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Scary horse show..what would make a horse rear?

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  • Scary horse show..what would make a horse rear?

    So we decided to take Andy (8yr old TB/Paint) to his 3rd horse show today (an open schooling show). He wouldn't load (horse trailer not usual one we use and was narrow and low), so horse show was close enough for him to be walked over. As I was getting ready to take him in a halter class, my mother took him over by the ring..next thing I know I see him running loose around the outside of the ring. Apparently another horse spooked, Andy spooked, knocked my mother over and got away. Caught and calmed down, I took him in class and he was fine. Then my mother wanted to take him in a w/t class to see how he was (I'm on coumadin so she is extremely protective of me), so she tacked up and got on. Just as she got on, he seemed hot, she said watch the step stool, and next thing I know he is spooking backwards, she is on his neck, and then he rears straight up and backwards, completely over, with my mom also. She gets up and says she's ok (she's 59), then she insists on getting back on him. She did, but said he felt like he wanted to blow so she got right off and that was the end of the show day for us.
    He has never reared before, so this absolutely caught us by surprise. He has a tendency to easily spook and be nervous (he is part tb ), but we can usually work it out of him. He was also yelling a lot at the show, which is not typical of him, he is usually very quiet. He also had a small lump just off the right side of his back, which we thought might have been just a bug bite, but don't know if this affected him.
    So, anyone else ever have this happen, or have any insight to this strange behavior? I know he needs more show experience, but I was at least able to ride him at the last 2, but not this one.

  • #2
    Quite possible he was just having a really bad day? I've had my horse for 15 yeas, only fell of him once. Out of the blue he spooked and ran sideways, never did that before and never did again. It was just a freak of a day.

    Glad your mom didn't get hurt.
    To ride or not to ride; what a stupid question!


    • #3
      I certainly wouldn't blame it on him being"part tb ". I'd look for another cause.
      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


      • #4
        Well, I can tell you from experience that some horses need to go hang out at lots of shows before they settle down. Especially this time of year when it is cold and many horses are fresh.

        My advice would be to take him to lots of these schooling shows just to hang out. Don't set him up for failure. Just go hang out by the ring and deal with him. When he does settle, praise him, give him treats...do whatever to make it a pleasant experience. Maybe do the halter class and then hang out some more. Flipping over backwards is likely to have caused him even more anxiety next time you go, so I would take GIANT steps backward and treat him like the baby he still is mentally.

        Another thing...some horses are helped by having a calm quiet friend along, if that is an option for you.


        • #5
          Just a guess but I imagine the rear was a reaction to your Mom being on his neck. He is used to people on his back presumably but not there. Next time have someone hold his head before anyone mounts him.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
            I certainly wouldn't blame it on him being"part tb ". I'd look for another cause.
            I second this!
            Was this his first time at the farm where the show was held? Maybe he just needed a little more time to chill out and take everything in?
            My CANTER cutie Chip and IHSA shows!


            • #7
              Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
              I certainly wouldn't blame it on him being"part tb ". I'd look for another cause.
              Took the words right out of my mouth (and considering my FULL TB is one of the quietest horses in the barn, that "part tb" comment bugged me just a bit ).

              This just didn't sound like a good day, and sounds like he needs to get out and about and just hang out and relax at shows. Some horses go to their first shows and act like they've been doing it all their lives, some take some time to get them to settle and learn how to deal with a new environment. Others never get it. I'd suggest take him out lots more, but just go and hang out, maybe lunge him in a quiet corner of the show grounds. Let him hang out ring side and watch (but you may want to keep him a bit away from the commotion at first if he's going to be highly reactive). May also want to think about having someone very, very experienced and confident ride him a couple of times so that they can ride him through moments when he feels like he's going to "blow".

              While I HATE it when horses rear, often times non-rearers will rear once, lose their balance, fall, and never do it again because they scared themselves so badly. Don't worry about it too much, but keep an eye out for any type of that behavior so it can be dealt with swiftly.


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                I certainly wouldn't blame it on him being"part tb ". I'd look for another cause.
                Just to clarify, I wasn't blaming his behavior today on his part TB, was just explaining his hotness/spookiness at times, as he does get a TB attitude somtimes.

                I agree it may have been my mom slipping to his neck, but his typical reaction if someone falls on his neck is to lower his head and buck, never rear backwards.
                Thanks for concern about my mom, I was really concerned (since my father recently passed away, I wouldn't be able to deal with something happening to my mom)
                It was just a weird attitude for him in general - he has never behaved like this, and like I said, NEVER reared up with someone on his back. Didn't know if anyone else had experienced it.

                It was also a little traumatizing to me, to see both my horse and my mother flipping over backwards.


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by To the MAX View Post
                  I second this!
                  Was this his first time at the farm where the show was held? Maybe he just needed a little more time to chill out and take everything in?
                  This was his 3rd show, at the same place. We walked him around again, got him familiar, and I also took him in a halter class to get him used to being in the ring. He was fine then. But like I said, he was just not acting like his normal self as far as the yelling for other horses, which he never does.

                  I totally understand that he needs more experience at shows and just to be there and experience it, my main question was whether anyone had experienced a horse just rearing up and over out of the blue.


                  • #10
                    It sounds to ME like this horse needs to go back to kindergarten. He should be more aware of the owner/handler then other horses. If he truly respected your space he wouldn't have knocked mom down and gotten away from her. Likewise, he shouldn't be rearing or bucking. He has no respect for you guys and that's why he's having issues.

                    Now, I know horses change completely at shows. I wasn't born yesterday But if you have their respect at home, and then you get to the show with "a different horse" you can go back to the basics to get the horse focused back on you, and then go from there.

                    I know a lot of people are going to roll their eyes here, but I think some of the natural horsemen such as Clinton Anderson or John Lyons have some GREAT groundwork exercises to utilize to gain more respect....and they are from the ground so you're not getting on the horse and risking getting killed!

                    Also, I would never lunge the piss & vinegar out of a horse like this. I know of many trainers who would, but I think lunging at high speeds for a horse like this would make him more keyed up and more likely to hurt you or himself.

                    Good luck. I'm glad you guys are okay!


                    • #11
                      I would first have him vet checked. There's probably nothing wrong but it never hurts (especially since he did go over.)

                      Then, I agree with just taking him to these shows to hang out and relax. Maybe do a halter/showmanship class, walk him around, get him used to the kind of activities that go on at a show. My horse was a complete basket case his first time "away", and no, lunging did NOT help! Eventually he simply got the idea that this was not THAT scary. It sounds like your guy was having a bad day to start with (I have to say, walking distance or no, if mine had refused completely to load, we would have spent the day on that--hence my suggestion you get the vet in, as if he's normally not that bad a loader, it sounds like he was off to begin with, different trailer notwithstanding.) So now he needs a reboot.

                      And no, I don't think it's any kind of "respect" issue. Your mom's instinct to get back on was correct for both of them (and your mom is way tougher than I am, I might add.) ANY horse can flip out, and unless he's absolutely TERRIFIED of you and convinced that whatever's scaring him is still better than whatever you'd do to him if he bolted, any horse will take off in the right circumstances. He's a large animal with a highly-tuned flight instinct.

                      The rearing would be my biggest concern. And again, if he seemed "wrong" all day...might be nothing, might be a mare in heat and he's feeling studdish (my gelding would pull this once in a while, though generally that just meant he picked on other geldings and made a doofus of himself around the mare), might be a funny smell in the air... It also might be something hurt or felt weird. I don't mean to scare you but one of the earliest EPM symptoms my horse had was going into a sweat, refusing to hold still, and finally rearing and bolting from the farrier one day--he never had a problem before that, and after he settled down he was fine again, and totally normal the next day. If the behavior's that anomalous, it really should get checked by a vet. Can't hurt, might help.
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                      • Original Poster

                        dancer..thanks for the tips...I was considering the vet check anyway, given the slight lump on his back....as for the loading, the trailer was really small, and he actually tried, as in got his front end in, but was too scared to get the back end in. We were told when we got him that he did not like the clausterphobic type of trailer, so we didn't want to give him a bad experience in a trailer and decided to not push it. He was trying to be a good boy at that point, and not being bad, just scared about the size of the trailer.
                        He is usually really sweet and settles down when I work with him. It was just a weird day I guess, just the picture of him flipping over backwards with my mother on board was really scary, and so NOT like him. When the teenager got on him to ride him back to the barn he was still a little hyper, but she managed to get him back (she has really long legs and can sit to anything) and he did calm down eventually.


                        • #13
                          Don't blame the spook on being part TB. I have had far and away worse luck with paints spooking any day.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by heatherny2 View Post
                            Just to clarify, I wasn't blaming his behavior today on his part TB, was just explaining his hotness/spookiness at times, as he does get a TB attitude somtimes.
                            I have to say, this bothers me too. I've an acquaintance who uses "well, he's a thoroughbred.." often to excuse spooking, bucking, etc. It drives me nuts. I've seen hotter QH's than TBs..even... And the same for spooking.

                            That said... could anything have been remiss under the saddle if this wasn't his usual reaction? Could he have a sore back? I second the comment to perhaps get him checked by a vet...especially if he is behaving oddly the next time you try to ride.
                            "Show me the back of a thoroughbred horse, and I will show you my wings."


                            • Original Poster

                              Just to clarify for all..I am in no way trying to explain away his behavior on being a TB. I was actually making a slight kid about his TB personality (in other aspects, not this one), which I am sure other TB owners can associate with. It is in no way meant as a negative comment toward them (I actually love that side of him, and his paint side) or even trying to explain his behavior related to his breeding at all. I totally understand that his behavior was not based on his breed and wouldn't blame it on that.
                              Again, I was seeking input as to whether anyone had experienced the rearing/strange behavior.


                              • #16
                                I never had a horse rear up at a show, but my app gelding was having a stubborn moment one day when I wanted to ride him down the driveway to go for a short trail ride. He stopped and wouldn't go forward no matter how much I nudged him with my heels. I finally popped him on the butt with a riding crop and he immediately reared up and started running backwards on his hind legs. Needless to say he tripped and fell over more sideways than completely backward. It was so weird, seemed to happen in slow motion and I kind of stepped off and was on my feet until he kind of rolled a little farther onto one of my legs and I fell face down on the driveway. Also seemed to happen in slow motion and I was completely unharmed, no scrapes or anything. Not bad considering I was on a gravelled driveway.
                                I have a TB mare and when she was just a baby(2 years old) she went to 2 or 3 schooling shows to hang out. One of the places was great as it had a train track that ran not to far from the side of the show grounds and had frequent trains going by. There were two rings, loudspeaker, just a great area to get them used to lots of new stuff. Her first actual show where she was ridden(by my trainer) was in September of her 2 year old year at the fairgrounds in a huge arena with flapping flags doing a couple of pleasure classes. Have you tried doing some "bombproofing" with him? It may be something to think about as it definitely helps to make your horse less reactive to varied sights and sounds. I have to admit that my horse wears ear foofoo's( my affectionate term for ear pom-poms). However at this stage of the game(she's 14 this year), I think it is more for my peace of mind than anything else. I always joke that it keeps her TB brain in her head, not 1/2 a county away when she thinks she just may see something. hehe.... Joking aside, I can now take my horse anywhere I want to go without the slightess worry of terrible behavior. Does she still spook? Yes, but it is not the oh my god! I need to get out of her now type of spook. It is the slow to a stop or slight jump. That I can deal with. She is the horse that people who have a greenie or fractious horse want to ride with when we go on a group trail ride. I knew I would never have a problem with her when a couple of months ago I rode in a Christmas parade. Hope you get this problem figured out.


                                • #17
                                  The horse was fresh. That means, he has too much energy, and can't pay attention to the rider. If a flea hiccups, he spooks. That's how horses are. It doesn't have anything to do with his breeding or a bug bite on his neck. Horses just do that.

                                  Next time, give the horse more time at the show grounds, and work him every day for a week before you take him to the show. Longe him and hand walk him for a couple hours before his class so he can get used to the show.


                                  • #18
                                    And when he's acting spooky, put him to work. Real work, where he has to pay attention to you. Small circles, trotting serpentines, lots of stuff where he has to concentrate on YOU.

                                    My gelding is reactive and spooky, and I just have to deal with him this way. I don't let him stop and look at stuff, because he WILL rear when he's nervous. I make him go forward and work, and he settles down quite quickly. For him (although this wouldn't work on some horses), cantering serpentines seems to be the one exercise that really balances and relaxes him. He has to concentrate, he loves to canter, and the lead changes between the half circles really make him feel like he's working with me. When I'm done with two serpentines both ways, I usually have a totally different horse under me.

                                    And many horses, when they're nervous, will rear as you're getting on for some reason. I wouldn't worry too much about a one-time occurrence, but if it becomes a habit, you would want to get some help from a professional trainer.


                                    • #19
                                      I agree with those who suggested taking him to shows and just letting him hang out and hopefully enjoy the experience.

                                      I also wanted to say, Congratulations to your mom! I am just a few years younger and years ago I had a horse rear with me and go over backwards. I was not hurt either (nor was horse) and I continued to ride, but I was a lot younger then! Now I do not want to ride a bucker and certainly not a rearer, but I really really admire your mother for getting up on a horse that had knocked her down, and then on getting back up on him after he went over backwards.

                                      That makes me feel calmer and braver.

                                      A friend of mine told me that her (old) horse reared recently with her at a show. Didn't go over backwards, but it really surprised me and scared me that this horse did that. Apparently he couldn't handle the noisy kids on the rail (literally on it; up on the fence) or the costumes for the costume class. And she gets terrible show nerves so they were both already tense.

                                      I am glad all turned out well for your mom and you and the horse.
                                      Rack on!


                                      • #20
                                        You need a trainer. Obviously you need help, and your mother is not experienced enough to give you safe advice. Get a good trainer to help or your situation will get worse.