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Discuss Fear of....Umbrellas?!?!?!?! at the Horse Training forum - Horse Forums.

okay, so it was raining the other day, and so my mom brought an umbrella ...
  1. #1
    Senior Member Lady MacBeth's Avatar
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    May 2011

    Unhappy Fear of....Umbrellas?!?!?!?!

    okay, so it was raining the other day, and so my mom brought an umbrella to the barn. i tacked up Lady, and we went to go to the arena.when we got to the door, my mom opened it for us with the umbrella. when Lady saw it, she completely freaked! her back legs did that cringing thing she does when she is scared, her ears pinned back, her eyes were flicking around and looking at me like "mommy!! let me run!!" and she backed way up, jolted to the side, and almost rammed me into the wall.
    to start off, she hates water! she can't have a normal bathe (whick is a pity since she is white) and she is terified of fly spray, spot remover, show sheen, or just water in a spray bottle.
    is anyone else's horse terrified of umbrellas? my mom has brought multiple different sizes, colors of umbrellas, and the same thing happens everrytime. she is more upset by open ones than closed ones, however.
    does anyone know why she is afraid? she isn't mad, because she would bite and kick if she were mad. i know that she was over showed/worked by her previous owner (eventer) and she was incredibly stressed before my coach got her. now she is practically bombproof.

    i am worried about the fact that it rains alot where i am! i am going to be doing a few shows with her this year, and it could be way worse than just her mild scares. if i am on her, she could do anything, and she could injure herself, other riders, other horses, and my family. she would never try to hurt anyone, of course, but it is possible she does it out of fear.

    anyway to help her get over this fear? anyone else have horses with odd fears?? any help would be incredibly appreciated!!
    Silence is GOLDEN.
    but duct tape is SILVER.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2009
    You sound like a pretty new horse owner, are you? If you can I would invest in taking some lessons and getting a trainers help, while videos and written advice can help quite a bit hands on help has no substitute.

    Start desensitizing her, she is far from bombproof i'm afraid but that is alright. Horses can overcome thier fears very quickly with the help of a person with good timing. Horses are pretty much scaredy cats by nature, some are naturally more anxious than others however.

    This will be the same process for basically everything you desensitize her to. Start off in a rope halter if you have one, you'll have a bit more control this way. You will be using the approach and retreat method here. Approach with the scary object of your choice and wave it in the air around her side while standing at a 45% angle to her shoulder so you can't get run over. When she goes to move off calmly bumb her nose toward you so she's sidepassing and keep waving the scary object until she sands still AND relaxes (lowering her head and neck, more blinking, licking her lips, a big sign or cocking her back leg). The second she displays any of these behaviors (or just stands still for a while. At this point you're just rewarding the try) remove the pressure and rub with your hand.

    When you can wave that object all around her start actually rubbing her with it on the topling first. If she moves off it's the same process and you release the pressure when she stops and relaxes. When she's fine with her topline move to her hindquarters, legs, neck then head.

    To desensitize to the spray bottle it's the same ( have it filled with water though so you don't waste any product). Spray in the air, then eventually her in the same order. From there you can move onto an actual bath. Spray the water near her hooves and slowly move up. When she moves off keep spraying and when she stands still quit for the moment then go back to it.

    If she's afraid of water puddles too i'll be happy to help.

    Second, and this is a little pet peeve of mine, your mare may appear white in phenotype but there is no such thing as a white horse. I'd love to get a look at her however, i'm sure she's very cute.

    Also, remember that horses learn from the release of pressure. So even when she is looking very scared about this. Do NOT take the pressure away, you will accidently be teaching her to be more scared of the object.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jenje! View Post
    It's okay, just dangle the Tom Thumb in front of it. Soaks up liquid from three feet away. Presto!

  3. #3
    Full Member ChipWithCharm9's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
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    This may sound really dumb.... but just listen to this.

    At my barn (we are a western pleasure barn) We were training this really young colt the basics of trail. We found out that he was scared to death of the mail box. Like would totally ditch and leave the scene if he even came in contact with the mail box. So what we did was we put the mailbox in his stall. (our horses have kinda big stalls, not huge though) And we made him sleep and stay with that mailbox for a week. we would change the position of it and put stuff in it to make some noise. Now he is perfectly fine with the mailbox. This could be a not really good idea to put an umbrella open in a stall. So mayb you could like open it and put it on the door or window of the stall so that way she is always in contact with it. Then maybe start to add more. IDK if this will work for you, but it did for us. Hope this helps!! GOOD LUCK

  4. #4

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    ^^^sort of this....I would simply desensitize the horse to the umbrella....and flags...if your horse is anything like one of mine was....flags...Umbrellas and judges stands....I simply put them all over the field where I work (we used a huge cardboard box that the fridge came in and the ones the washer/dryer came in for the judges stand)

    First I walked around the field on foot...then lunged the horse around and through all the scary stuff....then rode...it took about three rides....but all is cool for this horse now....you may need to do something like this too.
    Lady MacBeth likes this.

  5. #5
    Senior Member+ whisperbaby's Avatar
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    I would be surprised if the horse WASN'T afraid of umbrellas! Those things are scary!!! They pop out of nowhere and hover over peoples heads just waiting to attack!!! You'll need to give her some desensitizing lessons with the umbrella. I personally would start with it closed. Twirl it around a bit while you are far away from her but so that she can see you. Then put it over your head. Then move closer and do the same. Work your way towards her SLOWLY until eventually you can rub it ALLL over her. Then open it partially far away from her. Repeat. Then open it all the way. Repeat. Then work on opening it so it makes that scary noise. Repeat.

    By the way. If she stands still she gets a treat/rubbed on/rewarded. It's okay for her to look at it or be interested in it. And you need to do the same thing to both sides of her. It would be best if you could lead her and e there to give her some courage, but if you cant do that put her in a stall so you can be the scary umbrella monster and the calm and cool leader at the same time. The goal is to get her to be okay with an umbrella being opened/by her/far away from her/fluttering in the wind, not scare the **** out of her with it until she is too tired to be afraid anymore. So take it slow and takethe umbrella away & reward her at the correct time.
    if you want to be happy,

  6. #6
    Senior Member+ whisperbaby's Avatar
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    Next to a barn in WI
    Oh, and you should try to only do this a few minutes at a time and ALWAYS end on a good note. Then move onto a) another scary object for a few minutes b)riding c)grooming d)feeding
    if you want to be happy,

  7. #7
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    Umbrellas are scarey! ya just need to work with her on them. Like others have said, keep the umbrella close to her as much as possible. start with it closed, and then with it open. Eventually you should have no problems passing umbrellas from rider to rider, or picking a closed umbrella up from the ground, opening it while sitting on your horse & twirling it all around.

    At the old place where I boarded, one Boarder was all about this kind of stuff. It was so fun to ride with her....once a week was "play with scarey stuff" day! She had a Tinsel-Pom-Tree one day.....fuchia pink umbrellas another day, tarps other times......many different odds & ends

    This reminds me....I should work with umbrella's with my young-ones
    Lady MacBeth and JBandRio like this.
    Pay equal (if not more) attention to your own self carriage as that of your horse

  8. #8
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    Colorado, ontop my little green star :)
    just sounds like as was said she needs to be desensitized......she'll come around for ya..let her know all that stuff really isn't as scarey as she seems to think it is...I always tell me mare (and she seems to understand) that I will not let anything by her or lead her by anything that will hurt her... have confidence in yourself and she will have it in you as well to accept those scray things !! good luck...
    Lady MacBeth likes this.
    R.I.P Peanut. I miss you dearly. passed 12. 31. 2012

    I gave up jogging for my health when my thighs kept rubbing together and setting fire to my panties.

  9. #9
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    Oct 2008
    Umbrellas, tarps and spray bottles are some of the first things we work on. Very common fear.

    Its easy work to get them out of it. Just be patient!
    Theorist likes this.

  10. #10
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    South of the north pole
    I agree with Parkie, BUT
    A lot of times...
    rider fear of the horse's reaction creates fear in the horse.
    I get on over fed racehorses who see umbrella's and never look twice or react. They see moving vehicles, umbrella's, crowds, "cities" built in the infield and never flinch. A lot of the time a rider transmits concern to a horse and they react in kind. Certainly there are horses who are flighty and suspicious and spooky, but IME generally they will trust us before they trust themselves.
    That said my less than a month old filly has two wall eyes and going to be tough with things that are new. And I know it. BUT I knew her sire and i know her dam.. wall eyes... ugh

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