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I was wondering if you know how to teach a horse to stop spooking at everything that moves?

- J.


First, let me tell you some things NOT to do:

I'll assume you've done a good job of sacking out your horse and that he's reasonably well-mannered. Now, let's look at how I handled an actual situation:

When I first got Willy, he had a real fear of culverts under driveways. I don't know if something jumped out at him from one or if he may been injured by one in the past, but they drove him bonkers! He would snort, lay his ears back, and brace his legs for a quick turn around and escape.

After I figured out what was making him spook, I had him slowly walk toward the culvert until he tensed his legs. Then I just sat calmly and patted him on the neck while quietly telling him that the culvert was "good." After he settled down, I'd circle him around the culvert at a comfortable distance and ride on. At the next culvert, the same scenario was repeated... but we were able to approach a little closer. And so on, until Willy just gave culverts a wary glance as he walked by.

Remember also that your horse sees the world differently than you do. Things that are clear to you look fuzzy and somewhat "over-exposed" to your horse. A light-colored object in motion can appear like a miniature lightning bolt to him. In addition, he has difficulty guessing how close he is to a strange object. If you learn to see the world as your mount sees it, you'll be better able to anticipate a potential spooking situation.
What You See....
What You See....
In addition to seeing the scene in fairly sharp detail, if this were the real world you'd see it all in three dimensions. Compare this with the way your horse sees the world....
What Your Horse Sees....
What your horse sees
To a horse, the daytime world is brighter, fuzzier and less green than what a human sees. Except when he's looking straight ahead, his world is as two-dimensional as the photo. Is that a predator crouched under that tree? Your horse can't tell. No wonder he's spooky until he learns that he can trust you with his life.
Photos © Nova Development - used under license.

Happy Riding!

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