Helllllp. Please.

Ok riders, I need your thoughts.

Dassah-mare and I had a jump school in our outdoor arena last Saturday. No lunge beforehand, a quick warm-up and we were on our way. Almost. During warm-up she had a wicked spook at the infamous back left corner and wheeled and I went flying. I even had my racing yoke and for the life of me could not will myself to grab it whilst twirling in the air. I did grab it during her second spook later on and it saved my ass.

After we got going in our jump school, Dassah settled down and was still very up but paying attention. She's got a busy brain and I constantly have to toe the line between keeping her busy and winding her up. I have yet to push for more busy work for fear it will wind her up so maybe I need to do that.


The spooks.

The barn is hosting a schooling mini-trials on Sunday (yay!!) and we're doing grasshopper (Intro B of USDF tests and 1'8" max jumps - but therein lies my dilemma.

The arenas (dressage and grass-jump) are set up on a hill. Below the hill on the east side are the cross country fields. The jump arena is bordered on the south side by really tall weeds (I think they're letting it turn into a hedge?) and then banks down to woods.

here's a handy-dandy picture.

There will be riders out on both xc fields during our stadium jumping so that combined with tall dense weeds of death, have the potential to be very frustrating.

Now. I'm not scared, if I fall off, I fall off. I'm working on my secure lower leg and I will definitely have two fingers looped around the racing yoke at that end.

My question is this. What would you do for that end to prepare for Sunday?

Do I go the soft route and ignore any antics while we're at that end? (my preference)
Do I bust her balls for being absolutely ridiculous? (high potential to create super-over anxious mare but does she need a good ball-busting for being so spoiled?)
Do I go au naturale and when we're done working (everywhere but that end) go to that end to rest?
OR - since horses's are not black and white, a combo of all of the above?

Do I put her on some calming supplement (she's on Redmond's Daily Gold) or magnesium?

My plan tonight is to lunge in indoor first (it's her safe spot), take a rest walk/trot through the dressage arena (also has scary spots because of tall weeds but not nearly as bad), then head to jump arena and school a bit. After that we'll head down to xc field because there's a couple new jumps that she's going to be very looky at.

Would love any thoughts.


  1. I personally would do the first - ignore antics. I just don't have good results from getting after them when they're being spooky, even if it is silly.

  2. Ignore her nonsense and do your best to give her positive experiences in the scary spots. Spooking usually comes from a lack of confidence and focus... so help her be confident and focused! Try doing some simple groundwork in those areas, or under-saddle exercises that she enjoys doing. Feed her treats in those spots. Heck, have a friend stand in the "spooky" place and give her sugar cubes when you pass by. Make GOOD things happen there!

  3. Thanks you guys! My brain completely forgot about treats and groundwork.

  4. Especially with mares and opinionated 9 year old ottb geldings, I like option 1b.

    Don't let them change the conversation.

    Courage has a spot in the arena that he likes to spook at for literally no reason. He only does it when he's acting out and frustrated and trying to have a tantrum. I have to just ignore it and ride through. I might take the conversation elsewhere (YOU WILL BEND AND PUT YOUR DAMN HEAD DOWN) before I come back, but I don't let him control the situation by choosing what we work on.

    Does that make any sense? I should do a full post on it sometime.

    1. Makes complete sense and you definitely need to do a full post on it!


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