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Spooking is a behavior that horses do naturally, and it's a good behavior in the wild because it removes horses from situations that are potentially dangerous or harmful. Find out why horses spook from sudden noises or visual stimuli with information from an applied behavioral ecologist in this free video on horse behavior.
Hi I'm Mary Ann Simonds. I'm an applied Equine Behavior Ecologist. I live in Vancouver, Washington. I'm here to talk to you today about why horses spook. I've spent almost thirty years, over thirty years, working with people and their horses on understanding horse behavior and preventing behavior problems. Spooking is something that horses do naturally. It's a good behavior in the wild because if you spook at something that's alarming and you run away, you take the whole herd with you. And you take them to safety. In a domestic situations spooking can be considered dangerous or unpredictable. Well spooking is usually very predictable because horses they are pretty predictable at what they are going to spook at. Horses can hear a loud noise and spook. And remember horses can hear noises and sounds much lower and much higher frequency then humans can. They also can see differently then we can. They can smell way better then we can, so all of a sudden sensory input for a horse can cause a horse to spook. Most horses spook when they have a sudden noise or s sudden visual stimulus that they didn't know was coming or they were surprised by it. What's interesting is that horses that live in groups that are relaxed are not nearly as spooky as horses that are individual with the same stimulus so what does that tell you. It tells you that horse feels that there's safety in numbers, and by themselves they are at risk. So training a horse to not be spooky is the dialog for another discussion. But understanding why your horse is spooky. Is it a visual spook, is it a spook from a sound that it heard? Is it a spooking from something that it smelled. All three of those can very easily cause spooking. If hum, I was at a farm one day and there were pigs that used to be there before they bought the farm and the horses always spooked in the corner. And when I realized it was smell and we took the manure of the pig manure out, the horses stopped spooking. In another case a horse spooked when it walked into the dressage ring and it saw the black of a tire that had been in there dragging the arena. Well for a human that was no reason to spook but for the horse who was very observant and an associative learner, seeing that was scary. So understanding why your horse spooks and then helping your horse feel safe and get confidence so that it has no need to spook.
Specialty: Holistic Horse Health