“I’m going to spook….”


I have had some characters as horses. The Jackass was only the first. His idea of a ‘spook’ was a big swooping sideways thing. It was obviously designed to dislodge a less careful rider. As time went by, I learned that he telegraphed when he was going to do one of those things. It became a contest of sorts.

SJ: “I’m going to shy up ahead-are you paying attention?”

Me: “Don’t even think about it.”

SJ: “Too late!” Jumps sideways

The foxtrotter, Hickory, had two versions. He’d either drop and freeze in place (just suddenly lose about a foot in height-very disconcerting at first) OR , I swear his head would disappear from in front of me (don’t know where it went) and he’d do a 180 spin and scram. That horse was cutting horse quality on those spins. If I hadn’t had one of those old-fashioned bear trap saddles, I’d have eaten more dirt with him. Never knew what was going to set him off. I learned to sit deep and stick with him. Horse had more moves than a pound of Exlax.

Zhivago-the 13 hand Tarpan stallion-rarely shied. His attitude was always-“Is it edible or breedable?” If it wasn’t one or the other, he wasn’t interested. Except for one notable exception. Next door to where we rented was a 3D archery range. They’d gotten in some new targets for a meet-so we rode over to have a look. Usually they’d be elk, antelope, white tail deer, and such, but they’d gotten a new one. We came up through the woods and Zhivago came out from behind a tree to see a wild boar looking at him. He didn’t hesitate-he did a ‘bat-turn’ and was out of there. Horses and pigs do not mix and that primal instinct is still intact.

I’m careful about the de-spooking process with my horses. I want to manage the spook-not dampen it out entirely. It’s a protective mechanism for them-and for me. If it is a dog jumping at them or an attacker-I want them to respond. I just don’t want the big ‘fireworks’ that will land me on the ground hurt. Let’s be reasonable about it. Tell me the rattlesnake is there, but don’t dump me on top of it-that’s definitely rude to me and the snake.

Honestly-I know the “spooky” arab thing and it’s a truck load of manure. There are “spooky” individuals in all breeds and some of them are made that way by their rock-headed humans. It amazes me how many times the spookiness is the owner’s fault. But that’s a whole other issue, isn’t it?

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