Backward, spooky horse. WWYD ?

ycbm

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Obtain a crash test rider, stop all bucket food (Horse not rider), cub him tomorrow, then find another pack to go with on Friday and Saturday. Then take him on a pleasure ride Sunday. He can have Monday off but still do 20 minutes stretching on the lunge.

Cub him regularly until the season opens and then hunt him properly (he might need a couple of pony nuts) by spring he will have turned into a confident, careful and lovely horse.
Kill or cure :D
 

matt_m

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Continue to work on getting him more forward thinking, respectful of the aids and off your leg. A spooky horse is quite often an intelligent one and they usually need to be kept busy in the brain department. This will help reduce 'distractions'.
 

SEL

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When you say the EPSM is successfully treated - what do you mean? With my mare it's been constant tweaks to get diet and it's still far from perfect. She's 6, she is extremely reactive and nappy hacking & it takes 45 mins before she's supple enough to trot a decent 20m circle let alone canter one. She's put me in ditches, run backwards down a road and gone bolt upright at a cow that looked at her sideways. There is sadly a level of underlying pain with these horses that seems to make some extremely anxious. My gelding is also positive for the disease but is the complete opposite.
 

Doormouse

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5 year wb x section d, Bogof, broken her myself, always been well looked after, handled etc. She is an absolute nightmare for spooking. Cantering in a stubble field is likely to make you feel,sick with the amount of jinxs at different coloured stubble, bits of straw, stones. Leaves, drain covers, tin cans, gateways, cows, sheep, squirrels, birds - I could go on for a while. I spend my life kicking in walk, legs clamped on in trot to stop the massive spooks and hanging on for dear life in canter with my hand firmly in my neck strap.
She is brave as a list n to jump but if she is unsure of the fence she gives it an extra 2 feet which is incredibly hard to sit to.

Took her Autumn hunting last year, was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, kept taking her and eventually she settled. Not brave enough to try this year as she is even worse with her silly behaviour this year than she was last.
 

ycbm

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When you say the EPSM is successfully treated - what do you mean? With my mare it's been constant tweaks to get diet and it's still far from perfect. She's 6, she is extremely reactive and nappy hacking & it takes 45 mins before she's supple enough to trot a decent 20m circle let alone canter one. She's put me in ditches, run backwards down a road and gone bolt upright at a cow that looked at her sideways. There is sadly a level of underlying pain with these horses that seems to make some extremely anxious. My gelding is also positive for the disease but is the complete opposite.
I mean that neither I nor the physio can find the slightest sign of the muscle stiffness that he gets when not fed alcar vitamin E and selenium. And that he is no different whether ridden from one day to the next or not. In fact the physio was waxing lyrical over his muscle tone!

I have one of each as well, the other doesn't behave like this but has the same muscle stiffness. I'm prepared to believe that it may still be pain related and he always walks for a long time to warm up, but I think we probably have it as good as it can be.
 
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ycbm

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5 year wb x section d, Bogof, broken her myself, always been well looked after, handled etc. She is an absolute nightmare for spooking. Cantering in a stubble field is likely to make you feel,sick with the amount of jinxs at different coloured stubble, bits of straw, stones. Leaves, drain covers, tin cans, gateways, cows, sheep, squirrels, birds - I could go on for a while. I spend my life kicking in walk, legs clamped on in trot to stop the massive spooks and hanging on for dear life in canter with my hand firmly in my neck strap.
She is brave as a list n to jump but if she is unsure of the fence she gives it an extra 2 feet which is incredibly hard to sit to.

Took her Autumn hunting last year, was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, kept taking her and eventually she settled. Not brave enough to try this year as she is even worse with her silly behaviour this year than she was last.
Welcome :) I couldn't imagine wanting to take mine out with a hundred other horses, which is what the drag gets at this time of year. Even if I could find someone mad enough to ride him, I wouldn't risk the horse, I secretly rather love him, but don't let him know that :)
 

Boulty

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I own a Welsh D and he is at his most ridiculous when he is most backwards. If he's dancing about and pulling wanting to be off then I know I'm fine, if he starts the ride with all the enthusiasm of a one-legged sloth then I know massive, out of nowhere spooks are a possibility. When he is really and truly listening and relaxed and off the leg he doesn't tend to go out looking for things to be scared of, sadly this is a rare occurrence! *The relaxed bit anyway!) I find that sitting very quietly and ignoring him completely as he leaps sideways at the grass waving in the wind or other monsters of his own invention but insisting that he continues to move forwards at his previous pace seems to work best as if he gets a reaction he makes an even bigger deal of things the next time. (Alternatively when he is leaping about in canter at things that aren't there he gets to do extra laps of the field until he calms down and settles) The other thing that has helped has been repeated exposure to new environments, new routes and new hazards. Yes he does still have panics about things (eg a child on a swing, a PARKED motorbike on a narrow path) but if this is ignored he does seem a bit more open to the idea that the object might not kill him the next time he meets it
 

BethH

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Mine has been a spooky right royal in in the xxxx for the whole time I've owned him - as an earlier poster said, fantastic 4yr old and then had KS diagnosed as we started to work him a little more and he couldn't cope and he has all the avoidance techniques well established. We do a huge amount of reversing past scary items and it's not always convenient!!! He tries really hard but cannot totally concentrate on his rider as something is always out there about to eat him and he is scared of his own shadow which is very very annoying!!! However I love him to bits and 13yrs on still have him and accept he is "special", but much as I'd love a loaner, he is very quirky and I'd never let someone else hack him out as I don't want to get sued!

I think mineral imbalances don't help and he is better with lots of turnout but quite a strict routine with it. I think remembered pain will always have him on the edge - I accepted a long time ago that he will never be the top class riding club horse that he was advertised as when I bought him and that my ambitions of going out and about to have fun and trying low level ODE's won't be happening, but he is always a yard favourite as he has such a nice character and loves people so I enjoy his company if not his quirks!!
 

paddy555

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I mean that neither I nor the physio can find the slightest sign of the muscle stiffness that he gets when not fed alcar vitamin E and selenium. And that he is no different whether ridden from one day to the next or not. In fact the physio was waxing lyrical over his muscle tone!

I have one of each as well, the other doesn't behave like this but has the same muscle stiffness. I'm prepared to believe that it may still be pain related and he always walks for a long time to warm up, but I think we probably have it as good as it can be.
Is he rugged 24/7 and ridden with an exercise sheet? I can turn my EPSM horse onto the perfect seaside donkey, no spooking and riding on the buckle or alternatively to what you describe with the spooking etc. He goes from looking like the calm relaxed dope on a rope to looking frightened and spooking at nothing. If he is in bad spooking mode I can get of and try and do a little in hand work. Only a few steps back and forwards etc but he is still spooky. When spooky he cannot learn and the spookiness in mine is clearly related to pain. You couldn't tell from his muscle tone or how his muscles feel. (and they were very hard when I started this journey) I can switch this response on and off very quickly by the degree of rugging I do. He can go between a calm novice's horse to an experienced rider's horse the difference is so great all on the same route which he has done a million times before and which has no real spooks anywhere. Which mode just depends on how good my rugging has been.

Today for example I am riding in a T shirt and he went riding in an exercise sheet. Last night 250g Rambo and today an unlined amigo. It is still very warm here but this is the degree of rugging he needs to resolve the spookiness and make him happy riding.
 

Luci07

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I also had a very spooky sharp horse who in 2 years never changed. Feed/work made no difference. I did have a pro rode him for me and after a massive hissy fit he worked well for her. I could ride him for 40 minutes and then he would freak out at the same sign he had worked past previously. Most likely to try to ditch me when the stables were in sight. He had a very varied workload and turn out and it didn't stop. I sold him, with full disclosure in the end as horses are supposed to be fun and it becomes incredibly boring when you have to be on full alert at all times. Made his new owner really set him so she could see what he did and she wasn't bothered. Never again. I bought a bigger, sharper yet much more geniune horse whom I love riding and just wish I hadn't wasted so much time with the previous horse.
 

YorksG

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My 20 year old orange Appy can spook for Britain, but only at silly things. Traffic of any description is no problem at all, to the point that the "wrong" flower can see her leap infront of vehicles! Red tarmac, patches of mended road, white paint on the road can all see a very sudden stop. The most awkward was when out with friends, orange mare in the lead at canter on a track, there was a frond of silage wrap waving from the track surface, I thought she was going to jump it, but no, immediate stop, there I was in jumping position and then on the ground! I do have to watch her diet very closely, no carrots, no alfalfa and very low sugar, baisically grass in all it's forms is what she gets. She's been here eleven years now and I can't see her changing now :)
 

milliepops

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I think it's just his character, as so many of you are saying. He is afraid of life. He likes to always be touching you, even when being led, and he won't ever go out the gate first when I turn them out. He will start off, double back and get behind his field mate. I had started a campaign of getting him out and about which has broken by my eye and wrist problems this year, but we went to the farm ride last Friday and even though he was with his field mate, he did some serious 'seen a ghost' impressions.
This is my sec D ^^
She's orange too btw. Well pinky orange. We say she likes being in your pocket - she'd literally climb in to be close to you if she could. like kids going under their mother's skirts.

Mine is reactive to daft things, backward, erupts if you whack her etc. Also traffic proof and good in the arena (now). I don't know her training history other than it was very sporadic and she had a long lay off from age 6-9.

What has worked with mine is not bullying her past things or distracting her with work - but actually getting her to look at whatever she spooks at and consider it for a moment. She used to fly off the handle about things - she's one of those spook-first-think-later horses, but getting her to just stop moving and concentrate on The Thing has worked wonders. I trained her to approach spooky objects - so we now touch noses on spooky banners, wheelie bins, leaves etc and gradually, combined with teaching her to be more obedient to my aids, I'm getting somewhere.

It's still a bit hairy if we go for a canter in the fields etc as she can jink all over the place (sticky bum jods and a neckstrap!) but general hacking and handling is more manageable, and she is coping better in strange show environments.

I also am not prepared to pop a jockey up and send her hunting :
(1) I'm ridiculously fond of her and don't want her to injure herself or anyone else
(2) other horse has been hunting and it slightly blows her mind - we have several meets within hearing distance of the yard each month and I don't need 2 horses that get stupidly wound up by the sound, one is enough!!
 

ester

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She's welsh though MP ;) anything that could actually kill you is fine if you are welsh, the rest of the world, terrifying. It has more than once been suggested he is just doing it for a reaction so I had to train myself out of getting cross!

They've cubbed near home recently, F, who loooves hunting wondering why the mare, who has never been, ever, is pacing the field - we usually just sedate her!
 

milliepops

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She's welsh though MP ;) anything that could actually kill you is fine if you are welsh, the rest of the world, terrifying. It has more than once been suggested he is just doing it for a reaction so I had to train myself out of getting cross!

They've cubbed near home recently, F, who loooves hunting wondering why the mare, who has never been, ever, is pacing the field - we usually just sedate her!
hehe, I learnt very early on not to get cross with Kira, it just doesn't help and the one time I let her press my buttons, she tipped me off :eek: Now I laugh at her. She's an odd one. You could probably pick her up in the tractor bucket and drive off, provided someone sat there and rubbed her ears she'd be happy as larry. But the leaf that's the wrong way up.... well....!
One yard phoned the vet for me when they saw Millie freaking out in the stable - no one else could hear the hounds. It's ridiculous. Vet administered buscopan before I arrived.. hear horn in the distance and said she just thinks she's going hunting. I'm not having another like that!

In all seriousness though, teaching her to approach things has helped, but it does mean you have to really insist on it.. often she will point her head in the general direction but then look at something else instead. It's like she's sticking her fingers in her ears and saying 'la la la, can't hear you'! When she points her *eyes* at the upside down leaf, or whatever, she fairly quickly takes a breath and we are good to go.

Never had one like this before which is why it took us a while to click - Millie can be pushed by things with counterflexion, others you can distract by putting them to work, but not Kira :lol:
 

Britestar

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My homebred big horse is very backwards. He's 8 now, broken at 5yrs old.

Actually on hacks - always with a chum - he's happy to lead and be a good 20/30 metres ahead, but he knows his wing man is nearby. He's also quite forward out and about, although this can become a spin/ spook combo at any time, but usually quite sit-able. He's also likes to plant on occasions. His 'go-to' reaction is either plant or take off in a straight line until he's past what ever he thinks is scary. I do all his schooling on hacks.

However, take him into any kind of arena, and its a full body workout for me! He'll plant, or spin, or buck or kick out - whatever he can do to unbalance me so I have to rearrange myself, which of course = not going forwards.

I have him on hack up calmer (powder one). TBH he'd been on its for ages, and I wondered if he had (hopefully) grown up, so when I ran out recently I didn't order anymore. After 3 days off it, I took him out in the trailer to go hacking and he was pretty much as good as he gets, so I thought, fine, don't need that stuff anymore.

10 days off it, went for a hack at 7am (thank god), a leaf fluttered in a tree, massive spin/spook from absolutely nowhere, splat bang (airjacket) and off he went at speed down the road! Walk of shame home, and straight online to order more! 3 days back on it, and he's a (for him) gem again. Defo worth a try I think.

But, if you come up with any other suggestions, I'm all ears!
 

SEL

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I think I need to start rugging my PSSM mare more - she's a draft x so the large, chunky type that most people would assume can stay out 365 days without a rug. She can go from dope on a rope to downright dangerous in the space of 10 mins at times.
 

ycbm

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Paddy555 that's interesting about the rugging, but mine is no different whether I rug him or not, and the other, who has locking stifles too, is actually better off he's left unrugged, which goes against all the advice for both conditions! Just goes to to show how individual these horses are, I guess. Though I do wonder if EPSM is actually a lot more diseases than just the two they know about at the moment.

Everyone, it's so great to compare notes!

I've got alfalfa and molasses free timothy chaff on its way, and replaced the half kilo of cubes he was getting with a handful of oats, and we'll see if that makes any difference.

Milliepops, that's how I feel about sending him hunting. Lucie07, I'm totally serious that he has until he is eight, the year after next, and he will be sold/loaned to a younger person if he still spooks this way then. Meanwhile, he is my second string so I'm happy to keep him as a project while my other one the same age does his flying changes and hunts like an old pro!

The list between us so far:

butterfly
flower suddenly grown where it wasn't before
patch of tarmac on road
wrong colour leaf
their own shadow

eejits, the lot of them :D
 

DiNozzo

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My orange one is also rather special....

He spooks at ridiculous things, like concrete blocks blocking the entrance to a field, but walks past the working combine harvester without batting an eyelid.

For us, his spookiness is being treated with lolipop routes out hacking- on the way out, he has to work, and on the way back he gets a loose rein, and he goes and investigates whatever he spooked at on the way there- a bit like MilliePops method, but this way its his own choice.

He has to do this on the way back though, when he's a little bit tired, otherwise it would continue to be fairly hysterical.

He also naps badly at times. I have tried waiting (6 hours once!!), kicking and smacking (didn't really work), getting him to spin around and then kick forwards when hes pointing the right way ( he spins too quickly on his own accord- didn't help!). What does seem to work is rein back as he runs backwards anyway when he napps, and then asking forwards when he doesn't want to go back anymore.

We did that 11 times the other day, going backwards about 20m, and then as soon as he went to stop, he had to go forwards again, until he started napp again, and then repeat. It did make him quite cross, but he made the decision when to keep going out of our drive, and I didn't have to be horrible to him.
 

ycbm

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Does six hours win the maximum wait for DiNozzo?

My maximum is 55 minutes. He was good today. Only two stops for a few seconds just after leaving the yard, and about ten 'wah' moments at stuff like a sheep moving (which of course he's never seen in his life before even though he lives surrounded by them!).
 

DiNozzo

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Yes! I am not doing it again. It was after some advise on here about nappy little toads, but it just doesn't work for him. I need to keep his feet moving every which way.

Now we very rarely get 'stuck' for more than a minute or two- the other day was an exception, I think it might because of the rain... Fair weather pony!
 

Goldenstar

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What you have ycbm is a problem with losgelassengeit .
Not a word with an exact translation but the best and most succinct I have seen is ' the horse gives its self up freely to be worked .
When I am in the sort of situation you are in this what I try focus on improving the basics in the training with the aim of the horse becoming less reactive to outside things .
 

paddi22

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yeah i'd be another one who would send them hunting too. If the same stuff has been tried for years and isn't working then it might be worth a go.

I've seen so many people get sent horses like this to retrain, and the best method they use it to take it out hunting. The horses arrive with the owners stating how the spook at everything and are impossible, it's always the same story. And the riders hunt it gently and carefully for a season and then it comes back a different horse.

With a careful jockey taking it easy on a soft hunt, there shouldn't be any reason horse should be injured or damaged. It's as likely to come to damage with the spooking and spinning it's doing anyway.

The hunting isn't just tearing it across dangerous stuff at high speed disregarding its health. A good rider can transform a stuffy spooky horse on a hunt, by giving it a proper job where it's too busy to be spooking at leaves, getting it thinking forward, getting it to be brave, getting it to focus on using it's body and taking care of itself over ground, getting it to trust and listen to a rider, getting it to mature.
A horse who has time to look around at stuff isn't being worked hard enough or correctly enough or is just bored. I'm not a massive hunting enthusiast, but it can transform these kind of horses.
 

ycbm

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This horse makes consistent progress, just agonisingly slowly :). He was far worse as a four year old than he is at six, and that progress continues. If progress stops, I'll reconsider, but I think it would be a serious risk to send him hunting which I'm not happy to take, even with a great jockey.. I know from experience that it isn't a cure for every spooky or backward thinking horse.
 

paddi22

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if it was my horse and i didn't fancy hunting then i'd start it doing endurance length rides and ride it into the ground on long hilly hacks till its too tired to spook and gets out so much that it has to mature. I wouldn't take it on roads, i'd go on trails where it's constantly having to look and watch for its footing etc. Give it a proper tiring job.
 

milliepops

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Normally I could get on board with the 'ride the legs off it' approach, I've done it with others. Don't know about the OP's horse but it absolutely doesn't work for mine. You do have to know your horse. Some you can get to the bottom of by doing that, I agree. I think the bottom of mine is a bug nasty cess pit and we're all better off working around that, keeping her sweet and trying a different way. Works for us.
 

ycbm

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if it was my horse and i didn't fancy hunting then i'd start it doing endurance length rides and ride it into the ground on long hilly hacks till its too tired to spook and gets out so much that it has to mature. I wouldn't take it on roads, i'd go on trails where it's constantly having to look and watch for its footing etc. Give it a proper tiring job.

If he was your horse and you actually knew him (and where he lives and the work he already does), then I suspect you wouldn't make that decision at all.
 

paddy555

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if it was my horse and i didn't fancy hunting then i'd start it doing endurance length rides and ride it into the ground on long hilly hacks till its too tired to spook and gets out so much that it has to mature. I wouldn't take it on roads, i'd go on trails where it's constantly having to look and watch for its footing etc. Give it a proper tiring job.
but what if the horse's problem is pain related?
 
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