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Desensitization....essential or abuse?

This is a discussion on Desensitization....essential or abuse? within the Natural Horsemanship forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Natural horsemanship and desensitisation

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    09-09-2010, 03:04 AM
  #21
Weanling
^^^Off topic for a moment, BackInTheSaddleAgain, I love your signature, and agree with it whole heartedly. Now, back on topic. As she suggested Desensitizing can also be done as she described it, and for some things it is best done that way. It works even faster if you ask a horse to follow something that it is afraid of, from a distance of course, and gradually work your way closer to it. This method works great for tractors, cars, trucks, pretty much vehicle of any sort. It could also work with the plastic bag, if you could get a friend to walk around waving one around long enough.

I think basically the horse looks at the object as something that the horse is forcing to move, like in the herd hierarchy, it is higher in the pecking order than the object. So they get closer and closer to the object without much pressure from you, they will basically overcome their fear of the object on their own. When I can get reliable help, this is the method that I prefer to use, now granted I can't get my horse to chase every horse eating monster, and I prefer to do this exercise outside of their pasture, but I still do some of the normal desensitizing in addition to this type. And I'll tell you why I bring the plastic bag to the horse instead of tying it to something and leading the horse over. I want my horse to understand that it can trust me and anything I bring near it. I think leading a horse to something and taking the horse something teaches two different lessons. Leading the horse to something teaches the horse that you will not lead it into harm's way. Taking the horse something teaches the horse that you will not put something on it that will put it into harm's way.
     
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    09-09-2010, 03:31 AM
  #22
Weanling
When Jack and I come across something he shies from, I just walk him up to it, mounted or not, and let him sniff it. If I'm on the ground I roll it around if I can, let him see it from all angles. He seems to have some vision impairment in his right eye, so he can be more prone to wariness on that side.
     
    08-11-2013, 09:06 PM
  #23
Foal
I understand what the other person is saying but with my expirience it really depends on the trainer, horse, and how it is gone about. When desensitizing your horse you have to show them what they are scared about or what they could face out riding but you have to end the session with them having confidence. When the horse has a good trainer or horseperson leading them through the experience and nothing happens to the horse when facing their fear they will trust the handler because they did not lead them into danger- in the end they should associate you with security and to trust your judgement as their trainer... hopes this helps :)
     
    08-12-2013, 10:37 PM
  #24
Foal
Horsemanship Groundwork - Bodenarbeit, Desensitize, Reiten ohne Sattel und Trense - YouTube does this looks like abuse to you? :) I'm desensitizing my horse in this video. There is no abuse at all. What do you think about it and what is sacking? I'm training horses for other people and this is very important to me.
     
    08-12-2013, 11:15 PM
  #25
Started
I agree with many previous posters- desensitization, which I would rather call familiarization, should be introducing a horse to many different potentially scary things so they have a chance to get comfortable with the idea that those things, and by extension, other new and/or potentially scary things MIGHT NOT actually be horse eating monsters. If you can get them thinking there's a chance that the monster might not eat them, then you have a leg to stand on when you tell them it's fine and to walk on. It's basically just getting them to pause a moment in the see-startle-panic-bolt cycle for you to get a word in edgewise until the horse has enough life/training experience to know himself that those things aren't scary on his own.

Painted Fury has the following thing dead-on too. I did that ONCE with a family that was on bicycles (the horror!) and my horse went from spin and bolt into 5 foot tall sorghum to 'I don't like it, but I'll just snort and blow about it.'
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    08-13-2013, 12:02 AM
  #26
Showing
Desensitizing to some extent has it's place but it has more to do with the horse accepting the owner's leadership. In the herd, one horse keeps an eye out. The others have only to watch that horse. If he spooks, then the others will immediately follow suit. No one breaks rank and spooks on it's own. Having various horses do so would have the herd on edge all the time. As we handle horses we need to establish that we are the alpha horse, if we don't react, neither should the horse. A difficult case responded very well to clicker training for the dreaded plastic bags. If his feet didn't move he was rewarded. Because he got over his fear of the bags, it helped him deal with other things as well. Now with anything unexpected he looks to me instead of reacting.
     
    08-13-2013, 12:16 AM
  #27
Yearling
I don’t necessarily sack out a horse as a major part of training, though if I’m using particular things to handle the horse, like a halter, a lead rope, a lariat, saddle, saddle pad etc, then I will let them get used to that. When I first learned to train horses, the good old Ozzy way (there’s nothing god about it in my opinion) I was taught to bag out a horse (sack out) by getting an old hessian feed bag, or an old saddle blanket, and gently whack the horse all over with it. Yet the horses I did that way, well they weren’t much good. After I learned how to do it properly, I stopped bothering doing it as a main thing. I get them used to what I need them used to in order to train them, I get them so they will accept me handling every part of their body, the rest comes with respect, trust and time, and the trainer being dead calm through everything. Having said that though I wouldn’t call sacking a horse out abuse, not by the wildest stretch of imagination.
A case in point would be the horse I’m riding in that picture to the left there <<<<. I never sacked her out, and was taking her out to do some lunging around some obstacles. I had to walk her between my uncle’s workshop and his truck, which he had the cab tipped up on, and was on top of the engine of, trying to do some mechanical work, at the time. Just as I was going by my uncle dropped a spanner and started swearing. The horse crapped herself and leaped away from the truck, as she landed the radio in the shed had the Morse code beeps of the news blast out, the horse spun round and leaped back at the truck with my uncle swearing. The whole time I stood calmly and just waited for her. She spun round back to me and stood facing me with her head down near my belly or chest chewing and relaxed, all of it happened in the space of half a second, and each time she went to take off she was watching me to see what I would do, I just stood there and waited for her to chill out, and she did; and she has been dead calm ever since. She is in no way dull or withdrawn and she isn’t bothered by much anymore, as long as I’m not.
So, I probably wouldn’t agree with your trainer saying sacking a horse out is a bad thing, though I would agree, to a degree, that you will never be able to desensitise them to everything they might be afraid of. I’d think of sacking out a horse as one of a number of tools you might have in your bag of tricks to train a horse, you can pull it out if you need it. The more important thing in my opinion is getting the horse’s respect and demonstrating to it that you are worth trusting by giving it a good and calm reliable leader it can follow. I you stay calm, even if the horse is about to blow, it will come round.
Beling likes this.
     
    08-13-2013, 06:53 AM
  #28
Foal
It is definitely essential if you can do it properly. For anyone who doesn't know what it is, it's teaching a horse to not be afraid of things: like when you throw a saddle over their back, they won't flinch. Or teaching them not to be afraid of water, stuff like that.
     
    08-24-2013, 01:03 AM
  #29
Weanling
My horse used to HATE pigs. He wouldn't focus in the arena, because the pig-pen was about seventy feet away and up a small hill. Sometimes he couldn't even see them, but he could smell them. I tried everything. Pulling on the reins from the ground (stupid stupid stupid), lunging in circles that continuously get closer to the pigs (he was too smart for that), riding in circles like the lunging ones, heck I even tried blindfolding him. I couldn't get to the trails because we had to pass the pig-pen to get to them, and he was afraid of the far end of the arena because he associated it with the foreign scent. My trainer's daughter, who qualified for the Olympics back in the day, told me that it was probably the scent of the pigs. I had never thought about it. I thought it was just the sight, and the memory of the sight. She told me to put a little bit of vapo-rub on his nose so that he couldn't smell them. So I did. I rode up to where he usually started to freak out. His reaction was NOWHERE near as bad as it had been. We actually made it past. He could still see them, but it was the scent that drove him over the edge. Once I eliminated the scent factor and was able to get him closer to them, he started to calm down. I did this for about a month I think, and then I stopped using the rub. He was fine. And he continues to be fine. :) The pigs are kept further back now, and that helps a bunch, since he still gives them the stink-eye whenever we pass. But still. They are HUGE now. I am so glad he is better.
     
    08-31-2013, 04:39 AM
  #30
Started
Smrobs, I couldn't have said it any better
     

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