Spooking on hack… what should I do differently?

Tobiano

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My Bilbo is a saint, and has done so much to restore my riding confidence (older, not very supple rider!) but I am still nervous about hacking alone. Today we went for a hack on out own, just walking, as I do this to build up my confidence. (Fine hacking in company). We had a little episode - we had to walk past a field with a mare in it who got a bit excited and came galloping up to the fence behind us - this spooked Bilbo who cantered on the spot a bit until we got past. Then within 5 minutes we had to pass a big colourful barrier and Stop sign due to some waterworks - we were on a verge with the road between us and the hazard, and a barbed wire fence on the other side. He balked, eyes on stalks, and I had a job to stop him sidling into the barbed wire. Then he decided the only way to get past was at top speed - I hung on and got him back after about 12 strides. I didn't head straight for home, but turned away and did a bit of a loop. He calmed down and we got back to the yard ok without any more dramas. But I wondered whether I should have taken him back past the hazard until he walked past it rather than galloping… but I didn't have the guts.

What do you think - should I have done it differently? If we have to go past it again do you think I can prevent the same thing happening?
 

Red-1

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OK, the cantering on the spot would be OK in my eyes, when they are stressed as long as speed and direction are what I asked for, then what their legs actually do is their own business!

Shying into a barbed wire fence is not so good. I tend to allow them time to decide that they will go past rather than push them past. I will show them that THIS is the task, and wait for them to decide to do it, without letting them change their focus to something else. By waiting they are less likely to thrust forwards.

Of course I would also like that they do not lean on one leg when they shy, so I would have re-tested afterwards that when I put my left leg on they move AWAY from it. I would have hammered that point home, but would not have gone back to the tight spot with barbed wire scenario. I would also have done several halt transitions.

I think you did right not to head straight for home f he was a man on a mission heading that way.
 

Tobiano

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Thanks Red-1! I did let him stop and look at it for a while - that has worked on other occasions and he will often stand and look, then pluck up courage to go past. This time he was jiggling around a bit and I was worried about the darn fence! I thought he had looked for long enough and encouraged him past but that was when he rocketed forward rather than walking… i am pretty sure he was picking up on my anxiety about not ending up tangled in the bw fence! but thanks for the reassurance :)
 

ShadowHunter

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He's probably never encountered something like that before or was wound up already from the mare. My horse is pretty bombproof but there are a few things that can set her onto flight mode. Perseverance and patients is key. Make him stand and have a look, have him walk up and past the object, let him have a sniff if he wants. Might not go smoothly the first time but eventually he'll get it especially if he's chilled out normally. Recently we were out on a hack and came across these flapping red tapes that marked out a race, she leaped past each one (literally) until i made her go up and put her nose on one attached to a gate. Never looked twice at one the rest of the way.

(love his name btw!)
 

Illusion100

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YUP!

I'm not actually following you around the forum, stalking you and specifically responding to your posts, it's just co-incidence that I agree with your latest posts. Just wanted to point this out before you involve any authorities..... :p :D

OP, you did great. Take confidence in yourself, you couldn't have dealt with it better!
 
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Mike007

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YUP!

I'm not actually following you around the forum, stalking you and specifically responding to your posts, it's just co-incidence that I agree with your latest posts. Just wanted to point this out before you involve any authorities..... :p :D

OP, you did great. Take confidence in yourself, you couldn't have dealt with it better!
Darn ! at my age a stalker might be fun!
 

Merry Equimas

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I have hacking issues (which annoys me cause i have been schooling for one year, happy hacking for 15+) my instructor has told me that the first thing i need to realize is that i can stop that ridden anxiety in one simple step - get off. It doesn't help you or the horse to beat through it or scare yourselves. Horses naturally run, and when they are so scared they are not thinking a weight on their back is NOT comforting, it is a predator. So get off. Settle the horse, walk on. Forget about it. If you can, get back on. If you can't just walk to somewhere you can or walk home.

Before my lesson i would have thought this stupid...surely you should make the horse realize that you are there to help and make them go past it a few times and blabla until you think they are okay with it - if a human was afraid of spiders you would make them hold a spider until it was not scary anymore...right???? Or would you ?

Sometimes going near something scary is as scary as the thing itself.
 

SatansLittleHelper

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I think you did fine and I would most likely have done exactly the same in your shoes.
Showing him the scary stuff etc is great BUT why ruin your already fragile confidence? ? X
 

Tobiano

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Thank you all so much! Yes, the getting off option is good to remember - except last time (many years ago on a different horse) I did that, I fell off when remounting!! Blimey they say horses remember one bad experience…!!

:) we are planning to go out in company today :)
 

Red-1

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:) we are planning to go out in company today :)
Now that sounds like a wonderful idea.

I would also say that one canter on the spot, and one shy and scoot, does not a problem horse make.

In the canter on the spot, there was no danger to anyone, as I said before speed and direction was as required.

The shy and scoot was also controlled in a way, in that you had a load of notice that there was a problem, and chose when to insist the horse went by. So, although you were not 100% control of direction and speed all of the time, you were in control of the when, so could still keep yourself safe.

I am one of the staunchest Mrs Health and Safety people, and I think you were perfectly safe on what you describe. Enjoy your ride.
 

Tobiano

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Thanks again Red-1 - your point about going at the speed and direction chosen is a great one - I shall remember that!


Its like a comment someone made on here when I posted a pic and I moaned about my position - she said if you have the horse between you and the ground it is a good start!! :)

BTW I would never describe Bilbo as a problem horse - he is wonderful - but I don't want to become a problem rider!! :)
 

Kaylum

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It's one of the things we do when long reining take them out of the safe environment and let them see things. It's how you make bomb proof horses. Anyway regarding your situation op why not take bilbo out for a walk in hand every week on his own so your not reliant on others. You know just a walk around looking at things. It really does help. If he is not shown things he will be scared. They are like us in so many ways x
 

Mike007

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I would NEVER get off a spooking horse and try to lead him past. It can be extremely dangerous. If it gets to that point leave it and go back.
 

laura_nash

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I would NEVER get off a spooking horse and try to lead him past. It can be extremely dangerous. If it gets to that point leave it and go back.
Why ??!!??

I can't see why it is more dangerous to lead a horse past something than try and ride it past. Surely the worse that could happen if you lead is the horse gets away from you, dangerous to the horse maybe but much less dangerous to the person. Assume we are talking a sane, well handled horse whose unlikely to start rearing or trying to kill the leader (which certainly seems the case with the OP).

OP - It sounds to me like you did very well. It does sound like the issue was more to do with you worrying about the barbed wire and probably you both would have been fine if it had been post and rail on the other side, given that I wouldn't have gone back either as you would have probably just been worrying about it again. I prefer to stop and let my cob look at things, sniff them, convince himself everythings okay etc, but not if the layout / situation isn't suitable or worries me.
 

smja

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I would NEVER get off a spooking horse and try to lead him past. It can be extremely dangerous. If it gets to that point leave it and go back.
Depends on the horse. I've done it off several where I knew I would have better control on the ground. If it was trying to sod off with me, I'd stay on as it's too easy to lose them from the ground.

OP, you did the right thing. Going back and facing the scary thing doesn't help out hacking because you can't control the conditions enough to make it a good experience. Say you took him back, and this time he was about to go past when A. N. Other potentially scary thing of your choice came past and gave him a fright?
Carry on as you are :)
 

Mike007

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Why ??!!??

I can't see why it is more dangerous to lead a horse past something than try and ride it past. Surely the worse that could happen if you lead is the horse gets away from you, dangerous to the horse maybe but much less dangerous to the person. Assume we are talking a sane, well handled horse whose unlikely to start rearing or trying to kill the leader (which certainly seems the case with the OP).

.
The last person I know ,who tried getting off,lost the horse . The horse bolted out onto a road , crushed a car ,killed itself ,and almost killed the driver. Any passengers would have been dead. Stay on board and if necessary ,go another way.
 

Kaylum

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but that could happen in any situation, horse can throw you off, get loose and killed. That is why horse riding is dangerous and desensitisation helps build confidence.
 

Pedantic

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Sounds like you did fine, I only ever get off as a very last resort as I prefer to deal with it in the saddle as I feel less in control on the ground, I also don't want my Po learning that if he acts up I get off him.

You can only deal with each situation as it arises and then move on.
 

Angelagain

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You did everything right. I would say the only mistake you've made is dwelling on it now. It's in the past, you dealt with it. Win!

Mine doesn't normally do spooking but was an utter t*t last night (see my "Note to self..." post). I just laugh it off and tell myself that next time he'll be better.

The one common sense thing I always do though is wait for the right moment to go past certain things *just in case*. I won't go past a wheelie bin a temporary road sign or a new "for sale" sign for example if there's a car coming as these are the sorts of stupid things he'll to a sideways sashay past.
 

Tobiano

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Thank you! We passed the scary thing from the other side today - in fact he crossed the road TOWARDS it with no issue at all (we had company but Bilbo was in front) - I think yesterday must have had a lot to do with the other horse just having upset him.

Thanks for all the encouraging comments. :) :) Am duly encouraged :D
 

Charlie007

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I think you did great. You dealt with what was thrown at you and you arrived back at yard none the worse. I wouldn't worry about letting him sniff things, as long as he goes past it that is fine. Don't create issues just for the sake of it. I also would only get off as a last resort. How about forgetting the negatives and focusing on the positives!!
 

deicinmerlyn

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I think you did well too! At least he went forwards past it and not spin and run in the opposite direction! that has to be a good thing!
 

Esme2015

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I would NEVER get off a spooking horse and try to lead him past. It can be extremely dangerous. If it gets to that point leave it and go back.
Firstly, to the OP, I think you handled the situations really well and did precisely the right thing. If you're anything like me, you'll have come home and gone through self-torture trying to work out how you could have done things differently, but don't. You dealt with it there and then. And you did it well.

Secondly, Mike 007, I do understand that you've known of people who've experienced a terrible situation getting off a spooking horse, and the incident sounds absolutely horrendous, HOWEVER, I was the person who stayed on the spooking horse and ended up being airlifted with a broken pelvis, because I thought I was being stupid getting off! Two years out of the saddle for myself and my mare! Getting off is ALWAYS an option and after my accident, if she feels the same as she did that day, I WILL get off. It's rare she does as she is the most bombproof of mares, to be fair, but last year we encountered a hedge trimmer. Oh dear... Followed it for about half a mile and then it turned down a road to our left. The horse in front went past it and I tried to get mine to follow. She just freaked, maybe it was me tensing up, quite possibly, but after half a tonne of horse landing on me, well that's just what happened. And then she span for the first time in 7 years, and felt exactly the same as she did the day of the accident. So I got off. I didn't lose hold of her reins and Immediately she calmed down because her mum was in front leading her. She was just downright scared out of her wits! I didn't hesitate, I had hold of her reins and I walked her past. I got on about three minutes later and she was fine.

So, sorry if I disagree, but getting off is ALWAYS an option. It absolutely depends on situation at the time sadly.
 
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