How to Spook Proof a Young Horse

If your horse gets spooked easily, it's important to work with it to reduce this behavior and increase the horse's comfort zone. With some careful and dedicated work with your young horse, it may be possible to spook-proof your horse.


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    Try to find what kind of spooker your horse is. Does he or she bolt? Does he or she just snort? Does your horse plant his or her feet and refuse to move forwards. Once you have identified how your horse spooks, you can better prepare how to handle it. Try to understand what sets off your horse and why.
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    Become comfortable with your horse in a safe environment. Before you start trying to spook proof your horse, get a feel for him or her in a safe environment. Starting in a small round yard or on a lead is a good place to begin. Make sure you are capable at a walk and trot before you start with spook training.
    • Don't let your fear of your horse stop you from exposing him/her. The only way to get a horse to stop spooking is to get him/her used to various situations via exposure. Sheltering them will not help. If you feel uncomfortable to expose the horse, then get a trainer or more experienced rider to jump on.
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    Start slowly to bring in 'spook factors' into your rides. For example: After your horse is warmed up and settled, ask someone to bring in a tarp and weigh it down. Let your horse walk around it and slowly ask him to step over it. Be patient and confident.
    • When a horse is spooking, try to take his or her mind off it. Ask the horse to use its brain for other things. Ask for small circles or to move off your legs. Distract the horse from the spook at hand until it has settled.
    • Be persistent and realistic. Horses are naturally a flight animal and it can take time to spook proof a horse. Don't expect your horse to be perfect after a week, it takes a lot of little wins and ongoing exposure to get a bombproof horse.
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    Continue to expose your horse to more 'spook factors'. Think of things that he/she may experience at shows and try to replicate them. Things like bunting, people, other horses, and so forth. Always introduce one thing at a time and work to desensitize that factor before you introduce another one.
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    Advance the desensitization. Once your horse is less responsive to spook factors in the small safe space, think about taking him/her out for a hack. This is best to do at the end of a ride once the horse is a bit tired. Hacking out is a great way to expose your horse to a variety of things.
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    Take your horse to low-key events. Local pony club days or schooling at a new venue are great ways to expose a horse without the stress of a full blown competition.
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    Continue the process. Even if your horse seems less spooky, periodically arrange practice days with a few 'spook factors' to re-expose your horse and to practice with how to deal with spookiness.
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    Finish on a positive note each time. Try to end your ride on a good note rather then a negative. if your horse is having particular trouble with an exercise accept a smaller or partial win or go back to an exercise that your horse is confident with before you finish your ride.


  • Be a confident leader to your horse. If you choose to ask your horse a new question you need to be confident in your ability to follow through.
  • Always try a horse before you buy. Be honest with what your abilities and limitations are. Try to get a horse that you feel safe on.


  • Don't be afraid to ask for help from a trainer or a more experienced rider. If you feel unsafe or are having trouble coping with a spooky horse reach out and ask for help
  • Always ride with supervision if your horse is prone to spooking. Whether it is riding with a friend or having someone on the ground, you should have someone to call for help if you get into trouble.
  • Always wear correct safety gear. Even if you do not for a quiet horse, you should take extra measures for a young horse.
  • Always check that there is no medical reasons that your horse is spooking. Check that his or her gear fits correctly and that his or her teeth and feet are in good condition.

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Categories: Horses