Desensitizing to ATVs/Trail Spooks - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 4 Old 01-11-2011, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Desensitizing to ATVs/Trail Spooks

I'd love to take Spots out on the trail this spring/summer, but we do have quite a few ATVs that speed through the trails and I'm concerned that he'll spook.

How would I desensitize him to these? And can you think of anything else that would be smart to get him used to that he might encounter on the trail?
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post #2 of 4 Old 01-11-2011, 12:35 PM
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Do u know anyone with an ATV or motorcycle?
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post #3 of 4 Old 01-11-2011, 05:18 PM
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I had a lot of success with having the horse follow spooky vehicles. Enlist a friend to drive the ATV (or lawnmower or bike or golfcart, etc...), and just follow on your horse. If he's terribly nervous and more confident starting on the ground, start there, but you can easily do this from the saddle.

Following the spooky object gets the horse's confidence up because he's doing the chasing, not that horse-eatin' ATV. As he gains confidence, you can move him up to walking, trotting, and loping alongside the vehicle, and eventually allowing the vehicle to follow him as he learns that it poses no threat. The same method can be used to desensitize to hand-held things (like chainsaws, for example) - just carry/wave the thing and walk away from the horse, either "pulling" the horse behind or having a friend lead him after you. Some horses get rather excited about "chasing" the spooky object, and will become playful and eager to continue.

Ultimately, the best thing to de-spook a horse to trail monsters is to just get out there and experience them. It's hard to replicate things like deer in the arena to prepare for that. My recommendation is to start riding with a friend on a seasoned and reliable trail horse - having a calm and relaxed buddy can do wonders for a nervous greeny on the trail.

Good luck, and enjoy your trail riding!

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #4 of 4 Old 01-11-2011, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Scoutrider View Post

Following the spooky object gets the horse's confidence up because he's doing the chasing, not that horse-eatin' ATV. As he gains confidence, you can move him up to walking, trotting, and loping alongside the vehicle, and eventually allowing the vehicle to follow him as he learns that it poses no threat. The same method can be used to desensitize to hand-held things (like chainsaws, for example) - just carry/wave the thing and walk away from the horse, either "pulling" the horse behind or having a friend lead him after you. Some horses get rather excited about "chasing" the spooky object, and will become playful and eager to continue.

Ultimately, the best thing to de-spook a horse to trail monsters is to just get out there and experience them. It's hard to replicate things like deer in the arena to prepare for that. My recommendation is to start riding with a friend on a seasoned and reliable trail horse - having a calm and relaxed buddy can do wonders for a nervous greeny on the trail.

Good luck, and enjoy your trail riding!
Excellent advice!

You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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