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despooking and bombproofing...

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    03-20-2011, 09:41 PM
Originally Posted by AllThePrettyHorses    
I've found with my mare that I just have to get on and go. She's not really spooky by nature, but the more places we go, the more things we see, she just keeps getting quieter and more trusting that I'm not taking her into a death trap.
Agreed!! My arab was a terrible trail horse!! I found that doing desensitizing exercises and just taking her out and about was the best way to quit the's like a dog- if you don't socialize them, they don't know what to do...the more you expose your baby to, even if it's just a walk and not a ride, the more he will learn to communicate with you, trust you, and learn from you as far as what is scary and what is not.... :) hope that helps!!
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    03-20-2011, 09:58 PM
No matter the article I turn my back to the horse (he's on a lead) and move the item in front of me and start walking. As long as this "thing" is going away from him he'll be ok. Change direction a little and he will see it more with one eye. Change direction again (serpentines) and he will see it with the other. I'll keep flapping or bouncing until he's doing ok with it. I will then lead him in a small circle, doing both sides. With the item not moving I will then stand facing him and when he reaches to touch it I will step back before he can touch it. This helps picque his curiosity. If I moved toward him he might be fearful. If he doesn't take a step toward me I will step back to where I was standing and wait. I want to be able to get him to start following me as I walk backward. Try it, it works.
    03-21-2011, 12:49 AM
Originally Posted by mellybean    
Thanks guys for all the feedback! Before we actually took him home but he went thru an electric fence literally DAYS before we got him, and I'd become so attached to him, and was scared if we didnt take him hed be a meat horse so we took the challenge home... We have grain bags full of cans that he doesnt mind we can lunge him with them on his back but once someones on him he spooks... He has his days, and is supposed to be a family horse soi we shall see how it turns out I'm definitely going to try that book and I've got a tarp, hula hoop, chair, stool and jugs full of rocks ready to go!
Desensitization HAS to involve an immediate release when the horse relaxes...when things are tied on the horse, you can not effectively give him a release. This is why he is probably so jittery when you are on...he is not actually "learning" to be okay with the stuff you are tying on him, rather he is simply coping with it there.

I also highly recommend "Down Under Horsemanship" Clinton Anderson. I like alot of his groundwork techniques, especially his desensitization stuff.
    03-21-2011, 01:13 AM
Originally Posted by christopher    
crack a whip while waving a bag around while standing on a tarp. From his back.
I personally would not want a horse to be that used to a whip, it is a tool that I want to mean something.

The best way to get a horse used to things is to expose them to it often. The place I used to board at rented out garages to people working on cars, that noise that takes the nuts off wheels and engines roaring, they got used to that in a heart beat.
    03-21-2011, 01:35 AM
Originally Posted by AlexS    
I personally would not want a horse to be that used to a whip, it is a tool that I want to mean something.

The best way to get a horse used to things is to expose them to it often. The place I used to board at rented out garages to people working on cars, that noise that takes the nuts off wheels and engines roaring, they got used to that in a heart beat.
Considering it's your body language that tells a horse he needs to move or not, you should not be concerned about him being 'used' to whips, sticks and strings, and the like...I personally do not want ANY of the horses I work with to be afraid of my tools; so I desensitize. But I also want them to be sensitized to them as well (ie, respect them)...your body language is either passive (for desensitizing; telling him to stand there and relax) or active (for sensitizing; telling him to move his feet, or a certain part of his body) the horse WILL learn the difference if you use your body correctly to convey what you want of him. That's just my personal take on it.
    03-21-2011, 01:37 AM
If you plan on showing the horse anytime... Don't forget to densensitise him to umbrellas you would not believe how many times I've been unfortunate enough to have a non-horsey spectator open up an umbrella right by my horse... HELLO!! (Thankfully my mare is pretty used to it being 25)

I bring random things out to Mitchell's paddock and let him see them, he's usually okay with me touching them to his nose etc so he can sniff them, but if he doesn't like me touching him elsewhere with it (eg butterfly nets) then I put it up somewhere in the paddock that it will blow around and he see's it all the time. His butterfly net has been in his paddock two weeks now and after me pulling it down and touching him with it each day he is starting to get used to it.
    03-22-2011, 05:19 PM
See this is what I mean :( Soo many people say different things, and I've worked at two training centres with totally different views. Uugh. I have been exposing him to things and lunging him around things he needs to get used to (ie barrels, mounting blocks, jump poles etc) and that seems to help, and the tying of the sacks I got from KArters when I worked there. I just want to make sure there's nothing I can do that will totally RUIN him. Right not he is very [pressure sensitive, he is used to the whip but I rarely have to use it he moves well off hand gestures...
    03-22-2011, 06:05 PM
He sounds really sensitive. Does he sort of fall asleep sometimes when you're playing with him? It may look like he's really relaxed and then all of sudden he spooks?
    03-22-2011, 07:06 PM
I'm training Ray, but have found that keeping him in a pasture and not in a barn and riding him often is a good way to get results. (Bags blow and get caught in fences, flags flapping, cows and goats jumping all over the place, dogs barking, turkeys running across the pasture, that tarp on the hay bales, tractors, cars, motorcycles, other horses, 4-wheelers etc. etc. don't bother him now.) He's a year or 2 younger than yours and I'm a teenager with no riding instructor. If we can do this, you can!
    03-22-2011, 07:14 PM
You know I think a lot of people think of just throwing horses into situations and hopefully they'll swim. For some horses that does work but for more sensitive horses that doesn't work and it may seem like nothing is working when in fact it is your technique that is the problem.

Desensitizing should be more about building confidence and less about getting a horse to tolerate things. If you build the confidence then you'll be able to go anywhere and do almost anything safely. So I think you need to think about approach and retreat. I know it could seem that people are saying different things but actually a lot of people here are really saying similar things.

I understand what mom2pride is saying and that does work in certain situations. But if you've got a horse that will not let you get near and starts to go kookoo when you place a stick near it could be hard to hold it there until they relax 'cause they may not relax and it might make worse. Then you end up just reinforcing what they already thought which is they can't trust you.

Someone else suggested moving the object away from the horse and that is part of approach and retreat. So take the stick with the bag (or whatever it is that makes his sides quiver) and move it towards him and watch his reaction - feel for it. As soon as you feel he is getting tense move it away and give him a minute to think it over. Repeat and you'll start to see improvements.

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