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Spinoff: What is it about arena doors?

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  • Spinoff: What is it about arena doors?

    I thought my horse was the only one stupid enough to shy at the arena door to the outside - for a long time I would get a very large spook, total distraction, and the feeling that his eyes were popping out of his head as we approached. I've noticed lately that mine must not be the only one - in the "unplanned dismount" thread someone mentioned the horse thinks the "Gates O'Hell" are outside the door and I've seen other mentions too.

    I've worked for 6 months to get Mr Nitwit over this and we seem to be almost there. Just curious why you all think they are nuts about the door - is it a vision thing, prior bad experiences, or just general nuttiness?

    What seems to help the most with my guy is to just ride him to the door and let him stand there and look for a few minutes. Why this works is a mystery to me - most of the time he has just come through the door from the paddock but if it works, I do it.

    Stories? Hints?

  • #2
    One of my geldings hates indoor arenas with a fiery passion and is extra insane about certain doors. At our old barn he would ride just fine past the two doors that led to the main barn aisles. However, in the 3 1/2 years we were there, I never got him to completely stop giving the single door that led to the storage side of the barn the hairy eyeball. I tried everything to get him over it but eventually I just accepted the fact that his brain shut off for the 2 strides that it took him to pass it. It was pretty ridiculous considering this horse can have birds, plastic bags, and small children explode out of nowhere and not bat an eye.

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    • #3
      I've had a couple of horses like that --- they were sure that directly outside the arena doors, whether they were open or closed, were huge horse-eating monsters with a 6' wingspan, and they were BIG and PURPLE. Made some spectacular unintentional dismounts thanks to those monsters. One was a QH, one an App, both had a few screws loose. Never could figure out the reason or how to correct it --- some horses just have a personal vendetta against arena doors!

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      • #4
        Ugh. I have been having the same problem with my boy this winter. No idea why. This is the first winter he's done it. And the really funny thing is that he's OK going by the door at a flat walk. Not so good at a collected walk, and really not so good at a faster gait. And it only bothers him going one way. That said, once we get past the first freak out it is only the hairy eyeball after that.
        What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

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        • #5
          Mine's like that. I think it's because the doors move/creak a little more than the...walls, I guess, and sometimes stuff comes through them. If I leave the door open the scary thing is that there is stuff! Out there! That can be seen!

          What helps is redirecting attention to the inside, and to me. I don't let her stare at the door, and if she fights it she can make little circles right by the door looking to the inside until she decides it's not that interesting after all. Most days just a tap with the inside leg is enough, but sometimes we have to circle.
          Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia

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          • #6
            Personally I think it's not safe to have the track running right alongside arena doors. I walked in through a man door once and spooked the horse on the track plus scared myself pretty good - nothing like walking in front of a cantering horse that's oh, 20 feet away.

            I've never had the problem anywhere else though, except we did have the shavings pile in the corner at one, and the guys would dig away at it and eventually the part up against the wall would avalanche down. One horse I rode could NOT take that, I was better off turning him to face the other way - but in all honesty I think he picked it up from me and we had a feedback loop going - he saw it, got tense, and I felt him get tense, tightened up, etc.
            Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
            Incredible Invisible

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            • #7
              Originally posted by oliverreed View Post
              Ugh. I have been having the same problem with my boy this winter. No idea why. This is the first winter he's done it. And the really funny thing is that he's OK going by the door at a flat walk. Not so good at a collected walk, and really not so good at a faster gait. And it only bothers him going one way. That said, once we get past the first freak out it is only the hairy eyeball after that.
              I think this is pretty common, many horses have a dominant eye so they are more likely to spook from one direction and not the other.

              My mare is actually better when the doors are open. She is so claustrophobic that she can't stand closed doors.
              “You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take.” - Wayne Gretsky

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              • #8
                Well, I spoke too soon. Last night was the worst ever. Maybe because it was pouring outside. Made me seriously reconsider riding when no one is around other than the live-in assistant trainer. Her apartment is right next to/above the indoor, though.
                What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

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                • #9
                  Partly I think it's the sudden change from "wall, wall, wall, wall, OH CRAP THERE'S STUFF". Partly, I think it's also a rider mentality. We've all heard stories of horses who spook at the doors, even if our horse never has before, so we prepare for the spooks, the horse feels us doing that, and then starts thinking there must be something worthy of spooking.

                  And sometimes they do it because they can.

                  The only time I've seen what I'd consider a legitimate spook is either when someone popped up suddenly by the open arena door as a horse was coming by (and this is why in my old barn everyone had to yell "Door!" as they got near it to give both rider and horse warning someone was out there) and one time, on the other end at the back of the arena just outside was the shavings pile. Which had a tarp over it to keep the shavings dry. And the tarp got a little blown up by a gust of wind and the horse saw it and spooked.

                  Anyway, my point really is I feel like a big part of it is more psychological among riders than necessarily an actual horse problem.
                  The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
                  Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.

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                  • #10
                    Well, in my case, I disagree. I had no idea anyone else's horse spooked at arena doors until the OP started this thread. And he really IS actually really, really scared. I can tell the difference.
                    What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

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