Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training/Cars
I have a 7 year old mare, I've owned her since she was a 3 year old. Even as a youngster being backed etc. we never had any problems, she was the most laid back horse, hacked out alone even when she was only four, never spooked at anything. In aApril of this year we had an accident involving a large jeep, it went through a puddle she spooked and ran in front of it. It didn't hit her but had to put its emergency breaks on, she freaked and throughout the hack home she was bolting and began rearing and spinning at any cars, trying to go through hedges, into driveways, onto the verges and in a couple of cases into ditches. Although she has improved every time I hack her out she continues to do this. I have tried a few methods I've found on the internet but it just seems to make it worse. I used get worked up and scared, but now i can sit anything she throws at me, i ride her everywhere with a long rein but iI have sometimes tried to hold her back this makes her more worked up and confused. I have had people telling me she's just acting up but i know she is actally scared. Any advice??
Sounds like you two had a scary car moment! Horses are so honest, you're right, she is truly scared. I have an idea and I think working on it will be fun. You could start this on the ground or if you are comfortable you could be riding. Have a friend help you out, promise them that you will buy them dinner for their time so they will give you a whole afternoon. You could start with walking up to a parked car or SUV and your friend will open the door or the back hatch and give your mare a treat. If she is too nervous to get close to the car no worries, just have your friend step up to her. Keep working on that until she sees the car and starts to get a little excited and expecting that your friend will pop out with a treat. Then turn that into you following the car and your friend can occasionally stop and give the treat or open the back with a feed bucket full of mash, you get the idea. What we are trying to do is to change her idea about cars, they are delicious! Once she is feeling brave about treat pop outs then you can start to work on having your friend come up from behind (way scarier), nice and slow and repeat the lesson. I think this will be fun to work on and I think it will work if you take the time to get every step working before you move on to the next one. I always like to think about how the horses are feeling. Your horse has a feeling that cars can try to attack when they go by, Yikes! It will take some time but I think if we replace that feeling with lets go investigate that car, I think it may have a treat! She will still be aware of cars but she will not have the feeling that makes her flight response kick in.
Try this out and let me know how it goes for you two.
Caitlin Day Huntress