Desensitizing to.....ceiling fans ?
   

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Desensitizing to.....ceiling fans ?

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    05-25-2010, 05:35 PM
  #1
Weanling
Desensitizing to.....ceiling fans ?

So, I had a show this past weekend and we got into the arena and my horse about jumped out of his skin. We went in to warm up and he started popping up in the front end, then spinning and bucking. We actually cleared out one end of the arena during practice two times. It took me a little bit to figure out what he was trying so hard to get away from and then it hit me......they had installed 3 huge ceiling fans in the arena - the ones with blades that are 15' to 20' long. To make matters worse, the fans were making this little popping sound every once in a while. Now, my gelding is generally VERY laid back so this was absolutely out of character for him. Anybody else ever experienced this with their horse and if so, how did you desensitize him? I don't know of another arena around here with ceiling fans to give my gelding more exposure. I did make him stand in the aisle of the arena for about 45 minutes after we thankfully made it through the classes without getting killed. He seemed to be much calmer when we left, but I would like to address this before we experience it again. He's fine with ropes over his head and box fans up high in his stall.
     
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    05-25-2010, 05:40 PM
  #2
Green Broke
I would just lead him into the arena with the rope halter on and just walk him around in there until he finally realized they arent going to eat him ;)
     
    05-25-2010, 08:39 PM
  #3
Weanling
Unless you plan on bringing him in your house or installing a ceiling fan in his stall, you'll just have to arrive to the next show at that location extra early so you can walk him through the arena as long as it takes.
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    05-27-2010, 09:52 AM
  #4
Weanling
I'll assume you can not practice in the same arena that caused the issues - so instead you need to address his behavior.

At home experiment and try to find something ELSE that "upsets" him and cause similar behavior - like a flag or a tarp popping in the breeze, ...

Once you have something to initiate the same behavior you can practice (experiment to find) methods to control his behavior and re-direct his attention to YOU where it belongs.

So when horse starts mis-behaving you want to get him close to where the bad behavior begins and start asking him to work on things that get and keep his attention. In dressage that is shoulder fore/ shoulder in, several steps (at walk, trot and/or canter - suggest for control reasons you start with a walk) then once you get a few good steps switch to haunches in/out or leg yield or half pass - you getthe idea.

What you want to do is re-direct his attention away from the bogey man and back to you. Once you can control him where he INITIALLY misbehaves, SLOWLY move him towards the bogey man.

To give you an idea - one day my mare would NOT walk past a milk carton in the pasture. So I started this technique. Next thing you know we backed up PAST the bad old milk carton. So instead of her walking past it she backed past it. After repeating it a few more times we could easily walk past the carton.
     
    05-27-2010, 10:53 AM
  #5
Weanling
He really has never done anything like this before. I have not found 1 thing that bothers him - he may looks at something and step sideways but I always make him walk past it and he is completely fine. He's never shied at anything in any trail course we have been through. The trail course at that show had a rain slicker you rubbed on the horses body. I've never done that with him but he never tensed a muscle and could have cared less about it. He's fine with tarps, banners, flags, tractors, motor cycles, dirt bikes, police sirens (he has been ridden in Sheriff's Posse), lawn movers, speakers, announcers, etc. Unfortunately, the arena where the show was held is not open to the public so no opportunity to go back for exposure and we have not encountered those big fans at any other arena open for practice.
My trainer thinks it could have been the noise / hum generated from the fans that made him nervous rather than the actual fan. We may try cotton or ear plugs next time we go there to see if it makes a difference. He was fine by the end of the show but was a bundle of nerves at the beginning.
     
    05-27-2010, 03:17 PM
  #6
Foal
It was over his head, invisible, and making strange noises. He probably thought it was a bunch of lions in a tree waiting to pounce down on him.

Linda Tellington-Jones has a despooking exercise where you set up plastic in a way that the horse can walk under. It requires 2 helpers so they can raise or lower the plastic as needed. That might be something that would give him kind of the same feeling. First you walk him through it on a lead, then eventually you ride him under it.
     
    05-27-2010, 04:28 PM
  #7
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rule of Reason    
It was over his head, invisible, and making strange noises. He probably thought it was a bunch of lions in a tree waiting to pounce down on him.

Linda Tellington-Jones has a despooking exercise where you set up plastic in a way that the horse can walk under. It requires 2 helpers so they can raise or lower the plastic as needed. That might be something that would give him kind of the same feeling. First you walk him through it on a lead, then eventually you ride him under it.
I like this. I'll have to give it a try and see what he does.
Thanks !
     

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