More thoughts on spooking

So does anyone else have an issue over spooking horses?  Does it scare the willies out of you?  Have you gotten over it?  How have you gotten over it?  Maybe it’s never bothered you?  How do you feel when your horse moves very quickly and you’re not expecting it? Is it an impediment to your riding?

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5 Comments

Filed under Riding Skills

5 responses to “More thoughts on spooking

  1. Denise

    It did scare the crap out of me when my mare would spook. I found myself sitting on her , feeling like a victum, wating for something bad to happen. Then the more I rode , the more confident I got, and the more confident in me she got the less she spooked, the less it bothered me when she did.
    Does that make sense, a bit of a circle , of circumstance, I think.
    I can say now, that spooking really doesn’t change how I ride anymore. I have a new horse and when he spooks, we just keep on a doin’ what we were doin’ and that really seems to make it less of an issue for me.
    The absolute best statement I have ever read about fear was ” Fear is a missuse of the imagination ” When // if I start to get anxious when I ride , I keep that in mind, and imagine a good outcome to what ever is bothering me.

  2. It has been so long since a horse spooking has scared me. I would have to say when I was 10 and got my first horse… My dad was the old school cowboy type so I wasn’t allowed to quit if I got scared anyway – so I guess I just learned to 1. ride through my fear (which I would NEVER recommend to my students) then 2. read the horse so I know if she will spook before she spooks. In which I usually talk her out of it before she even realizes she was going to spook. I don’t know if that makes sense or not, but I really know it is coming before it happens. I just read horses really well – especially my own.

    I was at an auction once and I told my husband that a stallion was going to buck off that rider if he didn’t get off that horse right THEN… I was reading the horse and saw it coming… but the rider and everyone else up there were oblivious to what the horses body language was saying… About 45 seconds later the man was launched off that stallion in front of hundreds of people.

    Sometimes I wonder if I should have said something – you know yelled up there to GET OFF THAT HORSE… but I’ve learned that 99% of horse people think they know it all and won’t listen. So, I keep my mouth shut.

  3. Erica

    Since I started riding when I was 48, I’ve had to deal with this a lot! While no horse is ever entirely spook-proof, two things really affect how much a horse will spook: the confidence of his rider and how much desensitizing training he’s gotten. How to gain confidence? Ride, ride, ride. Learn to breathe from your center and DO IT when you’re riding (I’ve gotten better at this, but I still forget sometimes!). Jane Savoie has a lot of great things to say about developing confidence and a positive mental attitude.

    As you know, I’m a huge proponent of ground training, and learning roundpen techniques and “natural horsemanship” ground stuff has really helped me learn to communicate better with my horse and soften the horse before I get on. While I’m working on the ground with my horse, I also try to remain very calm and slow, even when he gets excited. Getting on a relaxed horse helps us both! Now I’m starting to work with my young horse with tarps, plastic bags, etc., so he can learn that even if a scary thing pops up, if I’m there, it’s ok. P.S. The NH stuff is something you CAN’T learn from books, IMHO. I read a lot, but I never really understood it until I found a great NH trainer and spent hours on the ground on a long line.

  4. Because of my age (and slowness to heal) I’m not totally oblivious to spooking but I have the confidence that I can deal with most any situation that arises. Partly I think the confidence came as I got more experience but some of it came from hitting the ground and finding out it was as bad as I thought it would be.

    Definitely the more confident I got, the less my horses have been prone to spooking. They draw a lot on the rider. If they spook and you get upset, it sends the message there was something to spook at and confirms in the horse’s mind, it was right to do so. If it spooks and you laugh at it, it tells the horse it was wrong and it can trust you to watch out for it. That builds a more confident horse. Since I now start my own youngsters, building their confidence in me has really helped when they are new under saddle.

  5. Diane

    I recently found this site, and as I am going through a “fear” issue of my own–I enjoy reading the comments from everyone. I have a younger Arab gelding that was mistreated/mishandled before I “rescued” him. We have spent a lot of time working through his issues & he is a great horse. he wasn’t used on trails and we were just starting to go out in the woods when I had to move. In the new place he took a long time to settle in–in fact, I now believe I rode him there sooner than I should have. He got freaked out on the track (you have to cross a racetrack to get to the riding trails) and I lost some confidence. We went back to basics–lots of groundwork, which he needed. Then I got back on, rode him around the track–and he was calmer than an older, more experienced horse riding with us! I was proud of him. But–that very weekend–where I had planned to hit the trails–I had a bad fall (not from a horse), tearing cartilage in my knee & causing a lot of trauma to it. Well–I was unable to walk without using a walker or cane for the next several months. Then it was winter–so no riding as the weather was terrible. By the time Spring came around, I hadn’t ridden in a long time. It was hard to climb up now because of my knee–but I tried ridsing my olde rmare first. Took a bit before I felt “safe’ even on her. But–I could not get on my Arab for more than a few minutes at a time. His “green-ness” had me terrified. Even tho’ he had NEVER spooked or bolted with me–now I was afraid he would–and I would fall –and get hurt & be unable to walk again! That is ALL that was in my head. Irrational-but it has held me back. Well–this Spring–I am slowly starting back again. I have ridden him only a handful of times–but he’s been great every time. It is only his lack of experience getting in my (our) way. He can only gain that experience–and confidence (for BOTH of us!)if I ride him more. Eventually we will get back out on the trails–and then the real test begins. But–it helps to read about others experiencing similar problems–and finding ways to work through them. Wish me luck–this time we’re gonna make it–I know! 🙂

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