Monday, April 4, 2011

Traumatized horse

I just purchased my first horse as an adult (had 4 as a child). I purchased an 8 year old gelding and began riding English (grew up riding western). I live on a nature preserve with lots of live oak trees, deer, birds and alligators. I rode my horse for 2 months with no problems. He never spooked and was very responsive. However, we came across a pond while walking on a raised dike (water on both sides). A large egret flew out of the pond practically in my horse's face. He spun and lost his footing on the dike. I quickly realized he was falling in and I threw my reins, stirrups and pushed myself off his back end. I pushed so hard that I knocked myself unconscious. I awoke on my own, but later found that my horse had been located a bit up the road covered in mud. He apparently did fall in an alligator hole and probably had a struggle in the mud to get out. He has been a nervous wreck since (as have I). I am trying to stay calm and not show my concern. However, he is not spinning and bolting (or at least trying to) every time I ride him. I have even tried walking him on the ground in areas that are now seeming to frighten him and he is getting very tense, snorting and trying to pull away. I am going to continue to work on this but it has been 1 month and I do not feel safe even riding him to our round pen. Is there anything else I can do besides daily ground work and trying not to be stressed myself. I am afraid I may need to give him away. Even my trainer has noticed his tension and anxiety but she seems a lot braver than I am. I am afraid he will bolt through the woods and I won't fair so well.... How long should I give him and I to recover before giving up???

Hello Kimberly,

I am sorry about what happened. I hope you can think about how you can help your horse to overcome his fear and you can rehabilitate a good deed to help him even if it means the original plans that you had for him when you bought him will have to change for a while.

YOUR energy needs to be very laid back and low when you work with him. Be certain that you are working with someone with him that recognizes that you need to have very low expectations of him right now to regain his confidence. He will be relying on you.

Round Pen only if it is laid back and good longing is. There should be no feeling of chasing him at all.I think you should do T.E.A.M. ground work with him. Linda Tellington Jones wrote the books, and I have used the system successfully for years. She also has DVDS. You need to start over with your horse and gain his trust and confidence on the ground first.

Be careful of "natural horsemanship" techniques if they are at all rough. There are good people out there, but there are other people who would advise such really incorrect things for your horse such as using a plastic bag on the end of a stick, high energy round penning, even throwing him.He is an individual, and you should do NOTHING that would upset him any more.

I also recommend that you read the horse chapters on horses in books that Dr. Temple Grandin writes. ANIMALS IN TRANSITION and her latest book. It will help you understand the thought processes of what your horse is going through.

If you visit my web site there are articles that will spell out actual things you can do. The article RETRAINING A THOROUGHBRED, gives specific directions on ground work to start out with.

Please email me again by EXPERTS, or my email My website is

I do not want you to get hurt, so do a little at a time and I would not ride him until you feel he is trusting you and relaxing. I hope you decide not to sell him.....there are so many people out there who would just make him worse and he needs all the love you can give him.

Mitzi Summers

No comments:

Post a Comment