Curious about some of the normal objects spooky horses are irrationally afraid of?
Many horses, young and old, and especially the untrained ones scare very easily.
Knowing exactly what spooks a horse can be helpful in training and desensitizing it to those objects.
Let’s dive in!
17 Normal Objects Spooky Horses Are Irrationally Afraid Of
While you can’t exactly avoid all – or even most- of these objects, knowing what to watch out for can at least help you prepare for your horse to jump or buck when you encounter them.
Without further ado, here are 17 normal objects that spooky horses are irrationally afraid of:
1. Flapping tents
This is the stuff of nightmares for horses. On a windy day, a tent that flaps could spook a horse and set it off.
If you are riding near a camping area, please be aware of these ‘hazards’.
Take an alternate route if possible. If not, at least steer your horse as far away from the tents as possible.
Some horses totally flip if a large plastic beach ball comes rolling by.
Many a horse might even win the Kentucky Derby if it runs as fast as it did when it sees a ball rolling towards it!
Okay, this isn’t an object, but nevertheless, we have to mention it.
Many horses are terrified of dogs. The dog’s size also doesn’t matter – it could be small, medium, or large.
Any dog that barks at a horse could spook the latter especially if it isn’t used to dogs from the beginning.
4. Tack objects
Often, young foals are afraid of objects that a rider carries in his/her hands.
These everyday tack objects can include lariat, fly masks, lead ropes, saddles and saddle blankets, and halters.
Despook your horse by getting it used to the unexpected touch of these objects.
Horses are especially scared of tack items that come from behind them or even from the front when they are in the horse’s blind spot.
5. Your riding clothes
Yep, YOU can be the object that terrifies your horse if you’re wearing the wrong garb.
That’s why it’s so important to wear the proper riding attire if you don’t want to freak out your horse.
Okay, not the ONLY reason why, but it’s definitely a factor.
Horses can get easily spooked by capes, flapping shirts, and scarves. Avoid these items entirely. It’s one of the few everyday objects that you can actually control.
6. Noisy toys
Noisy children’s toys – like a squeaky ball, crinkly paper toys, screaming toys, rattles, squeaky shoes, megaphones, and recorders- can also be scary for a horse.
Thankfully, the chances of encountering these on trails are usually very low.
7. Plastic bags
Flying, flapping plastic bags are known to cause many runaway horse accidents.
Unfortunately, you have no way of avoiding them entirely, since you can’t really predict when and where you’ll come across litter.
So, you’re better off desensitizing your horse to them.
Check out this video for ideas on how to do just that:
8. Bright backpacks
It sounds strange, but bright hiking gear- like backpacks and vests- can terrifying your horse.
The forums are filled with people sharing stories about how even their non-spooky steeds freaked out when they came across someone wearing a bright orange backpack.
9. Snakes and ropes
You’ve heard time and again that horses don’t like snakes. Did you know, though, that ropes are just as terrifying?
Think about it from your horse’s point of view. That rope on the ground looks exactly like a slithering, scary snake!
10. Rocks, stumps, branches
In addition to manmade objects, horses can even get spooked by natural objects on the trail.
A strange rock, a stump of a tree, or even the sunlight hitting a branch can seem scary to a young horse.
11. Machinery and equipment
Horses have a highly developed sense of hearing- Their hearing ranges between 55 Hz to 33,500 Hz – where we humans only range between 20 to 20,000 Hz.
As a result, they can hear machines and equipment miles away. Sudden noises from machines can be very spooky to a horse.
Try to avoid construction sites entirely. If you can’t work on desensitizing your horse to these sounds.
12. Large sheets of metal or cardboard
A man carrying a large metal or Styrofoam/cardboard sheet could also trigger your horse to bolt. We can understand why that might scare some horses.
13. Bikes and motorcycles
Horses react to movement as well as the loud sound of motorbikes.
So, please get your mount used to these from the beginning to prevent accidents and runaway horses on the road.
When cleaning your horses’ stalls, make sure you do not sweep under their legs.
If they’re not used to a broom, sweeping under them could spook your horses and they might not hesitate to kick you with those powerful legs.
An open umbrella could be a fire-breathing dragon as far as a horse is concerned. These seemingly innocent objects can terrify a horse.
Be careful when holding or opening one around a horse. Even better, avoid using one around a horse you don’t know as a spook can put the rider at risk.
16. Leaves and Shadows
Yep, those little shadows or stray leaves lurking on the ground can be ready to pounce upon your horse sending him spinning.
Last, but far from least, some horses are scared of the one thing you really can’t avoid: people.
Some horses are just plain terrified of strangers. However, even a familiar person can become the stuff of nightmares if they’re wearing unfamiliar clothes.
A new hat, a strange bulky coat, the wrong color shirt…all of this can terrify your spooky horse.
It’s not just about clothing, either. Actions and even bodily functions can freak out your pony.
Heck, I’ve heard plenty of tales about horses bolting when a nearby human farted too loudly!
Check out this video to help you out:
Now you know what triggers your spooky horse. So, we hope you can take the necessary corrective actions and train your horse to get used to these!
- Goodnight, Julie. 2018. “How to Desensitize Your Horse.” Horse Illustrated Magazine. December 17, 2018. https://www.horseillustrated.com/how-to-desensitize-your-horse.
- “Horse Hearing – Horses.” 2019. Extension.org. July 31, 2019. https://horses.extension.org/horse-hearing/.
- horsecv. 2014. “Do Horses Spook at Bright Colors?” The Horse Forum. March 3, 2014. https://www.horseforum.com/threads/do-horses-spook-at-bright-colors.373313/.
Have you seen your horse getting scared? If yes, of what object? Please share your experiences with us!
Siun is an all-around animal lover, with a passion for horses. She grew up in the United States, competing in the hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Now living in Ireland, she competes with her own showjumping horses. She is experienced in the care and training of horses, as well as teaching riding lessons. She loves to combine her love for horses with her work. When not working, Siun will be found at the stables, rain or shine.
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