Quick Tips: Get Your Horse Moving Forward Again After they Start Spooking/Napping

When Coco gets into a bad way with spooking she starts napping and walking backwards and hopping around the place – all so she can get as far away as possible from whatever she’s looking at. It can be very frustrating because no matter how much leg I put on, sometimes there’s just no way to get her to budge. During our last spook-a-thon during a schooling session however, I was taught a new method to get her moving forward again and I have to say I was very impressed with how well it worked so I thought I’d share it with you all! Check it out…

When your horse starts avoiding whatever it is they’re spooking at, turn their head away from whatever it is and ask them to move forward. Then quickly turn their head back the other direction while still asking them to move forward. Turn them away again and then back again. Continue to do this until they start walking forward as normal.

Hopefully that makes sense but if not, check out the video below where you can hear my instructor telling me what to do and you can see how it helped to work Coco out of her spook-fest and get her back jumping again.

I imagine the idea behind it is that you make it so difficult for your horse to do what they want to do that eventually they give up and decide that your way is much easier. I’m not saying that this is going to solve the problem entirely but if you’ve ever been in the situation where you’re exhausted  from fighting to try and get your horse to move forward when they start spooking – then this is definitely worth giving a go.

It’s worth trying anyway so if you need to give this method a go, make sure to let me know how you get on! Or if you have any other helpful tips you use for dealing with this issue I’d love to hear it…I need every tip I can get!
Thanks for reading,


Dealing with a Spooky Horse

This is based on my own experience of spooking with Coco. 

Horses spook for any number of reasons – a dog jumped out at them, a bird rustled in the bush, a rock looked a bit funny, the grass was a different shade of green…you get the picture. The hardest part about a spooking horse is finding out what the actual cause is.

Why do horses spook?

For most, the horse is genuinely fearful. We have to remember that horses are natural flight animals so when something seems threatening their first response is to turn and run. But what about when you’re certain your horse isn’t afraid?  What’s causing them to spook then? In my experience, I’ve come across three causes of spooking: 


The horse is experiencing pain from somewhere and is literally trying to run away from it. This could be ill-fitting tack, a sore back or they need their teeth checked. Regardless, it’s your job to get it all checked to make sure the horse isn’t uncomfortable.

Burning off Energy

Some horses simply have excess energy and they spook or run off because they just can’t contain their energy.


Other horses use spooking as their way of getting out of work. Simple as that. They might be bored or they may just not be in the mood to work today. When it comes to youngsters, everything is possible!

What To Do

So what can you do when your horse starts spooking? First of all, you need to stay on! I have many tricky riding school horses to thank for giving me the seat I have today – I call it sticky bum. And as I’ve been working with Coco for so long now, I can read her quite well so can mostly sense her spooks before they come (which isn’t always a good thing).

In my experience, I’ve had to deal with two different types of spooking incidents. There’s the once off spook that is completely random, your horse is just wary about a particular object or something they’re not used to. This can usually be dealt with by using one of the following methods:

  1. Try to slowly coax them over to what they’re spooking at. If you’re struggling to convince them to move forward you may have to get down and walk them over by hand.
  2. As you come to the thing/area that they spook at try to keep their head bent to the inside. I do this with Coco as I find it helps keep her attention on me and what I’m asking her to do. 
  3. Other’s think its best to keep your horses nose pointed at what they’re spooking at. I’ve seen both methods work, it really depends on the individual horse.

The other type is the consistent spooking that occurs daily. This is the one I’m currently dealing with on Coco. She has a particular area of the arena that she is super wary of. It’s been going on for months now. It has definitely improved since it started but it is something I have to work with every time I ride in our arena. There are two key things I need to do to get Coco into a space where I can keep working with her and these are things that are so important for dealing with any spooking horse:

#1 – Don’t React

This is something that has taken me quite a while to learn but its probably one of the most important things to know. When your horse is spooking they need to see that you’re not afraid. They need to feed from your confidence so they know that you’re not worried about what they’re worried about. So regardless of why your horse is spooking, you need to remain as calm as possible.

Try to resist correcting them every time they spook as this can make them worse. Especially if they continuously spook in the same spot. If they know you’re going to correct them every time they go near that area, it’s going to put them more on edge as they anticipate the correct as they get closer. So do your best not to overreact. 

Tip #2 – Keep them Moving Forward

With Coco, when she starts spooking she becomes quite tense and tight and if its really bad she’ll stop completely and start bunny-hopping to avoid going near what she’s spooking at. The key here is to keep her moving forward. As soon as I start to feel her back off the leg needs to go on straight away. I don’t care if I don’t get her anywhere near what she’s spooking at, so long as she moves forward past it. The more I bring her around and keep her moving forward, the more confident she gets until eventually she’s going past without running out to the side. 

As I said before, this is what I do to deal with Coco when she’s being spooky. I’ve tried every single method there is to get her over her fear of the corner in the arena. We are getting there but it is a slow process. Main thing to remember is to be patient and try to keep your cool. I had a lot of arguments with Coco before I learned how to properly deal with her and the progress speaks for itself.

If you’re having difficulties with a spooky horse, give the above a go and if you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask  🙂 

Thanks for reading,