Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Northern Illinois
I do not believe in bomb-proofing in the traditional sense. Exposure helps, sure, but you can never ever expose a horse to everything they are going to be afraid of. 35 year old horses still spook, and they have seen a lot.
The important thing is to know your horse, and to train the horse to follow you. I believe strongly in the herd mindset. Horses, when they believe you are their leader, act way differently when spooked than those who believe they are on top. If you know how your horse will respond, how they react when they are terrified, and what to expect, that's half the battle. The other part, after you've gotten your horse to respect you, is to teach them to ignore that spooky thing. I do this by acknowledging the horse's fear, calming them down, and then continuing with whatever I was doing. I do not attempt desensitization except for in the case of objects carried while riding (saddle, flag, saddle bags, etc). Other than that, I teach the horse to focus on me when they are afraid, guide them around that fear,and then continue with the task at hand.
** Don't be the rider who gallops all night and never sees the horse that is beneath him **