skip to Main Content
Stop Horse Featured Image

Tips for a Nervous Hunter Horse Who is Spooky at the Jumps

Featured Image Credit (CC): Nikoretro on Flickr

Submitted by member: Jennifer

Tips for the common horse? I have a project… a warmblood who was gelded late that I show in the equitation and hunter divisions. He is a converted jumper and came to me pretty messed up. He is spooky and has a common streak. For example, I showed in a hunter derby last weekend. First round looking at jumps… but goes… 4th out of 23… happy. Next round props and wheels at the first jump. We had already done that jump the other way. Most of the time it will happen on jumps away from the schooling area. When he is scared he runs at the jump and peeks; when is being bad he props and wheels. From his previous owners, using a stick only makes him mad. Last year a trainer rode him in the schooling ring and took a stick to him and he wheeled and dropped him (I did warn him). When I got him you couldn’t walk out of the barn or down the road without wheeling. I try making it his idea and it has worked well, he’ll go calmly and willingly. He enjoys trail rides is much more relaxed on them.

Answer by Julie Winkel

This is really a problem dealt best using horse psychology and good old horsemanship. This horse has baggage due to poor training and understanding from his past. Often people that are scared of horses or don’t understand them try to use force rather than basic horsemanship to train horses or solve behavioral issues. It sounds like this is this case with your horse.

Being firm and encouraging, rather than forceful is the key. His behavior of shutting down comes from nervousness rather than wanting to be a rouge. Not over-facing him, nor over-working him is very important. Be aware of situations where he could balk, and encourage him, even verbally to be brave and go forward. A lot of praise for a job well-done goes a long way to build a horse’s self-esteem.

Also you mentioned he stopped on the approach to a jump he had already jumped the other direction. You need to know horses see things differently than we do, out of each eye, therefore a jump approached in the opposite direction is an entirely different jump to them, due to the approach.

I hope some of these suggestions will shed light on helping your horse through his problems by encouraging you to think like a horse.

Video Recommendations:

learning to think like your horse

Thinking Like a Horse
Julie Winkel
To effectively communicate with your horse, there has to be a mutual understanding within the partnership. This understanding, in large part, stems from the rider’s ability to accurately read his or her horse. In this topic, Julie Winkel teaches us to accurately interpret the various expressions and behaviors horses use to convey their state of mind.
Running Time:  12 minutes and 46 seconds

View Video
Image of horse being spooked

Introducing the Green Horse & Training the Spooky Horse to the Liverpool
Bernie Traurig
This member requested video features a horse that is afraid of liverpools, affecting his show performance whenever this obstacle presents itself. Bernie tackles this issue using the same techniques he uses when introducing green horses to liverpools for the first time. His tried and true methodical approach leads to success.Running Time:  15 minutes and 44 seconds</e

View Video

Have Something You Want to Ask Our Panel of Experts?

Ask The Experts is the ultimate way to get help from the top professionals in the equestrian industry without leaving the comfort of your home. This service is available to Monthly, Annual and Lifetime Members of EquestrianCoach.com.

Julie Winkel

Julie Winkel has been a licensed Hunter, Equitation, Hunter Breeding and Jumper judge since 1984. She has officiated at prestigious events such as Devon, Harrisburg, Washington International, Capital Challenge, The Hampton Classic and Upperville Horse Shows. She has designed the courses and judged the ASPCA Maclay Finals, The USEF Medal Finals and The New England Equitation Finals.

For more information, visit her website: www.mwstables.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back To Top