Getting a horse past scary objects can be difficult for a beginner or novice rider. Before trying to get a horse past a scary objects, you should consider why the horse may be balking at the object. It is because the horse is truly afraid, or simply taking advantage of their rider?
For example on a trail ride if you come across a stream and your horse does not want to cross is the horse afraid? Or is it taking advantage of its rider? When a horse is merely taking advantage of their rider they may tossed their head or backup, but generally will not look frightened or particularly tense. On the other hand a horse that is truly frightened will tense up through their entire body and the whites of their eyes will usually show. The horse may stop in their tracks and snort and blow. To get your horse past scary objects you need to evaluate how it is safest to encounter the obstacle.
Depending on you, and the horse, you should decide whether you need to push the horse towards and past the obstacle, whether you need to dismount and walk the horse past the obstacle, or whether you need to back off and approach the obstacle in a less scary manner.
Horses who have had no exposure to scary objects might not be able to do events, with lots of scary things, immediately. But that same horse exposed to small slightly scary stimuli over time, might handle a parade like an old pro.
If you are a good rider on a relatively well tempered horse, you should try to ride pass the obstacle that scares your horse. Try to relax your own body and feel confident, if you pass anxiety onto the horse, then the horse will think there’s something to be scared of. Square your shoulders and focus on a point past the obstacles. Relax your seat but keep your legs on, urging your horse forward. Try circling the horse closer and closer to the scary objects or approaching slowly letting the horse take a good solid look at what it is afraid of. Many times a horse will con down when allowed to base this scary objects had on. You may need to approach the object, get as close as you can, ask your horse to stand in that place and praise them. Then ask for an additional step, praise, etc. Often a horse will feel more confident passing a scary object if a calm horse who is unafraid of the object walks next to them.
If you are rider who may not be able to stay safely seated on the horse if the horse acts out in fear, you may want to consider dismounting and urging your horse to walk past or around the obstacle. However, before dismounting you should ask your horse to take one small step toward the obstacle or in some way face its fear to a small degree. Dismounting as soon as a horse shows signs of acting up good way to teach a horse to act up habitually. But if you do as much desensitization as you feel you can safely manage from the saddle, and your horse makes an effort, it is okay to dismount and walk your horse past the obstacle. Allow the horse to look at what it is the horse is scared of and ask them to walk forward.
These are tips to help you get your horse past a scary objects. It’s always a good idea to expose your horse to small slightly scary objects in a home arena, or even put them out in their pasture. This allows the horses to become accustomed to scary objects in an environment in which they are already comfortable and where they can deal with them on their own terms. If you expose your horses to scary stimuli regularly your horse will make great strides to becoming a bombproof horse that will go pass any scary obstacle.