Do you sometimes get the impression that you are the last thing on your horse’s mind? Horses which spook, shy or spin round can be frustrating and quite unnerving.
Spooking is an evasion caused by tension or boredom. It’s no different to stopping at a fence or bucking. Whilst the cause may be different the cure is the same. You have to take control.
Limit your schooling sessions to thirty minutes. Do as much as you can in that time. Don’t stop for a chat with your friend or walk round aimlessly wondering what to do. Get on and ride. How can you expect your horse to concentrate if your mind is wandering?
Allow your horse five minutes to have a look around and get his mind on the job. Once you take up your reins insist on 100% concentration. Your aim is get your horse looking directly ahead. Focus on keeping a strong contact in both reins which doesn’t allow him to look left or right.
Push hard with your lower leg to push him into your hand. Use your knee and thigh to slow the speed. Don’t worry if he gets strong at this stage. If your have no weight in your hand you can’t control the front end. Result? Your horse can spin or spook when it suits him. Sort this problem out first. The rest will be easy!
Most problems can be corrected as long as you stay consistent and patient. Evasions like this have taken months to develop. They’ll take months to put right. You need to be determined and calm – and remind your horse who pays the bills!
For horses which are looking for a way out of working try this.
Ride a 20m circle at E or B. Trot twenty strides and walk five. Trot twenty strides and halt. Trot twenty strides and canter five. You get the idea. Counting strides helps you to concentrate. It stops you looking for trouble.
Be firm about the transitions. Use your knee for the downwards (The Other Way of Stopping) but make sure he’s quick off your leg for the upward. (Be a Lazy Rider) If he’s not concentrating be bossy! The minute you feel his mind start to wander change pace or direction. Don’t give him a second to think about anything other than you.
For horses which spook because they’re nervous try this.
Stay on the 20m circle but each time you get to the centre line ride a 10m circle to A or C. before you change push your knees in hard to bring him back and once you’re on the right line push on. Ride one 10m circle and then return to the 20m.
This works because you repeat and repeat. This has the effect of calming a nervous horse whilst the addition of the 10m circles gives him something out of the ordinary to concentrate.
With both these exercise remember your one aim is to keep your horse looking directly in front of you. This can be changed once you’ve established yourself as the boss again. (More on that another day) Re-schooling like this takes time and patience but never lose sight of your goal. You can stop this annoying habit. You’ve just got to be prepared to make some changes yourself. Good luck.