Has anyone 'conquered' a spooky horse, long sorry

Louby

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My horse is irrational, he will walk past flapping bags but then spook at a dot in the distance and doesnt calm down for ages after. I try changing the flexion etc but he just loses it.
Today we went to dressage, he worked in the best ever, felt great and I was hopeful, so we trot round the arena and the judge in the next ring, rings her bell, well he went mad. Then my bell rang and he lost it, doing violent spins each time I tried to get past the judges car. I managed somehow to do the test (in a fashion) with a massive audience that had suddenly gathered to see the fun and games.
The next test I didnt know as Id practiced the wrong one (div!) so we were trotting up the arena and his antennas went on alert
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, its only a man stood at the end. Again violent attempt at spinning but I managed to stop it and I got him forward again. The rest of the test was a blur as he was such hard work.
Im so fed up with him, hes always been spooky but at the moment hes a looney. I dont think the flush of grass helps.
I know I need to be quicker to react but he is such a difficult ride. Hes lazy but when something spooks him he just loses it.
Am I wasting my time or has anyone got any ideas how to handle the situation. Last week at the dressage it was bikes and a xc jump!
Thanks for getting this far.
 

diggerbez

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hey louby...how frustrating for you!
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how long have you had your horse for and how old is he/ how much competition experience does he have...as obvioulsy this will have some bearing on how to deal with him....
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oh and you are quite local to me! where in manc are you? i'm rochdale/bury....
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golddustsara

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Sounds like you are having a bit of a rough time with your boy at the moment. Still at least you drew a crowd to watch your dressage test
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Pity it was for the wrong reasons. How old is your horse? I have a spooky but quite lazy boy who was terrible hacking alone when I first got him, he would literally spook at every little thing, bar tractors and lorries which of course he was fine with
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Tbh I just kept at it and tried some groundwork, including walking on tarpaulin in the school and taking him out to as many different things as possible. Perhaps it may help if you could take your boy out to as many things as possible and even ride him in the warm up of the dressage without entering to do the test. Also, a calmer might help. I believe Kenzo is trying one with her ponio at the moment.
 

MrsMozart

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Hm. What feed is he on? Have you tried using a calmer before the show? Tried magnesium to counteract the grass surge? Epsom salts are said to be good, but I have no idea as to dosage.

Sorry to hear you had a pants session
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Abbeygale

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My mare is very similar in reactions to this - today we went out for a fairly longish ride, which involved quite a bit of roadwork on a fairly busy main road. We met 3 tractors, 2 of which had trailers on and stuff in front of them, 2 artic lorries and a bus - she didn't turn a hair at any of this stuff. Then we turned off the main road, and she was spooking at a dead daffodil on the side of the road!! I mean really
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She is better than she was - and I did use rescue remedy on her and myself for quite a long time. Her main problem seems just to be a lack of confidence in both herself, and the fact that I will actually protect her from the monsters! The rescue remedy did seem to settle her nerves (and mine for that fact) just enough so that she could enjoy her hacking.

I haven't got as far as going out to do any dressage or anything yet - we still have that pleasure to come - but I will be straight back on the rescue remedy when we do go out! I think ultimately its just keep on trying and showing them new experiences. The only good thing is that if your boy is anything like my mare, you can tell about 3 miles in advance if they are going to spook at something!!

x
 

Louby

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Thanks for your replies, I feel better Im not alone.
Hes 10 now, Ive had him since he was nearly 4 and hes always been quirky although its worse at the moment. We went to a few dressage when he was a baby, then he had a tooth out under GA, then he fractured his leg, had some travelling issues (irrational again!) and I had a few family deaths
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so we never seem to get going.
This is our 3rd dressage this year, the first we somehow got 2nd in both Prelim and Novice and qualified for the prestige. Now thats going to be a laugh. The 2nd was hard work, spooky spooky spooky and today, well what more can I say.
He is stabled at night has a smallish net of Haylage and a breakfast and tea of about 3/4 scoop hifi, Baileys low cal and a handful of pasture mix. I have tried top spec calmer, brewers yeast in the past but decided it didnt work.
Its so sad as he is really talented and could easily do Elementry, possible more but his state of mind is a big problem.

Hi Diggerbez, Burys not far from me, I live in Outwood, Radcliffe.
 

cattysmith

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My mare can be an absolute bloody nightmare. She used to be alot worse than she is now when I first got her. She wouldn't even cross the white lines in the road and was so scared of tractors she'd spook at them even if they were in the distance. One time she backed right into a ditch which wasn't nice but luckily we were both ok in the end.

It's so annoying because she will still spook at things for no bloody reason. Going jumping is fun. Spook at the starter sign, spook at the jumps, spook at the rosettes.

I think she's always going to be like this, I definitely need to ride her with my wits about me because it can just come from nowhere. Manhole covers are another portal to the evil world.

I always hack out in spurs, this has definitely helped me to get her past things because I always insist on riding her through it and you definitely need both hands on the reins when having an argument!!
 

Chestnuttymare

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Perhaps the starch level is a bit high.in the feed he is on at the moment. Even the ones that say they are non heating can carry quite a high level of starch, around 15% and more. I changed mine on to winergy equilibrium with 3.5% starch and i saw a difference very quickly.
I also use magnitude from america equine as there is apparently not a lot in the grass at this time of the year.
 

diggerbez

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right well i would think that this is something that will improve with time- he might always be a bit spooky but you should be able to improve it. i'd focus on getting him out as much as possible and seeing as many different places as possible. you could also try making your arena at home spooky and different every time you go in- see if you can get hold of some banners for example to hang up on the fence. he'll probs have a heart attack at first and then get used to them- plus you will be able to practice schooling past them and be better able to cope in a competition
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When you get to your competition just focus on keeping him thinking forwards and keep leg on- he'll find it harder to spook if he's going forwards. also you could try putting him on magic as a calmer...
if the prestige is at croft top again i'd maybe try and hire it nearer the time when they have all the curtains up....
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xXGemblesXx

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Hello!

I have excatly the same problem as you. Although we seem to be slowly working through it *touches wood madly*
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it is so frustrating not being able to do normal things which every other rider has no problem doing (Like going to shows/ hacking out on our own/etc etc) but I guess you just have to hope that they will get better!

Wish you the best of luck with your girly- believe me I know how you feel!
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JanetGeorge

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[ QUOTE ]

She is better than she was - and I did use rescue remedy on her and myself for quite a long time. Her main problem seems just to be a lack of confidence in both herself, and the fact that I will actually protect her from the monsters! The rescue remedy did seem to settle her nerves (and mine for that fact) just enough so that she could enjoy her hacking.

x

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You have hit the nail right where it should be hit! Horses spook for several reasons - and discounting things like eyesight problems - or outright abuse - they are:

1. Incorrect/insufficient handling/desensitising when foals and older;
2. Lack of life experience;
3. Lack of confidence in the rider!

Our own youngsters are normally a doddle to back and hack because they've been exposed to most things from day 1 and we NEVER creep around them. You can TEACH a foal to be nervous VERY easily!

They are fed from the tractor or Land Rover; we're on a flight path and get allsorts zooming overhead without warning; and we're surrounded by 3 shoots - so it's bang/bang for more than half the year. Our dogs are somewhat undisciplined and run riot around the yard - the horses get bored and ignore them!

But - most important - they are always handled firmly and consistently! If they don't like the washbox - tough! They go in there and get hosed! If they don't like it, we keep doing it until they accept it.

If they spook at something out hacking they are taken back and forth past it until they get bored! If YOU are relaxed and confident, your horse will - with luck - trust you to keep it safe. If you are nervous, the horse is nervous! (He doesn't know you're nervous of HIM - HE thinks you can see a monster around the next corner!

Horses that spook at SILLY things are a PITA - get them in front of the leg and keep them there.
 

Louby

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Wow thanks so much to go at,
You hit the nail on the head JanetGeorge, he has be more in front of my leg. We had that today working in which was a first, then the bugger lost it.
Hes definately had a sheltered life for the last few years too. He doesnt spook at 'normal spooky' things he spooks at stupid things and it drives me mad. A few weeks ago, a couple of friends stood watching us in the school, well div thought he'd spook at them.... violently. I did get him to do what I wanted in the end ie go past them NOW but what a song and dance for nothing.
 

Louby

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I will have a look at the Starch levels, didnt think what he had was too bad, heating wise. I have noticed him worse since swapping to the low cal thought but then thought its prob the grass.
 

Pearlsasinger

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A friend of mine has used the instant calmer by Global herbs to good effect before a competition.
I'd be tempted to look at his feed and change him to hay/haylage and grass nuts, that would eliminate any potential problems with starch/sugar.
 

moodymare1987

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Oh yours sound so much like mine, He is a right spooky bum its untrue. I have found the more infront of my leg he is the less likely he is to spook.

Believe me Ive had my share of spins and for a 17.2 you think they wouldnt be so bad, but my god Ive nearly been flung at 100mph in opposite direction. He really is a gem but is such a baby, to be fair he is only 9 and got left in the field for 2 years, so its all new to him again. But I did a dressage and after bell went it was like I was on a different horse lol Not fun at time but did settle after first test.

Again though he not been out competing for 2 years.
 

diggerbez

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Curtains!!! where do they put them
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erm- sorry should i have not mentioned these
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??
they sort of put them across the entrance and then drape them around the walls...it looks very pretty
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i would definitely get yourself some big banners and put them up round your arena at home- did wonders with my grey who used to be a loon with any form of wall adornment- he was an idiot with them for about a week but then totally settled and made him much less spooky. i'd maybe also try to get out to some more spooky venues- middleton park in leeds springs to mind...
where was comp today?
 

Louby

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Where do I find the starch levels, has protein, fibre ash etc but not starch. It does say low starch???
 

Mithras

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My mare used to be incredibly spooky. What is more, she was famously spooky. She was bred locally, and everyone, the saddler, the farrier, people I met out hacking would say "I know this horse, she's spooky isn't she?".

She has gradually grown out of it. She still spooks, but only in the way of turning her head to look at something. Yesterday she cantered right over the top of a white plastic bag in our path when we were cantering, and then walked over a large bag half full of sand.

I found most effective just getting her out and about and showing little reaction to the spooking, often I will turn my head and look in the opposite direction of what she is spooking at. And is spooking really that bad a thing? It means your horse has good eyesight and is warning you of potential dangers. A lot of good showjumpers spook at things as they go in the ring and then jump perfectly, it just means they are living in the moment and ready to follow instructions.

As long as your horse continues to go forwards, I wouldn't worry about it too much.
 

diggerbez

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[ QUOTE ]
Where do I find the starch levels, has protein, fibre ash etc but not starch. It does say low starch???

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lo cal is really low starch..or so i thought?! i'll have a look on email from baileys...
 

diggerbez

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this is what baileys emailed me when i queried feed with them for my two...


Alternatively the lowest starch diet that we can offer would be the Lo-Cal Balancer and our Outshine Supplement. The Lo-Cal is free from any traditional grains such as oats, barley and maize and because of this the Lo-Cal is also very low in starch at around 8 % to 10%. To ensure a balanced diet is provided (all the vitamins and minerals he needs but keeping the level of starch to a minimum) the No.14 Lo-Cal Balancer can be used as the base of the concentrate ration. Lo-Cal is a small, palatable nutrient dense pellet containing quality protein, vitamins and minerals to promote a healthy coat and hooves, maintain condition and maintenance of muscle. Lo-Cal also contains a yeast culture to aid fibre digestion and efficient gut function. In short Baileys Lo-Cal balancer provides the horse or pony with all the essential nutrients for health and well-being. The Lo-Cal also has excellent levels of biotin, methionine, calcium and zinc all of which will help to promote excellent hoof growth and repair. The Lo-Cal also contains Yea Sacc1026 which stimulates fibre digesting bacteria and will help to improve gut efficiency. For his size you would need to feed 1.5 lbs of the Lo-Cal. As a guide a half pint mug will hold 0.5 lb of the Lo-Cal so you will need to feed 3 mugs per day. The Lo-Cal can be fed alongside a good quality chaff such as the Dengie Alfa A Oil, the addition of oil in this product will provide some further non heating calories.

Although the Lo-Cal will provide your horse with a fully balanced diet the actually calorie (energy) contribution will be minimal, so in this instance as he needs some help with his weight, the safest way to do this will be through oil and you could continue to use the Outshine supplement. Oil offers a ‘safer’ form of calories than changing to a traditional higher starch conditioning feed. Outshine is a versatile high oil, energy dense feed supplement suitable for improving stamina, promoting weight gain or enhancing coat condition. Outshine allows the overall energy density of the horse’s ration to be increased without significantly increasing the starch content or the volume of feed needing to be fed. It is a small, extruded nugget which is highly digestible, non-heating and mixes well with the main ration so represents a “non-messy” and effective alternative to feeding straight oil. Due to its high oil content and low feeding rates, Outshine can be used to promote weight gain in horses who can't tolerate feeds that are high in starch. For his size you could feed between 1 lb and up to 3 lbs of the Outshine per day.
 

Louby

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It was only local riding club, supposed to be low key to get him out and about. It was outdoors, not overly busy but the very scary man stood in view
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and as for the bells!!!
I left before collecting my sheets so will be interesting to see what comments I got when they come through the post. I do know I got 52% which my friend said was amazing seeing though I barely got round the test lol. ANd she wasnt marking overly high. Maybe they'd ducked below the dashboard for cover!!!
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diggerbez

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Thanks for that. Seems ok then??

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well i know feck all about feed but have my two on this to try and get condition on them without making them excited...and seems to work...TB is much calmer than when he was on calm and condition...
 

Louby

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Yes Bolton,
As its been so long since weve been anywhere and Im new to Lorry driving! I took him to Croft just to ride him arround, me get used to the wagon and although he shuffled into the indoor he was well behaved, then my plans were a few Boltons to get us going and then aim higher. I didnt expect to qualify at all and I didnt expect him to be as bad as he has been.
I think I may get the vet to check his eyes out, at least then I know Im not punnishing him when its not really his fault.
Do you use Lo Cal as a conditioner. Im trying to keep his weight down
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Where are you based? Im intrigued now you guessed it was Bolton.
 

diggerbez

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i have no idea what i use lo cal for
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i really am useless- i just feed what i'm told...basically both of mine have the same:

halfx square scoop alfa a
2x mugs local
1 x mug outshine

they have this 2x a day plus ad lib haylage.

i've just moved to a new yard in birtle but i actually live in rochdale (norden)- i only guessed bolton coz i knew it was on with stressage today
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(i'm not a stalker...honest
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Louby

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The ridings supposed to be great up there.
My horse is stabled in Outwood, Radcliffe.
Have you been to the new Naylors yet, Ive heard its quite good. My uncle used to live next door to it years and years ago so it was paradise for me when I was little.
 
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