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Will the spooking subside? just say yes!

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  • Will the spooking subside? just say yes!

    I think i'm in the club of people who ride horses that spook at only random effing stuff out on the trail in the forest loopy rein and just a real pleasure to ride. Out in a field, the 'horse eating hay bales' sent us sideways, or the paper plate nestled in the grass NOT moving will send us sideways lol

    HOWEVER! the truck and 5th wheel trailer coming down the road with kid hanging out the window yelling 'HORSIE HORSIE' did not bother her lol... kids running straight towards her and around her legs NO ISSUE

    There's simply no rhyme or reason for what she spooks at lol Now, i laugh because she is a sweet mare doing the spooking thing becuz she really hasnt been anywhere and is legitemately (sp?) curious bout the world and all i can do is ride her through it..

    BUT... does it get better!! We're most definantely doing our homework... trailered out to 3 different venues last week.

    Would just like the reassurance that it will get better lol thanks
    Carol and Princess Dewi


  • #2
    Any horse may spook at a strange, new or quick thing coming up they didn't expect, but it is HOW they do it that counts for us.

    I have a horse that is dead gentle, but when something new is there, he will spook big time sideways, then just stand there like nothing happened, it doesn't make him watchy or spooky or silly at all, he doesn't even breathe hard or shies again.
    What he does seems to be an innate reaction of first leave for Dodge, then look.
    Still, that rare time, he can dump you, he is extremely athetic, so I am not keeping him around, we need slow horses, even slower to spook if they do.
    I have another young one related to him that, when he spooks, he is like a cat, not a bomb and tries to stay under you and take you with him.
    I am keeping him.

    Now, we had a 17 year old that was still like the first one, anything spooking him, rare as it may be, he teleported.
    He had left enough unsuspecting people like a cartoon figure, sitting on thin air, nothing under them.

    Those were cutting horses, bred to be that kind of quick and athletic, which most other horses are not.

    So, if your mare spooks with reason and it is controllable, she will spook less and less and become even more easy to ride thru the fewer spooks, that are normal for a young, inexperienced horse.


    • #3
      How are you handling the spooks? That, imho, is what really determines whether they get better. In my world, spooking = more work. A spook, or preferrably the hint that there will be a spook, is a one-way ticket to lateral work, forward motion, circles, whatever the horse in question finds difficult, and whatever is appropriate for our current location. I also work on approaching the spooky object - work lets up for a willingness to go take a look.

      As a result, my spooky boy will now often move closer to spooky things on his own.

      Takes time, but has always worked for me.
      One of the lessons of history is that Nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.
      - Will Durant


      • #4
        I don't have an answer, but you're not alone. I'm working through the Purple Bucket of DEATH (zomg!!!) (TM) incidents daily with a young horse and ever since he decided that bucket was coming for him, everything else is too. I'm praying to the gods every single day that it's a 4 year old thing and that his bean-brains will turn into real brains one day. The unfortunate part is that he only seems to spook when nobody else is around to see it, and it makes me look like I'm hallucinating these things. He obviously planned that
        Somewhere in the world, Jason Miraz is Goodling himself and wondering why "the chronicle of the horse" is a top hit. CaitlinAndTheBay


        • Original Poster

          the spooks are at worst 4-5 sideways jumps (she's just quick with them)... then she wants to stand and look lol ... all i do is keep her working, send her forward and put her back to work. I dont make a big deal out of it, but yep going forward/to work is the ride through the spooks.

          the experiences of the green horse lol i'm sure we could write a book on it!
          Carol and Princess Dewi



          • #6
            Ha! Yes, it will get better. You will learn to ride sideways very well.

            My old draft cross was one of those random spookers. Four-wheelers? No problem. Lead the trail ride? Sure. OMG TIRE-LYING-IN-THE-WOODS? We're soooouttahere!

            Anybody that thought they'd make him work extra for spooking? They'd need a lot more leg than I've got.

            But I got real good at riding a lateral spook. So yes, in that sense, it got better. This has since proved a very valuable skill, so I'm grateful to the old gentleman for teaching it to me.
            I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


            • #7
              My mare used to be the spookiest thing on the planet when I first got her as a 5 year old. She would climb halfway up the side of a hill to avoid a cow, and would spook at odd looking trees or rocks. Now she's 8 and is great on the trails and in the arena, and is fine either in a group or on her own. Flock of turkeys flying out of the bushes, construction equipment? No problem. Just be patient and never give up and let her avoid going by the scary thing.


              • #8
                We once brought home a "family safe kid horse" that we had tried out, bought from a well-known trainer, vetted, brought to our barn and... he was scared of the dirt in one of the arenas. Seriously. What a dork.
                You just never know what will set off alarm bells in those brains.
                At least you can work with the horse; our horse was not appropriate for a kid after all and we sent him back, minus a re-stocking fee...

                BTW, this was a 4 year old horse (yes, what was I thinking) that was supposed to be a nice kid horse, LOL. So, I'm sure his confidence level improved with an adult rider & at 9 years old he's probably awesome.
                Hang in there! Yes, it will get better.


                • #9
                  Ha! I rode a hot arab mare and my buddies used to ask me to canter ahead just so they could see the "pinball wizard" spook from side to side as she cantered down the trail.

                  Then, one day on the first ride of the year after a winter off, she simply walked down the trail and never was a freak again. She was 10 though!

                  I miss her. I used to love the excitement and I sure learned how to stick a spook!


                  • #10
                    Well, my mare is 16 and still rather spooky. But, she doesn't do anything dangerous so I laugh and tell people "no, she won't outgrow it." She has the occasional VERY dirty spook (drop her shoulder and spin) when we are riding behind my house alone - that is not so funny. But, luckily I seem to be good at riding spooks and also know not to ride her on the buckle outside of the arena until I know she is relaxed.

                    I have another mare that was PETRIFIED of pretty much the ENTIRE world when she was young. She is 10 now and much, much better than she used to be. With her, the whole thing was she had zero self-confidence. Now, she trusts me and has "been around the block" several times, so to speak, so she is not such a big scaredy-cat. She still will get scared of things but not every single new thing in the world. She always became a statue when she was scared and would. not. move. Was rather embarrassing but at least it was safe - LOL!

                    My 5-yr-old mare was born a brave soul and there is very little she is scared of.

                    So, lots of times, it is just their personality. Yes, it will probably get better but there is also a chance that she is just spooky by nature and it may always be there just a little.


                    • #11
                      Man, I have a spookasaurus also. I love her to pieces! She's 8, got her in Feb. She was the first horse I was nervous to lead! Not because she was mean, she spooked all over the place when leading her, the gate, the trailer, that trailer, the rock, the turkey, the firepit, the hitching post, good Lord! We got over that REAL QUICK, I wasn't dealing with that so we had a few discussions and now she leads like a dream.

                      Now, trail riding, even though gaiting along a good clip, it always felt like she had her parking brake on. She was always ready to fly sideways, THEN, while your balanced in the spook position, she would leap back TOWARDS what spooked her, and then bolt forward. Wow! Talk about being caught off guard! The first few times I was riding with different people, they were all like "WTH was that?!" I don't know HOW I haven't come off. You know how you brace during a side spook? You lower your center of gravity and lean you shoulders in that direction, hip a little off towards what was the spook, and then to have them jump BACK while your that way realllllllllly throws you off balance (and off guard!) and then she would bolt forward.

                      It's been a few months and a few hundred trail miles and she is a world better! Still side spooks, just not as much, not as hard and doesn't spook back anymore or bolt.

                      Now, we're working on golf carts and ATV's as those she still does spook but she then spins and tries to bolt, I bring her back, she spins again, I bring her back, soon we're closer and closer and she's a shivering, shaking mess. God bless her. Soon, I keep saying, soon....
                      I want a signature but I have nothing original to say except: "STHU and RIDE!!!

                      Wonderful COTHER's I've met: belleellis, stefffic, snkstacres and janedoe726.


                      • #12
                        My now 5 y.o. appendix used to be a chronic spooker both on the ground and under saddle. I distinctly remember the first time I put a pair of open front boots on him. There was a melt down when I removed the first strap. The sound of that velcro was going to KILL him. Can't say I was expecting that. Took a half hour with a piece of velcro being ripped on and off in front of his face for me to be able to get the boots OFF.

                        That was when he was three. Noises were the ultimate enemy. His 4 y.o. year was a bit better, but he really turned a corner this past year. Mind you I spent the last 9 months hauling him some place or another on pretty much a weekly basis. Not a lot phases him anymore. He'll still look at stuff on occasion, but it's just that, looking, not blindly scrambling to run from whatever it is that catches his eye/ear. So much more pleasant to ride!

                        I think it has a lot to do with trust and he's not a real trusting kind of guy by nature. Took me a long while to gain it. It seems to me that he figures I'm not going to lead him to danger now, so he doesn't feel the need to be on edge anymore.


                        • #13
                          Maybe your horse won't grow out of it, but you will be amazed at how good you become at being able to see a possible "set off" before horsie does. next thing you know you will be an expert sideways rider, horsie will notice you aren't worried about it anymore and hopefully will settle a bit.

                          My friend had a OTTB that would go into fits over something like a squirrel crossing his path, but a big rig could rush past and he wouldn't even flick an ear. I saw him do it!! We had to cross a busy road during a trail ride(we were young and stupid at this time) and the truck really was right there barreling up the road and he stood there totally bored while my horse spun and bolted!

                          Had another friend who's OTTB would bolt with her if we were riding in the woods near the public wave pool. They rang a bell when they would start the waves and it sounded just like the bells when the starting gates open! It was pretty funny.
                          Check us out on Facebook at EVER AFTER FARM


                          • #14
                            Yep, it'll get better. Sadie used to prop, drop a shoulder, and spin toward the dropped shoulder, and I would come flying off durn near every time. She had a variation where she put her chin on the ground while propping and starting the spin, so that i could come off or nearly off and land on the saddle horn. (cured me of riding Western.) She would booger at things she thought were there, but would calmly go right around trains, trucks, tractors, chainsaws, bulldozers in full throttle advancing toward her.

                            Some of the worst spooks involved my neighbor's witless dog, a foolish animal who likes to burst out of the woods and head straight for a horse's face to give dog kisses.

                            Last time he tried this Sadie propped, started the drop and spin, and then seemed to say, oh, shoot, if I do that I'll lose Jeano, and got back under me again. For about the past two years she's been really careful to take me with her when she goes sideways, and the spin is pretty much now out of her repertoire.

                            She is still looky. I call her the Safety Horse because she is so suspicious. A verbal reassurance from me will almost always get her over herself. She's eleven now, and was seven when I got her. I'm REALLY glad I didnt know her when she was three and four.....


                            • #15
                              Oh, I don't know. This probably isn't what you want to hear but my 18 year old spooks just as much as he ever did. He is dead broke 95% of the time, but when he spooks, he really spooks. He is also still quite athletic when he wants to be.

                              When we were both younger I used to ride him out lots and lots and he never got over the spooking there either. We had to cross a one lane bridge at our old barn, and even on the 300th time or so we crossed it he would still do a few good jumps.

                              Fortunately many of them are not ones to unseat me, just annoying, but every now and then he teleports and I hit the dirt.


                              • #16
                                My horse is 15 and spooks quite a bit (sorry ). One thing I have noticed a few times, however, is that if his girth isn't quite tight enough and he does a big spook of the jump-and-plant variety, he becomes much more spooky afterwards - the saddle moves forward and presses on his withers. If I get off, move the saddle back, and tighten the girth, he becomes much quieter. Now I make sure to always check my girth after the first mile or so.

                                So you might want to make sure your saddle fits well and doesn't slip around when he spooks.
                                RIP Victor... I'll miss you, you big galumph.


                                • #17
                                  I also would say it may not be that the horse becomes less inherently spooky, but the rider becomes more able to anticipate a spook, and deal with it if it happens. Maresy had a big spook in her when I bought her, of the "jump sideways and then stop and look" variety. If she could not go sideways, she'd pick up her front feet. Over time, and with a lot of training, we got used to each other. Some of that training was taking her out and finding things for her to spook at, and riding through it/preventing it. Also, around age 11, she FINALLY grew up and I no longer get asked if she is a green 4 year old.

                                  I am not saying we don't have trouble sometimes. She is laid up right now, and on her hand walks she's normally good, but the shavings trailer she has now walked past 60 zillion time still gets the hairy eyeball, and a big spook if there is someone inside it making noise. But those hand walks started a few months ago with her being extremely bored and looking for things to spook at, so I'm actually pretty happy with how she is doing now.

                                  She will always be looky -- that is just who she is. But the spooky stuff is way down now.
                                  You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                                  1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                                  • #18
                                    I purchased a spooky horse right before he turned five. He just turned 12 and is still very spooky. Sorry.

                                    I think it depends on the horse, the rider and the situations you can put them in (and live through). My horse got A LOT less spooky when he started living in pasture 24/7. And the more I can get him out and seeing stuff, the better. If I can find a buddy to go with, better for me because then he's less likely to spin and bolt. Ear bunnies also help him a lot. He no longer has to wear them all the time, but if you know him, you can tell the difference of with/without even on a "good" day.

                                    I agree with the "put them to work" philosophy. If he's working hard, he's way less spooky.
                                    Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                                    Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"


                                    • Original Poster

                                      ... i guess for now i'll succomb to being the rider people laugh at while my greenie continues to spook lol

                                      Apparently i'm lucky so far that she hasnt been bolting!! Altho, i can almost feel that bolt in her (waving tarp on end of arena lol almost felt like a bolt, we didnt get anywhere NEAR that tarp btw) circled closer and closer till her little eyes rolled back in her head lol still nowhere near it lol

                                      so, i love the stories tho! What else can you do besides laugh about them spooks lol i'm due to hit the dirt anyway I dont expect to completely lose the spook, but i'd definantely like a more civilized spook lol if thats at all possible
                                      Carol and Princess Dewi



                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by howardh View Post
                                        Ha! I rode a hot arab mare and my buddies used to ask me to canter ahead just so they could see the "pinball wizard" spook from side to side as she cantered down the trail.