bit or if the bend isn't perfect. The eq horse I have been riding has spoiled me and I need to get back into baby green mode!

                                        LH: my last mare sounds a lot like yours. She could be super spooky at home, especially if something got moved (that trash can wasn't there yesterday....EEEK!) and handled the show envirenment very well. I remember one day at home a garbage bag had gotten stuck agains the arena fence in the wind and she absolutely refused to go to that end of the ring. I finally got her to work a bit so I could get off and turned her out in the ring. She immediately ran to the "scarey" end, grabbed the bag in her mouth and ran around like a lunatic with it! I swear she was laughing at me the whole time.

                                        Thankfully my new horse is a sweet gelding and doesn't have the alpha mare attitude!

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