Trouble with desensitization.
Hi all, and thanks for taking the time to read this.
A few weeks ago I purchased a 15y.o. Arabian who was reportedly broke to ride and "Just a little spooky." When I got him home, he turned out to be the most spooky horse I've ever owned or worked with, and after some digging around, I found out that the person who I bought him from was afraid to ride him, so had him sitting for 5 years completely untouched. And this shows.
I'm completely restarting him from the ground. He's spooky, dominant, and has no manners at all. I've been teaching him his ground manners, and he's been doing fairly well, except for with one thing - desensitization.
For desensitizing, I started off by just being silly around his paddock, until he got used to me skipping, doing jumping jacks, stepping on the crunchy plants, etc. Once he started ignoring it, and it didn't spoke him any more, I introduced him to tying and the hot walker, leaving him on both until he calmed down. He now does great for both. He moves sometimes while tied but we're working on that. I introduced the lounge line, and the lounge whip, and both, he's now responding great too. No spook, lounges beautifully, lets the whip touch him all over, I can shake it next to him, behind him, under him, in front of him, smack it on the ground all over him. He doesn't kick it any more when I touch his back feet, just stands there and accepts it.
But at the same time as I introduced the lounge whip, I also introduced a plastic bag, tied to the end of the lounge whip, and he completely lost it. He rears, kicks, and spins. Always keeps his butt to it, so I can't get to his front half without being in "kicking zone". He will not calm down regardless of how long I have it on him. It's only been a week, but he's made very, very, VERY little progress while, with everything else, he's made excellent progress much quicker. So another boarder at the facility while I keep him suggested I put him in the wash rack, so he can't spin. That way I can touch him all over, he can't go anywhere, and would learn that it doesn't hurt, and isn't really that scary. It made sense to me at the time.
So I started introducing him to the wash rack. Working him near it, and when I tried to get him in, putting pressure on him when he pulled back by making him move his back feet, spinning my lead rope, and taking pressure off when he was facing it, turned to it, doing what I wanted him to do. After quite some time I got him in it, and he stood there quietly and calmly, so I went and got the bag. It was probably a mistake to start that immediately after I got him in the rack for the first time, but I learned that it was a mistake to even try it in the wash rack, when he freaked out, slammed down onto his knees, and crawled UNDER the bar on the wash rack, ripping his back open on the bottom of the bar. I put ointment on him to stop infection, and tied him back up to the tie bar where I had started and since have been doing it there again, but he still kicks, still rears, snorts, spins, kicks, throws a major spooking fit.
Does any one have any tips? What am I doing wrong? Please help me, I'm starting to think I may just be making things worse for him. :(
Again, thank you for reading, and any advice you may have.