I have read through the last comments on this post and I've got to step in here. I'm not going to be specific with names, but I might be going against the grain here.
Anybody who has read my blog through probably gets that I'm fairly simple in my approach to them. I believe a horse is a horse. I am a person. I like them, I even love some of them. I strongly feel that although my horses may like me, they don't love me. They love being horses, I am an inevitable interruption to what they would really like to do, which is hang out in a field with other horses. Our relationship is built on my expectations of them and their ability to perform those expectations.
I don't beat them or tear them up, but I do teach them to do what I ask. In return they receive kind, considerate care and have me in their corner. I train them to be service animals for most people so they have a chance in life and I do everything I can to ensure the quality and safety of their life with me.
That being said I also have to point out I want to ride them. I don't want to worry about their heads. I want them to do what I need to do, which is be ridden.
If I have a horse who spooks, leaps, misbehaves etc. I'm going to make sure I can ride well enough to stay on when the behavior happens.
I have had horses come out from under me. It can always happen. But I can count on one hand how many times that has happened in the last ten years. Keep in mind I was a trainer on misbehaving horses for most of those years.
It frightens a horse to have it's rider fall off.
Being horses they won't equate their behavior with losing the rider (at first), they will begin to misbehave because they are waiting for the rider to fall off and they are scared.
Eventually they will realize that when they spook they can unload the problem and then everybody is in trouble.
Put on your western saddle and practice some roll backs off the fence. Do some random, idle loping. Get moving around your arena and have a buddy yell out commands. As in lope, turn left, turn right, go straight to the fence anything sudden and quick.
Ride like Ben Cartwright.
Until you can stay seated when problems come up you can't judge the personality, horsenality, doganality, nothing. Because your coming off will exacerbate the problem no matter where it's coming from.
I had a cute little mare in training for two years. Her mother was an appendix mare with weak stifles and the sire was a decent, mid-level cowhorse. The mare should never have been bred and the stud should have been gelded as a two-year-old.
Of course these are the kind of horses I got in to train for the most part, (being a middle of the road trainer) so I'm only complaining a little.
This filly became a very solid minded little horse with absolutely no talent at all. She was awkward at best and almost dangerous in her cow work. If she got bumped by a cow she would go ass over tea kettle. Two of my five spills in the last 10 years came from cattle bumping into that filly. I still managed to ride through three of her falls (at about 30 mph).
I had been demanding this horse be taken home for about a year and finally refused to ride her on cattle at all when the owner gave up and took her home.
The upside to this horse was she was dead gentle. She had a heart as big as Wyoming and would give her all. She would pack anybody around, anywhere and was sweet all of the time. And she had a pretty fancy handle on her.
Her owner took her home to use as a trail horse. Within a year this mare is bucking, spooking, rearing, kicking at people and horses. I could keep going. It makes me absolutely sick.
How did it happen?
The horse spooked.
Keep in mind, this isn't a particularly spooky horse. Something just got to her.
The owner, who looooves to have me train her horses but refuses to take a lesson, couldn't stay on.
So it began.
Instead of slowing down, backing up and learning to ride her, she went to more bit and harder trail rides. I mentioned this horse had no talent right? It's showing up on the technical trails too. The owner doesn't blame me, or the horse's training.
She says, "She's too high powered a cowhorse for this and she's too light and sensitive."
This horse is NOT high-powered.
She is being ridden poorly.
She is being ruined.
In self defense you have to learn to sit a spook. Spooking can be fun. It should be. Because it's part of riding.
Now I'll get into what I see in the horses themselves. My yellow mare is a spooking idiot. It is a tendency I see in a lot of the cowhorse bloodlines. She sees and responds to every movement. It makes her kick butt in the show pen and makes her an irritating fool everywhere else. I work on her constantly. She is an eternal work in progress. We jump one way or the other at least once on a good day and often 7 or 8 times on a bad day. It's just her.
My foundation bred horses are quiet and calm. They can work a cow in a solid sensible manner. They sure don't look like my yellow horse.
I have three of my horses at a friends pasture. She has three foundation bred horses, my two and my yellow horse.
My friend has big giant tarps staked out and blowing around by the feeders. She figures they can all tarp train themselves.
The whole herd tromps across those tarps like they're nothing. Except my mare. She jumps them, spooks at them, leaps with every flap in the breeze. She'll hook onto them and cut them occasionally. She's obsessed with them.
Imagine riding that. I can and do. I also absolutely love her.
Sonita was a cowhorse. You guys have been reading about what it took to get her going. If I hadn't learned to ride her she would have been sent down the road as an impossible case, or I'd still be doing groundwork on her and talking about someday.
I have a little colt who's coming two . He is out of two successful show horses who are also foundation bred. He is kind and quiet. He doesn't have a chance in hell of showing like my yellow mare. But he's going to suit me as an old lady. He's going to be the perfect horse to tool around on as my aging bones force me to admit I'm not up to the hot little cowhorses anymore. He'll still spook and jump as I take him on the road to being the horse I envision. I'll be able to ride it because I've learned to sit a spook, a jump, a buck.
My final thought is, match your horse to your ability. If you can't stay on you're not having fun and things will just get worse. If you're having problems, SLOW DOWN. Learn to ride the spook. Decide if this is what you want in a horse. They are what they are.
Once you can sit through the spook with ease things will get better. Once you can ride your horse with confidence then you can decipher the difference between the nature of the horse and bad behavior.