Help on de-spooking! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 01-23-2011, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Upstate NY!
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Help on de-spooking!

So, it is about 9F outside. That mean no riding. It is at the peak of coldness here in NY, and I can't ride when it's cold out. Not because I'm wimpy, but I want to save Sasha's lungs.

Anyway. I was hoping to de-spook [notice I didn't say bomb proof] Sasha. She isn't very spooky, but I figured I might as well. She occasionally jumps at things, so I can allways strive for improvement! =] I want to be able to walk over tarps and such, but I don't know where to start! From the ground, clearly, but I'm hopeless! I think I will get out the rope halter [just for added control so she doesn't completely take off and freak out: I don't want to punish her for being nervous, but I don't want a loose horse either! ] So, what do you suggest? I'm thinking about walking her up to the tarp/object/whatever, letting her look at it from afar, bring her a little closer, then let her sniff it until she's bored of the item, then walking onto it/by it? I really don't know where to start, I've never had a horse I was allowed to do this stuff with. It's always been lease horses!

Help! Am I completely off track?

Oh cry me a river, build a bridge, and get over it.
CruceyMoose is offline  
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post #2 of 5 Old 01-23-2011, 09:35 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Mar 2010
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I think it sounds like a good idea. I'm assuming you will be working in the barn area. Besides it gives you both something to do together which is always good.

So in lies the madness, the pursuit of the impossible in the face of the complete assurance that you will fail, and yet still you chase.
flytobecat is offline  
post #3 of 5 Old 01-23-2011, 09:50 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Connecticut
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Just use a lead that is relatively long so, if she spooks, she can move away a few steps without pulling your arm out of it's socket. Most horses only jump back a few feet before they feel safe enough to stop. The important thing is to let them know that they are not trapped near the scary object, hence the long lead. Slack is your friend.

Just pick an object and first walk her back and forth in front of it. If she's fine with that, stop her in front of it and give her a chance to explore it. If she's still good, make contact with it. If it's a tarp, pick it up a little, shake it, whatever you need to do to make her absolutely bored by it. I'm in the school of thought that it is better just to use calm energy as a form of communication rather than talk to your horse. If you talk to her while she's scared, it will only re-enforce her assumption that there is something to be scared about.

Keep in mind she may completely surprise you. The first time I showed my horse a tarp, he walked right up to it, picked it up with his mouth, flung it over his head and stood there until I took it off. Wish I had it on video. Good luck.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
MyBoyPuck is offline  
post #4 of 5 Old 01-23-2011, 10:15 PM
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Since you are in the area, you might want to look at these clinics. They are pretty good, and should be pretty close for you. Joann also has a newsletter with tips. I don't necessarily agree with all of her techniques, but have audited one of her clinics, and people seemed to enjoy them. Gentle Dove Farm
I would suggest that you are on the right track-use the "approach-retreat" method, remember to reward the slightest effort on her part. Have fun with it. Sounds like a good cold weather activity. I always have fun thinking of new things to challenge mine with......he just thinks I am nuts, especially if I have just been to the Dollar store!

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post #5 of 5 Old 01-23-2011, 10:27 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Apr 2009
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Sorry, I din't read any of the above replies. I'm too impatient, lol, & I'll lose my train of thought.

The "SCARIEST" object any horse I've ever worked with is a plastic food store bag, filled with empty soda cans. It makes lots of noise. I also use tarps, and lunging whips/carrot sticks.

While the horse is tied, bring whatever object you decide to use up to the horse. Let her smell it. Touch it. Play with it. Whatever she wants to do with it. Touch it to her sides, back, neck. Don't go behind the hip just yet, if she spooks you might get kicked.

Then take her out to an inclosed space. With a lead on her, make the objects make noise, throw it around her. Then rub the object on her again. Put it on the ground, walk her by it, trot her by it. Do this on both sides of her.

Then with the tarp, spread it on the ground. Let her paw at it, sniff it, etc. Then, with you facing her, walk backwards, coaxing her to walk on to it. If she walks, pet her & coo, be very rewarding. Let her eat grass even. Walk her over it both ways, then try to trot her over it. She may not right away.

If you really want to try for her to not mind the tarp, hang it on a fence. Let it blow in the wind.. Free lunge her by it. She may spook hard, but din't reprimand her for it.

Hope this helps.
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