As the equestrian events in the Olympics are coming to an end it got us thinking, how would you cope in a busy warm up arena if your horse was spooking and shying at the other horses? We get a little insight from Team Rider Cass Webb.
So "horse shy" horses I have had a bit of experience with, "horse shy" horses have been allowed to get into a habit of spooking and shying at other horses.
So to break the habit of the horse shying we start at home with an experienced rider on the horse shy horse and another on a quieter more dull horse, you must have a dull horse that won't get worked up as the problem horse needs to stay as relaxed as possible.
To start with we will just ride around the arena together not putting any pressure on the "horse shy" horse, so slowly we will start with riding next to each other just at walk and then trot and then canter, followed by riding the dull horse up behind the problem horse and then in front of the problem horse. Most "horse shy" horses will not respond badly with any of this and it shouldn't cause too much problem. We will then start working the horses head on toward each other, this is when the problems normally occur. First at just the walk and then trot and if you feel the need follow it up with canter.
Now as you will be expecting the horse to drop his shoulder and spin you won't be too surprised when it happens, this is when the pressure must come on with your leg to push him through it and not allow the stopping and spinning and making sure he stays completely on your line, we usually will do this to start with on a 30m circle and bring it down to a 20m, so we are head on both going different directions of the circle, crossing in and out of each other too. Your horse should start responding well after a lot of repetition of this, you shouldn't stop doing it until you get a very big improvement from the horse.
The key things to remember are repetition and patience, it might not happen instantly!!
This could take weeks and even months but it will be worth it to get your pony nice and quiet when you go out! I've found this to be successful with my "horse shy" horses but obviously each to their own!