So, just how do you handle spooking?

I’ve read everything I could find to read, watched every video I’ve come across, and asked everyone I thought might know anything. Seems like there is a lot out there but that it’s hard to put to together.

Firstly, don’t get a spooky horse if you are a beginner. Period.  Get a horse who is not spooky, that you can learn how to ride well otherwise. Then, of course, when you think you can ride well, and you move up to a horse who is a little hot and spooky, you will probably find out that you and not sure a good rider and have no idea how to stop your new horse from spooking and talking off with you.

Okay, so here are some tips. Don’t depend on any one thing to work by itself each and every time with every horse, but the more experience you get and the better rider you become, the more you will see how all of these tips are similar and work together.

1. Sit back in the saddle and stay relaxed. Keep your upper body back. If your horse moves, stay back and relaxed so you will move with him. Don’t grip and squeeze and lean forward, that will scare him more, and remove all your control and set you up to be unseated.

2. If he spooks and you weren’t ready for it enough to head it off at the pass, relax and move with him. Collect the reins and steer him gradually into a circle. Keep calm and relaxed and steady. I usually react by saying, “Easy, easy, easy” in a calming, slowing voice. Don’t try to pull him to a stop if he is still panicked, just go for a calm circle that gradually gets smaller. Give and take with the inside rein as you are able. (A horse can more easily brace against a fixed pulling hand, and then charge off with you.) When your horse is under control go back direct him back off the circle to what you were doing. Give him work to do but don’t push him past his comfort level. Don’t turn him around and try to immediately force him into close contact with whatever he is still frightened of.  Aim at getting him back to thinking, “We are just doing our every day job here, no big deal, that was nothing.”  Then you can gradually address the scary issue.

more to come


Beautiful Dressage

A journey through the process of loving and learning dressage.

“We have not succeeded in answering all of our problems. Indeed, we have not completely answered any of them. The answers we have found, have only served to raise a whole new set of questions. In some ways we feel we are as confused as ever, but we feel we are confused on a much higher level, about more important things.”  – Anonymous