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[RC] Spooking- Yes, Zayante spooks - Nick Warhol

Zayante has some age on him- he’s probably 22 now, and he certainly has the miles on him- he has 12,270 now, and yes, he still spooks.  He spooks here, he spooks there, he spooks everywhere.  I rode him on the Comstock ride last weekend at Reno, Nv, and for a while he was so bad I could not get him to go down the trail in front of the other horses.  I mean not at all- he would not do it.  The funny thing about him is when he decides when he will spook or shy. This horse gets into spooking moods.  He can go for miles in front: on single track, on roads, in the desert, or mountains as solid as a rock, and then some switch gets flipped on in his brain somewhere, and then all spooking hell brakes loose.  He is back and forth on the road or trail, doing giant leaps sideways, sometimes off the trail.  Walking, trotting, cantering, it does not matter- boing!   This horse will spook in the middle of a dry lake bed a mile across!   I rode him at the Virginia City 100 last year- there was a gate on the first loop he would not go through, period, even when other horses went through ahead of him.  I had to get off and lead him through, and even that was a challenge.  But once the sun went down I had several hours of perfection- as solid as a rock.   And no, it’s not that he’s tired, far from it.  He can be perfect at the start of a ride, for miles, and then be leaping around at the finish of a 100.   My vet gave him an eye exam, thinking that might be a problem.  The old coot still sees just fine. (The horse, not my vet)


At least there is one good thing about his spooking- al lot of times you know when it is coming.  He is one of those who will spook at things that do not belong.  Plastic bags, tires, washing machines, backpacks, beer cans, anything man made that he can see is subject to a sideways leap.  It gets so that when you see something ahead you get ready for launch.  (Try riding him through a junk yard!)   But when he gets in that certain mood, he leaps at phantoms and shadows, and oh yes, rocks.  You would think that he would be used to rocks by now, wouldn’t you?  Nope. 


How much spooking?  Last weekend you could not count the spooks- probably a couple hundred.  It does get old, and the solution is to just get behind another horse for a while until he gets his brain back.  Once he is behind another horse he becomes a perfect gentleman.   Maybe this trait has helped his long career, but I shudder every time he goes flying sideways on those old legs.


I have not come off him yet, but have come pretty darn close a few times.  It’s just one of those things I put up with to ride such an amazing animal.   But I have to tell you, my new horse does not spook, and after five weeks of riding him, I got back on Zay last weekend and was just shaking my head.   






Isn't Zayante a famous spooker with some age on him?  I notice they mostly ride him in the desert.  Keeping Barbara's comments about not wanting to spook 12' sideways and 100' down (that would be a deal breaker for me, too), I wonder if anyone has ridden Zayante on narrow, twisty, high mountain trails with mountain lions and bear to spook at?