Getting a horse over her crop/whip fears
The little mare I'm riding seems to be terrified of crops or whips. I think she might have been abused in the past as one time, I got on her bareback and was holding a crop for a friend across my lap and she got very panicky and stressed.
I don't ride her with either a crop or dressage whip but lately its becomming a problem when I'm schooling her in the arenas as if there is another rider in there who uses a crop or whip or even just carries one, she freaks out.
I want to get her desensitised to the sound of them as well as the sight of them, I have no intention of using them but I need to be able to ride her when other people are in the arena as well. Any ideas on how to go about desensitising her?
Take her in the arena, and rub the crop on her. Talk to her, and tell her it's okay.
If she's abused, this could take forever to get her used to them. If your doing lateral movements, I suggest riding with spurs.
Take her on walks in the arena. Whenever she sees a crop and freaks, then talk to her (again), tell her it's all okay. Preferibly have the person that's riding be a friend and they'd understand your problem, so if she did need to look at the crop, then let her.
Re: Getting a horse over her crop/whip fears
What I do is I'll get it and hold it up so he can sniff it, bite it or whatever he wants to do with it, then I'll slowly reach and pet him with it on his neck. Then I'll go to his back and hind quarters. Usually by then he's flintching, and moving away from the crop. I'll tell him it's okay, and let him calm down...then I'll go back and repeat until he let me touch him with it without him flintching or freaking out.
Once I can touch him all over with it, I'll walk him around, and occasionally hit myself on the leg/boot with the crop. If he panics I'll tell him it's okay, let him calm down, and repeat until he lets me do it.
I don't ride with a crop due to I don't need one...so I never plan on using one, but he hates just being around them..
Just take it slow, don't rush and don't expect too much of her too soon. If she ws abused before, it may take a long time for her to trust you when you are carrying a crop
I shall try that though I have a feeling its going to be very tough as she flees at the sight of the one and I don't want her to panic and associate the crop with me. Which I'm worried will happen if she tries to run and I'm still holding on to the halter or bridle and then she freaks out.
As for getting her to look at the crop, I'm afraid I dont think that will work. When she hears or sees a crop, she runs in the opposite direction and gets very panicky if I try and turn her to face it, she'll half rear and throw her head and run into the fence, basically anything to not face towards it... I'm really rather stuck =(
Have you tried clicker training before?
I loooooove this method of training. And it has proven to be very effect in train so many different animals. I used it on my horse , dog and even taught my cat to sit on command using it :P
You can buy a clicker for like a dollar at pet shops or online. Then all you need is some treats.
Click the clicker then treat, do that a few times so she knows what the deal with the clicker is and how it works.
Next just have the crop on the ground or in a non threating way, make sure she sees it , but before she can react in fear , click and reward with he treat. Let her go as close as she is comfortable with, be it 3 meters ,1 or 5. Just close enough so shes not in panic mode, just repeat that a few times then try going a little closer and so on.
Once she can go right up to it move on to holding it.
Start by just touching it so she can see that if you can touch it without getting hurt it cant be that bad, then pick it up, show her, click and reward, if she wants to snif it let her if she gets frightened put it down and start over, being gentle with her the whole time.
Just working along those lines. She will soon associate the wip as a good thing that being near she gets a reward not punishment.
This is going to take a long time and alot of paitents on your behalf as it will take alot for a horse to forget somthing like this, 6 years on my Banjo is comfortable with me holding them on him, but he is still tence sometimes, altho i never ride with one on him ....but if i did games or whatever.
O and if you are worried about giving your horse treats and them getting nippy, i didnt have that problem because when you introduce the click and treat at the beggining when you reward make sure the horse isnt grabbing for it , make sure they wait till you give it to them. And once she is generally over the fear you can wean the treats off, and just use pats as the reward.
I would always carry one with you. Always have around Never touch or do anything with it. Make sure it becomes part of her every day environment. Like many other things that horses are afraid of, the more they see, the more bored they will eventually become and no longer care or worry about it.
You could try lunging her with one of them. Like not crack it or anything.
I completely agree with leaving it around in her environment. Have you turned her out in a arena and have one just laying in the middle of it (approach and leave as she wishes)? I don't think putting on in her stall would be a good idea. Because if she just flips out while your holding a whip for a friend, only imagine what she could do if confined..... Also, this is out of the box, but have you ever considered carrying a small stick around (such as your pocket) or in your hand? Obviously it isn't a crop or a whip, and it isn't shaped like one, doesn't smell like one, so maybe this will work? Again the stick idea is out of the box.
This took me a long time to get used to doing, but I usually try to desensitize them to it moving. And the only way to do that is to move it.
She may not have been abused, but whips are small, quick, and make a noise(when it hits the ground, or when you pop it, or as it goes through the air). I have a yearling filly who would probably try to climb the wall if I took a whip in there with me to work with her. I raised her so I know she wasn't abused. She is just extremely sensitive.
I start moving it with cadence(wave it up and down slowly, with rhythm) a ways away from them and just move it. If they move, I just keep it up the exact same way(don't change speed or stop), and follow and talk to them. Don't chase them with it. Just move it. If it takes moving it well away from her, out to the side and maybe behind you, then that is what it takes. As the horse gets better you can move it closer.
When they stop and relax(which may take a little while), I will stop moving it and rub them with it, and then go to the other side and do it again.
I do this with lead ropes, clippers, whips, etc. The moves have to be unchanging. Don't stop moving the object because she moves. That will only teach her that if she moves, the scary object will go away. She needs to learn that if she stops the scary object will go away.
And I agree with all that has been said. Do what works for you and take what she'll give you for free.
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