Join Date: May 2011
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Desensitizing a horse:
Hey all! I just bought my horse, a yearling Quarter Horse gelding and he'll arrive at the barn mid to late July. His ground manners are pretty good, he's generally calm and he has a very sweet and willing personality. However, I would like to desensitize him to as many things as I possibly can. The stranger, the better... I would like him to experience and work through as many scary things as possible, before he's old enough to back.
So far, I have the following on my list of things to introduce:
- plastic bags
- children running around outside the round pen
- people throwing footballs, soccer balls, etc around in and outside the arena
- balloons - both inflated and being popped
- sudden loud noises (I'm thinking of dropping planks of wood, slamming gates, yelling, etc)
- Engines revving and back-firing
- dogs barking and being walked around
What else can you add to my list? My plan for the next year/year and a half is to work on his ground manners, showing him as many things as I can, grooming and hand walking. He'll be introduced to and handled by as many people as I can possibly find. Toward the end of this year, early next year, I might introduce him to a bridle so he learns how to tolerate a bit and gentle pressure from being led on the ground. Next May (his second birthday), he'll learn what a saddle is. After that, we'll play it by ear and see what we're both comfortable with. If all goes to plan, I'd like to be riding him very gently at a walk (and maybe a trot) in the arena by about July/August. It all depends on how he grows, what I think he can handle, and what he tells me he's ready for.