A sneeze. My allergies got the best of me. At “achoo,” the mustang gelding I was riding about jumped out of his socks.
Allison Morisey, California
A ‘pop.’ After a relaxing ride, Dusty abruptly passed gas, scaring himself silly and almost jumping out from under me.
Sue Ladwig, Illinois
Butterflies. A group of yellow ones were resting around a puddle. As my Arabian/Saddlebred gelding splashed through the center, he and the butterflies sent each other flying.
Rosa Rarick, Wisconsin
A bag. I’d just mounted my off-the-track Thoroughbred when a plastic bag floated our way, about knee-level. Babe cha-cha’d all over the place.
Anna Bryant, Texas
A branch. Doodles, a former racetrack pony horse, was unflappable, but out on the trail he jumped straight in the air at a moving branch. “Doodle-bug,” I said, scrambling to stay on, “what’s up with that?” He just sighed.
Penny Kroh, North Carolina
Urine. It was a puddle of my mare’s own pee, which she’d put there a minute earlier.
Carol Colleen, Oregon
Purple mustard. Foxy doesn’t spook at much, but it took her several minutes of staring and circling to decide that dangerous-looking patch on the ground was just…flowers.
Sally Silhasek, Nebraska
A tiny flag. My mare spooked at an American flag in a flowerpot.
Laura Harper, Ohio
Itty-bitty barks. My retired three-day eventer, Dixie, takes most things in stride, but a Chihuahua attack sent her into a bucking fit.
Lisa Myers, Nevada
His own shadow. My Haflinger gelding and I turned a corner and there was this big, dark, scary thing in the dirt—his shadow.
Barb Chaney, Montana
His own face. Mickey, my laid-back Appaloosa/Paint gelding, spooked at his own reflection in the water tank. Now he always stares at himself suspiciously before drinking.
Samantha Schoenberger, Missouri
An insect. Sam jumped sideways at a barrel with a “what the heck was that?” look. Peering closer, I saw a ladybug walking across the barrel’s top.
Patti Engle, Pennsylvania
A potty break. On a downhill mountain trail, my horse stopped to urinate. The stream trickled downhill, between his forelegs. When he saw it, he jumped backward.
Melinda Hartman, Oregon
A sign. My mare jumped practically across the road because of a real estate sign.
Kimberly Grindle, Maine