Training a Spooky Horse: The 2 Most Important Things to do

Today we're going to chat about a subject we have had quite a few questions about!

And that is... "How do you train a spooky horse?"

When training a spooky horse there are 2 things that you absolutely need to make sure you are doing to ensure you end up with a "Spook Free" horse.

But...

Firstly I want to say that there are the exceptions, which are just nervous horses. No matter what you do for them it is in their nature and character to be nervous...

But in the majority of cases there are solutions...

Training a Spooky Horse: The 2 Most Important Things to do

So, 2 Questions to Ask Yourself:

(The 2 tips to training a Spooky Horse)

1) Is Your Feed/Work Ratio Correct?

I see so many really nice horses spoiled because of genuine TLC in the owners heart.

Any horse that is overfed and under-worked will be "a little bit silly" and too full of energy to be sensible. Like us, every horse is different, so some will become more spooky than others.

So often the fix is that simple:

UP the exercise and REDUCE the energy feed...

And often one gets a sensible horse back in no time.

2) Have You Desensitized the Horse to the Things You Don't Want it Spooking at?

Again with the best intentions you can make your horse spooky.

Let me elaborate....

First we start moving round the horse in a careful manner. Horses find this frightening because they associate it with a predator stalking them.

Move confidently around your horse, they find this far less frightening.

Next let's take the example of a horse that spooks at moving things like a plastic packet blowing in the wind.

My Solution...

...would be to start by working on the ground with the horse on a rope head collar, and a 15 foot lead rope.

Step 1:

Stand and start shaking the packet with increasing vigor till the horse starts getting nervous and backs away from you.

Step 2:

Here's the hard part; Do not stop shaking the packet if it does this.

Keep following the horse and shaking the packet until the horse stops for a moment. The minute it does this: stop shaking the packet.

Step 3:

Resume the exercise, and only stop the shaking of the packet when the horse stands still.

Very soon he will start to associate standing with the packet stopping from shaking.

Step 4:

Get closer and closer to him as he gets more confident and resume the exercise.

Pretty soon you will have a horse you can rattle the packet around and touch with it, and it will be completely unfazed by it.

Do not stop shaking when he reacts because you are then reinforcing that the packet is only "NOT SCARY" when it is "not moving". Which is not the result you want.

Final Steps & Points:

  • Next, use initiative and do things like tying the packet to the end of a long whip and rustling around on the ground.
  • When it is used to this then start shaking it under, round and on the horse, only stopping when the horse stands.
  • You can also stand and beat the ground overhand with the whip, again only stopping when the horse stands still. 
  • Then wiz it around in the air over its head, etc.

Most times if you will take the time to do this, you very soon have a horse that is "SPOOK-FREE".

Training a spooky horse is all about desensitizing it first!

Hope that helps.

If you have any more questions -- OR some tips yourself on training a spooky horse, simply leave a comment below to let us know!

All the best,
Gav

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Training a Spooky Horse: The 2 Most Important Things to do