SPOOKING Again! And this won’t be the last time!
Oddly enough, many (yes many, many) people don’t know their horse is spooky.
How can this be so? you may ask. And I sincerely hope you ask.
Really look at your horse under different circumstances. Is his head down? Does he have a soft, quiet eye? Are his muscles relaxed? Is he standing quietly? Is he moving (very important) with these same qualities?
Or… is his hair standing on end, with white showing and every muscle tense with his head up even though he’s standing, for the most part, still? If your rope moves, does he jump? Even a little?
Many horses have been trained by various methods to stand still while they’re spooking. While many people appreciate this, the horse is still spooky and as soon as horse moves, they frequently blow up. Also, you aren’t always going to be standing still when something spooks your horse, so… instead of causing your horse to think he’s going to be in trouble if he moves, how about causing him to think he’s okay calm.
If you find that horse exhibits even a tick of the above, take some time to challenge your horse and yourself to see just how spooky he is. Move some things, ask for something, some movement and be very observant and aware of how he responds. If he moves fast, but confidently because…
you asked for a fast movement, that’s one thing. If he moves fast because he was anxious, scared or used to jumping, that’s a whole other thing. Can he move one hoof? When you flick a rope his way, does he check with you to see if you want him to move over or if you’re just practicing your moves? Or does he land in the neighbors garden?
People ride their horses for years and never know or acknowledge that horse is ready to come out of his skin. Then, a wreck happens, because it was just a matter of time anyway, and the person doesn’t understand that this was inevitable due to all the signs they were consistently missing because they thought that’s just how horses are.
If your horse spooks because the ranch dog trots by, you’re in trouble! If your horse spooks when you drop your rope, you’re in trouble!
How about this one. If your horse spooks when you want to take your jacket off? This is such a common problem. And oh so dangerous. Yet, many people don’t take the effort to realize that it’s not the jacket. It’s the spooking horse. If you think your horse will spook or even not be comfortable with you removing an article of clothing, you are asking for a lot of trouble down the road whether you’re taking off your jacket or not.
If you haven’t noticed how spooky horse is and he has a few years on him, it may take you some time to get him to trust you and relax. But, you’re going to be doing things with him anyway and wouldn’t it be better for the two of you to not be scared?