I attended a clinic on Sunday and while watching one of the lessons I learned something I applied today. The rider was working on how to react to a spook during training. The clinician, Jaralyn Finn, recommended that the rider go forward when the horse was calm and when spooking to be a calm rider, not overreacting. Specifically, she recommended that when the horse is reacting to something scary to not use your legs and to use half halts to regain their focus.
Today I used a version of it and it worked great!
Usually after my training rides, I cool out Golly by walking him around the yard. There are a few "scary" spots that he doesn't like to pass and I use the cooling out time to desensitize him to them and gain some confidence. Typically when he was balking at going past something I kept his head turned toward the scary object and used some strong aids (kick or whip) to move him past the object.
Today I tried a different tactic and used some half halts and rein aids to keep his head going forward and used very little leg aid and no whip aids. Eventually if he started backing up then I gave very light leg aids and the second he moved forward at all I released the aid back to neutral. In addition, as we approached the scary object and I felt him start tensing, I just remained neutral and loose.
The difference was noticeable. He was more relaxed and confident and was able to go past some scary objects that usually caused me to use the whip to get him past it and then him to jig in response.
I have some more notes from the clinic that I will post later. It was a great clinic with all types of riders and horses so I have a lot of takeaways that I plan on using.