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“He just took off. I had no warning at all!”

“I was just brushing her and then she bit me, I never saw it
coming!”

Has your horse ever had a reaction that seemed completely unprompted? You were not expecting it, were not prepared for it, and then all of a sudden… it happened. They bucked, bolted, bit, or some other extreme behavior.

Some times these reactions really do happen spontaneously. A deer jumps out of the woods, or a jogger rounds the corner on the trail in front of you and your horse has an instant startled reaction. But many times, there is warning, and these responses start in a much more subtle way than most people notice.

The terms “fight, flight, or freeze” describe the fear response and are
typically thought of in their most obvious expression. However, these reactions occur on a spectrum and when we understand what they look like at both sides of that spectrum, we can better understand our horses and prevent those extreme reactions.

Click play below to watch the new video – Fight, Flight, Freeze – It’s More Subtle than you think

 

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Comments

70 Responses

  1. I notice the flight and freeze at night in her pasture. She won’t ever lay down to rest day or night. She sleeps when I brush her, and stumbles on a ride. I know its from exhaustion. I’m just not sure how to help her?

    1. Wow…that is fascinating. I guess I never realized any creature besides humans could have sleep issues unless the animal was in some very horrible situation.

    2. I watched it. Callie’s new online class has Andrea W. talking about walking in step with your horse and being interested in what they want to do. What would happen if I spent an hour on this instead of 10 min with Corina!!! I will let you all know;o)))) Thank you all for your input and stories it is helpful.

  2. My horse will see something in the distance that she feels threatened by and immediately will hperfocus on it. She sometimes will puff up and snort. At other times she appears super alert but frozen. She feels as if she is about to explode. All this occurs in a blink of the eye before I even realize she’s seen something. Nothing I do seems to break her focus. I try to turn her head or move her haunches. She doesn’t even acknowledge my aids. The only way I’ve been able to get her attention back on me is a sharp crack with the whip on her haunches but I’m afraid at some point that will make her explode. Usually I get off her and hand walk her until she settles. I would like to calm her from the saddle but the freezing on the object prevents me from using any calming techniques. It also takes her a long time to come back down from the adrenalin rush.

    1. Jean, a solitary crack with the whip can cause bad behaviors I would advise against that punishment. Rhythmic movement is the best way to relieve stress, will she walk while you are still mounted?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

      1. My problem is that she won’t move or acknowledge me when she freezes. She is hyper focused on the object of her fear. If I try to wait out the freeze her anxiety seems to escalate. I need a way to break through that hyper focus when mounted so that I can get her to walk on.

  3. One of my guys turns his head when I reach to pet. I back off, look where he is looking and try to enter his world more kindly, back up a couple steps and let him come forward to me, even if only 1 step. He seems much more willing and relaxed. He is my “flight” guy. I tend to push him because I, myself, am a “fight” response. He is teaching me not to bully. It’s hard to change, but videos like yours, Callie, put words to actions and it makes sense. Thanks! -Amy

  4. Awesome Callie!
    I was not aware of the “Freeze” dynamic-though I have seen it-and now I know what it is! Thank-you!
    The extreme was when my wee mare took a terrible tumble off of a granite rock and “*%#*$ over tea kettled” down a steep incline of several rocks and was stopped after a hundred yards or so by straddling a tree. She lay there-“frozen”-and I thought surely I would have to put her down in the next few minutes (we are always prepared to do that in the back country)…As I was wailing my grief and sitting there petting her telling her how sorry I was-waiting for my hubby to get the gun-she took a deep breath and heaved herself up on her hind end-rearing around to extract herself from the savior tree. I still have PTSD about it!!!
    Had she continued to flail-like you said-she would have really hurt herself terribly! As it was-I think she was in shock-yes-but also processing how she was going to extract herself…which would have been impossible had she just tried to get up in the standard fashion. She ended up with one little tiny stab wound on her belly-and that was IT. Can you believe it? I-thank-fully-was leading her at the time as it was a rather technical spot…and her lack of experience got her in trouble…She tried to scramble quickly over something that needed careful thought…In perspective our old saint crossed the same area five times without a hitch. We all learned from it…but honestly-I think it took years off my life!

    1. Wow Claire, glad to hear she was okay! I think what you are describing is the tonic immobility!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  5. A couple questions. How is the first step of ‘freeze’ different from napping? The description sounds the same.
    My 8 year old TWH mare bucked my 4 year old granddaughter off , seemingly out of the blue. The horse was fine with the 4-year old grooming and standing near. Was still as I lifted her up and took some photos. (Bad idea there — I wasn’t able to watch the horse and take pics at the same time.). Then she bucked and my granddaughter flew off — unhurt, helmet on, thankfully. My first thought is that the mare got stung by a hornet. But maybe it was this freeze thing. The mare is pretty new to me. (Another reason I shouldn’t have put my granddaughter up!!). Thoughts?

    1. Jean, they can appear very similar! Good that she was wearing a helmet, that should be a must for every ride. There are so many things that could’ve caused it, perhaps something in the environment but it can also be maybe something physically bothering the horse like a poor saddle fit.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  6. Hi Callie,
    I thought I was an experienced rider. But watching your video there is so much to learn, especially in the fight, flight and freeze. I work with children and it is so evident in humans. I had a good ride on August 19th, we came back into the area and thought wow we didn’t get to do a trot . So I got back on my 16.1 qtr horse Romey, right there he started to arch his back (going into a buck) so subtle I pulled his rein to the left to slow it down and he went into that flight (startled) reared as I was hanging onto the reins let go and I said to myself “don’t pass out several times” in slow motion as God was bringing down slowly the impact of 1200lbs landed on me. I ended up in the hospital with Emergency surgery, complete left total hip replacement, full pelvic repair and right hip repair. Anyways I am on the healing and relearning how to walk. In my case how would I head that off? I thought I did, but apparently I didn’t. So I would like to learn more about that and head off the triggers and help my horse be confident in me.

    1. Patty, first I am very sorry to hear about your accident. Can you think of anything that might have set him off? Did you notice anything in the first part of your ride? Have you ever had him physically evaluated to make sure there wasn’t something physical causing the problem?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  7. What a great video and very timely, as I recently experienced all three of these responses from a lesson horse on separate occasions. What should our response be in order to help the horse get through these responses, are there different things we should do when we’re riding them and they go into fight, flight or freeze mode?

    1. Lorena, each situation is very different but as a general rule movement lowers stress!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  8. Very interesting!

    I always thought the Freeze was what Callie described as the in-between for flight – bolt. My mare (and previous mare) will go into that stance where they don’t move, head high, eyes big. Most of the time I can calm her down but sometimes it might escalate into a startle and an attempt to bolt. I also see the fight mode come out a bit if an attempt to bolt happens and she can’t because I’m holding the lead rope.

    The fight mode I’ve seen recently with my young mare when she doesn’t want to go forward (having vet check her today for soreness, ulcers, etc.). She’s been quite extreme the past 2 weeks and will tense up, then buck a little bit if I push too hard. Normally, she’s quite calm and cool headed.

    1. Hi Carolyn, did the vet find anything? That is also a response to an ill-fitting saddle!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  9. My mare is very sensitive. I noticed the freeze one spring when I was going to warm her up for her first ride of the season.
    Over the winter I like to clean all the tack by taking it all apart, wiping it down and conditioning the leather. Which I had done with the mares bridle. On this first ride preparation I saddled up as usual not really paying much attention to all the details because we have been through all this for years before. I mounted up but when I picked up the reins I felt the freeze and her head went up just slightly before I instinctively dismounted.
    You probably have guessed that in my tack cleaning I had not assembled all the pieces of the bridle in the exact and proper fit for her. Actually, it was quite a bit tighter than normal with the bit sitting higher in her mouth. She noticed this immediately. After proper adjustments were made she was fine.
    Had this mare not been so sensitive I may have urged her along for the full warm up but I will not forget the feeling in her and in me when she froze. Listen to your gut.

    1. Wow Lou Ann, your mare is definitely sensitive! Kudos to you for listening!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  10. I had called a feral horse into our property, in order to offer hay and water. The horse came in, bypassed the water and hay and walked into the unfenced pasture. I put more hay into an orange bucket and stood about 30′ away from it. It just stood there looking at me. Our dog was in its closed kennel whining, because he heard me and could probably smell the horse. I put the bucket down and walked sideways away from it, thinking the horse might be afraid if it. Another 5 or so seconds went by. Suddenly, the horse turned and ran, bucking. I haven’t seen it since.

  11. This is such great information. I experienced my horse going into flight mode during a lesson in which a chain of pre-schoolers (all in a line holding a rope and looked very suspicious – like a giant screaming, laughing centipede) travelled by the arena. Lewis immediately stopped and put his head in the air, his Arabian tail floated high, nostrils flaring, eyes wide. He was definitely getting ready to get outta there! We gave him a moment, I breathed deep, huffed a bit then licked and chewed. They moved along then we were able to return to our lesson. I’m not sure what the right response is, I would definitely like to learn more about it as I think the nervous system is fascinating. Our horses tell us so much when we listen and understand.

    1. Heather, pre-schoolers are known culprits for horse attacks I’ve heard ha! You did the right thing by giving him a moment but movement can also help lower that stress response!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  12. Great info thanks! My 3 year old filly definitely goes into the freeze response under stress. Under saddle she will do a hard plant of all 4 feet when startled before any type of reaction. (then typically backs away rather than a true fight or flight) When tied, if stressed, she will display behaviors that i compare to an introverted human. she will sort of draw into herself mentally and chew with her mouth, sleepy eyed, etc. I look forward to learning more on this response, as i don’t see it as much with the other horses in the barn.

    1. Kelly, stay tuned for this Friday’s video – we’ll be discussing more about freeze this week!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  13. My 3 year old mare shows the fight reaction when I lunge her. She stops part way around the circle and faces me. I then start shaking the plastic bag attached to my driving whip at her to encourage her to walk and she pins her ears and refuses to move. She does this every session multiple times.

    1. Marilyn, what is your cue for asking her to go forward? It sounds like she isn’t clear on the cue for forward movement!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  14. Thank you Callie, your video is very interesting. We learn so much. I notice the behavior of my mare Just before she freeze, specialy when i walk on her side. Her head goes up, ears are tensed and stright ahead, mouth tensed, breath is fast, etc. So, before she explode, I stay calm myself, i do not force her to continue to walk ahead in spite of those signs (before returning to calm). I will get her attention, talk quietly, asking to lower her head gently with the leash, then involve her in a simple exercice , for example :move the hinquarter on left or right. When she becomes calm, then we may continue. I did that this morning.

  15. Interesting video–thanks, Callie. I’m extremely interested in equine behavior and these snippets are always educational.
    My horse rarely resorts to flight or freeze, but fight has always been his go-to. In his early days with me, and if he experiences a lot of stress, he tends to be at the extreme end. Three days after I brought him home he attacked me in his stall and often went after the barn staff. He was like a toddler who didn’t know how to moderate himself and started with kicking and biting. He has matured out of that for the most part (and with a boatload of patience on my part) but he often braces. I did not know that was the mild end of the fight response but it makes complete sense with this horse.

    1. Karen, what is the history on this horse? I’m glad to hear he has grown out of some of this behavior.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

      1. Julia, he is off the track. I got him directly from his breeder at age 4 almost 2.5 years ago, and this has always been part of his nature. His dam and grand dam behaved similarly. I spent a lot of time quizzing his trainer and grooms and I have a feeling they got rough with him if he acted up. However, he is a dream to ride and work with. Zero drama ever. It’s just handling and mainly in the barn. Interestingly, I took him off all grain not long ago and his attitude greatly improved. Never discount the impact of inflammation in the gut!

  16. We have a couple new horses that were former horses from the division of mounted police in Puerto Rico (the government closed these down in an effort to save $). With one of them, Jibarón, I have seen the “freeze” response more than a few times. Both these horses were used to work every day, but then for more than 5 months they were simply kept in a stall (fed, watered, basic care…but no work and hardly any time out of the stall). With Jibarón, at first he was almost always in the early stages of flight response (head up on high alert, then head away, walk away…avoid humans). Slowly after giving him lots of time out free on the farm, I found he would allow – and even look towards me when I would come out in the fields. This was intermittent at first as there were times where I had to bring him in to the paddock, but when that was true I would walk in a slow semi-circle towards him and always go to scratching and touching him before putting on a lead line. But many times – in the first couple months – I would see him go into a freeze mode when I did that. My mare, a rescued thoroughbred, loves to be scratched. And he obviously feels comfortable in her company. Eventually when I would scratch her, he would come over near her and then I could move over and scratch him which he now enjoys. I wonder if his response isn’t the result of unwanted touch/pressure that he could not escape in his stall or when ridden. He now appears to enjoy our liberty time and mounted work (unlike the police I ride him with only a halter with side rings and a bareback pad) where I work to stay very relaxed and allow him to stop and relax whenever he becomes more vigilant. Also I wonder if some horses – Jibarón being one of them – move from flight to freeze mode when they feel like there is no escape. And, by the way, I have gained so much from your videos. We are a newer non-profit therapeutic riding center and I am the director/instructor/horse trainer – working without pay for more than a year – so I am not able to enroll in your online classes, but when I do have some extra $, I will be sharing with you. Muchisimo gracias!

    1. Elaine, that is a great observation on your part. That can definitely be a result of his past ‘career’ for him to go back and forth between those states as a way of how he coped with stressors in his past.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  17. My but this post is timely for me! I just had an experience like that recently with my greenish rescue mare (Morgan/Arabian), who had been wonderful and calm for months, but we had the first chilly day of the year and as I led her out to the outdoor riding ring, she was softly snorting. I noticed it but thought to myself “Don’t be such a weenie! She’s been fine, even when she’s ‘up’ for months now!” So, I got on her and walked her and did lateral work with her for 15 minutes and she was great. Then, even though I had some second thoughts about it, I asked her to trot, and she took off like a banshee at 100 miles per hour in sloppy wet sand footing, and every time I’d try to slow her down she would ignore me! As we made yet another circle at that speed, I got a bit off balance and came off in a heap in a puddle! She went thundering off, but stopped and looked back at me with a horrified look on her face! I wasn’t seriously hurt, just banged up a bit (I’m 73, and hitting the ground is a bit more consequent for me now). I went and got her and walked her back to the barn, as I was in enough pain that I couldn’t get back on her right then. As I thought about it later, I wondered if she had felt me get off balance and panicked, as she HATES to be even slightly off balance in any way. Thus, the free-for-all bolt, as she’s not the kind of horse to do something like that out of nastiness or anything. And, of course, I panicked too and didn’t use my voice with her to slow her down, or I could have just sat up and ridden it out, but the wet footing spooked me pretty much, as I was afraid she might slip and fall and hurt herself. But she is very sure-footed and agile, and surprising smooth even at a dead run! That was my first time cantering her, as well. I feel very bad that I might have been the source of her fear and panic, and annoyed at my inability to stay calm and ride it out. But at least neither one of us got seriously hurt, but NEXT time on a chilly day I do believe I will freelonge her first and pay attention to that little voice in the back of my head that suggests caution!

    1. I love the still small voice. Did the voice just not want you to do it at that moment or was there more info.? I hate when I argue with mine. I try hard to listen when I’m with my horses. Most times it is just plain safety but please tell more if there is more. Or did the voice know about the balance. Thank you for telling this. We all need to listen to our horses, our inner voices, and our horse sisters with their experiences. Thank you Callie for setting this up.

    2. Hi Kathy, I’m really sorry to hear about your unplanned dismount! Horses can definitely have reactions to being off balance. I had a horse who would rush forward when he was off-balance because it too made him uncomfortable. There are so many factors that could have been at play here, the weather can definitely have a huge effect on horses!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  18. Nice, Callie!
    This happened years ago…
    Tuvia and I were hand walking around the facility one afternoon and got out of sight of the barn (walked over a small hill). He was eating grass, something got his attention and he looked away from me. Before I could get his attention to bend his head toward me, he took off. No way to hold him!
    Very careful now.

  19. When my old mare was about 6 years (she is now 26) we were riding past a paddock of ostriches (I live in Australia, not Africa). Although the birds were a fair way away she froze and I could not get her to move at all no matter what I tried. I dismounted and finally got her back but she was very scared and I led her home.

    1. Hi Jill, when dealing with any of these stress responses the way to ‘release’ the stress is with rhythmic movement. Some horses will ‘pull’ themselves out of it faster than others and depending on the level of reaction will also depend on when the horse is able to snap out of it.

      I hope this helps!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  20. I have wondered about Corina getting enough sleep. Now for this freeze mode. James French talks about the head bobbing as if when we go to sleep in the car and we keep waking up (startled like). Many times Corina will stand next to me and start to do this and her eyes open and close. So I’m not going to call this freeze mode but I do think this is her go to.Turns away from me lots eyes will close no bob. What do you think about my thoughts Callie. The still small voice is key. I appreciate peoples stories.
    Now Olives go to is fight and I find this so much easier to deal with. And the so called stubborn is key. I love that my horse looks at me and says NO!!! how easy is that. Callie you info is great and ever generous. Your care is so prevalent. thank you

    1. Monica, it could be low levels of freeze that you are observing! Horses getting enough sleep is actually very important! Does she come into a stall at all or stay outside? Do you ever see her laying down to sleep?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

      1. No she is outside I have seen her down only a few times. X2 when she was with a gelding. I know this is an issue: my gut tells me. Julia I feel so done with this horse. I put a call out tonight to someone safe to take her. All my life I have done problem and delinquent people and children. Problem animals are not my thing. I have helped many animals. I have never been good at mean or disturbed. I have been attacked by a dog and bit a few times. I’m sure that plays into it. I have and love dogs: exceptionally nice dogs;o)) Worked on the james french stuff with her. Olive will go down by me for moments. I can walk up to Olive when she is down. thanks monica

  21. Thank you Callie.
    Once again you have provided common sense but really profound insight into the horse’s state of mind and how that impacts on his/her reactions.

  22. A new learning occurred as I listened to this video. Listening to the freeze section. It make so much sense . I so appreciate learning from such an astute and thoughtful horse woman. Thank you for making us better.

  23. Thank you, Callie! This could not have come at a better time. My horse “suddenly” began to not stand squarely at the mounting block, which grew into moving his hindquarters, which grew into head shaking and dancing around. After watching your video, I realized that this all started with a brace as soon as we left the tacking area and headed toward the block, some 20 feet away! I don’t know the reason why, but I’m going to begin to address his anxiety from the moment of the brace and work on helping him with this, slowwwly, from there.

    1. Great observation Jennifer! Another thing to be mindful of would be the saddle fit if you are observing the behavior around riding and tack!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  24. Very enlightening. I have worked at a therapeutic riding center for people with special needs for a long time. Although magical to see the relationship between our special riders and the horses, it’s a job that really kind of stinks for the horses. The horses who make it in the program are taught to go into a state of learned helplessness, basically. I have seen that “turning inward” more times than I can recall as some of them occasionally internalized their stress during a difficult session. It is a state of mind that the volunteers handling the horse and the instructor are taught to be mindful of, but…..Not much can be done except to limit the number of lessons each horse is in and make sure the rest of their day is as happy as we can make it.

    1. Vicki, in recently editing a video Callie did with the wonderful people from Natural Lifemanship they were actually discussing this very thing. You can often experience the same thing with lesson horses too I believe. Limiting the number of sessions or having an experienced handler give them a positive experience during a session are two ways that you can try to improve the situation, as well as providing the horses the best life they possibly can have when they aren’t in a session! We always like to stress the importance of giving the horses plenty of turnout and social interaction.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  25. I do so enjoy your videos- always learn something. I am growing in horse awareness through your factual and sensitive instruction. We have a horse boarding with us who we are working with who continues to be a puzzle to me. He seems to freeze when he moves away from the barn or the other horses and sometimes refuses completely to go forward. I think he is reacting to anxiety and insecurity. Looking forward to hearing mire about this.

    1. Hi Patti, how long have you had this horse? Do you know any of his history?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  26. My horse is great out on his own. The trouble I have with him is if we are in a group he tries to bite the horses on the backside. He has his ears back the whole time a horse is near him , but never kicks just bites the backend. He is prepared for the kick also once he bites. When I brought him he was in a paddock of 10 and he was near the bottom of the pecking order. I’d like to be able to take him on trails with groups but the aggression is stopping us from doing so. I am doing group lessons to help but he’s not improving

    1. Hi Noelene, have you considered letting him go in the front of the pack?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  27. I experienced a Freeze episode when riding my horse who was startled by a wood pigeon flying out of a hedge in front of him. I took some time to sit and wait, reassuring him, but as soon as I gently asked him to walk on, he exploded like a rodeo horse, the saddle slipped, I landed on the ground and he just trotted away. He had had an issue with hacking out on his own on a few rides before, but I had succeeded in reassuring him and continuing. He was a dominsnt sort of horse, not energetic, verging on lazy.

  28. The other day, my mule and I were in the woods. He had just had some time to do a little grazing, I had dismounted and enjoyed the sun. I got back on and in 10 steps a bear fell out of a tree about 25 feet away to the side of us. My mule did a little hop to the side and then froze. He would not move- even though I saw the bear barrel away, I’m sure my mule could still smell him. It always feels like he grows roots into the ground. So I played a little with the bit getting him to drop his head. And I also have experienced with him that when all that energy is built up it has to be dissipated. So we turned around to go in the other direction of the bear and I could still feel that energy in him. I let him graze again to hopefully dissipate that nervous energy. I am curious about that energy when it doesn’t get to be expended as I have had this experience before when something has happened but a short while later the energy goes out in some fashion.

    1. Hi Bernardine, movement lowers stress so just by simply moving that can lowering the ‘energy’ you are referring to!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  29. Thanks Callie. How is the “going inside” version of freeze different, than a horse processing something they have just experienced (we’ve talked of this in the Pure Liberty course)? I’m curious to know if there’s a difference and if so; how do you tell the difference?

    1. Lisa, they are going to appear very similar but the difference that is most important is the experience that is putting them in either state. It is important to make sure that the experience wasn’t stressful or overtaxing to the horse’s threshold. But since you are in the course I would recommend asking Andrea in the comments in the course to get her thoughts as well!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  30. I have experienced the extreme freeze response with my horse a handful of times when loading. We always work to keep the experience as slow and easy as possible but even so he experiences mental shutdown and will occasionally ‘pass out’ and go down on his knees, …..once he lay down completely. Please know I absolutely do not employ any aggressive methods to get him in the trailer. I have learned to recognize the early signs of him checking out mentally and then can adjust as appropriate. I try and load solo, otherwise at this point I always have people telling me to crack him one for being so stubborn, or to go lunge him hard and get his attention back on me. I have to bite my tongue or very patiently explain to them that he is checking out and that the reasonable response is not to punish him for it. Many horsemen look at me like I am crazy when I talk about him being ‘narcoleptic’ under stress so I am glad to see it in writing so to speak!

    1. Melanie, Your horse is lucky to have someone who understands what is actually going on. It’s painful to think of the multitude of horses that suffer because of their people being ignorant. I hope the individuals you explain this to listen, learn and see where they can improve their horsemanship skills. Good luck, AJ

  31. I was recently given a horse from a friend that always tries to bite me. This mare is also very aggressive and unpredictable. Any suggestions on how to start to work on these issues would be greatly appreciated.

  32. My best friend passed away 5 years ago. She had 5 horses and 1 pony ages 17 to 29. Her husband has nothing to do with them, they aren’t his thing. But he is willing to continue to pay for their keep.
    So I took over the barn and take care of them. I took lessons in my 20s (now age 58) but never did the day to day care. So I am on a huge learning curve.
    I have one mare when I move her out of her stall into an unused stall on rainy days to clean hers, she braces almost every time. (When she’s good I tell her and pat her to reinforce the good behavior instead of fighting with her or bullying her.) I stop, we stand and when she relaxes we move forward. It might take a minute or two but no one gets hurt. I can’t see picking a battle with her. I am learning to trust myself and to watch their body language. Over the last 5 years I have had these responses from them at different times. And continue to work through them together.
    I have read your blogs and watched many of your videos. I have learned a lot from them and they also validate what my intuition tells me. I’m so glad that I found you. I’ve listened to many videos and people but YOU make sense of it all. THANK YOU!

  33. Just a story that might be food for thought in relation to a horse that does something dangerous “out of the blue”. I typically do believe that most supposedly out-of-the-blue reactions in horses are precipitated by something or many things being missed leading up to that moment. However, I had an experience where my horse, who was green but had been doing extremely well for many months, suddenly had an extreme and very dangerous bucking fit when warming up at the walk on a quiet, pleasant day in our own arena. I was sure something must have hurt him, so I had the vet/chiro out and she did a full lameness/pain exam that showed nothing. Started seeing some other odd reactiveness on the ground as well and ended up taking him to a vet hospital and had his entire neck and spine x-rayed, stomach scoped for ulcers, eyes checked. MANY people were telling me, “It’s behavioral” or “It’s a training issue” or “He’s just being a jerk”. I knew it was none of those things. Long story short, it turned out that he has a neurological disease called polyneuritis equi that causes him to feel random, painful and obviously very frightening sensations in his body. A gal I know had her very happy under saddle, naturally forward TB start balking and rearing and not wanting to be touched. He has the same disease. Polyneuritis equi is considered rare and is not really on the radar of most veterinarians, but the researchers who test for it believe it may not be as rare as people think — it is simply misinterpreted as a training or behavioral issue. Just something to think about.

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