Girls Horse Club Blog

Ask GHC: Lightning Strikes

Published by • Feb 25th, 2009 • Category: Ask Girls Horse Club, Lend a Hand

Ask Girls Horse Club

My horse, Gulliver has a fear of storms. If there is a storm in the summer and I am riding he will bolt around the track. I’ve never actually fallen off but it bothers me. Gulliver is a great behaved horse, but in a storm he goes wild. Do any of your horses have a fear of something? I don’t want you to think Gulliver is bad (he is great), but he is afraid of storms. Any advice?

submitted by Peanut, age 8

Ask Girls Horse Club is a feature where readers can submit questions and anyone can step up to share their relevant advice, opinion and/or perspective using the comments form below. If you have a question to ask, please use the submission form to send it for consideration.

18 Nickers »

  1. Peanut: I would ease Gully into getting used to storms. Maybe take him out in one and just stand there and let him get used to the sounds they make. You will need a raincoat and an adult out there just in case something happens. Talk to him while you are out there, maybe recite a poem or a soothing song. Keep him calm and soothed. You know him best. Maybe even bring him a treat.
    I would definitely EASE him in to getting used to storms. Don’t do anything to fast. Just ease him into it.
    Give him a hug for me!

  2. I would say that if a storm hits when your riding get off and walk him around telling him it’s ok and petting him the entire time. However if he gets to wild you should probably put him away in his pen/stall.
    Thats about all I know on lighting-fear. I’ll try and find out more….(off to search Web)

  3. let her get use to the storms if not, then its okay to have a horse scared of storms, my old horse was too
    thats why you find out if a storm is coming, then you ride her after or before, have fun
    love, sondra

  4. Please do not think Gully is bad, he is awesome!

  5. I don’t think any horse is bad.. they just react. My dog used to be the same way. If things get realy worse.. like the horse starts kicking at its stall you might try blind folding him. What I mean is that it might calm your horse down if you put a piece of cloth or someting with your sent on it over his eyes. That should calm him down. I think the best you can do is be with him.. talk to him.. and try your best to comfort him. You can try your best but taking a fear away from anyone completly is impossible. Is your horse young? Usualy as you work with a horse they mature like teens as they grow older. Hope this helps a little.

  6. Let him get use to hearing storms, so that he may not be so jumpy next time. Also, try NOT riding him during storms, or when one is coming. Let him be in the meadow, or take him out of his stall, and keep repeating it during storms. Once he gets pretty comfortable around them (just standing in one), put his halter on, and walk around the track, so he’ll get used to doing that during a storm.

    Once that’s repeated, start putting a saddle on him, and slowly get on. Don’t start at a fast gait. Go at a walk, and go around the track. Be sure to go only the place you walked him around on the halter. Places where he is used to being during storms. (Hope this isn’t too confusing…)

    Also, remember to give him treats when he’s done with his “Storm Training”, Especially if he was good.

    Hope this helped!

  7. I’m sure Gully is awesome! If our suggestions don’t work at first, don’t be dis-inheartened. These things take time.

  8. Great job for staying on! Do you maybe know why he is afraid of storms? Horses, especially when they’re young, can experience things that scared them that they will remember for their whole life. If we can work out how it started, it might be easier to know how to help Gulliver.

    The best advice I can give is to start easy, and I personally think mustangmane has a good method. Make sure you talk to him encouragingly, and practice T-Touch, which is a method where you move your second and third finger in small circles around the horse’s body to relieve tension and stress. I hope something works out for you!

  9. One thing you must remember, no horse is safe to ride unless they are listening to you and you are in control. If they are nervous, fearful, and so on, then they are not safe to ride, so do NOT get on.

    I suggest doing groundwork, not during storms, but any time you can. Try lunging him, getting him to back up on your command, and so on. This will help you bond with your horse, and Gulliver will develop more trust in you. When the storm comes around, try practicing the groundwork that you can in the space of his stall or in the barn aisle. You probably won’t have enough room to lunge, so do things like backing him up and asking him to move laterally. Get him listening to you. Once you have him calm, quit.

    When the next storm comes around, and you think you and Gulliver are ready, do groundwork in the barn, then take him outside and ask him to stand quietly for a second. Make sure that you are calm, so he won’t pick up on any nervous energy. If he freaks out when you take him outside, bring him back into the barn and do more groundwork, then try taking him back outside, until he will stand quietly. Then, take him back to his stall.

    Keep at it and add things you do outside, like backing up and moving laterally and such. Once you have your horse calm and listening to your every command, then you might try riding him. If you are riding him and he freaks out when a storm comes, get off and do groundwork.

    One thing that will help you most his help from an expert, like a riding instructor, vet, or trainer. Also remember, if your horse isn’t listening, get off, or don’t get on.

  10. That is good advice Stargazer. However I think that you shouldn’t always get off if your horse isnt listening. They might just be plain stubborn and they need to know who is “Lead Horse”. I think you were pointing toward if the horse is out of control.. to get off immideiatly before an accident. Good advice!

  11. Thank you all so much, it really helps me and Gully. I just rode and now I am really happy!

  12. HorseFeathers, I was referring to more “crazy” situations. For instance, if you are getting to the point where you are in a situation that you know you can’t handle, get off. My horse doesn’t always listen to my leg and such, and that can be responded to with a stronger aid. I would get off for out of control situations.

  13. Gully’s situation is’nt too bad. I just dont like him not listening

  14. Hey Peanut!!! You could try a method that I use when my horse, Sugar, acts up. First, you need to make it clear to Gully that he can trust you. To do this, reinforce positive behavior with a treat. You could even try walking Gully over a tarp. As for the ligtning storms, you could try staying in a safe shelter where your horse can see the enviroment. Make sure that an adult is with you though. If your horse is still spooked, then try walking him around in the rain while it’s not thundering and lightening. Get Gully to were he won’t spook at that. Then, slowly reintroduce him to thundering and lightning.
    By the way, does Gully spook in lightning stroms when your NOT riding him. If he doesn’t, then consider putting larger and larger amounts of weight on his back during lightning storms. When he doesn’t spook at one weight, move up about five pounds. This could really help!
    GOOD LUCK WITH GULLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Its no fun when your horse doesn’t listen. Believe me, I know. It may not be too bad now, but watch out: It can turn into a bad habit too quickly if you don’t do something about it. Make sure he knows you are in control at all times.

  16. Oh, Gully is almost 30! He is pretty old but in great shape! He’s very cute.

  17. Give Gully a hug for me, Peanut!

  18. Gully sounds lke a great horse from all that I’ve read. Good Luck with him in the future!