spook-horse

Tips for Riding a Spooky Horse

by Jane Savoie

Riding a spooky horse can be challenging and frustrating. You might be more patient with your spooky horse when you understand that horses have survived in the wild all these years because of their natural flight response.

So, when you think your horse is being unreasonable because he’s shying from something that seems benign, change your attitude toward his behavior. Say something like. ‘”You have incredible survival instincts.” or “You don’t need to be on the lookout for potential danger. I’ll keep you safe.”

Do you get frustrated when your horse spooks from the same flowerpot he saw two minutes ago? Maybe the answer lies with the “theory of the dominant eye”.

You see, most of us (including horses) have a dominant eye. To find out which is your dominant eye, keep both eyes open and point at an object like a tree. Then alternately close each eye. You’ll find that when you close one eye, your finger doesn’t move, but when you close the other eye, your finger jumps to the side. For example, if you close your right eye and your finger doesn’t move, that means your dominant eye is your left eye.

The dominant eye explains why a horse tends to shy more when perceived danger is on one particular side of his body. Let’s say you’re circling to the right and your horse is left eye dominant. He seems pretty secure about his environment because his dominant eye (the left one) is on the outside. He can see his surroundings and keep himself alert and safe from “danger”. However, if you’re circling to the right and he’s right eye dominant, he’ll want to whip his head around to the left so he can check out the environment with his right eye. The result is that he spooks more from objects that are on the left side of his body.

Don’ts for riding the spooky horse:

— Never punish a spooky horse. Shying comes from fear. If you punish your horse for shying, you convince him he was right to be afraid.