Understanding the reasons why a horse or pony shies can help you know how to cope when he does shy - and to help him overcome his fear so that he is less likely to shy in the future.
Although we may think of shying as senseless and silly, it is the horse's basic and natural instinct to remove himself swiftly from potential danger.
In the wild a horse's life would depend on shying and running away from danger.
In a horse's natural environment a rustling in the bushes could be a predator lying in wait. A sudden movement could mean an attack.
First of all try to introduce the things that your horse or pony fears to him in the security of his own yard or paddock.
Place objects that your horse usually shies at around your stable yard and fields - for example plastic bags and dustbins - familiarity breeds contempt.
Get the horse used to seeing the objects that he fears so that he will learn that they won't harm him.
He will gain confidence in himself and in his rider knowing from experience that if you say that its safe to pass that he can trust you.
Ride out with a steady companion horse who can set a good example and give confidence - even a friend on a bike can be used as a "lead horse". If no equine companion is available some horse are more settled when accompanied by a sensible, friendly dog on a bridlepath.
When coping with a horse that shies the most important thing is to remain calm and unflustered yourself.
If you clutch at the reins and start flapping your horse will assume that you know something he doesn't - and fear is contagious!
'Read' your horse. If his head comes up with ears pricked and eyes glued on the supposed dragon while he starts to swing his quarters - get him listening to you.
Ride him forwards strongly using the outside leg to control the quarters. Use the outside rein to turn his head away from whatever is scaring him. The other rein should be used against the neck to keep him straight.
Shouting or hitting the horse when he is already feeling nervous usually makes things worse - although if you are carrying a whip, keeping it in the outside hand and showing it or touching it down his shoulder may distract his attention.
It is better to go slightly wide of an object and go past it than to try to force your horse to go close up and have him spin round.
If you have time, and it is safe to do so, go backwards and forwards past whatever is frightening your horse or pony until he is relaxed about it.
If you feel that you must dismount and lead your horse past something, take the reins over the horse's head and lead him from the side that he is shying from. If you lead from the other side is is all too easy for your horse to knock you over as he shies or jumps away from something. The horse will also feel safer if he has you between him and the perceived danger.