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HI Spy: Does Your Horse See a Boogeyman on the Bridle Path?

Share the stuff that makes your horse timid on the trails

By Cindy Hale | 9-Apr-09

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Horse spooking on the trailForget the lions, tigers and bears. Oh my! More often it’s the trash cans, motorcycles and street signs that make our otherwise brave trail horses shiver in their shoes.  Though there are a handful of truly bombproof horses out there—or so the legend goes—almost every horse will spook at something on the trail. Whether it’s the sneaky dog that lies in wait and then leaps at the fence like a rabid coyote, or the gardener wielding a weedwhacker, our horses have their phobias. Sometimes a horse is cruising down the bridle path only to be surprised by an artifact (empty pizza box, anyone?) that sends him whirling in the opposite direction. Other more contemplative horses become transfixed by mysterious objects.

“I consider my Thoroughbred gelding, Rusty, to be pretty brave,” says Schuyler Jones, who cruises the trails about once a week to give her jumper a break from arena work. “Traffic doesn’t bother him. Neither do other farm animals, even the sort of odd ones like llamas and potbellied pigs. But heaven forbid we ride past a house that’s been landscaped with decorative boulders. Rusty just comes to a complete standstill. He’s never actually bolted off or anything like that. But he just locks up, like he cannot figure out what those giant, misshapen objects are or why they’re sitting on someone’s lawn. After a couple of minutes, I can finally get him going again. But then he’s scoping out every front yard for a while, to see if there are any granite monsters lurking about.”

We’d like to know what hypnotizes your horse on the trails. Is it questionable choices in lawn ornamentation? Or does your horse snort and scoot when it comes to crossing water or a busy street? We want to know the one thing that always seems to send your horse into flight mode when you’re out on the trail. To contribute, just click on Submit a Comment below. Some of the best responses will be featured in an upcoming issue of Horse Illustrated.

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HI Spy: Does Your Horse See a Boogeyman on the Bridle Path?

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Reader Comments

brian    newnan, GA

8/6/2015 11:21:32 AM

theres always something that will spook a horse even the most seasoned trailhorse but it all can be worked out. therers different levels of spooking also.the more you work with your horse with bombproofing the better he will be and you too.take your horse back to the object that scares him,get off walk up to the object,let him see your not afraid of it,let him investigate it i have a motto, we dont run from anything if he does run we come back.this builds confidence in your horse.being able to shoot a gun around a horse puts him on a whole bigger level of confidence too.Bombproofing is fun for you and your horse and makes your relationship with your horse better too

Philomena    Dickinson, ND

6/7/2012 1:45:11 PM

My 8 year old horse is usually pretty good about trusting me when we go for rides on what she considers"unknown territory," but what I consider"just another place to ride." But when we happen upon a place she is not sure about, she stops stock-still, snorts, then bolts in the opposite direction as fast as she can possibly go, even though the "boogeyman" was just a pheasant nesting in the grass!Also, she hates water and tries to jump a tiny puddle rather than walk through it! O,the ways of horses!

Becki    Prince George, BC

11/18/2011 2:39:31 PM

My 4 year old gelding is quite brave, but he fears anything that is moving, or if he hears it move. When he does, he comes to a dead halt, drop's his nose, then turns the opposite way and takes off at a flat out gallop, and then starts bucking.

Tia    clayton, NC

3/31/2011 2:18:04 PM

There is a old melted box that has been on the side of the road of a trail Indie and I ride every week in the summer, it has been there for a year now, and it never ceases to make her stutter in her pace. LOL

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