How to deal with spooking in an indoor school

You can practise these skills at home, and then apply them when working in an indoor school

You can practise these skills at home, and then apply them when working in an indoor school

Question

Whenever we compete indoors my horse gets really spooky and lacks concentration. How can I boost his confidence?

Answer

When riding a spooky horse it’s important to keep him connected between your leg and hand. 
I’d suggest you work with your trainer to establish this connection. 

One exercise you can try if your horse does spook at something in particular is to turn his eye line away from the scary object. Use lateral work, such as leg-yield, as you move towards it, bending him away from whatever’s scaring him. 

Lessen your aids each time you ride past it and use the pressure, release technique. By this I mean that if he starts to spook, apply your aids, and as soon as he does what you ask, take your aids off to praise him. Practise lateral work in your arena at home by starting on a small 10m circle and gradually increasing the size of the circle by pushing your horse out with your inside leg. This will give you an idea of the movement you need to ride when you’re going past a spooky object. Never turn your horse to face it as he’ll just start to back off, which will create a bigger situation that’s harder
to get out of. 

 

Other things you can do to help include:

·     Taking your horse out to as many different venues as you can to get him used to strange indoor environments

·     Feeding a high fibre, low starch diet, possibly with a calming supplement

·     Hiring an indoor arena and riding in it with another horse to give him confidence

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