Bomb Proofing help!
I recently started a little chincoteague pony gelding. He's four years old and is going to be a children's camp/lesson/trail pony. So, he cant be afraid of anything. So far, he's pretty good about most everything, but still not completely child-safe. I'd like to get him going on trails without problems -he still has yet to go on a trail- and pretty much not freak out at anything. Sooo, whats the best way to bomb proof a pony?
Dummy grenades and dummy artillery shells. Pull a pin, get a whistle, then an explosion with smoke and such. Or pull a pin and get a small explosion. :)
Kidding, but it could work.
Just expose him to everything and anything you can think of. If he shows any interest in anything you pass take the time to let him go over to it and give it a good checking out. If he seems to accept almost anything once he has a chance to check it out then you are on your way to a good pony. If after repeated expose to something he is still spooky then that is his nature and you won't get it out of him.
He is either brave or he is not but expose sure helps in building that bravery
If you want a bomb proof pony I'd suggest you train this one for the next five to ten years or go out and purchase an older pony now.
Our four year old boy doesn't spook on trail rides. He'd darned well better not do that either.
Some suggestions: do regular round penning (our boy doesn't need to be chased around the round pen at all...we just remind him that the safest place to be is next to me/whoever he is with), do more ground work (teach buttons, backing, etc.), play games in round pen (tag, avoid the scary object, whack the other rider with that scary swim noodle, throw the scary ball), and expose him to lots of scary things (swim noodles, PVC pipes, clippers, hang ear plugs off his head, etc.).
It takes a long time and regular work to make a horse bomb proof. There's no way in the world that I'd ever consider a horse so young able to approach bomb proof status.
Paper bags and barrels are good things to get him used too, people on bikes and people with strollers (scares the crud out my my horses every times, he's not scared of the kid wizzing by on his bike, but he's terrified of the parents pushing their kid on a stroller :P)
Time and experience are the only things that will get him to that point. There is no way to fast-forward the process.
I'd definitely say get him out on the trails ASAP. That's a great way to expose him to things that are totally unexpected and unusual. Otherwise, in a contained area (like a riding arena or roundpen) I'd expose him to tarps, bags, balloons, barrels, boxes, bikes, etc., or other things that would typically be found around/near/with small children. You can do groundwork with him at first, allowing him to smell the new objects, walking by them, eventually leading up to riding him over the tarps, next to bags and bikes, etc.
But like everyone said, it takes time.
I agree. Wet saddleblankets, plenty of miles and varied experiences are the ONLY things that make a truly bombproof horse.
If you have a seasoned trail horse available, riding with or ponying with a seasoned trail horse works wonders for young ones.
Also, as you're working/training your horse, something you may want to keep in mind....in my experience being a bombproof trail horse and being a good lesson horse (especially for children) require different skills/experience/disposition from your horse.
Some horses actually love children for some reason and are very tolerant and forgiving with a child rider. Our mare, Lady, is like this... she's is a very good, reliable, trail horse (almost bombproof, just needs more miles), but had been started as a lesson horse at 3 yrs because of her disposition with children.
On the other hand, our lead mare, Angel, is a seasoned, bombproof, ex-penner that will do anything and go anywhere you want, but...because of her experience and training, she is very light in the mouth and with the leg. She is tolerant and works great as a lesson horse, too, but is a much better match with a more experienced rider than you usually see in a child.
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