Why Do Horses Spook? Answers Explained


There are many reasons why a horse might spook. They could be nervous, they could feel that something is going to hurt them, or they could be surprised by something. What are the reasons why a horse spooks though? And what are the different things a spooking horse might do when something is scary to them?

Why Do Horses Spook?

Horses will spook when something scared them, surprises them, or makes them nervous. There are tons of different things that make a horse spook and they can react in many different ways. The main cause for a horse to spook is if they are startled by something they are scared of or don’t expect.

Are Some Horses More Spooky Than Others?

Absolutely! Usually, horses that are considered hot-blooded (like Arabians, Thoroughbreds, and Akhal-Tekes) are a lot more skittish than the heavier breeds like the warm-blooded and the coldblooded breeds. This means that an Arabian is a lot more likely to spook at something than a Belgian Draft Horse is.

So not only does the level of spookiness revolve around what type of horse it is, but it also revolves around whether or not the horse is used to its surroundings. A horse who is in a new place doesn’t know what to expect, so because of this, they are a lot more likely to spook at something than a horse who is familiar with where they are.

Horses who are younger and don’t have as much life experience as an older horse are also more likely to spook. This is because an older horse has had the time to see more of the world and get used to a lot of the things that might seem scary to a younger horse.

What Does A Horse Do When It Spooks?

When a horse spooks, it can react in many different ways. The different things a horse might do when it spooks include:

  • Flinch
    • The horse will kind of jerk at first be be fine afterwards
  • Bolt
    • The horse takes off running
  • Whirl
    • The horse whirls around and faces another direction to try to get away from the scary object
  • Side Step
    • The horse steps or jumps to the side
  • Rear
    • The horse stands up on its hind legs
  • Buck
    • The horse kicks back with its hind legs
  • Backing Up
    • The horse backs up quickly

Can You Train A Horse Not To Spook?

Yes and no. Horses are prey animals so there will always be things that will set a horse off and make it spook or get nervous. This is engrained into what they are so training them not to spook whatsoever is nearly impossible.

What you can do instead is to desensitize the horse to a number of things that the horse might be scared of and show them that it is okay to be around a certain item without being scared.

What Are Some Things That A Horse Will Commonly Get Spooked By?

There are so many things that can cause a horse to spook. Some of the common things that can cause a horse to spook include:

  • Flags
  • Banners
  • Tarps
  • Bicycles
  • Motorcycles
  • Dirtbikes
  • Any vehicle with a loud engine
  • Trailers
  • You making an unexpected motion with your hand
  • Walking up to a horse in their blindspot
  • Feed Sacks
  • Plastic Bags
  • Crinkly Water Bottles
  • Other Animals
  • Being chased or charged
  • Picking something large off the ground (jump pole, lunge whip, etc.)

Hailey Johnson

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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