Ask an Expert

Spooky Trail Horse

May 2, 2011

AQHA Professional Horseman Charlie Cole has advice for a spooky trail horse.


I have a 6-year-old American Quarter Horse mare, and we have trail riding for a while, and she does great! But there is something going on with her.

I was riding to my neighbors’ when she spooked at their black mini-pony. She jumped to the side, and we clashed heads. She reared, I fell off, and she ran for home. She is also afraid of cows and goats, even though she has seen those before.

– Kayla


Hello Kayla,

It sounds like, for the most part, your mare is good on trails, but 6 years old is relatively young for a trail horse, and a young trail horse is going to spook now and then at objects, and especially animals they have never seen.

I keep several exotics at my ranch, and the horses must pass by them daily to be worked. The first time or two they see the camel, kangaroo or even mini-horse, they will spook and get upset, but after a day or so, it’s no big deal.

Your horse will most likely quickly get used to seeing “scary” things and become more and more dependable on the trails. I would recommend finding a friend who has a very solid trail horse who doesn’t spook and take a few trail rides with them to give your mare some confidence. I would also suggest trying to be more aware of the fact that she may spook. Being prepared for this may keep you from falling off.

Happy Trails,
AQHA Professional Horseman Charlie Cole

Trail riding is one of the most rewarding and relaxing activities you can do with a horse, but it’s not without dangers. Stay safe on your adventures with advice from AQHA’s FREE Trail Ride Safety Tips Report.