“Help! My horse is becoming dangerous and she is spooking at everything! I don’t mind her spooking, but she has learnt that if she rears up and spins away from the thing that spooked her, she will be okay. I have tried everything to stop her from doing this. She will also spin so her head is in the hedge rather than her bum. I have tried pulling her around, using my legs and talking to her to try and get her bum in the hedge instead, but she won’t do it. Do you know of any method that could help me?” Thanks, Megan.
H&C expert Jenny Rudall replies: “Hi, it sounds like your horse has either had a scare and is genuinely nervous or has learnt that through spooking she can get her own way. With either situation, she needs confidence and guidance from her rider and a lot of patience before there is a serious accident.
Firstly, if she is rearing, have you put a martingale on to help stop her getting her head above the point of control? It doesn’t always prevent rearing but may help. Have you tried hacking out in company with a more sensible horse? By hacking in company it will give her confidence and it is very important she goes past the things that she is scared of. You may have to be very patient but when she is spooking at something, she must face it and go past as it seems she has learnt she doesn’t have to. If you are unable to do this try asking a more experienced rider to help you. If you can go out with them and see how they do it, it would help. Stand your ground and praise every small step she takes in the right direction.
It may also help to build up your horse’s confidence in you both on the ground and in the school; you have not said about your horses daily routine but by doing regular school work and lunging you can build up a better rapport with your horse. Have a watch of our horsemanship essentials series here which can give you some ideas about dealing with a spooking horse. I am not recommending that you tackle the problem on your own as you need lots of experience to do what they do in this series. But several of the episodes will give you ideas about how to get your horse used to scary objects and how to build up the horses confidence in you. Most importantly I think you should seek out the help of a more experienced rider to help you and do not try and tackle the dangerous behaviour on your own.
Good luck! Jenny.”