This is a continuation of the post spookier and spookier click here to read and just things about a few more examples or points of view.
My mums horse, who was mine originally, was backed and schooled by me, and in the grand scheme of things was not a problem. One “thing” we had was that he wouldn’t jump fillers. everyone called him spooky, and I got fed up and lost all confidence, eventually just doing rustic fences which even then could be a problem.
Reflecting back, I can see the vicious cycle. Being relatively new to jumping fillers with a young horse we were both as spooky as each other. I remember approaching a fence with my eyes locked soley on the green painted wood underneath. That’s where my focus was, that’s where his focus was, that’s where we stopped. Every time.
Looking back I should’ve got another instructor or gone back to basics on a jumping schoolmaster to get my confidence up, before going back to my horse. Towards the end of our career together I had a lesson from my college instructor, and she just worked us over a small jump, pole initially, with the filler alongside until he stopped looking, then it got bigger. It was a very chilled out no pressure lesson and I started to enjoy it. A complete change to my usual wound up self as I psyched myself out whilst in line waiting for my turn.
Since my Mum took him on a friend did some riding and successfully jumped some fillers, because she had a don’t care attitude and didn’t worry about the fillers! I promised myself then that I would get over myself and would NOT have the same problem with my next horse! Thankfully we don’t, he’s level headed and if I’m worried I talk myself into it and look beyond.
I think this is a good example of man-made spooking. We see it everyday, with those riders who glare at the bag by the arena every time they trot past, and wonder why their horse also looks at it!
Then there are those horses who seem to be wired “wrong”; a chicken nugget short of a happy meal as my cousin put it. Regardless of how many times they see that dustbin they still spook. I wonder if it has a biological element? Ie the chemicals are imbalanced in the body, or if it’s attention seeking behaviour, or insecurity. Are they making sure their rider is still listening to them, not nattering away to their friend?
Going back to my Mum’s horse. A couple of years ago he started this silly spooking. He’s a very laid back character and usually takes everything in his stride. But this summer he was finding an excuse and spinning and cantering off, invariably losing my Mum. I think sometimes he was testing her, after all he had been downgraded from teenage jack of all trades, ridden 6 days a week, to sedate hacker ridden twice a week. But at the same time I also thought it was out of character. This horse didn’t mind if you ran up behind and vaulted on, so why was he overreacting so badly? Mum put him on a magnesium supplement; have you read about them? They say calming effects, but he didn’t need much calming down, just rebalancing his body. It worked. No more overreacting, he just looks at unfamiliar objects, which means my Mum relaxes and enjoys her ride, and takes her focus off finding the next hedge monster, which stops the horse scouring the hedges. This breaking the vicious cycle.
Those are just another of my thoughts about why horses are spooky; I’m all for feeding supplements so long as they work, or an experienced person had recommended it. I think owners can create as many problems, such as over feeding a chemical, as they solve. Likewise, if you find yourself in a cycle, GET OUT!