Tips for Riding a Spooky Horse


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As you try out horses for sale and ride different horses, you will probably come across a horse who is spooky. Riding a spooky horse can be a bit unsettling, but it is a part of horseback riding. Through your own reactions and riding you can help to calm a spooky horse. Here’s how.

Keep Yourself Calm

A horse picks up on the energy that we exert, so the first step in calming an anxious horse under saddle is to keep yourself calm. Take deep breaths and focus on relaxing your muscles, sinking down deeply into your seat, and letting your heels drop down. Picture yourself relaxing, and visualize your horse doing the same. Be sure that you maintain a soft feel on their reins; don’t grip them tightly, as doing so will only make the horse more anxious. Keep yourself sitting straight up over the horse – you’ll be better prepared to go with him if he should spook.

Maintain Forward Motion

If you grow fearful that your horse is going to spook and pull back on the reins constantly to slow him down, your horse will probably become more nervous and excitable. It is best to let your horse keep moving forward naturally. Encourage him to stretch his head and neck down – doing so will help to relax him, and he won’t feel so restricted. Focus on keeping your horse moving at a good, purposeful pace so that he has a task to concentrate on.

Keep His Focus

If your horse finds something distracting or scary to look at, give him something else to do to take his focus off of the scary object. Work on specific exercises, like circles or figure-eights, or shoulder-ins and half passes. If he is presented with a task, your horse will have to devote most of his concentration to you and what you are asking of him. Many times horses can work right past scary objects when presented with a specific task to complete.

Ignore Scary Objects

Your horse may decide that one particular object or area in the arena is scary. It can be tempting for you to look at the object as you pass it on your horse, but resist the urge to do so. If you focus on the object, you will only be reinforcing your horse’s suspicions that it is something to be feared. Instead, look in the direction that you are riding and focus on conveying clear cues to your horse.

Don’t Punish

Despite your attempts to keep him calm, a nervous horse will probably spook at something at some point. When he does, do not make a big deal out of it. Slapping or otherwise punishing the horse for a spook will just reinforce the fact that he should be fearful. Instead, ride the spook out as calmly as you can and then immediately put the horse back to work.

Spooky horses can be a challenge to ride, but as you ride different horses and try out horses for sale, you’ll probably encounter a nervous horse. Stay calm in the saddle and use these tips to make the best of the situation.

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