Ginny’s tips on spooky horses

  • Solving spooky problems

    “I currently have the long-term loan of a 10-year-old 16hh Trakehner x Thoroughbred, who won 11 BE points with his owner, before she decided to focused on dressage. I would really like to try and do some unaffil/Intro eventing on him as he has a good jump, as well as lovely paces.

    “He is quite a spooky type and will whip round if he encounters something scary out hacking, especially when he is on his own. We have made good progress in this regard over recent months by being firm without getting cross and he is gradually gaining confidence. Interestingly, he is not generally spooky when jumping.

    “I have taken him cross-country schooling twice over fences up to about 2’9” and on both occasions we had no problems with the fences themselves but he was extremely spooky in between and whipped round on more than one occasion.

    “Do you have any advice on how I should proceed to achieve my goal of competing in Intro classes by the end of next season?”

    Ginny says . . .

    Well done for being so positive about correcting his behaviour out hacking. Regarding his behaviour on the cross-country course, you need to find out is if he did the same with his previous owners and if so, what did they do to overcome it?

    If it’s not an old habit, I feel he may be testing your sense of humour, so this needs tackling firmly and decisively.

    You need to go XC schooling with someone on the ground, who can help you by putting a hand on the rein to stop him from turning around or to turn him back in the right direction. If he turns to the left, always bring him back to the right and vice versa – never turn a circle as this means success to the horse.

    If he threatens to rear, take the pressure off and just wait and be patient, until he decides that there is no alternative but to do what you want him to do. You may have to wait for 20mins or even longer, but, once he has moved in the direction you are asking for, he will eventually realise that he should really do it on the first time of asking!

    Best wishes and good luck,


    Don’t miss Ginny’s top tips to help combat other problems sent in by HHO users, which will be published on the site during the next few weeks.

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