Tips for handling twits in the wind

Surbie

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What it says really. Horse is a total wuss in the wind, and has to come in past massive flappy tarps on top of heaps of road grit, creaking metal gates and a blind corner to an industrial road surfacing yard full of monsters. He has a high flight response and tanked off twice yesterday - I stupidly wasn't wearing gloves, my hands are very sore and my legs are bruised from being pulled over.

He's now coming in wearing his bridle and me wearing gloves & hat. I've been recommended to put him on magnesium oxide for his feet (went to a Nic Barker clinic just over a week ago) which could possibly also calm him down a bit.

I'm DIY on a full service yard, and there are rarely people around who can come with me. Any other tips I could try?
 

SEL

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I had to let go of a flying appaloosa at the weekend - there was a snort and she was up with all 4 legs off the ground :oops:

If you're up for short term distraction then a packet of polos can help. I've found that even unzipping my pocket in moments of high anxiety just brings the attention back to me for long enough to keep her feet on the ground because she thinks the mints are coming out. I'm not normally a treat person, but this just feels like the lesser of evils right now!
 

ozpoz

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I brought everything in yesterday, leaving the little pony till last. I am crocked from hanging on, as he gave a good impersonation of a panicked kite. I will wait till the wind dies down before he comes back in.
 

moleskinsmum

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When I worked with racing youngstock we were always told to let go, rather than put ourselves in danger, despite the value of the horses.

I think it's counter-intuitive for most of us though!

A bridle, hat and gloves seems like a sensible idea. I tend to use my weight against the shoulder to keep them anchored, with their heads turned towards me, which can work. You need to keep out of the way of their front legs while staying close however.
 

scats

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Millie is a wind idiot. I bring her in in a bridle if the wind is bad. I stupidly didn’t at the weekend and something spooked her badly and she took off. I let go of her and she didn’t go too far, but i was an idiot for not using a bridle.
 

Surbie

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Thanks - I will try carrots this evening, but yesterday the numpty was too scared to eat the treats, they kept falling out of his mouth.

It is very nice to know I'm not alone!
 

nikkimariet

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Control headcollar and a pair of gloves. Few expletives help. Bad weather is no excuse for rude horses.

I'm still taking two up and down the field carrying buckets and pulling a barrow in the dark and sideways wind and rain.

I don't use food to train them. Making a rod for your own back!
 

Red-1

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Mine hated wind, rain or snow when she came. I have made a point of going out and working her in hand and on the lunge until she realises that the show goes on, whatever the weather.

The first time she had to work in rain she was squealing in disgust, bucking and shrieking. I got absolutely soaked but was dammed sure that she was not coming in whilst being a muppet.

These days she is a lot more circumspect in her reactions.
 

moleskinsmum

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Control headcollar and a pair of gloves. Few expletives help. Bad weather is no excuse for rude horses.

I'm still taking two up and down the field carrying buckets and pulling a barrow in the dark and sideways wind and rain.
So am I but on the odd occasion, my own can be a spooky t*t in the wind. I think the OP is looking for ways to keep control, rather than knowing how good our horses are!

The other horse I lead with my own can also forget his manners on the odd occasion but that is usually due to him forgetting, rather than spookiness. I use the method outlined above for my own, whereas the other gets his lead rope round his nose if he attempts to lead me, rather than the other way round. If they are particularly unsettled at the gate, I opt for bringing in separately. It is never worth getting hurt.
 

Red-1

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I think the OP is looking for ways to keep control, rather than knowing how good our horses are!
My post was to say that rather than just bustle them in, I find it better to stay out in the wind and do work (as in ground work) until they behave. Many people put training in inclement weather, when they are being mooses, in the to-hard-to-do box. That way the horses don't learn.

I am sure that what nikkimariet meant was that as a result of training and insisting on good manners, she can now manage the horse in all weathers. I doubt it was some boast, it was intended to give incentive to work on the issue, knowing that it can be tackled.

Spooked horses are not allowed to barge over people, even when spooked. If they were there would be carnage on group turnout within the heard.

Mine is still a work in progress. The driveway took a loooooong time to negotiate today as she was showing reactions that were not acceptable. Jumping forwards when the gate blew shut and clanged was not good enough, so we worked at the gate, allowing it to bang and clank until she remembered her manners. She is a lot better, but with improvements still to come. If I merely bitted her, put PPEs on myself and suffered her in then she would not learn the lessons, as I would be showing her that being a moose means she comes in. She stayed out, working on it, until she focused on me and did a few steps at a time without trying to go round me and rush in, and without me having to restrain her with a firm hand. Every time I had to pull on the rope, she went back and waited, then tried again. She had to wait until she lowered her head and focused. It took a while tonight with the gate and all, but that is life.
 
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What it says really. Horse is a total wuss in the wind, and has to come in past massive flappy tarps on top of heaps of road grit, creaking metal gates and a blind corner to an industrial road surfacing yard full of monsters. He has a high flight response and tanked off twice yesterday - I stupidly wasn't wearing gloves, my hands are very sore and my legs are bruised from being pulled over.

He's now coming in wearing his bridle and me wearing gloves & hat. I've been recommended to put him on magnesium oxide for his feet (went to a Nic Barker clinic just over a week ago) which could possibly also calm him down a bit.

I'm DIY on a full service yard, and there are rarely people around who can come with me. Any other tips I could try?
 
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In addition to what moleskinsmum said, a fly bonnet, preferably one with ear plugs (my retired horse cannot stand wind in his ears or his forelock touching his ears in tense situations), might help, as would doing ground work incorporating scary monsters and setting up times to ride him with a quiet buddy. A knotted "be nice" rope halter can really help - I find them much more effective than shanks. Getting a professional involved in addressing this situation would be advisable - the more he gets away with, the worse he will get, and I have learned that broken bones and concussions are not fun.
 

Surbie

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He is generally only spooky to extremes in high wind. He has excellent ground manners at other times, but spooking is why he was sacked from the RDA. He spins and spooks away from the object as amymay points out, it's just that at one point on the field journey he has scary things on both sides and in front. And my automatic reactions are sadly not to let go so I got pulled over! :) When it's not windy he happily goes by them on the end of a rope.

I ride him in the wind and we go monster hunting. His spooks when ridden are fewer. I'm not avoiding it, I haven't had him that long, we haven't been at this yard long either and I just wanted a few tips to handle him when he amps up his stress levels to maximum.

I will try a fly bonnet, thanks for that.
 

Fiona

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A controller headcollar like the le mieux one or a normal headcollar with the rope wrapped round horses nose...

This is needed for hubby's ID mare who has learned to pull away from her leader if something spooks her, so we put the nose rope on if the weather is very windy or wet.

Obviously gloves and a hat too and suitable footwear preferably with steel toecaps.

Good luck.

Fiona
 

Red-1

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He is generally only spooky to extremes in high wind. He has excellent ground manners at other times, but spooking is why he was sacked from the RDA. He spins and spooks away from the object as amymay points out, it's just that at one point on the field journey he has scary things on both sides and in front. And my automatic reactions are sadly not to let go so I got pulled over! :) When it's not windy he happily goes by them on the end of a rope.

I ride him in the wind and we go monster hunting. His spooks when ridden are fewer. I'm not avoiding it, I haven't had him that long, we haven't been at this yard long either and I just wanted a few tips to handle him when he amps up his stress levels to maximum.

I will try a fly bonnet, thanks for that.
In that case, yes you do need whatever you need on his head to ensure you don't be pulled over, I also like the Be Nice halters, but only once they are trained to them and the user has practised releasing fully and quickly. As an emergency measure you can give various pressure methods on the mouth, from simply bitting, to having a chain through the bit to also tighten behind the bit, to a lunge line over the head... But I would not just sling them in and go, just as with the Be Nice halter the horse has to be schooled to know how to release the pressure or you risk making a spooky horse go OTT.

With the above scenario, mine tried to spin away from the noisy gate a few times. I spun her right back, it took some ooph to do so as she tried to say no, she would not stand near the clanky gate. If he is spooky long term then that will take a while to change, but learning not to whip round can take less time if he realises that whipping round just means he is fast whipping back again, using pressure (today mine was using a lunge line, one end attached to her the other flicked towards her bottom so she went right back to where she was before she spooked.

They simply find that whipping round does not get them anywhere. If one goes forwards then they back up to before the area where issue occurred. I don't go monster hunting as in to find monsters to show the horse, as TBH the 'monsters' are not the business of my horse. Their only business is to listen to instructions, and if they do something freestyle they are put back to where I last told them to be.
 

ForbiddenHorse

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What do you lead him in? I have a very headstrong welsh who is on 8 weeks box rest and you've described him to a T!
I lead him out daily to grass for his walk, no matter what the weather (yesterday we had 40mph winds) in his dually with lunge line. I am very straight to the point with him, not nasty but if he pulls me, he 's made to go backwards until he can walk nicely then praised. If he spooks, talk to them but do tell them off if they barge into you. I am only a petite 5'3 and hes 15.2, big powerful chap but he does seem to respect me even if he gets excited. However without that dually I couldn't control him, with a normal headcollar hes a complete prat.

The dually really helps because of the pressure and the lunge line is in case he has a head fit, I can get out the way without letting go. I find a dually works better than his bridle if I am honest because he can open his mouth and evade the bit.
I have a friend with a big black cob, he has a history of bolting or spooking and buggering off so is led everyday in his dually with a lunge line.
 
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Pc2003

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Yes I feel your pain. I have a 2 yr old and a spooky twit of a 15 yr old to lead in and out daily in this gale force wind. 9 times out of 10 the 2yr old is better than the 15 yr old!! Why is this??!
Anyhow I lead in control headcollars. Long rope on the youngster, hat and gloves and personally I don’t let go. I tend to either bring them in first or last so no one else around to set them off etc.
 

AdorableAlice

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You could put a roller on over his rug with side reins and use a bridle. Put the side reins on tight and all he can do is pull against himself. (Obviously this only applies to a properly broken/older horse.) I would also use a long line clipped on the off side and put over head through bit ring. It is a bit extreme and a faff but if it keeps you and him safe in this rather wild weather it might be worth doing in the short term. Weather will soon improve I hope.
 

Auslander

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I had two giant kites to deal with yesterday - Alf and his mate are both senior citizens, who know better than to jump on me - but both of them were ridiculous. In an ideal world, I'd have brought them in separately with a bridle and a lungeline, but that would have been a VERY BAD IDEA, as one would have had to wait alone.
I switched their ropes to the side of the headcollar nearest me (easier to keep their heads towards me with the rope on the side), tightened their headcollars to bridle tightness, and said very rude things to them when they pratted around.
Got to the yard with 3 protuding bottom lips (mine more than theirs), one slightly sorry horse, and one not sorry at all horse (3 guesses!).
 

Surbie

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Thank you. I failed today. It wasn't very windy, I tried headcollar (I know I should have stuck with the bridle) and after an hour of creeping along we had got near the scary stuff then he spun & tanked. This time I think it was him remembering he'd been scared more than being scared.

I am going again tomorrow with bridle and a stick as well as treats. And looking at getting a Dually - there isn't a blue one at the yard. I would have carried on but I was more than desperate for the loo. And near to screaming with frustration.
 

Pc2003

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Yes ideally I would bring mine in singular but the other wouldn’t wait on their own especially in this weather so have the joy of both.
I had the farrier mid morning yesterday and the winds were the strongest I have felt them all week. Honestly I literally could have died. The whole getting in episode was horrendous. My hat blew off, fencing was blowing, took me 20 mins to get both horses to the gate
 

Pc2003

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Thank you. I failed today. It wasn't very windy, I tried headcollar (I know I should have stuck with the bridle) and after an hour of creeping along we had got near the scary stuff then he spun & tanked. This time I think it was him remembering he'd been scared more than being scared.

I am going again tomorrow with bridle and a stick as well as treats. And looking at getting a Dually - there isn't a blue one at the yard. I would have carried on but I was more than desperate for the loo. And near to screaming with frustration.
What about being behind him and driving him forward with stick etc so he can’t turn round?
 

GTRJazz

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Quite normal for a horse to be scared by the wind it is taking away the scent of any predators he may have after him. i can ride both of mine out in winds you could hardy stand up in down a busy road but that is years of trust. Because of this they also are calm in hand.
 

NinjaPony

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One of mine is very good in the wind and always polite. The other one (my name sake...) is a twit in high winds, even in his stable he is very unsettled. Thankfully he spins around you and next to you rather than through you- he is scared but knows he can’t squash me in the process! I’ve been putting a rope over his nose, and following his much steadier field mate as closely as possible. You can get clips that attach a spare bit to a head collar which you could then thread a lead rope through rather than having to take a whole bridle down with you.
 

Red-1

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I would use a bridle, lunge over the head, but work him in the field first. This is so he firstly understands the pressure and release of the rope over the head, and so you can practice a total release yourself, as this is quite a severe set up.

I would not creep up the lane, it is not about making him quiet, or about making him less scared, it is all about him realising he has to observe the signals you give him.

I find that once they realise I have the reins, so to speak, their job is not to look at stuff (I don't allow it as a rule as scary stuff is my business, not theirs) but to look at me and I will sort out the scary stuff for us, it is like they can breathe a sigh of relief. I am taking care of scary stuff, so they can relax. A bit like a heard in a field able to relax hen someone is looking out for them.


I am not at all insensitive to horses who are scared, but if he commonly spins away from scary stuff, and currently bogs off from scary stuff, and then is not re-presented immediately at the scary stuff he will continue this behaviour as it was gainful to him i.e. he gained by getting away from the scary stuff.

I know my answers have not been what you were looking for, but, from what you have said, he has commonly spun from stuff, quite probably been told good boy and patted, so the behaviour has escalated until he was sacked from the RDA and is now dangerous to handle when there is scary stuff around (if pulling you to the floor is anything to go by).

I have given some kit that will give you more advantage, but still think you will gain more by doing some work in the field before even stepping out of the gateway. I would practice moving him round you one way, then the other, without you having to move your feet, so he is yielding round you and not taking your space. Then when he is on the track, I would repeat this exercise, so if he spins away from something he can sharp be brought back round.

I know other people have said that theirs were silly in the wind too, as was mine, but I know full well that the well known members' horses will have had this basic training and they have not landed the owners on their backside and been lost down the lane. They will, as mine did, spin round them not over or through or just bog off. So, for me, just hang on and hope is not enough in your horse's case.

I would take this very seriously as he has broken free two days running now. Both times I bet he was put straight to bed. They say that "Once is a one off, twice is a co-incidence but 3 times is training."

I would have someone help you if at all possible, someone who is experienced in handling wayward horses on the ground. I would also consider not turning out today, but working in hand on the yard instead to set some new rules.
 

HashRouge

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Thank you. I failed today. It wasn't very windy, I tried headcollar (I know I should have stuck with the bridle) and after an hour of creeping along we had got near the scary stuff then he spun & tanked. This time I think it was him remembering he'd been scared more than being scared.

I am going again tomorrow with bridle and a stick as well as treats. And looking at getting a Dually - there isn't a blue one at the yard. I would have carried on but I was more than desperate for the loo. And near to screaming with frustration.
Was the 1 hour spent creeping up the track his choice or yours OP? As if it was deliberate I suspect it's the sort of thing that may make him even more nervous.

I would second what others have said - hat, bridle and gloves. However, it is also really important that you are confident and don't act any differently to usual. If you are nervous about his reactions, he will pick up on it and it won't help. My sister's gelding can be quite flighty in the wind and I remember my YO refusing to bring him in last year because she was worried about leading him past a row of flapping electric fencing in gale force winds. Which I totally understood! However, I actually find him okay to lead in the wind but I am very confident with him (hs only 15.1hh which probably helps!) and don't change my leading style (still on a loose rope etc) so I think his instinct is to stick with me rather than run away!
 
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