The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

30.9.2021 How to De Spook Your Horse: Chapter 10

In front

If your horse is spooking at objects in front of him, then the tips given in ‘vision’ are all relevant, and so I’ll use this chapter as a reminder of some of the concepts underlying bomb proofing your horse.

If you’re on the ground, your horse should be able to stand relaxed either with you at his head, or with you at the end of a 12ft line out in front of him, to the side of him, or behind him, for at least 10 minutes.  If you’re in the saddle, then your horse should be able to stand on a relaxed rein, with no contact between your hand and his bit, for at least 10 minutes (unless there is a pain issue which prevents him from doing this).  I know it takes a long time to establish the habit, but this habit is the foundations on which everything else is built, both in hand in in the saddle.  Only once your horse understands that standing still is what is expected of him, and that standing still is the ‘easy’ thing to do, can he return to that after being spooked by something.  Make standing still the ‘default option’, so that no matter what happens, you can press the reset button to return to that place.  It’s amazing how often fixing the ‘standing still’ on it’s own fixes 80% or more of the other problems in the relationship between horse and owner.  To achieve standing still in a relaxed way for 10 minutes usually requires the owner to develop and refine their communication with their horse, and through this, great changes can be made.  Better communication between you and your horse is very likely to lead to better understanding and a better relationship.

For your horse to remain calm, you need to remain calm.  To do this, you need a ‘plan’.  This might mean not pushing yourself beyond your limits, or being prepared to get off and lead your horse when necessary, or having someone walk on the ground in front of your horse, or having someone more experienced ride him, or whatever works for you.  Have a go, and see what works best for you and your horse.  What works for your instructor, stable neighbour, or best friend, isn’t necessarily what will work for you, and what works for their horses won’t necessarily work for yours.  

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021

Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion