Spooky Horses, part 1 - 4 Reasons horses Spook

The non horsie husband of one of my clients once commented ‘I’ve never known an animal that has less logic to it’s actions than a horse!!’

When you have a spooky horse it can certainly seem that way a lot of the time. In my work I meet a lot of spooky horses and like any problem although the individual solutions are all slightly different I start by trying to understand why the horse is doing what it’s doing.

With spooky horses there are usually 4 possibilities:-

  1. He’s frightened of ‘things’

  2. He’s tense and on adrenaline and/or so is the rider

  3. He’s distracted

  4. He’s in pain

Over the next few weeks I’m going to look at each one of these in more detail and possible solutions to help them but for this blog I’m going to give you an overview of each one...

1. Frightened of ‘things’ 😱😱

These horses are genuinely frightened of 'stuff' noise, plastic, people in the bushes, sabre toothed squirrels, pokemons you name it....

They are consistently spooking at the same thing time after time, you always know if there’s something new it’s going to be a problem. For these horses desensitisation, de-spooking, counter conditioning and ridden techniques that incorporate these are going to be most effective.

2. Tense and on adrenaline 🐎🐎💨💨

Some are spooky because they simply have too much nervous energy and don't know how to direct it. These are the ones that you can’t tell which they’re going to be on a given day, one day they’ll be fine, the next a snorting mess!