Re-training a shying horse

Discussion in 'Training Horses' started by finitey, Nov 19, 2004.

  1. finitey

    finitey Well-known Member

    Just abit of a query, can a horse who shys at nothing in particular be trained to not shy? The horse is still young, 7. if so how successful is it? Does anyone know any suitable trainers?
  2. MoJo

    MoJo New Member

    I dont know of any Trainers as such, but there are execises you can do yourself but would only suggest it if you are an experienced horse person.

    It also depends on exactly what you are doing or where you are when the horse does this... are there particular places where it is likely the horse shies?

    I suppose similar training as what show horses go through could eliminate some spookiness... We use tarps, drums, sirens, loud speakers baloons etc around the horses as we ride, and even before this I lunged my horses with things tied to them.... believe me if you do this the likelyhood of them shying often drastically reduces..... But again I cannot stress enough that it should be done in an arena or confined riding area by experienced horse handlers/riders.

    Just an Idea if you dont want to get an expensive trainer!

    ShanteL & MoJo
  3. sil

    sil Gold Member

    Horse's don't shy at nothing. Or to put it another way, what we think of as nothing, horses think of as something.

    If you are going to get training done in my personal experience the training needed in that sort of case is going to be on submission and obedience, not to stop shying per se. That way your horse is going to give you priority instead of the scary thing.

    ~ Do as much as it takes, do as little as it takes. ~
  4. beccy

    beccy Well-known Member

    he is 7 years old, he is not a baby anymore.
    Shying is common. sometimes it is because there is something really spooky worth shying over, or lack of trust between horse and rider, or more commonly lack of obedience, attention and submision. if he has his whole attention on you, he can not shy - unless the monster actually jumps out of the bushes.
    a horse who is spooky in nature are more difficult to over come than one who is looking to get out of work. in your next lesson, ask your instructor to work on this.

  5. finitey

    finitey Well-known Member

    Thats really interesting comments guys, I had never thought much to the cause of the shying but rather how to stop it.

    The horse in question was a horse I had on trial abit back and she would shy at silly things like shadows or a barrel that she had grazed next to for many weeks. Things that definately did not scare her, so I assumed it was simply a way of getting out of doing what I asked of her. I would not say she was a spooky horse, she was a "looky" inquisitive horse. A horse shying at something that actually scares it is something different all togther and I would have much less of a problem with this. These "submission" techniques are these natural horsemanship techniques? I found that repitition (ie. circles next to the barrel she was shying at) did not help. The next day she would do exactly the same thing.
  6. Kasia

    Kasia Well-known Member

    Yeah, ok. A few ideas.
    My horse would do this when not ridden confidantly and forward. He knows i'm scared easily, and if i don't get my act together and push him on and tell him off (verbally), he'l look at things he's not scared of.
    I know him well, and he's a very quiet horse, and i know when he's trying it on.
    So now that i'm slowly getting my act together, i can be a bit more forceful with him. He's a kind boy, and usually it doesn't take much to get him to realise he's not going to win.

    He'll prick his ears, look up, and i'll put my legs on, ask him for something and tell him off verbally, like growl at him or something. Next time round, i start putting my legs on and asking for something before the place, and 9 times out of 10 that's where the disagreement ends.

    Your girl might need more than that, it depends purely on how kind she is and how serious you are. And how well you know each other, and how much trust and how good your partnership is.

    Also, she might be bored. Horses will find ways to amuse themselves when they are bored. So don't go round in circles, do different things often, even if it's something as simple as a change of pace, or asking for flexion or bend.

    Soreness is really the first thing that should be looked at. If she's sore, she'll think of everything she can to get out of work. Quite understandable really.

    If she's not, and you're 100% sure she's just being a snot, you have to get stuck into her. Not violent, or anything, but make her realise she's not getting away with it. Even if you have to come back to a walk to do it. If she's going fine past it at a walk, but being silly in trot, she's most likely putting it on.

    Also, might be an idea to first do groundwork. As much as you can, and get her focused on you and work on your relationship before you get into the saddle again. Walk her everywhere you can, make a point of being the leader. Confidant, gentle but firm when needed.

    Be brave! And yes, i fully understand it's MUCH harder said than done. Good luck.
  7. widgelli

    widgelli Well-known Member

    Have you had her eyes checked? Some horses have a type of tunnel vision . If they do have this condition , they will only sight something when they are right up close to it and it comes into their line of vision.
    It is because of the fact that they dont see something until late that they will shy away from it.
    With this problem they only see directly in front of them selves and not to the sides properly.
    A person I know had a pony who would shy at the drop of a hat , or should I put it at the drop of the rider , who was an old man . My eldest son noticed this one day and went up and moved his hand slowly along the side of the horses head. The horse did not react until his hand was nearly in front of the horse eye. The next time we had a visit from the vet , he had a look at this mare and she had tunnel vision.
    Just a thought on the matter.

  8. ThisIsMe

    ThisIsMe New Member

    I have a chronic shyer, the main thing I've learnt is not to grab on when he does it. It makes matters worse when you tense up, it gives them a reason to be scared of something.

    I always push forward or ignore the little ones. He does it for attention or when he's bored....and no I dont constantly school him. This is usually during walking when we're out doing road work.

    It does depend on what kind of rider you are as well. If you're a nervous rider, you tensing up could be making him shy at little things. Learn to relax and ignore all the scary things out there and it does make a difference.

    I do not love the sword for its brightness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend
  9. sil

    sil Gold Member

    I think the best way to describe it is; when your horse shies, don't punish him for shying - correct him in what he has stopped doing instead. So if he was trotting down the side of the arena, you correct him back to trotting down the side of the arena. And you keep putting him back in that place, and insisting he trots down the side of the arena until he decides it's much easier to listen to you and trot, than to spook! =)

    ~ Do as much as it takes, do as little as it takes. ~
  10. finitey

    finitey Well-known Member

    The first thing I had done was a full vet check, eyes included, and she was given the all clear.

    I did use to correct her sil by "ignoring" the little shies and making her repeat whatever I was doing as you have suggested. Her previous owner warned me not to "lay into her" is how she worded it, because she was a very sensitive horse that needed to gain confidence from her rider. She apparently lost it at her in the bush and the horse-rider combination was never the same.

    I don't think she was doing it just when she was board because the shying was very intermittent when schooling but very very bad in places new to her such as the bush or schooling in an open area. She was a little better with another horse though. She was also fine to walk past these "scary " areas but I had problems at any other speed. You could feel her tense up prior to the shy and I did try hard to push her past it but often she would shy anyway, or throw in a pigroot at being told off.

  11. TB4Me

    TB4Me Well-known Member

    I used to have a genuinely spooky horse, the best thing was as Sil said to just keep doing what you were doing, so not to make an issue of it. This particular horse would whip round 180 degrees and go charging away from whatever scared him when I first got him, but when he realised that it's not a big issue he calmed right down. He can still do some really big shies but he will immediately calm down and resume what we were doing afterwards, because he knows that he won't be punished for it.
  12. Kasia

    Kasia Well-known Member

    It's hard with a sensitive horse. You don't want to do too much and upset them even more.
    I don't think you should 'ignor' it totally though.
    And when i said 'get stuck into her', i didn't in any way mean be cruel or whip her or hit her, or boot her.
    If she has had problems with relationships in the past, i recommend you do some basic groundwork first.

    When you ride her, you have to ride her confidantly. When she starts to tense up, don't just keep going. Ask for something, like flexion, bend, a circle, shoulder in, whatever she can do at this stage.
    You'r lucky, as you're getting a warning, and you can recognise it.
    Whatever you can do to take her mind off shying.

    Then come back to walk somewhere else, and walk right up o the scary object. Get her to sniff it. Then continue in walk, circle, and walk past it, let her have a look at it if she wants, then when you've gone past, ask for something again.
    Go round again, asking for little things all the way around.
    Keep walking past it until she's happy, then go into trot.

    I know what you mean about it being fine in walk, but not in anything else.
    But as i said, if she's totally 100% fine with it at a walk, there is no reason why she should chuck a wobbly at trot.
    If she does, circle, and go right back past it. Asking for things all the time. Keep her mind active so she doesn't have time to think up of monsters.

    It's important to not let them get away with it. If you were trotting, keep on trotting, so she knows she won't get out of the work.

    Sensitive horses do have to be approached differently. and with my boy, if he's truely scared, i do remain quiet, let him look and sniff, and get over it. Reward him constantly when he's trying (being calm/walking up to and past something), and then just carrying on as before. I dont make a big deal out of it then.
    But if horses are just putting it on, then there is no reason to not tell them off. If you treat bad behaviour as the real thing, they'll use it against you. Again, you don't have to cruel. Just assertive.
    But you have to know the difference between real fear, and just bluffing.

    Horses will be 'looky' in open places. And more likely to be so on their own also. That's normal.
    But that also comes from building a relatioship with your horse. When you next go out into an open space, just lead her around before getting on. And then just walk around. Don't go out there to school her.

    But get her checked out first. It might be soreness somewhere.
  13. Saintly

    Saintly New Member

    Hi Finitey,

    Shying is a common problem, particularly the sensitive horse that seems to do it OUT OF THE BLUE.

    I have ridden horse's that jump at their own shawdow, even a leaf blowing throw the arena. This all can be corrected but it does take time.

    One excersise wont fix the problem, you need to do alot of distraction training when she is paying more attention to the little things she may be reacting to.

    You have to make the wrong thing difficult with out causing pain. Horse's are generally lazy creatures that like to presserve their energy so keep her moving forward but in different directions around the area she was being silly at. Do some hip overs, maybe 10/12 if necessary. Think of a three step serpentine changing rein, try and get her head long and low, horse's are calmer this way rather than her head being up in the air. Her adreneline is pumping so she needs to be taught to cope with things rather than react.

    She is lacking confidence but needs to be taught that it isn't aceptable to react at silly things and training can correct this but will probably take your horse the rest of her life to learn to be more confident and less silly. As everyone has said - think forward, keep her busy and relaxed at the same time. Don't focus on what she is paying attention to, you keep her paying attention to you and your rein with lots of different things not just a circle at the area she has been silly at. She wont know which direction you are taking her and as her attention comes back to you she would have forgotten about jumping at her own shadow.

    It does take a lot of training and patience to correct but it is possible. You just need to keep focused on her - not what she is focusing on.

    Remember - lots of different excerise's when she is silly not just one.

    Good luck and think positive.
  14. Neesi

    Neesi New Member

    Totally terrified

    I have taken in helping retrain a new horse, he's not shy at all wen he is in the paddock, but as soon as a saddle goes on him he's terrified of everything... He will shy at birds flying out of a tree, just suddenly jump with no reason for it, he is scared of the lead rope, which makes me think he may have been hit at his previous home... Just wondering how to help him get over his fear..
    His owner said she took him for a walk into the next paddock where he's not been as yet and he was shaking and sweating with fear..
    My idea was to just lead around the property and get him used to every area so that he can get used to it all and hopefully settle down, but does anyone have any suggestions on why he is totally scared with the saddle in and how I can beat his fear with him?
  15. old_mate

    old_mate Well-known Member

    My first horse used to do massive shys that to start with caused me to fall off.
    She would shy then bolt like all the devils in hell were after her.
    I started to lead her around, because she scared the crap out of me with the bolting.
    Once I learned to ride the shy I started riding her on the road again. She never stopped doing the tensing thing when she saw something scary, but once she trusted me and my judgement if I did not react she would just keep walking past what ever the problem was. All of this would happen in a nano second, so if you did not watch carefully it looked like nothing was going on.
    Horses are funny things and they are all different.
    My husbands horse shys at stuff, you just have to keep balanced and ready at all times.
  16. La Dolce Vita

    La Dolce Vita Active Member

    I can't help with training your horse, but I found it useful to train myself. I had a shyer who unnerved me, which then stirred him up, and around and around we went. I started looking for things that would scare him, just to prepare myself. So of course he would realize I was looking at something and make me happy by spooking at it. What a good boy :)

    I trained myself to relax on command - and it worked! Basic NLP, you assimilate an action with a word or phrase. Mine was 'it's nothing', you choose whatever works for you. I started each night before sleeping ... tense your body from the toes up, as hard as you can, and hold your breath. Say the phrase (in your head is fine, just use the same word or phrase each time) and then let yourself just 'flop' as you let your breath out. (I did this in bed, so I didn't fall over!) Three or four of these each night, and in no time you will be able to use it when you are stressing.

    This works for daily life as well as spooking, so hopefully it helps. :)
  17. sophwill

    sophwill New Member

    great tips, thanks

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