Very Spooky Horse!

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12 November 2012
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I have a 5 year old arab cross who was broke in 7 months ago. He was always a little nervous out and about but nothing that caused me to worry.

I hacked out alone one night last week, and he was jumping all over the place shying and spooking at everything, and 10 mins into the ride, he spooked at something that wasnt even there (a shadow on the fence) and threw himself and me in front of an oncoming car that was going about 60 mph and we nearly had an horrendous accident.

Instead of hacking this weekend i decided to school instead, he wouldnt go in the corner where the jumps were although this hasnt been a problem in the last 7 months so i kept doing 10 metre circles in this area, but that didnt help, also if a car drove past or school as its close to the road he kept bolting with me, scared to death.

Im at my wits end. Im scared that his behaviour will get us both killed.

We have come on so much in the last few months, why has it gone so wrong?

His teeth, back and saddle are fine.

Any advice for me?
 

DabDab

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Is there any way he could have had a frightening experience out in the field that's triggered a sudden change?
 
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Not that i know of.

hes on a working farm so there is always stuff going off. It seemed to be doing him good and desensitising him.

Just wondering where to go from here and things i could do to improve the situation.
 
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Its not really a sudden change as he was spooky from being backed and shyed alot but nothing i couldnt control with lots of outside leg, until now hes started tanking off when cars are at the back of him, and jumping onto the other side of the road when there is a crisp bag in hedge, really over dramatic
 

hayinamanger

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That doesn't sound good, you are wise to stay off the doad until you get to the bottom of this :( What is his routine? Is he out on good grass? This can act like rocket fuel. Does he get any hard feed? Again, more input than output can make them overreact to everything.
 
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There is hardly any grass so is fed once a day, this has been the case for some time so nothing has changed really regard to feed. He has always been ridden 3 days a week.

I worked him really really hard in the school yesterday, especially because of the constant shying at the stack of jumps in the corner n spooking at cars passing the yard, and he still threw a paddy walking back to the stable because there was a brick on the floor next to the wall, leaping in the air to get past it.

I think i made it worse as when he threw me in front of the car last week, i was that mad i gave him a huge crack with the whip on his neck to get him to move back over.

I just dont want to go back to treating him like a baby, like when he was first broke. I got people to walk out hacking with me to gain both our confidences, and we progressed from there. I let him follow others out hacking for confidence, then we slowly started going out on our own no problem, which has been fab upto this point, and now hes just as bad hacking with others as on his own - and really dangerous
 

vickyb

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He might be five, but he has only been backed for 7 months. Okay, so he will be stronger than a recently backed three and a half/four year old, but his mental attitude will be the same. I think you need to go back to basics with him. I would not be hacking out anywhere near a road, as this sounds very dangerous at the moment. I also would not be overschooling him. Is there someone you can hack out with? An older companion may well give him the confidence he lacks. I would also keep any schooling on a very basic level - going large in the school, changing the rein, halt/walk on etc, with plenty of time for him to think about what he is being asked, not putting him under any stress and plenty of encouragement and reward. He may still be finding his balance, and asking too much may be causing him muscle pain, hence all the evasions (i.e. excessive spooking). For me, hacking a youngster in sensible company is the best way to build up confidence and muscle. An awful lot of schooling can be done on a straight line too! At the moment you sound as if you are both getting very wound up. Take it all a bit more slowly and let us know how you get on.
 
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I think ill go back to the start.

He was fine hacking with others, but i started hacking him alone as there are loads of people on our yard, that only hacked in company and now their horses wont go out alone now and i just didnt want him to end up like that.

i thought i was getting a nice balance, schooling once a week, hacking in company once a week and hacking alone once a week.

Maybe too much too soon! he was slow at maturing hence was broken in after 4.

As my previous comment where i said i worked him hard, i just meant that we did a lot of trotting, figure of 8's and serpentines etc, not just potter about, so it gave him something to think about.
 

Pinkvboots

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What feed is he getting, Arabs can be very sensitive to some feeds.

Sorry just wanted to add I would just hack in company for now until he gets his confidence back, I have a 9 year old pure bred arab who i never ride on the road even in company he is just to sharp, so I would take it slow and some horses will always be spooky no matter what, mine is he will spook at the most silly things but that is just him.
 
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we have little grass so fed once a day on 1 scoop of chaff, 1 scoop of fibre beet and a handful of cooling mix, he has hay too, but could still do with some weight on.

I have fed him this in the 7 months ive owned him
 

Victoria25

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I also have a pure bred arab and she's also very dramatic - she's chilled out a lot in her years but even if she went past the same grid/fence/leaf every day she'd probably still prance around it :rolleyes:
 

Pinkvboots

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It could be the grass even though there might not be much it is growing and can be quite rich and mine have only just stated to react to it over the last few weeks, its been a late spring grass because of the weather, I would stick to riding with someone for now but as I said before I dont think my horse will ever be safe enough to hack along a road, let alone one with cars doing 60mph, i would be under a car if I attempted this so maybe its something that will improve over time or maybe it wont with your horse.

Also wanted to add mine has never been fed any grain or mix he is only fed fibre and oil for energy and weight gain, mix would blow his brain.
 

Victoria25

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Im not sure then .. what I was trying to say is Ive got a 12 year old Arab thats been out for years and years on the same road - it's in her to shy no matter how many times she sees something - something that will shy away has it in them to shy in front of a car - I wouldnt ever ride her (even now) down a very busy fast main road say in rush hour traffic but the same road first/last thing in the day is a different story ...

Yet my four year old TB (last raced Oct 12) would walk a child through rush hour traffic without even looking up from her ploddy/chilled out nature - she's just not a 'fusser' like my arab :)
 
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Its so confusing where to go from here.

i cannot hack without taking a busy ish road first.

I know that we might end up having an accident if i do take him out.

if i dont take him out he will never get any better.

I can do ground work and schooling, but thats not fully getting the issue sorted.

he was professionally backed and long reined down a very busy road 5 times a week for 5 weeks before ridden work, i watched this and he never put a foot wrong.
 

Victoria25

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My yard is on a main road so we have to go on it whenever we leave the yard too so understand your pain ;)

Can you not just lead him until you're away from busy traffic then hop on when its safer?? Id prefer to do this than be involved in an accident? :)
 

alainax

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I could have wrote this thread! Mines chucked me in the school after a huge spook 4 weeks ago, had 2 weeks off while I recovered, now just walking with tiny bits of trotting in the school. He has been spooking at absolutely everything! A fly.. a bit of dust.. the fence around the arena.. anything and everything.

I am hoping its just the spring grass and he will start to get back to where we were before soon, as the spooking is driving me demented!
 
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At last someone who knows what im going through.

i will keep going though i dont tend to give up easily, especially as i knew he would be a challenge when i bought him.

Its so so frustrating. luckily i havent come off yet maybe because he spooks at stuff that isnt even there im off guard so i go with the flow, unlike if i saw a wheelie bin i might tense up.

im hoping its the grass thats gave him a personaility transplant
 

caileag

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I got so fed up with my part loan veteran arab spooking at everthing yesterday felt like jacking it in : ( hopefully put it down to spring grass
 

Gryfiss

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Some horses have a magnesium deficiency on spring grass you could try that. Also have his eye site checked I new if one being short sighted that spooked at everything . X
 
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Some horses need a buddy whether we like it or not. After all they are herd animals. You mentioned he was fine in the company of others ...for both your safety, go with another rider. i own a bold connie mare who will go out alone unfazed. She doesn't even notice if she is left alone in the stable yard. I have a HiPo, not so brave, who is a wonderful trail ride as long as he has a buddy . Had him 6 years, & even though he is a little better alone on the trails, the ride is so much more enjoyable with company.some horses just aren't suited personality wise to go out in the "wilds" without a herd member.
As far as humans go, I think it always wise when going out to have a buddy if possible, swimming, hiking, skiing, riding, all come to mind.
Give your Arab positive rides building confidence with a stablemate.
 

Pearlsasinger

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I would have his eye-sight checked, if all is well, stop feeding any hard feed and just give forage. There truly is no such thing as cooling mix, all mixes are cereal based, so starchy. Horses do not digest starch well. I would also take a few steps back and let him build his confidence with a companion on hacks etc.
 

Taffieboy1

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Sometimes, its just the way the Horse/Pony is, I have a 19yr old Welsh x TB
if a car comes up his rear end he will lash out at it, go backwards into it, and if one comes towards him, he will try an spin around, go down ditches backwards you name it, he just hates to see traffic, yet I live beside a big A road v v v busy indeed, I am lucky to have gallops, yet if I hack on them the sound of traffic is crazy, but he doesn't bat an eyelid, only if they are in view, same with dogs, if he hears the hunt dogs or any farm dogs, not an issue, if one appears, oh boy hold on tight, very tight, now I have just succum to him being that way, an let him get on with it, but I don't do a lot of road work with him now due to it.
 

YasandCrystal

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Is that at me for my old boy YasandCrystal ?
Hi sorry no - it was for the OP as her horse's behaviour had changed. I notice changes in my horses with the summer season and I am sure it is very true that once you stop short feeds and the balance of minerals they provide you can get an effect from your grass if it is lacking in something. It's an interesting website and what they say makes sense to me.
 

Taffieboy1

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So you got any tips on a 19yr old that behaves like a 4 yr old out hacking, silly spooks, at his own shadow sometimes !!
 

Skyebald

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I had an Arab mare who always spooked hacking on her own, in company she was completely chilled. She'd spook at the same thing for ever and never changed. I owned her for over 20 yrs ... hope yours gets better as it could be a bit tiring :rolleyes:
 
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