3 scary horse stories just in time for Halloween 2018

scary horse stories

Click on this photo to see more of Dave Elston’s cartoons.

Here are some ‘scary’ horse stories for you to enjoy, plus many more in the comments! Feel free to add yours!

Story #1

My husband and I volunteer at a horse rescue and one early spring day a few years ago were involved in a rescue training exercise that involved a life-size but very lightweight plastic horse. To set up the evolution we had to carry said fake horse past a small field of weanlings and yearlings with their babysitter mares. The sight of two humans literally sweeping a horse off its feet terrified not just the babies but the “aunties” as well – except one old gal was simply intrigued. Hubby and I wound up adopting her – and she is not just wonderful on the trail but amazing in the dressage ring.

Story #2

They say the horse was scared of carrots. Not any carrots…only carrots that still had the carrot tops on. At least that is how the story goes. The trainer didn’t believe the owner as the horse seems pretty reasonable in all other respects. But he had to know…

A trip to the store and a few carrots with tops later, it turns out the horse WAS scared of carrots with tops! Ran to the back of the stall when he saw them. Upon further questioning, the owner revealed that the horse, the first time he tried a carrot with a top, snatched the greens and pulled hard. This resulted in the carrot swinging and hitting the horse in the head. The horse fled…still carrying the carrot by the top…the carrot swinging wildly…

Story #3

I had a pony who was afraid of his hay for a while. I don’t know what caused the problem since he had been eating it his whole life. He would very cautiously sneak up on the flake of hay, grab a bite, and run away to eat it. He would eat all of his meals like that for a few months until he got over his issues. My vet watched him do it and said that he’d never seen that before. It was very amusing.

The rest of the story…

When I first posted this I invited people to add their comments and lots of people did. Read through the comments and feel free to leave one of your own!  Has your horse ever been scared of something completely silly…at least silly in your opinion?

I’m opening the floor here. Do you have any scary stories involving a horse?


  1. Heather Kennedy on February 3, 2022 at 6:00 pm

    I used to ride this school horse Duke. He was about 17hh and loathed ground poles. Not the poles themselves mind, just stepping over them. You could jump them and he didn’t have a problem. You could pick one up and drag it behind you on or off him and he’d barely flick an ear. You could walk all around them and up to them without a fuss. But so help you if you ever DARED ask him to step over a pole, even at the walk. He would back up, try to turn and toss, would quite happily jump the ground poles AND the jump all together…or as I found out the hard way, he would much rather go over the 6ft high jump beside it then step over a pole. Which incidentally was when I also found out that riding a 17hh TB in a true gallop is mildly terrifying. Did i mention he was also a runaway and so we weren’t allowed to ride him in the outside ring because he could and would jump the ring fence? He was also the horse I learned on. Which says much about the barn I was riding at that they would put a (when I started) 10yr old on a known runaway.

    Yeah, I eventually left that barn after a serious ‘accident’ where they lied about the horse I was riding and it almost got me killed (I could handle green horses by then, but it helps when someone tells you that they’ve never actually had a rider on their back and not ‘she’s well trained.’ Also at the time I didn’t know just how dangerous a runaway could be. The whole young and I’m immortal stage of life. I did love old Duke, for all his problems he was still a pretty good horse when he wanted to be.

    • Noora Alansari on April 23, 2023 at 5:46 am

      That’s cool I’ve never ridden a runaway

  2. Sarah on November 6, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    I have to share this. My horse used to be boarded at a farm where the husband was a team roper. He acquired tow behind a roping dummy made of plastic. One of the nice ones where the heels move as it’s pulled around and the horns have. Well it arrived and got parked in the area by the chutes. I just happen to be coming out to the barn that day with my younger brother and sister. My brother has known about my horse but never met her (mind you I’d owned her for 2-3 years at this point…) and I said he could have a pony ride. Now- my horse isn’t generally super skittish, I always thought she had a reasonably good head on her shoulders, but her previous owner HAD dubbed her Lucy, which I later heard was because they thought she had a screw loose… soooo… Anyway, I digress. So this brand new heel-o-matic was sitting in the arena that I was about to take my horse in to. I thought it might be a good idea to lunge/ride her in the round pen before I put my brother on board for his pony ride so I’m walking her PAST the closed arena to do this, I hadn’t even notice anything wrong…yet.
    She spots that “cow” and goes into full-blown head-up tail-flying Arab halter horse mode (she’s a rope bred quarter horse) and keeps dancing around me trying to keep THAT THING in her sights! Now, she’s been around cows. She doesn’t care about them. She’s been around roping and isn’t crazy about it but tolerates it. BUT that “cow” was GOING TO EAT HER! She’s snortin’ and prancin’ and just can’t seem to let it go. She’s doing circles around me and my brother is like “ah, yeah sis, this is that nice horse you talk about all the time.” Needless to say he never got his pony ride. It took a full hour, food bribery and one of the rope horses coming down to show her that the dummy wasn’t going to do anything and she could walk up to it.
    Even after that she was SO SURE it was still going to get her that she would STARE at it. She had a dutch door stall on the end of the shedrow closest to the arena. That night she would take a bite of food walk to the door and hang her head out and WATCH, cause that thing was comin’ to GET HER. She eventually calmed to the cow but was always weary of it, and would take advantage of unsuspecting college students (she was used for IHSA college lessons) when she felt like it. Still love my Lu, quirks and all. =)

    • Stacy Westfall on November 6, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      Great story! I love your brothers response and the last two lines:)

  3. Debajoe on November 3, 2018 at 12:57 am

    My Rocky Mountain gelding, Brio, crouches and spooks in place at many things, stumps on the side of the trail, leaves, rocks, sounds etc. I know this about him, so I try to be prepared. Last month my friend and I were trail riding and came upon two men and their white truck. The men were sitting on a log taking their lunch break after putting up a new trail sign. The horses were curious, but not afraid as we had approached slowly due to being sure they would spook at the truck or the sign, but they did not do so. I called out to the men sitting on the log and one answered me and you would have thought some horrible troll had screamed out and threatened Brio’s very life. He nearly jumped up and into the huge 40-plus tree beside us. I guess he didn’t recognize a man sitting on a log as a man at all. Surprised the trail worker as well. We laughed all the way down the trail.

  4. Lisa Talley on November 2, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Years ago I was riding some bareback exploring some new backroads, when we came to a pasture containing two ostriches. When they saw us they came charging down the field to us. For my horses credit, he stood his ground as we faced them head on, but my legs were sure moving up and down because of his hard breathing!

  5. Brenda on November 1, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    I found that my beloved Appaloosa was terrified of the sound chipmunks made running through leaves! When he was a 3 year old, he would squat and jump sideways away from the sound. On one occasion, he jumped, then stopped quickly and squatted. Just as suddenly, he wound up sitting down in the round pen and I straddling his backside in the sand of the round pen. Pretty sure I blinked a couple of times before I was up out of there and we were back to work.
    I have a new horse now, also a youngster when I got her. Two fall seasons with her now. She spooks at her shadow in the arena every fall, in the beginning, when we start riding with the lights on. As the shadow gets bigger, her head gets higher until we are safely past the point that she can no longer see it.

    • Stacy Westfall on November 1, 2018 at 10:15 pm

      My mare Willow spent two summers jumping every time we saw a chipmunk on the trail…which was very often. This last summer she finally accepted the little critters! This is the same mare that I wrote about in a blog where she was scared of the jacket I put down from on her back. She was fine when I put it down but terrified when I rode back near it:)

  6. Candy on November 1, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    All these stories made me remember a couple of others. There was big black oil stain on a white rock driveway that made my horse think it was a big scary hole in the ground. She wouldn’t go near it. Eventually I dismounted, faced her, holding the reins and I JUMPED right in the middle of it. She about had a heart attack, but then she put her head down and pushed some of the oily black pebbles around with her nose.

    And there was the auto floor mat someone had dumped next to the trail from the road above. The horse shied into the trees – just saplings, really – and dumped me. I seem to have this rare talent for always landing still holding onto the reins (thank God since this was a borrowed horse). Landed on the stump of one of the saplings, maybe only an inch or two across. Knocked all the air out of me, and the next morning it was off to the ER for a cracked rib. Only one word of advice: ICE

  7. Pamela Laurence on November 1, 2018 at 11:02 am

    I love reading what you post. Thank you for taking the time to do this and sharing.

  8. Marianne Myers on November 1, 2018 at 10:06 am

    Just yesterday while riding my 20 year old gelding out in a open hay field he freaked out big time , a trash bend was overturned in the edge of the field and he was terrified, shaking ,sweating , rearing up . And he is usually ok with the trash bends that are upright. I can usually redirect him and he will calm down. Not this time , I did get off and talked to him and settled him down . Finally I let him eat a little bit and slowly moved closer and closer till I could touch it myself. Then he sniffed it and was like ok I’m good now , lets go now , he was interested in the horses across the field now . Got back on and away we went. Everything fine.

    I also had a Standbred Mare I rode a few years ago that was easy going and didnt mind a thing , except butterflies in a field she would jump over them all the time, never got over it ….. ha ha …

  9. Annie on November 1, 2018 at 9:24 am

    I was riding with a friend at her place. Decided to wear my helmet, as riding at her place was always an adventure. She asked me to stand guard at the gate to keep the two mini ponies from getting out while she attended to another task. I wanted to say no, not a good idea, knowing my horse. But I kept quiet and did as she said. The ponies came running toward us, my horse whirled away, and spun so many times I could no longer stay on, I let go and bailed. I heard a pop as the back of my helmet made contact with the ground. Moral of story: go with your gut instinct if something doesn’t feel right.

  10. Pam crouch on November 1, 2018 at 8:28 am

    The problem with my guy is that he’s either seriously afraid of something or he’s just not in the mood to work and pretends to be afraid of something. He pretends to have to pee to get out of work and will park out and stand there with a stupid look on his face forever if I let him – so we know he’s always thinking of ways to get out of work. I guess the silliest spook was over a bug – a big, round fat bug that made a buzzing sound and slowly passed directly in front of us. His preferred mode of spook is to perform a 180 degree spin, and that time I landed on my tailbone. The only good I can say is I’ve since learned to ride a 180 degree spin.

  11. Candy on October 31, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    I’d ridden a lot before I actually OWNED a horse – and I picked a very handsome SQUIRREL. I named him “Snort.” I rode him in a big roping arena every day. One day we spotted a broken board near one corner…and he went completely ape. It took me four HOURS to get him past that spot, and WEEKS to get him past it CALMLY.

    One beautiful summer day in the year I bought him, we were blissfully trotting along a dirt road when he spooked – I realized later that he’d seen a haystack about 1/4 mile away that was covered in clear plastic which was blowing in the wind. Anyway, I suddenly found myself standing in the road, FACING the horse, with the reins in my hand. He had thrown me over his head and turned me completely around in the air. He had a wild look in his eye and was about to bolt, so I tugged gently on the reins and said, “Whoa.” He jerked me off my feet and dragged me on my stomach in the dirt for quite a distance. Finally, when my elbow got scratched, I let go. A guy in a truck that had just passed us when the horse spooked witnessed the aftermath in his rear-view mirror. All he saw was a cloud of dust and the horse – but no rider. Worried, he came back and helped me corner the horse, bless his heart. I rode home with only a Band-Aid-sized wound. That was about 30 years ago. Nowadays it would take me a week or maybe a month to work up enough courage to get back on any horse, let alone that one!

  12. Martina Brown on October 31, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    When I first brought Hildy home, Randi put some fresh shavings in the middle of the stall. She forgot to spread them around. The next morning there was still a big pile of shavings in the middle of the stall. She must have walked around them all night and never touched them. Now we make sure to spread the shavings around.

  13. Ruth goodger on October 31, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    My silly 14 hr old QH paint spooks at the air I sometimes believe! Last two times I rode her spook went backwards on going into her corral!

  14. Kym on October 31, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    Fitting for Halloween… When I was about 11 years old, I dressed as a clown for my school costume contest. Forgetting that I might be a scary site for my horses… I went out to feed. When I headed for a field to feed my trust worthy Welsh pony, she jumped the fence faster than I could blink to get the heck away from me. At that point she had only been a cart pony, I never imagined she would clear a fence like that and subsequently became quite the hunter show pony.

  15. Marci Tenney on October 31, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    Just lost my 33 y.o. Morgan gelding – a big softy – that horse with enough personality for 3 horses. He was calm 99% of the time, but jumped up in the air & landed on my foot when a fish jumped out of the pond beside us – found our a couple yrs. later when x-rayed he had broken a couple bones in my foot. He was also terrified of cameras, and one time he saw a cow a half mile or more away & was terrified. He ended up rearing he was so scared-he only time in 13 years he ever reared. When our neighbor got cows, my poor horse ran in circles for DAYS in fear until finally calming down. Who knows why they are scared of such weird things??

  16. Sharon Root on October 31, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    I was putting a flake of hay into my mule’s feeder. As usual, Brandy had to grab a quick bite. But this time she jumped back and ran to the end of her pen. It took days for her to finally get near that feeder again. I think that there might have been a scorpion in the hay and it stung Brandy when she put her muzzle in the hay to grab a bite. I never saw a scorpion, but its the only thing I can think of that would cause such a reaction.

  17. Khara on October 31, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Just a thought on the horse that was afraid of the hay, maybe it’s first mouthful of hay ever, had a bee in it & it got stung on the tongue!

  18. Marilyn Krzus on October 31, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    Great stories! Just hysterical. Well, there have been many things that scared my daughter’s horse, Mister Good Walker. But I remember long ago one day when I walked beside my daughter who, as she often did, rode Walker around the property of our barn. He freaked out, jumped out of the way and ran on ahead with her. The only thing that was there that hadn’t been the days before was a pile of lumber! Yup! Scared to death of that lumber! It is just wild what will frighten individual horses!

  19. Dale Allen Castello on October 31, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    I had just purchased a new saddle, and it was the first ride. When I first mounted, my horse spooked at a falling leaf unseating me. My friend riding with me said it was the slowest fall she had ever seen.

    • Jill Haines on November 7, 2018 at 9:57 pm

      Sorry, but that made me laugh, just visualizing it all

  20. Pam Krull on October 31, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    Years ago I was riding a lovely thoroughbred filly, calmly walking along the horse path heading to the race track. Something spooked the youngster and she shied to the side a bit, not a big deal, just a little spook. Except that when she shied, she farted, and the sound of that fart terrified her. She shot forward, which of course made her fart again! Off we went, leaping through the air, and farting. (Until she eventually ran out of gas -hehe) Hilarious!

    • Stacy Westfall on October 31, 2018 at 10:16 pm

      This might be my new favorite!!!

    • Julie Unnasch on November 4, 2018 at 11:28 pm

      Literally LOL!!! Still laughing! Hope nobody got hurt.

    • Sophia on January 1, 2023 at 1:43 pm

      Oh my goodness…that reminds me of a brown Morgan Horse that I ride; and I swear, every single time we walk out of the arena he lifts his tail and lets out the quietest, stinkiest fart ever.

  21. Robin Freeman on October 31, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    My horse’s scary story—-a friend and I were riding in the woods, where no one ever goes. As we came up over a hill, we spotted a snowman someone had built, complete with sticks for arms. Both of our horses freaked out upon seeing it I kept zigzagging closer and closer to the snowman until we were right next to it when my horse whacked it with her head and knocked the snowman’s head off. She was quite pleased with herself and we tried not to fall off laughing so hard.

  22. Alison C Hamm on October 31, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    Well, my steady eddy gelding is a wonderful trail horse and loves to be out on the trails. Except when a line of teenagers comes hiking down the trail at us! He freezes like a statue, will not move as he has turned to stone!! He just really can not handle people out in the woods, especially a line of about 25 of them!

  23. Sandra Jones on October 31, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    My horse is terrified of llamas. Fine with deer, turkeys, great with dogs, llamas freak him out. I think it’s the way they stare without moving.

  24. Summer on November 1, 2014 at 11:07 am

    after a fall trail ride through the crunchy leaves, twiggy trees, and rustling corn stocks I was so proud of my appendix quarter, Maddie. She and I had a wonderful time! We crossed small streams, fallen trunks, and even scurrying animals without the blink of an eye! When we were safely back in the barn I dismounted, untacked, and led Maddie into the arena. I had left myself a plastic bottle of water, knowing I’d be thirsty…
    I didn’t realize it, but as soon as I picked up that water bottle, I guess had put on a Freddie Kruger mask and started running after her with a screeching giggle! Because her head went up, she eyes bugged out, and her nostrils flared… She took off at a dead run to the opposite corner of the arena, all the while keeping an eye on me and my murderous water bottle. We took an extra 45 minutes to talk to the water bottle that day, and Maddie still isn’t fond of it.

  25. Julie Birt on November 1, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Our family’s first horse would not pass the graveyard for my mother. Roxie let everyone else ride pass fine. I had a thourghbred who refused to jump the lavender jump. I learn to show it to Tux before I mounted and schooled over it. Though I was late one day, and didn’t get to school, well you can guess what happened. Elvis is our 30 year old “mutt” and as I hear it, he’ll still watch a sailboat like it’s going to shoot at him, to the point of side passing to keep an eye on one. Our youngest project, Appatchie, is paint/work horse breed . I spent two days tacking and untacking… he still spokes at the saddle. 7 years later, the saddle, the stirrups, sadlebags… all scare him. He’s a great horse once someone is in the saddle.

  26. Jane Matocha on November 1, 2014 at 10:10 am

    For my first mare, it was money; specifically dollar bills. First time I pulled a dollar out of my pocket she fled to the back of the stall, shaking. My gelding was nearly bombproof. I rode him through storms, rivers, carnivals, towns, and even a drive-thru McDonalds in Vermont. He only was only well and truly spooked by white gates (the jump kind, not the fence kind) in stadium, and by a run-over, dirty, flat black sock that somehow ended up in the middle of the trail and caught him off guard. He was an opportunist though, and would fake spook to try to get out of the dreaded boring ring work now and then.. A chestnut would fall out of the tree and rustle the leaves when it fell, and there would be a delay that was just half a second too long (while he considered his options) before his fake “Oh, I am afeared!” display. He’d know almost instantly that I wasn’t buying it, and carry on working, but if someone else was aboard, he’d keep up the charade and let them fuss and comfort for as long as he could milk it for.

  27. Betty Bradford on November 1, 2014 at 8:19 am

    My 1700 pd Belgiun Quarter Horse who thinks he is mr.stuff… was calmly eating his grain one afternoon. When suddenly my husband decided to kick the giant pink ball towards the horse.. which mind you had been in their pasture for weeks, and we had played ball with all the horses several times.
    Well he didnt see this Monster ball till it was at him… i have seen a horse jump so high, so fast in my life. I mean literally
    All 4 feet straight up, and Bam!! Gone. That mean old monster Pink Ball done got that big baby!!!!

  28. firnhyde on November 1, 2014 at 2:34 am

    On one of the trails we ride out on, there’s this big concrete block thing next to the path. I’m not even sure what it is, but it must be around two feet square and pretty much the same colour as the rocks and winter grass all around it. This same trail goes past miscellaneous wildlife (including zebra), ditches, rocks, trees, old rusted tanks, houses and pigsties, but all of the horses are way more terrified of the concrete block than of anything else. Nobody knows why.

  29. Barb Riley on November 1, 2014 at 1:01 am

    I decided to see what my Arab, Ace, would do if I played my violin near him. My goal was to eventually play a fiddle tune while riding him. Little did I expect that he would be terrified of the violin and bow that I held. I hadn’t even made a sound yet. He ran to the other end of the pasture when he saw me coming, which is the opposite of what he usually does. So I retreated while playing a tune, just to see what would happen, and his pasture mate, Rhapsody (really!), was fascinated, so I continued to walk away and she followed me, and the other three horses including Ace, fell in behind her and followed me while I played. After days of approach and retreat and petting Ace all over with the fiddle and bow (not my good ones!) and playing near him, I was able to get on him, have someone hand me my violin and away we went. I also discovered he had a definite preference for fiddle tunes over Vivaldi!

  30. Lee on October 31, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Our appy Aurora was on the lead one day when i came out of the garden, my son asked me to hold the lead. As i was standing there a plastic bag started to come out of my pocket so i grabbed it Aurora reared up and her legs went right over my head as she pulled me and the bag with her. Needless to say we have done alot of work with bags. The other thing is when i would use something to get up on her she would step up on it also. A wooden picnic table she stepped right up on it with me. I tried to use a mound of dirt once and she jumped up there also and knocked me right down. After a lot of work with a trainer who taught us and the horse, Aurora has turned out to be a pretty good horse.

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