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Discuss Why is my horse so spooky? at the Horse Training forum - Horse Forums.

I have an 6 year old arabian gelding who is scared of EVERYTHING! When I ...
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    Full Member jumpergurl87's Avatar
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    Why is my horse so spooky?

    I have an 6 year old arabian gelding who is scared of EVERYTHING! When I bought him he had been abused and trained with brutal methods but was really calm. He had been progressively getting worse. For example this fall I was riding through a bale field and one bale was tipped up on its side and he got scared of it bc it was different. I can't do anything with him when it's breezy bc he gets so spooky. And when I ride him it has to be sunny and very calm, and even then he sometimes get scared of things. I have tried working in the round pen with him, sacking him out, and working him over and around spooky things but nothing seems to help.
    I fell off of him a while ago riding english. It was really windy out and he spooked at something and took off. It was the first time I fell off of him. Could this have something to do with it? Does he not trust me anymore? I don't abuse him and he is really well cared for.

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    My girl will spook at the same mailbox we pass each time we leave the barn if the lighting outside is different. The sun can cast a shadow making it look different. Are you still confident when you ride after falling off? If not they can tell and I think it may make spooky horses more anxious. I cannot give my girl to much time to look around or she finds something to spook at. I have learned to fell her body and watch her head when I ride, 99% of the time it work fine but there is always that percent that you can't read. Some horses are just more spooky then others and you should work on this on the ground also, lots of bags, tarps ect. Coming from his situation it may take alot of patients and time.
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    A lot of arabians are a lot more spooky. You just have to keep riding him around things until he learns that a leaf is not going to kill him. My pony was like that, if there was something big and ominous, he would bolt as soon as he got too close. If there was a dog in a yard, I might as well get off and let him do cartwheels and backflips. I rode him up and down the neighborhood everyday for a year before he finally stopped getting scared of everything. You just have to expose him to things until he learns that it's not going to hurt him.

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    Senior Member Dixiefordgurl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpergurl87 View Post
    I have an 6 year old arabian gelding who is scared of EVERYTHING! When I bought him he had been abused and trained with brutal methods but was really calm. He had been progressively getting worse. For example this fall I was riding through a bale field and one bale was tipped up on its side and he got scared of it bc it was different. I can't do anything with him when it's breezy bc he gets so spooky. And when I ride him it has to be sunny and very calm, and even then he sometimes get scared of things. I have tried working in the round pen with him, sacking him out, and working him over and around spooky things but nothing seems to help.
    I fell off of him a while ago riding english. It was really windy out and he spooked at something and took off. It was the first time I fell off of him. Could this have something to do with it? Does he not trust me anymore? I don't abuse him and he is really well cared for.

    This says it all. The breed itself can be bred to be flighty and high energy. He might need more exersize, or a different diet. High oats or alfalfa can contribute to a horse being "high" among other things. (I am not at all bashing Arabians I own the best one in the whole wide world, but some days he still tries to tell me that he is afraid of a tractor that we use everyday)
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    Some things stick with horses for their entire life. It doesn't surprise me that your gelding is spooky, he's an arab. I'm not sure why he's like that, it's just an arab thing. My suggestion would be to introduce terrifying (obviously safe) things to him progressively (NOT in the saddle). You know that hay bale is scary to him, so lead him up to the bale (don't get off when he see's it, he'll associate spooking with you getting off) and just let him check it out. Lead him around it a couple times, shake it a bit, back him up to it, get him used to it, then get on and walk him by it over and over again until he doesn't even notice it anymore. My arab does the same thing with our mounting block, but he doesn't bolt, he just eyes it and acts like he wanted to jump out from underneath me.

    The next thing I'd do would be to just lunge him and work him on the ground in the wind, don't ride him, especially if it makes him nervous. The reason he's like that is because his flight instinct is way high, he's expecting a horrible gobblin to jump out at him. He cant see or hear anything when the bushes are blowing around so he's just being aware. I'm sure he'll calm down after a while and more wet saddle blankets.

    I'd introduce him to trail obsticles, not like walking out on a path, but opening and closing gates (in an enclosed arena), picking up jackets from poles (I am 80% sure he'll about have a heart attack when he first does it), work on him concentrating on YOU, not his surroundings. When he's worried about something make him do a sidepass or two-track to keep his attention on you. He cant worry about the demons in the shadows if he's being asked to perform a task.

    I hope some of this helps. I have an unpredictable arab as well, ask me any questions you have, I've probably experienced and asked them all myself.

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    Another thing you should keep an eye out for are certain colors that he spooks at. Some horses are terrified of certain colors (I don't know how, I thought all horses are color blind =P ). My horse for instance is scared of the color blue, which was really irritating because there was one blue barrel in the arena for barrel racing and as soon as she'd get to the blue one, she'd bolt away.

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    Full Member jumpergurl87's Avatar
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    Yes you guys are all right about this. I know he is an arab too and that is part of the problem. But I have doing ground work and stuff on windy days and calm days, almost everyday for the two years that I have had him. I just don't understand. When I take him out in the wind he just freaks and I can't control him. Even when I just lead him in the pasture with his buddies around he freaks out.

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    Senior Member icyssunset's Avatar
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    Well he is an Arabian! But thats been said enough...
    What are you feeding him? I know a lot of horses (arabs in particular) that are nuts on high protein/carb grains. If he is on grain...I'd look at the content of the feed and see how much starches (corn and barley) and sugars (beet pulp and molasses) are in the feed. I have a mare that if she gets on a feed with corn... she is through the roof but off of it she is as calm as can be!
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    Full Member overthefences's Avatar
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    agreed with the above posters. he is an arabian which are know to be high-spirted and spooky.

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    He may have a magnesium or vitamin deficiency which is causing the spooking.

    When I got my recent rescue horse she was very spooky and marish. As soon as i put her on a mare med and a calm and cool supplement she calmed right down.
    I thought that she was just getting used to the barn and she didnt need them anymore so i took her off the supplements and they were definitely working and she reverted back to her flighty ways.

    Needless to say she is still on her meds haha.
    "Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure..life is either a daring adventure or nothing." ~Hellen Keller
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