When you go out for a ride, does your horse become nervous at a sight of a narrow trail? You need to understand why these horses behave cautiously in a seemingly narrow trail. If your usually well-behaved riding companion start to tense up and gets spooked a lot more than the usual, or even resist pursuing the ride through the woods, it has not been overdosed -it is simply reacting to the surrounding environment.
Your horse has this prey-animal vision. Your horse does not see the same things as you do. The human eyes are set in the middle of the face to provide the ability to focus on what’s ahead –and in this scenario, the narrow trails. Horses are classified as prey animals and as such, their eyes are positioned on either side of their head, giving them poor clarity over what is situated ahead of them, but they have excellent vision over a wide field to help spot predators.
The dense woods that you travel through can limit the wide-field vision of the horse. This makes them very anxious about what is to come during your ride through the woods and subsequently stimulates their instinctive defense mechanisms. They can be seen kicking at other horses that try to approach them from behind or their sides.
Your horse may also react to the woods because of the prey/herd animal instincts. If you are on a trail with other horses, your horse is most likely to stay close to those ahead of him when riding down the forested trail. Though your horse is not raised as a herd animal like the tigers or lions, they still have inherited those prey/herd animal instincts. To your horse, running with the herd and the term “safety in numbers” are no clichés. They are plainly inherited survival strategies.
Observe how young foals closely stick to their dams as much as possible to ensure safety. This applies to adult horses as well – their instinctive urge to follow their kind closely to be on the safe side does not disappear once they mature. If you go on a trail ride with a horse that is inexperienced with the wooded environment, the trail ride experience may not be as exciting as it should be. As a rider, you need to overcome this habit by training your horse more to respond less anxiously when trailing through a wooded area.
Is your horse constantly spooked? Try to calm him during trail riding; if attempts to calm your horse fail, your horse could be suffering a more serious problems like sore wounds, or even digestive ulcers. Have your horse checked each time you go on a trail ride.