Spooks

When I was trotting Connor around in our warmup during the first day of the CJF clinic, I heard her tell Cathy that Connor was spooky and lacked confidence (both true).  "He'll spook, but he won't spook at what you expect him to spook at.  He most likely will spook at you, honestly."

People are scary, but only on the third Tuesday of months that end in 'r'.  Oh, and when they're wearing purple.
His 'people phobia' is turning into quite the quirk.  He can't take it if you walk straight up to him with purpose, or if you make big movements around him.  At the clinic, he spooked at:

- Mary, the first and third times she walked up to him to give me water.  (But not the second time.)  The third time it took me a good twenty seconds to get him to stop scrabbling around with his head in the air.

- CJF, as we rode close to her the first time

- The new bank/drop jumps, which are covered in grey lime, and were conveniently positioned just beyond the oxer in the gymnastic line so that he was looking at them instead of the fence.

- Chad, when he got up out of a chair about 10-15 feet from where I was standing with Connor, which led CJF to joke, "It's okay, buddy, I spook at Chad too."

The Chad spook left the small audience marveling, as he did one of his classic "Connor Crouches."  His most usual spook involves him seeing something scary, picking up all four feet and setting them back down again so quickly he ends up in a low cat-like crouch position.  It's like an athletic spook-in-place.  It usually feels like he might take off right after doing this, but either that never crosses his mind, or in the brief moment of the spook he's able to assess the situation and somehow keep it together.

I almost hesitate to call them spooks, because though he might be a little afraid, he's not terrified and he does it with his ears up and eyes bright.  He knows people won't hurt him.  Everyone always apologizes when they spook him, but I'm very firm when I say, "Never apologize for doing something normal around this horse."  I usually have them continue doing what they're doing and then end with petting him until I see signs of relaxation and/or disinterest.

While I don't mind riding the spooks and love his sensitive, quirky nature, it's a potential liability issue and I know I need to work on it.  I am encouraged by the fact that through all of the spooks I've ridden so far, he's never once offered to buck or take off.  He's a good-natured fellow at heart, just a quirky, sensitive good-natured fellow.

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