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Horse that spooks from 'white' things

Hi Franklin,

I need alot of help with my horse, here is some info on him... I own a great 6-year-old AQHA gelding that is smart and willing. I trained him for barrel racing and we competing often, I belive he is ready for rodeo's and I entered him in one about a week ago... it was a total nighmare! Ok, so you probially know most all rodeos have big white advertisment signs on all the arena walls, chutes, pannels, ect. Well I found out that my horse FREAKED out at them, it was horrid, I went in the arena when it was my turn and my horse just froze, then ran away and snorted at the walls, he would not move or at least would not move anywhere I told him! I kicked him and tried to make him move but he was mind-set! I need help ASAP! I have had him for almost 3 years now and I have ALWAYS seen that he was afraid/spooks at anything WHITE... I need help fast or I will have to sell him, because you just cannot have a horse that is afraid of signs when you rodeo, I really do not want to sell him, I have trained him myself. PLEASE help!

Thanks and God Bless,

Hi Heidi,

How about getting your horse used to things 'white'. You said you trained him, so then you should understand you want to get the horse used to new things or things that may spook him long before you get to the arena. Seems he has had this issue since you have had him. I fail to understand why you simply did not train him out of it a long time ago. There is so much to being with horses that is beyond the riding of them. But, unfortunately, most humans only know of riding the horse and not so much about the horse itself. Getting a horse over something he is afraid of is a basic aspect of training horses. You may have missed this in your experience with your horses. It is not difficult but takes time and there is no quick fix. Here is a first little step; put some food (alfalfa flake) in the middle of a paddock. Pick a time when you know your horse is hungry. Have a white sheet handy. Put the horse in the paddock. Once he settles to eating, slowly drag in the white sheet. When the horse spooks and runs away from the food, immediately back off a bit without leaving completely (just the the point where the horse begins feel safe enough to want to get back to the food). Allow the horse to settle and come back to the food. Then talk soothingly and comfort the horse and reintroduce moving the sheet around. Keep repeating the process until you are rubbing the horse all over with the white sheet. Do you understand? Take it slow and be patient. Never push the scary object or thing unconsciously into the horses space. Always with an advance and retreat technique, being very sensitive to the horses fear level. Good Luck, be careful, thoughtful and let me know how it all goes.

Sincerely, Franklin

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