The silly things you desensitize your horse to - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 01-02-2014, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2013
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The silly things you desensitize your horse to

Just out of curiosity. With the weather and hunting season I have not been riding, but instead just messing around with the beasties. I just bought Jagger in December and didnt get to ride him much due to his weight, but when I did take him for small strolls he was a little bit on the spooky side!

So I figured while I had free time during the winter I would mess around with getting him used to different things. What are some of the things you desensitize your horses to?

So far, I have done
Umbrella (wasnt afraid of it)
Large yoga ball (wasnt afraid of it)
Burlap bag of cans (Almost over his fear of it)
Grocery Bag (Almost over his fear of it)

My dog circles and circles and circles some more at full speed around him, so I figure that is probably helping too! I would like to get some pool noodles and make a curtain someday. :)
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post #2 of 21 Old 01-02-2014, 02:53 PM
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I have also done the umbrella and yoga ball, along with a whistle (he was terrified of people whistling) , sticks dragging behind him (just invade something gets stuck in his tail, we won't go for a little joyride) and a blue tarp (throwing it over him and flapping it around in every annoying way I can think of
It's funny what we desensitize them too, like anyone will ever chase my horse with a whistle or a giant yoga ball..but I guess it's good for him anyway :P
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post #3 of 21 Old 01-02-2014, 06:15 PM
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Hehe I've had some fun times desensitizing Sock...

Yoga ball: He's okay with it now and I can "play soccer" with him a bit under saddle, just working on adding speed. Once I can find the dang plug that is! He used to be absolutely terrified of the thing and would go straight up and back if it got anywhere near him. He looked like those cat gifs you see all over the internet where they disappear upwards into thin air!

Tarp: Okay with it now, and really the only time he WASN'T was when I had it all over him, up to his ears, and he stepped on the corner. That was IT. He tore around the arena for about 5 minutes straight even after it slipped off. I was bawling!!! And he's been just fine with tarps since then as well!

Pool noodles: Enough said, but he can handle 'em!

Bells/noisy things attached to him: A little snorty at first, but soon jingling happily away once he figured out the noise was coming from him and not some jingly monster chasing him.

Cows/livestock: He just wanted to be friends!

Dragging things: Getting better! He is more wary when backing and dragging than going forward.

Turnstiles: Now this is some weird thingy that they apparently do in the extreme cowboy races, but it's a little PVC pipe turnstile that you have your horse push with his chest under saddle. It was not his favorite thing at first since the other half obviously moves as well when you're pushing!

Cars: We were doing great! Until the a-hole in the Cobra... But we'll get there again.

Altogether I'm pretty lucky to have a level headed horse, I think! It's pretty fun to think of things to desensitize him with. I doubt, like Nikkibella said, that anyone is going to chase us down the trail waving noodles (what a mental image!) but in reality, you aren't doing it to get them used to the noodles, or the yoga ball, or what have you. The way I see it, every victory with silly objects or even common ones is just another, "See? Mommy/Daddy TOLD you it was okay, NOW do you believe me?" so that when you inevitably come across something scary on the trail, they can hopefully go back to the "Mum knows best" mentality instead of fight or flight.

This is a fun thread! I can't wait to see some of the other ways people "torture" their horses into being brave!
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post #4 of 21 Old 01-02-2014, 06:20 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Texas
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The silliest thing? Farrier chaps. I took them off after trimming him and he jerked his head back when I pulled them up to fold over my arm. So we stood there and went through all the bells and whistles. With farrier chaps.
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post #5 of 21 Old 01-02-2014, 07:54 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: North Dakota, USA
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Rain poncho or slicker, you never know if you might have to throw one on during a trail ride.

Opening and closing gates while ridden.

Hanging pool noodles or a tarp cut into strips for a car wash effect.

Pulling or dragging a snow sled, sometimes with a hay bale or person on it.

Pulling a rope that goes over a tree branch to lift an object.

Opening and closing a mailbox.

Approaching and carrying objects from one barrel to another.

Going over a platform or bridge. Sometimes with having it rock as they go over.

These and more have been obstacles on judged trail rides.
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post #6 of 21 Old 01-02-2014, 08:24 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
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We have fence panels on the side of the bridge, and hang tarps or table cloths on each side of the bridge.

I've also used a giant blow up yard decoration.
A giant (I mean GIGANTIC) spider on a rope and we fling it over the beam of the arena and let it bounce around.

Pop up barrels have turned many horses inside out because they move in the breeze.

Brush on the ground to walk through.

Making the bridge rock.

(I put on a desensitizing clinic at our barn each spring and come up with the craziest ideas. I have a bear hide to try out this year!)

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post #7 of 21 Old 01-02-2014, 08:56 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Lost in, Wyoming
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I have done balls, pop guns, rings, hula hooped on ground and on horseback, bags, coats, christmas trees, windmills, tarps, and bikes.

Rock Watcha Got Don't Ever Let Them Make You Stop
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post #8 of 21 Old 01-02-2014, 09:02 PM
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Like so many of my fellow riders, I have exposed my horses to whatever I could think of, all with fairly good results. The one thing I didn't even consider an issue became a major vertical spook for Walka. What was it......a white chicken. Go figure.

Am enjoying this thread very much!

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, "Oh crap, she's up!".
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post #9 of 21 Old 01-02-2014, 10:08 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Lost in, Wyoming
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Dash getting desensitized to the rings.
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post #10 of 21 Old 01-02-2014, 10:28 PM
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Coastal Maine
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I went a little overboard with my first horse, China; tarps, noodles, bikes with bells, raincoats, dogs, kids, lunging with helium balloons tied on... She was a very small horse, so I had my little sister ride her for the first time, and when China started to get nervous, I whipped out my pink plastic baseball bat and started tapping her all over. China just let out a big " whoof" and relaxed, figuring, I guess, that it was all just business as normal.
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