Desensitizing???????
   

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Desensitizing???????

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    05-27-2009, 11:44 AM
  #1
Green Broke
Desensitizing???????

I would like to start desensitizing my 6y/o gelding for trails. All I really wanna do is pleasure ride but I want to be sure that he won't be spooky. Do you think that I should do this myself or send him to a trainer? And, what can I do as far as ground work? Also I would only consider him as greenbroke.
     
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    05-27-2009, 12:03 PM
  #2
Trained
I'll be watching this thread too for more ideas, but I've been working on this with Soda. Basically I've gotten him to the point where he listens really well even when he is worried/scared and I feel like I have the tools in place to deal with spooks and etc when I'm riding him or on the ground.

So now I've started introducing him to scary things. Plastic bags, tarps, barrels(?), cars, apparently fallen trees are scary too (lol), and pretty much everything else. When I'm riding/leading him I watch his body language and if he is worried about something we move towards it slowly. Basically I ask him to go towards it.. he gives me a step and I release pressure, ask again-he gives-I release. If its something really scary I will approach/retreat with him (move him towards until he starts getting pretty tense, then move away, then towards again). This has been working very well so far and he is a pretty flighty horse.

During groundwork, I've been using approach/retreat with bags/sticks/rakes/tarps/pretty much everything weird. I just move it towards him until he is about ready to move away, then I back up a couple of steps... then towards him again until he's at the "breaking" point, then away again. Lots of soothing tones while this is going on. When he touches it and lets me touch him with it he gets major praise.

I don't know if this is the "right way" but its been working pretty good for me. Interested to see other responses.
     
    05-27-2009, 01:49 PM
  #3
Weanling
I don't like to go out of my way to desensitize a horse. Most of the time the horse just needs wet saddle blankets and time. If I'm out on trail and a horse is spooking/looking at something I'll usually ignore the behavior and keep pushing for forward. I don't like cooing and baby talking to a horse while it is spooking as you can end up rewarding the horse for 'spooking' and the horse soon puts two and two together. I've found the best thing to do is ignore it and keep yourself relaxed as your horse takes an amazing amount cues from how you act. If you're nervous and uptight- your horse will be too. If the horse is really looking at something or does do a big spook I like to walk them all around it and eventually move them up to it. Once they relax and have calmed down I will reward them but not before.
     
    05-27-2009, 02:00 PM
  #4
Green Broke
You can do fun obstacle courses both within the arena and outside. Start in the arena in case he pulls away you can easily catch him. Use everything you have around the barn. Buckets, tarps, poles, feed bags, garbage bags tied to something so they blow in the wind, tires stacked up etc.

Let him walk by in and around them. Once he gets comfortable with that, move to an outdoor obstacle.

I have an excellent book called, Bombproof your horse by Rick Pelicano. It has everything you could ever want about de-spooking and how your horse reacts to different things. Here's the Amazon link:

Http://www.amazon.com/Bombproof-Your-Horse-Confident-Encounter/dp/1570762600
     
    05-27-2009, 02:01 PM
  #5
mls
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by onetoomany    
I don't like to go out of my way to desensitize a horse.

I don't like cooing and baby talking to a horse while it is spooking as you can end up rewarding the horse for 'spooking' and the horse soon puts two and two together.
Agree and agree.

I like to take my green or nervous horses out with a human and equine I trust to be there in the event they are needed. The horse sees the buddy horse acting as if it's no big deal and the human helps by chatting and creating an air of calm.

I really disagree with the theory of the 'bombproof' horse. They have eyes and ears and the ability to think independtly from their human counterpart. My well seasoned cow/parade/trail horse jumped four feet to the side of the trail this past weekend. A doe was just standing in the brush minding her own business. Yet he has had partridge get up under his feet and never fluttered an eyelash.
     
    05-27-2009, 02:06 PM
  #6
Green Broke
It's actually just a term 'bombproof', there is no way to completely desensitize any horse. It's like someone jumping out of the bushes at you when you're walking down the street, you're going to jump.

And desensitizing doesn't involve baby talk and cooing. It's about confidence for both the rider and the horse.

The book I mentioned goes over concepts - comfort zones, punishment/reward, horse reaction, dealing with bad habits, obstacles you can work on, evaluating both the horse and the rider. The exercises are really good. I've used several of them and when I was first training my boy they made a huge difference.

The author is a mounted police officer from Maine and oversees mounted police horses. He's the real deal.


So, while a horse can and will spook, there are definitely things you can do to help in that area instead of doing nothing at all.
     
    05-27-2009, 03:22 PM
  #7
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by onetoomany    
I don't like to go out of my way to desensitize a horse.

I agree with this, but enjoy fooling around with the horse's at home. I suppose you could call it desensitizing, but I like to call it just hanging out and having some fun.

MLS is right, even the best trained horse can freak on the trail, it's better to learn what to do when (not if) it happens.

I've found that with some items the best appraoch is to put yourself inbetween the object and the horse and make that object "go away" before doing approach and retreat.



Then there's just letting them figure it out, but not giving the option of NOT doing it.









Food is a good motivator.



     
    05-27-2009, 03:29 PM
  #8
Green Broke
"MLS is right, even the best trained horse can freak on the trail, it's better to learn what to do when (not if) it happens."

Which is what happens you when you work at desensitizing your horse. You learn how you both are going to react and build your confidence from there.

It doesn't have to be anything major, it can be very minor things from walking past objects at your barn to creating things.
     
    05-27-2009, 03:31 PM
  #9
Foal
Any horse will spook, it is better to learn what to do when if happens. But that doesn't really asnwer your question.

You could send him to a trainer is you wanted to, but doing it yourself is very possible and can be kind of fun.

I always start with throwing a rope over there back. You start with about 4 inches of the lead rope and keep throwing it over, pull it back, throw it over ect. If the horse starts to spook/run keep with him and keep throwing. Once the horse stands still for atleast 4 seconds stop. Pet and rub him. Start lengthening the rope as you feel comftable.

You can also start slapping the ground with a stock whip, you start slapping the ground near his rear leg softly. (stand at his neck/head area). Follow the same pattern as above as far following. Then work up to slapping the ground hard.

Just find all sorts of things the horse is scared of and take it slow!
     
    05-27-2009, 03:32 PM
  #10
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solon    
"MLS is right, even the best trained horse can freak on the trail, it's better to learn what to do when (not if) it happens."

Which is what happens you when you work at desensitizing your horse. You learn how you both are going to react and build your confidence from there.

It doesn't have to be anything major, it can be very minor things from walking past objects at your barn to creating things.
Check my post I decided to add more info.

No one is disagreeing with you Solon, just offering other opinions so the OP can judge for herself.
     

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