Spooky Horses & Exercise
By Hadrien Dykiel
The bucking and crow hopping thoroughbred or warmblood on the lunge line is a common sight at barns. After the rather high energy lunging session, the rider gets on the horse for a somewhat safer ride.
Exercise leads to calmer horses. Spooky horses believe their survival depends on over reacting to any potential danger. With bottled up excess energy, it’s easy for them to do so. On the flip side, a horse that’s been exercised will be more conservative with their “flight” response. They will save their precious energy to run away from real danger, like mountain lions, instead of spooking at everything, including the shadow of a butterfly.
This is why many of us resort to lunging difficult horses prior to riding, it works. However, it is more of a temporary solution. It is possible to condition your horse to remain calm instead of spooking through desensitizing. You can see our mini course on growing your horse’s comfort zone here: http://www.allhorsestuff.com/Grow-Your-Horse-s-Comfort-Zone-a/272.htm
If practiced, you may no longer need to lunge your horse prior to riding one day.