Following "items" Freak her out...
So Fi my 5 year old IDH has an absolute fear of things following her as she backs up or anything laying in front of her.
The first week I had her I made the mistake of dropping the lungeline and she took two steps back, started snorting like a bull (whilst I'm trying to tighten my saddle) before she took off at a dead gallop. She galloped the pasture about 10 minutes before she finally got hung up on the ATV, saddle under her belly and all. This is vital, I'm pretty sure. But the problem started before this incident, but wasn't aware.
Fi was worked up and down on a tarp as she grew up, same with me when I frst bought her. Loads of groundwork with the tarp, no problem!
Last week was her first day back to work after the radial nerve paralysis and decided to play around with a tarp.
Long story short I got on her, walked to the tarp, let her investigate, took a step on it, she backed up and the tarp got stuck on her hoof thus it came with us. I had her on the buckle with the rein so she had no guidance from me on how to react. When I saw this materializing I made a snatch for the reins, but it was too late. Her flight kicked in. She'd tugged the tarp and fled in the opposite direction. Leaving me on my bum in the dirt. Stopped about 8 feet away.
First fall in over three years and my first off of her :?
I worked with her and this "scary" tarp for about 10 minutes before I resumed our ride. Then followed up the next day with the tarp again. She was fine walking on it after my husband managed to convince her after I tried earnestly for 40 minutes to even get her to think about said tarp. She had gotten to the point where she would get within an inch of the tarp and shut down. So the hubby took over, we moved her to the high-wall round pen, set the tarp down and she walked right over, backed over it, turned around, etc. Took it back to the arena that the incident happened (different spot) she hesitated, but humored us and walked over. Moved said tarp to original panic location, she wouldn't walk on it for about 5 minutes. Who said horses weren't smart :wink:
Needless to say getting on, off, and turning on the tarp is no big deal. The problem is something that drags in front of the horse as they back away kind of deal.
So... How would you desensitize a horse that panics at an item that follows them whilst backing (essentially something they can't see all that great) I mean heck, she freaked out when I went to catch her and her reins were hanging on the ground (same applies to the leadline on the ground).
I think the easiest way to go about it is on the ground in a safe, enclosed environment - arena, roundpen, etc.
I'd start with things being on the ground in front of and behind her. Then, work on moving her on and around them.
Oh & you may want to look into extra Mg in her diet, which may help too if she's a generally nervy individual.
First, who had the radial nerve paralysis?
It sounds like some of it could be you hyping her up at this point. The fact that she didn't do it for you but did for your husband seems to point towards that.
I would also never let your horse have the ability to "drag" the reins. If she launched forward and caught a rein, she could easily slice her tongue in half on the bit. Never let your reins touch the ground, I know it can't be helped when you fall off though.
As for desensitizing her, forget the saddle an bridle. Get a good Ol' rope halter and looong lead rope. You first need to get yielding hindquarters down pat. Then stand at her shoulder with the tarp and cue her to back up. Even one hesitation to step back you stop and praise the crap out of her. It needs to be done in baby steps and you eventually repeat until she willingly backs without hesitation. I she ever freaks and tried to run off, yield her hindquarters immediately and get her attention back on you.
How is she for standing to get her feet done? Have you ever looped a cotton lead around her Pasterns and getting her to yield pressure an pick up her feet that way? That may also help in your situation to prep her for the dragging items.
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I can't edit my first response since it has been 10 minutes, but what I meant to say to the tarp "big deal" part was this:
Did I think the tarp was a big deal? No, I didn't... But I also didn't expect it to get caught on her hoof lol*
She has to accept that **** happens. Tarps blow around, plastic bags get stuck in trees etc and she has to deal with it. I use a training stick with a plastic bag and make a game out of it. I will show it to the horse and encourage him to step toward it while holding the rope so he will feel tension if he backs. When he steps forward, the scary thing goes away. That's step 1.
Step 2 is that this 'scary thing' is going to get worse if you freak out, but it will go away if you relax. I bring it to the horse's shoulder and if he freaks out I shake it and make all kinds of racket until he stands still and allows it to touch. Tension gone -scary thing goes away.
So I teach the horse that the only way to make a scary thing to go away is to relax and accept it.
The second day I worked on it with her I was able to drape it over her back, ears to tail, walk her around with it. After she accepted that this noisy and scary tarp wasn't so scary when she stopped shying from it. I was able to drag it through her legs and under her belly.
I could be over analyzing it, but I wonder if she got hung up on something at some point in her youngster life that she associates it. Horses have that thing about remembering the negative.
Either way, I agree with how you tackle the "scary" stuff that's going to happen at some point in her life :lol:.
She really has been an absolute blast to work with and this doesn't really bother me that she had this outburst. She has a runny tear duct and that's it. So a horse as optimistic, intelligent, inquisitive as she is and bold, I'll take a moment of "panic" that can be fixed over something chronic. This whole incident (as stated earlier) is really out of character for her. Thus curiosity got the better of me to see how people tackle things that startle horses in front of them.
it just takes time...keep at it.
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