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Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.comHorse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.com   Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.com  

Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.com

September 20, 2008

Spooks at Bags

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Hi Cherry,

I have a wonderful 12yr old APHA/PtHA gelding who has 300+ show points. He is a wonderful show horse but will spook at things such as plants in the trail class or plastic bags.

At the recent Pinto Horse World Championship one of the groundskeepers shook out a plastic bag and Reggie really had a stroke from this. I have tried tying plastic sacks in his stall all around and praising him for sniffing and accepting the bags. When we ride him he will jump at things that are not there (or at least buggers humans cannot see).

I love this horse but really need to take the spook out of him. We lunge him and ride him almost daily and he has daily turnouts. He is on a daily wormer, recently had his teeth floated and he had exams of his hocks to ensure he was not in pain. Our wonderful farrier comes every 4-6 weeks and Reggie’s feet are better than they have ever been. In my opinion has not been over shown by any means. We show maybe once a month at open shows and once a year go to the Pinto World for two weeks. He enjoys the personal attention we give him everyday and loves being bathed. He enjoys being ridden-he comes running when called. He is very easy to keep in shape and riding well so I do not have him with a trainer.

Please help as the spooking really has frightened my daughter.

Thanks in advance and please keep up the wonderful books-I love the recent almanac book-it is WONDERFUL!!!

Very respectfully, MICHELLE

 

Hi Michelle,

I'm glad you like my books and even happier yet that you have such a wonderful horse ! It sounds like you are taking great care of him too.

As far as the spooking, it is a common behavior with horses because of their inherent suspicion of anything new or unusual, especially if it appears suddenly. Spooking is also understandable because a horse's vision is different than ours, they have acute hearing, and quick reflexes. It is the nature of the horse to move away from something fearful, How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hillrather than take a risk of being harmed by it. So understanding WHY a horse spooks is the first step in helping the horse overcome his fears. I talk about these things in detail in "How to Think Like a Horse" so if you want more inside information on what makes your horse tick, that would be a good book to read.

I've answered a similar question to yours recently here where a reader wanted to Making Not Breaking by Cherry Hillteach her horse to spook in place rather than wheel and run off: Spook in Place

But to your horse's problem specifically, his is the classic case of needing "sacking out" - I've written an article on the topic here: Sacking Out

After reading these materials, please feel free to write me again with more specific questions. In the meantime, please realize that it takes time to overcome such a fear - you never can completely remove the fear, but you can cover it with layer upon layer of good experiences and confidence.

    Ask Cherry Hill

      2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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