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This is a discussion on Desensitization? within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    04-02-2009, 11:17 AM

How would you all go about training/desensitizing a horse to ropes or getting caught in fencing or anything else while riding or at liberty? If my mare gets caught she'll just stand there and wait for you to come get her. But, Soda freaks out. Right now I'm just rubbing ropes on his body, wrapping them lightly around his legs/barrel/basically all over, praising him when he stands, etc. Any other ideas?

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    04-02-2009, 11:27 AM
Well - the fence thing is individual to a horse. Fight or flight instinct takes over. The important thing there is for all of the humans to stay quiet and not freak to add to the horse's worry.

For the rope - start in a round pen with a lead rope attached to his halter that doesn't quite hit the ground. Free lunge him a bit. Gradually add to the length of the rope until he is not running 'away' from the rope.

Expo Saturday 4/25 at 11 in the coliseum, Craig Cameron's topic will be "What not to do with your horse". Maybe a good question for him?
    04-02-2009, 01:37 PM
Take a lounge whip and gently wrap the string part around the legs and all over the body, rub him with the stick end of it as well. Don't forget under the belly, that can be a sensitive part of the body.
    04-02-2009, 04:41 PM
Also....once your horse is good at handling ropes around the legs (up and down the legs) and stands still,...add one more step to be sure he is really good about it:

Ask him to move forward with one of the ropes around a front leg first, so he feels the rope around his leg with movement. It's different: movement vs stand still. Sometimes, a horse can be ok with ropes at a stand still then freak out all over again when movement is added.

Once the horse is ok walking around you in a circle with the rope going up and down the leg, add some slight pressure and ask the horse to yield to that pressure by stepping toward you (the pressure) with that one leg.

Then ask the horse to come to a complete stop and then remove the rope. So, the horse understands that all pressure is released only when he stops and stands quietly.

Repeat the above with all 4 legs.

This way, when you're riding and toss a rope and if he accidentily steps into it and feels it as he's moving, he won't care and will remain relaxed.
    04-02-2009, 06:19 PM
I've also heard of hobble training I've watched it done but they were young foals and had been desensitized to a degree with ropes already. It seems that if they were to totally freak out on it they could seriously injure themselves. The purpose as I understand it is to teach a horse to stand still if they get their feet hung up in something as you said your mare would wait for you to help her out. I also have heard it helps with pawing but I have no personal experience on it
    04-02-2009, 06:40 PM
Hobbling a horse is an excellent way to teach a horse to stand still. Done properly and with the right precautions, any horse of any age can be taught. That particular skill comes in handy in may situations with the possibility of being caught in wire being one.
    04-03-2009, 11:43 AM
Originally Posted by mls    
Expo Saturday 4/25 at 11 in the coliseum, Craig Cameron's topic will be "What not to do with your horse". Maybe a good question for him?
I will be there, but my niece will be with me (4yo) so I don't know how long I will get to stay & listen. She was pretty interested in the training last year though, so who knows.

Thanks for the great ideas everyone, I'll start incorporating into our groundwork. I asked my dad (he trained horses a lot as a kid) and he said about the same thing. Thought it might have a lot to do with personality/age too

I didn't even think about adding movement, he's been really good when standing still for a couple of weeks now. So we start adding that. I don't know if I have a good area for hobble training though, my ground is pretty hard (packed clay/dirt) but I will look into it.

Thanks again this site is great
    04-03-2009, 11:55 AM
Loop the rope loosely, and have your horse put his head through it.

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