How do I tackle my horse's spooking?

To help tackle your spooky horse, Ben Hart, a leading equine trainer, has some tips for you. In an arena, or safe and enclosed area on grass, you can work your horse around spooky objects to help build his confidence

Q: When my horse spooks I become tense, which makes it worse. What can I do to try and relax after he spooks?

A: First of all recognise that your nerves are completely normal and natural and a result of your mind giving you warning signs that there’s danger and you need to stay safe.

In the short term breathing exercises, saying a soft word such as ‘jelly’ repeatedly or practicing mindfulness might all help to reduce nerves following a spook.

In relation to your horse you need to deal with the spooking issues, which will in turn reduce your instinct to be nervous and will hopefully increase your enjoyment of riding.

If your horse spooks this is an indication of fear, anxiety, lack of experience and probably also some trust issues.

Start a training plan in a safe area at home, introducing obstacles for him to work with such as tarpaulins, helium balloons, bunting etc.

Do this in very small, measured steps while allowing him to gradually build confidence. Riding through these obstacles will also help to build confidence and trust between you and your horse.

This would be the best way to remove your horse’s need to spook and in the long term reduce your nerves.