The Very Scary Tarp
There's a boy at our stables who has a horse who is terrified of our blue tarp. He's tried tons of different ways to get him closer, but the gelding doesn't really trust the boy enough to get very close.
A few days ago, he got the horse to put one foot on it and eventually eat some grain off of it. Now for the past week, he's been folding the tarp up until it's about 2' by 2' then he's puts the folded up tarp in the stall with the gelding and puts his grain on the tarp. The gelding is still very afraid of the tarp, and will only eat a few bites of his grain at a time and then goes to cower in the corner for a while. He does this every day, twice a day, with no improvement.
To me, it's sounds like the boy is just trying beat around the bush and try to quickly get the gelding to get over being afraid of the tarp. I suggested that he quit putting the tarp in his stall, and forget about the tarp for a while. I told him just to ride him, groom him, and just mess with him/let him get used to you. The boy JUST bought this gelding, so I told him that the gelding doesn't really trust him yet. I didn't get a straight answer out of the boy, but I really think he should drop the stall idea. What do you think?
I agree that he should drop the stall idea.
If he wants to get the horse over his fear, he has to be helping the horse (as in he has to be there with him at the end of (long) rope).
Also, since he just got this gelding, he has to work up a relationship with the horse first before he can start doing stuff like that IMO.
There definately needs to be a relationship buildup before accomplishing fear tolerances. Simple tasks with guidance by him prior to pushing the horses limits with fearful tasks will limit stalling out.
Once the trust is built, using a tarp is excellent. But in usingthe tarp, you cant just leave it in the stall, and even with food coaxing, it wont work. Pressure and release is the key. Introduce the tarp, remove the tarp, and again after a brief break. Once you gain acceptance, then take it to the next step and delay removal. Little steps. Due to the horse stepping on it with one foot.. I would have built off of that, and also praised heavily, but not with food, as the horse will associate food with other goals later on. But that one is just me. Leaving a tarp with food on it may be a good technique, but if you observe the same repeatative pattern with a bite, run, a bite, run, the its time to change something as thats not working.
I agree with everyone else, no good comes from too much, too fast, too soon with a horse, and a new owner, barn, or herd is serious enough trauma for a horse to deal with....patience (which most people have very little of).
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