Whip Sensitivity - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-05-2010, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Ashland, OR
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Whip Sensitivity

I am going to be entering a low-class "Extreme Cowboy Race" at the beginning of August and I will be riding my new gelding, Rebel. Ju tone problem: He is extremely sensitive to the whip cracking. The course requires you to crack a whip from the saddle.

I have been sitting int he pasture and just waving the whip around nonchalantly, relaxed and just playing. When I go into the hay shed I crack the whip a few times and then bring him his hay and grain. I carry the whip everywhere with me when I am near him. I hold his lead and rythmically scratch him with it, then turn away and crack it once, then go back to scratching him with it. He has a favorite spothe likes to be rubbe don and I scratch him with it there, which he enjoys.

Is there anything else I can do to get him used to it? I want to have him ready because I think we really have a shot at taking it.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-05-2010, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
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When you are working with him spend more time getting him to accept the sounds of the whip.You are correct in thinking that he shouldn't be afraid of the whip as an object, but it is hard for him to make the connection between the thing he is being rubbed with,then it makes a loud crack. Try this-- have him on a 12 foot lead,face the horse, whip in your right hand , lead in the left. Start small with the whip sounds. Allow him to move away to your left, but more in a side pass. Stop with the whip when he shows some sign of relaxing . This is what you are rewarding is the soft relaxed movement. This will work much better than having him stand and accept . Again the horse will not feel trapped, but is still under your direction. Start small and build up once you have the relaxed movement.Good luck in the race
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post #3 of 6 Old 06-05-2010, 09:31 AM
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^^^Great post. Agree, agree.

Difference between desensitizing to the object, and desensitizing to the sound.
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post #4 of 6 Old 06-07-2010, 10:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2010
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I'm having the opposite problem with my colt, Chino. When I try to lunge him I'll crack the whip tap him with it but he just looks at me like I'm crazy. No rope fazes him either. I think we might have done a little to well on the bomb proofing training, lol!
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post #5 of 6 Old 06-07-2010, 11:40 AM
Green Broke
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^ LOL, agreed! My Paint filly is still good about it, but my Arab mare knows me well enough that to actually get her moving out, I HAVE to give her a smack with it to tell her I mean business. I can crack it and wave it about like a maniac and she just goes "COOKIE?!"

Little T Ranch gave perfect advice. Think about the RCMP horses and being trained for gunfire - it's not the gun that scares them, and rubbing a gun on them won't get them used to it. At this point it can really be any noise - I know a lot of people will use little firecrackers to simulate the cracking noise, it works for both gun and whip. You obviously need to get him used to it being waved around as well, but if you want to avoid total whip "desensitivity" you can get someone to light little firecrackers as you go about your daily "routine" with him until he's not phased by it.

It's very helpful training all in all as well - as a teenager, my grandpa used to come out of the house without any warning and shoot a rabbit in his garden. When I was riding, you learn to get nervous because my horse would jump out of his poor skin at the sound!

I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.

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post #6 of 6 Old 06-07-2010, 02:32 PM
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I am assuming that you are referring to more of a "cow whip" rather than a lunge whip, correct? If so, then yes, you have to desensitize to the sound. All of our horses have to be trained for whips because they are used every time we work cows. When we get to the pens and 6 whips start swinging and popping in a tight spot, your horse better be used to it.

First of all, do not pop it while facing the horse. I want my horses to be sensitive to the pop of the lunge whip, yet completely quiet with the sound of the cow whip. The cow whip is much louder than a lunge. If the horse is very scared of it, I will start by having someone hold the horse or tie it if its sain enough (all will be by the time I start training them to the whip). I usually stand around 20-30' away from the horse and face in the same direction that the horses body is facing, not looking at the horse. I start with a consistant, rhythmic overhand swing, without actually cracking the whip. I have an 8' nylon whip, it has a lot more weight to it than a leather whip if thats what you are using. My husband carries a 12' whip, but I've thrown my shoulder out with his, so I prefer the smaller whip. Again, do not look at him, most horses think that you are directing it at them, and I do not want them to lose sensitivity to my drive, just allow him to get used to the sound. The overhand pop usually isn't as loud as overhead, so I start with that. Plus I can throw out a basic overhand pop every few seconds with a steady rhythm, so it allows them to get used to the sound. Once they are used to that, I start with some louder cracks until they could care less.

Once they are done with it at the distance, I will stand on their right side (I carry the whip in my right hand), and hold onto the horse with my left hand. I start again with the same routine right next to the horse. If the horse moves, I drift with them, never disturbing the rhythm of the whip until they relax. Once they are calm, I will walk the horse while using the whip until they are used to the sound of the whip swinging and popping right next to and over them. They must be used to it swinging beside them and over their head. Also, let it fall on his rear or neck lightly a few times while swinging it. He has to be able to handle those types of slip ups because it will get a little harder to swing it on his back.

Some horses are ready pretty quickly for you to just get on and use the whip once you have done the ground work. I've found horses that are improperly trained at first take a little more work. One thing that my husband and I have done with trickier horses to get them used to the whip from the rider position is to ride them next to a horse that is already broke to the whip. We ride them closely side by side, start with the new horse on one side of the broke horse and the whip on the other. Allow the trained horse to be the buffer between the scared horse and the whip. Once they are ok at the stand still, get them used to moving in unison with the other horse while still popping the whip. We've used this method successfully several times.

If for some reason you are referring to a lunge whip, I would still use the same technique. Even if we have horses that we aren't planning to use for cow work, we still break them to the whip. Getting used to the sound has made the horses pretty quiet with gun shots and fireworks as well. Have fun with the trail challenge.
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