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Sit The Spook

Sit the Spook Learn how to sit the spook on trail for safety and control with top trainer/clinician Julie Goodnight.

All horses are capable of spooking. Horses are hardwired to flee in response to fear. They’re naturally programmed to watch for danger and for the herd leader’s cue

Managing Fearful Behavior in Horses

Spooking generally occurs when the horse is in an unknown situation and the unexpected happens. This is quite different from the controlled setting in which desensitizing occurs. It’s not really possible to “spook-proof” or “bombproof” a horse, but by using my de-spooking techniques, it is not hard to…

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“Despook” Your Horse

…if a horse passes a mailbox every day as he leaves the property, he may suddenly spook if the flag is up. He may see the mailbox as a new monster capable of attack — until proven otherwise.

When your horse spooks, he probably balks (stops suddenly on the…

Julie training on a horse in English tack.

What Does it Mean to Have “Realistic” Training Expectations?

…and trained riding horse that has developed undesirable behaviors like spooking, bolting, refusing, bucking, or rearing, there are no magic bullets or quick fixes. It’s more likely than not to be a problem that stems from an underlying pain issue, so your first stop is an equine clinic for a…

March 2024 Horse Report

…energy level?

How responsive is he?

Will he buck or spook?

I thought I knew the answers to those questions, but until you actually ride a horse, you can’t really know. At high-level performance horse sales, like the cutting horse sales, you don’t have…

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Avoid An On-Trail Spook

…Until proven otherwise, your horse assumes that an unidentifiable object may kill and eat him, which can lead to nervous, spooky behavior.

Your horse also has difficulty seeing when moving from light to dark and vice versa. While your horse has excellent night vision, his eyes dilate and constrict…

De-Spooking Shadow/ Update on Episode 909

The Key to De-Spooking Shadow     Desensitizing had failed. Could a new approach help this gelding—on camera, no less?

By Annette Nole Hall

Our beautiful, kid-broke Tennessee Walking Horse is a spook. His name is Shadow and he’s afraid of it. We weren’t expecting that part of his personality when

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Riding Skills: How Do I Get A Secure Seat To Ride Out Spooks?

…the horse was jumping sideways! Unfortunately, when my horse spooks and jumps like that, I look and feel like “Whiplash” the little monkey they strap on to the Border Collie’s back at the rodeo. Needless to say, this scares my horse even more. I have some pretty big confidence issues…

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Riding A Spooky Horse

Ask Julie Goodnight: How Do I Handle Riding A Spooky Horse?

Question: Dear Julie, I usually ride some type of warmblooded horse (not exactly sure of the exact type) during riding classes. He’s often very nervous about a certain corner of the riding circle. He was once spooked

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Issues From The Saddle: How To Deal With A Spooky Horse

…saddle is very important for a spooky horse. When he learns to obey this rule he will not really be able to spook and his focus will remain on you. He can pick his head up and look at anything he wants to, as long as his nose stays in…

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My Horse Spooks At Traffic

…love her to bits but it scares me because I don’t want her to get spooked and have her get hit by a car. I don’t want to get hurt, either. What can I do? Traffic Jam

Dear Traffic Jam, To desensitize your horse to traffic, you will…

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Issues From The Saddle: How To Relax A Spooky Horse

…her, you’ll have a good feel for how this exercise works. You’ll want to teach it to her during the good times so that when you feel her coil up, you can fall right into this exercise and she’ll know what to do. Then every time you feel a spook

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Issues From The Saddle: Nervous To Go On Trail

…full body deep quiver/jump, he spooked in place. He continued to feel as though he was ready to spook at any moment, full of fear. I dismounted, and did some groundwork around the very same objects that seemed to bother him just a few minutes earlier. He became more comfortable….

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Ponying With Confidence

Your pony horse should be a safe and reliable mount that doesn’t spook and is easily controlled. He should also allow ropes to touch his legs and tail without startling, and should be good at dragging logs without spooking at the object that’s following him. These skills will help

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Fearful Trail Horse

…quiver/jump, he spooked in place. He continued to feel as though he was ready to spook at any moment, full of fear. I dismounted, and did some groundwork around the very same objects that seemed to bother him just a few minutes earlier. He became more comfortable. He walked over…

Fresh Start

…on a horse that’s excited, scared or feisty. Be prepared for spooks. A nervous or excited horse is more prone to spook, spin and bolt. Mange your rein length and know how to shorten and lengthen your reins blindfolded (my rope reins are the perfect length and are easy to…

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Stupid Human Tricks

…do around a horse that was new to you.

If you operate with awareness and with safety in mind, you’re less likely to be hurt. Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a horse without a flight response. Something can spook a horse that you may have…

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Ground-Work Exercises

…to stand still also reminds your horse to focus on you and get in the habit of reacting to your cues, rather than looking for something else to focus on — and possibly spook at.

Your horse needs to look at you and think before making a move. Teach…

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Winter Workouts – Ride Right With Julie Goodnight

spook at or focus attention upon. Your horse needs to look at you and think before making a move. That mindset taught now on the ground, will apply to your saddle time in the spring. If your horse knows he needs to look to you first, you’re training him to…

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The First Season Of Horse Master

…this is a spooky horse and not fun to ride on the trail. Now, before I generate any hate mail, let me say that I am not saying that all horses with white faces are spooky but most people that have been around tons of horses know that white faced/blue-eyed…

Guest Blog: My Top 3 Lessons From The Julie Goodnight Yoga & Riding Retreat

…stump. The following day he spooked at some llamas and a long-horned steer, and after that, he adjusted to his new environment and didn’t spook anymore.

Our next clinic with Julie Goodnight was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, and since we had split into two groups, it looked promising for…

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Fearful Of Riding My Thoroughbred

…speaking of the horse, there are some positive steps you can take to resolve the spooking issue with your horse. If you make a commitment to his training, you can teach him not to spook or to spook in place. There are a few Q&As on my website on despooking…

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Overcoming Fear: Coping With Fear Of Horses

…and I can’t breath. Nothing happened…I mean yes I have fallen off of him but that was a year ago. He spooks so easily and I just get sick to my stomach when I ride him!! He spooks and I work him through it but I still can’t gain any…

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Saddle Fit Guide

…horse is in constant pain as you ride, he will be spookier. He’s already at his limit so he’s on guard to spook more. Almost any behavior problem could be attributed to saddle fit. If the saddle doesn’t feel good to the horse, he won’t be able to do his…

A Devoted Horse

…the moment—when three seconds go by, it’s like a whole different day to the horse, and the moment is lost forever. Sadly, humans tend to linger in the past (he spooked here before) and jump to the future (what if spooks up there), instead of directing our horse like a…

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Cinch Up Your Horse Saddle Right

When you saddle your horse, secure your horse saddle’s points of attachment in the proper order to keep the saddle in place. If your horse takes a step when the saddle isn’t properly secured, he may feel a shift or roll, and spook.

If your horse becomes entangled

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Bitless Or Bridle-Less? What Is The Difference?

…headgear), I would ask you three simple questions: Do you ever have trouble stopping or turning your horse? Is your horse ever disobedient? Does your horse ever spook and bolt? If the answer to any of these question is yes, then personally, I would not want to be riding that…

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Regular Riding Routine

spook at this. So if you try this, be careful and work up to it slowly. But when you can drag stuff, your horse will be better broke. We like to drag all kinds of stuff like tarps, barrels, whatever we can find and can tie onto.

Then I…

Kentucky: The Horse Capital Of The World

…day, I found myself saying, “this horse never spooks.” No sooner were the words out of my mouth than I was proved wrong. Note to self: NEVER say a horse doesn’t spook, especially to a prospective buyer! So I spent the next hour eating my words and amazingly, I sold…

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Never Say Never

…am going to figure out how they do that.

For example: recently, when showing a buyer a horse I had for sale—a mature and experienced trail horse, the buyer asked, “What does he do when he spooks?” My answer, in a moment of stupidity, was, “He never spooks.” Of…

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Issues From The Ground: 2 Y/O Gelding Acting Aggressively

…heard him spook she just all of the sudden felt hair on the back of her neck & weight on her.

Obviously both of the situations could have ended very badly – thankfully no one was seriously hurt. However, I am very concerned that he is showing this behavior…

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Relationship Fix Series

…he may accidentally turn quickly and spook–moving with force.

Affection in Horse Terms

Kissing and hugging are human ideas of affection. Horses do spar (play fight) and bite at the lips but that’s more of a reason not to kiss on the lips. That’s a reason to keep…

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Master Each Gait

…says. “You may canter on some flat and well-groomed trails and you want to know that you can control the faster gaits in case your horse does spook and bolt.”

Here, Goodnight provides tips to help you stay in control at each gait. She’ll help you understand how to…

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Fear Management

…and your mind devolves into negative thoughts.

If you allow yourself to think “what if he falls,” or “he’s going to spook,” you’re focusing on the negative. That’s allowing fear to take over. Instead of allowing your mind to pollute, sing a song, or visualize what you want your…

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…the mare, but to no avail. Like many people, she had been using a technique known as “flooding” or “bombardment,” wherein you over-expose the horse to the aversive stimulus until she basically gets tired of spooking. Well, that would work for her eventually in each session, but she’d start over…