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Desensitising Training- why the Brits do it

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        11-07-2012, 06:21 PM
      #21
    Super Moderator
    I'm glad you joined in Foxhunter - I;ve made my comments on the other thread too and as a fellow Brit who also spent a lifetime riding on main roads I have never desensitised a horse in my life. They have to learn to deal with things as they come along. They learn to trust me, they learn to do as they're asked and that's it.
    I had never heard of this expression until I came here and it was popular among the Parelli crowd - and Rick Gore is constantly 'sacking horses out'
    I sometimes think if you fuss too much its like telling the horse you expect it to spook. Maybe its the rider who's being desensitised to believe the horse wont spook. I don't know. If it works for you then knock yourself out, whats the harm, its just not for me and was never a part of the UK horse world I knew up till 5 years ago
    This pony had been broke 2 months when we took her to a little show and the girl on her who was a very tall 13 year old who used to ride for us asked me if she could go in the Handy Pony with her - she had never seen any of the stuff before and won the class. Really bad camera angle as she was actually a really pretty thing and not an odd shape!!!
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        11-08-2012, 02:32 AM
      #22
    Super Moderator
    I agree that it is more for the rider handler than the horse!

    I was riding and leading out one very windy day. Trotting up a narrow lane my head down as we were going straight into the wind, the young (4 year old not long broken) mare I was riding, suddenly half halted. I looked up to see a giant octopus coming down the road about 6 feet off the road!
    I halted and gave to command of "Stand." wondering where I might end up!
    Luckily one of the tentacles got caught in the hedge and the octopus fell billowing across the road.
    It was a black car cover that had broken loose!
    Both the horses went forward when asked and stepped over the octopus. They looked and hesitated but did as asked. Neither had ever been sacked out but did trust me.

    Roads around here are narrow - twisty and single track. Passing tractors and trailers often means riding through with only a couple of feet to get through. They all go past with no problems because it is expected of them.

    Mind you, the 'fit; horses that are (fox) hunting will often see gremlins under a dock leaf when they are cantering! A good excuse to have a bit of a whoopee buck and try to tank off with us!

    Stupidly one night I never put the loose barn latch up and the youngsters escaped. They spent the entire night trashing the barn. This including ripping open bales of shavings, puling out the polythene bale wraps and scattering the empty feed bags.
    I told them that if they ever spooked at anything blowing at them they would be dead!
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        11-08-2012, 03:51 AM
      #23
    Super Moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Foxhunter    

    Some horses are more spooky than others and all I do with them is to make them go to whatever they are looking at and stand over it. Life gets boring for them if they spook so they don't bother.
    Quite agree, but out on a road you can't do this (let them stand and look) if causing an obstruction. I also agree horses will follow you over a tarp ~(they all do), but I think the idea of doing it before hand is to get that initial "looking" out of the way and to increase trust and make such things as flapping bags more familiar. There is no harm in it and if it makes taking your horse on a public road a fraction safer for everyone then it is probably a good thing :)
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        11-08-2012, 04:09 AM
      #24
    Yearling
    I think 'desensitizing' is an important tool, but to me it is a combination of what everyone here has been saying. I will expose the horse to loud noises, to tarps, having their heads covered, all those sorts of things to teach the horse that the things I expose it to are not harmful.

    I never got around to desensitizing my mare for roads, but my plan was to lead her around a revving car before working on having the car drive past her. In my mind, desensitizing is about trust. The horse needs to learn that new things may seem scary, but that we as the rider will be the judge of how to react.

    I think a certain level of desensitizing needs to be done before you go out and expose them to everything.
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        11-08-2012, 04:51 AM
      #25
    Yearling
    I don't think you can be too dogmatic about any if these things. There are many "right" ways to train a horse. What way you choose is whatever seems best and makes the most sense to you. So any training method is kind of for the trainer.

    My view is that I expose a horse to all the weird objects I can find in a controlled situation in order to teach him that if I say something isn't scary, it's not, and that he doesn't need to be afraid of weird things.
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        11-08-2012, 06:25 AM
      #26
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clava    
    I don't really use the term desensitising, but understand what BlueBird is saying. If I have a green horse I would expose it to everything that I would expect to meet on a hack as I need to be able to be able to be in control out in public so as not to cause harm or danger to anyone else (or myself and the horse). I would spend time getting the horse familiar with all traffic, people, dogs, cows, birds in a reasonable safe environment before venturing on to busy public places. If I didn't do this then I think I would be socially irresponsible and liable if my horse was unsafe and caused problems to others. Of course they will always shy at something, but it is up to me to keep that to a minimum if it affects others (and over here, any riding out on hacks will involve others as our country is so small).

    With reagards to "riding through" I think we all are capable of being forceful and using our bodies to control and encourage a horse to do as we wish, but sometimes that requires the space (for the horse to move) which may not be available. If my horse objects to something and arses about in the road, I cannot hold the traffic up while I deal with it and ride through, I will have to get out of the way.
    Exactly Clava! At last a breakthrough. I am not against what some people do with their horses. As I have said, de-sensitising is not a bad thing and neither is 'emotional control' whatever you mean by that. All I am saying is that each method has an appropriate place depending on the environment in which you use your horse. The bottom line is that we have to ensure that we are safe, our horse is safe and other people who may not be 'horse minded' also remain safe.
         
        11-08-2012, 06:34 AM
      #27
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Foxhunter    
    I agree that it is more for the rider handler than the horse!

    I was riding and leading out one very windy day. Trotting up a narrow lane my head down as we were going straight into the wind, the young (4 year old not long broken) mare I was riding, suddenly half halted. I looked up to see a giant octopus coming down the road about 6 feet off the road!
    I halted and gave to command of "Stand." wondering where I might end up!
    Luckily one of the tentacles got caught in the hedge and the octopus fell billowing across the road.
    It was a black car cover that had broken loose!
    Both the horses went forward when asked and stepped over the octopus. They looked and hesitated but did as asked. Neither had ever been sacked out but did trust me.

    Roads around here are narrow - twisty and single track. Passing tractors and trailers often means riding through with only a couple of feet to get through. They all go past with no problems because it is expected of them.

    Mind you, the 'fit; horses that are (fox) hunting will often see gremlins under a dock leaf when they are cantering! A good excuse to have a bit of a whoopee buck and try to tank off with us!

    Stupidly one night I never put the loose barn latch up and the youngsters escaped. They spent the entire night trashing the barn. This including ripping open bales of shavings, puling out the polythene bale wraps and scattering the empty feed bags.
    I told them that if they ever spooked at anything blowing at them they would be dead!
    Beautifully put! I have had the mega giant bright yellow horse eating mega python/boa constrictor winding its way across a road and not only that, it growled and hissed. Horse stopped, wondered what the **** and started doing the ...run....stay with rider...dilemma. Couldn't get the horse to move forward because this thing was right across the whole road and it was moving. It was some guys doing road works and laying pipes. They kindly turned off their equipment, stopped moving the pipe and I was able to move the horse over the pipe even though it was still a giant python/boa constrictor/horse eating mega snake! No way I could have forseen that and my horse is not de-sensitised but made its own decision to move forward.
         
        11-08-2012, 07:11 AM
      #28
    Yearling
    Horses are very smart. Mine has never spooked at a hose or pipe of any sort, but will jump sideways at an actual snake. This is a good thing. Doesn't matter so much now, but where we're originally from, the snakes you'd most frequently encounter on a ride were rattlesnakes. Stepping calmly over one of them lying in the middle of a trail wasn't clever, as the snake might not see it in that light.
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        11-08-2012, 09:12 AM
      #29
    Super Moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clava    
    Quite agree, but out on a road you can't do this (let them stand and look) if causing an obstruction. I also agree horses will follow you over a tarp ~(they all do), but I think the idea of doing it before hand is to get that initial "looking" out of the way and to increase trust and make such things as flapping bags more familiar. There is no harm in it and if it makes taking your horse on a public road a fraction safer for everyone then it is probably a good thing :)
    If you are handling your horse on a several times a day basis and not underexposing it to anything then it will have already got used to things flapping around by it - you shake your rugs/blankets before you put them on, wipe it over with a cloth, put our own jackets off and on, we empty plastic bags of shavings into the stables when the horses are in there, nothing is done conciously to get them used to these things, its just routine that they have to deal with.
    My horses are far more likely to 'jump' when a tiny little bird flies out of the hedge than they would at a plastic bag. To rely too much on 'desensitising' and not enough on trust and obedience to commands is not always a safe idea because its impossible to cover all the options.
    Horses were on the roads way before cars were and I have no problem whatsoever holding traffic up if I'm riding a young horse out or accompanying someone on a young horse so it has a buddy to 'lean on' for extra confidence and it suddenly decides something is too much to deal with. If it offends a driver they can say all the rude words they like - it just goes straight through me. The safety of me and the horse is my number one priority.
    The UK Highway Code has pretty strict guidelines on how drivers should behave around horses and making some driver slow down or stop for a few minutes is no big deal to me.
    One of the main causes of spooking is where the horse is using an object as an excuse to get out of working (we have a monster who lives in the corner of our menage) or as Foxhunter said as an excuse to have a leap and a buck because they have too much pent up energy when they first set off.
         
        11-08-2012, 09:45 AM
      #30
    Super Moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jaydee    
    The UK Highway Code has pretty strict guidelines on how drivers should behave around horses and making some driver slow down or stop for a few minutes is no big deal to me.
    .

    I honestly don't believe drivers today read the Highway Code or know what it says! They simply do not always wait, slow down or allow space. The frequent number of horses hit each year proves this. It is just a code, it can't be strict as it is not enforced. I don't mind making them wait, but I think it is unnecessary to school your horse in the road and make it everyone else's problem who are just trying to get on with their day, when I can reduce the issues by working on the shying issues beforehand.

    I don't rely on desensitising horses or obedience commands (other than the riding aids?), I expose them to stuff and by doing so they build trust in me, it is no different to what you are saying, I just make sure that when they do see things for the first time that any horse out hacking will see, they do so in a quiet place away from lots of people who could be endangered or inconvenienced, not on a busy road, it is just common sense really. My horses rarely jump when birds fly out as we hack in the game shooting area and whole flocks of pheasants fly out the hedges Spooking for fun is something totally different and not really the same as shying at things at all, we all by then know our horses well enough to know that is what they do, but not objecting at a tractor covered in flapping empty sacks as my mare trusts me is a good thing.
    Bluebird likes this.
         

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