Trail Riding General Discussion
 
 

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Trail Riding General Discussion

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  • Horse trails discussion
  • How to desensitize a horse to barking dogs

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    04-26-2013, 01:28 PM
  #1
Yearling
Trail Riding General Discussion

Just thought I'd write this thread.
How did you guys desensitize your horse to dogs and whatnot? The only good place I'll be able to ride on right away when Toby comes home is our dirt road. One dirextion, id run the risk of dogs coming after me and out in the road, but at the end of that way are some horses. The other way, a dog is tied up 100m from the road or so, barks like crazy, but never comes out. But that way, at the end of that road, 1/2 a mile away, Is a very busy road. The former way, I'd only have 1/4 of a mile or less. How do you desensitize my horse to those crazy dogs? (Actually, Buddy is really nice, but follows me EVERYWHERE, while Wolfie (don't actually know his name, we just call him that) will come to the edge of the road and bark, but I would t put it beyond him to chase Toby)

Just let me know!

Also, I think Toby is rather fearful, so I will need to train hi with cars too and other things. Suggestions welcome!!
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    04-26-2013, 01:35 PM
  #2
Yearling
If you could with the cars sometime just stand with him, not too close to the road so he get to see that they will not hurt him, for the dogs will they bit him? If not them what I do is turn my horse towered the dog and chase them back so my horse feel that he is in control this is what works for me hope it helps
aforred, Roadyy, teresa60 and 1 others like this.
     
    04-26-2013, 02:05 PM
  #3
Green Broke
If the dogs come to the edge of your property(If I read that correctly) then work him there and let him see the dogs aren't going to eat him.


Edited and added another post with better idea below.
     
    04-26-2013, 02:12 PM
  #4
Green Broke
Thinking back on my idea and it could be a bad idea as you could be teaching the horse that all it has to do is act nervous and you will stop making him work.

Maybe work him somewhere close to the traffic without being dangerously close to the traffic and let him get used to paying attention to you while all that racket is going on nearby.
     
    04-26-2013, 02:14 PM
  #5
Green Broke
Hand walk him up and down that road once or twice a day. Stop at scary things and show them to him. Don't pass it until he relaxes enough so that he wouldn't be unsafe under saddle. Start exposing him to scary things as home, hula hoops, noodles, garbage cans, loud noises, balls being pushed towards them (dogs!)/over/under, car horns, engines, other animals... Whatever. The more you expose a horse to the less they will be afraid of when something new comes at them. For example when you horse doesn't give a hoot at a ball rolling at him quickly a dog isn't much different, or a garbage can. I guarantee they will, at worst, spook less then they would have if not exposed to those things.
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    04-26-2013, 03:09 PM
  #6
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlideStop    
Hand walk him up and down that road once or twice a day. Stop at scary things and show them to him. Don't pass it until he relaxes enough so that he wouldn't be unsafe under saddle. Start exposing him to scary things as home, hula hoops, noodles, garbage cans, loud noises, balls being pushed towards them (dogs!)/over/under, car horns, engines, other animals... Whatever. The more you expose a horse to the less they will be afraid of when something new comes at them. For example when you horse doesn't give a hoot at a ball rolling at him quickly a dog isn't much different, or a garbage can. I guarantee they will, at worst, spook less then they would have if not exposed to those things.
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I was thinking this at first also, but the more I think about it the more that seems to teach the horse to act scared anytime they don't want to do something and we won't make them.

I was also going to add the part about desensitizing with loud noises and such at home(which I kinda agree with), but not much for a lot of the other stuff in an unnatural way. I have large pieces of visqueen stuck on tree limbs all over top of the hay bale and along the fence line tree limbs to get them used to seeing and hearing plastic flapping in the wind. I do not go walking around them with a milk jug full of rocks or throwing rabbits at them(extreme I know,lol).

When I've ridden them in new areas where they have spooked, mind you I am by no means a professional trainer, I deal with them then and there on getting over that fear so they know to trust me and let me make those decisions rather than them worrying about whats around the next bend.

So far I have been successful in this method and the last several rides we've gone on in unknown territory they have not spooked at anything that ran across the trail just in front of them, big rocks on the side of the path or even the bale of hay at the end of the road. Things that similarly spooked them before. I would say it has a lot to do with us getting to know each other on the trail and in the yard.


Like I stated earlier, I'm not a trainer outside of my own horses and could be wrong on my approach, but it is working for us. One of the horses was the flight type of spooker and the other was a in place spooker so it wasn't just one or the other that I was dealing with.

I suggest you trying a few different ways until you find one that is comfortable for you and your horse then be CONSISTENT!!! I read and watched several different ways to do it and pulled a little out of each one that was working for us.
     
    04-26-2013, 04:01 PM
  #7
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadyy    
Thinking back on my idea and it could be a bad idea as you could be teaching the horse that all it has to do is act nervous and you will stop making him work.

Maybe work him somewhere close to the traffic without being dangerously close to the traffic and let him get used to paying attention to you while all that racket is going on nearby.
Horse are prey animals, they are nervous by nature. So if you approach a yard with barking dogs walk past it, let the horse do his spook, stand there until he is calm with the dogs running and barking then continue down the road. Turn around and return to the barking dogs. Repeat the same steps as the first time. Then again, and again, and again, until your horse just walks by calmly.

I don't see how that is teaching your horse to be nervous or how he is avoiding work. Being nervous is an instinctual gift given to horses (and not so much their humans) to keep them alive.
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    04-26-2013, 04:03 PM
  #8
Trained
I keep 2 dogs (60lb and 70lb, respectfully) who have been raised around my older horses before they died. My 3 horses have been kept with these two dogs since 2008. My dogs run with the horses and bark at them and my horses are not afraid of dogs.
You need to have another horse person with a horse-respectful and OBEDIENT dog to help you. If necessary have them handle the dog on a leash and use approach and retreat.
I KNOW that if I go trail riding in a strange place my horses will turn and chase a foreign dog. Unless there is a good sized pack, most dogs will run when the horse chases.
A dog's instincts to chase kick in if your horse panics and runs. And, of course, the horse wants YOU off his back so he can get away from the predator. It is well worth the training.
Pgy and Cuppin Cakes

BOth dogs--Rose and Pgy--I desenstize to E V E R T H I N G!!

Better picture of Rose
teresa60 likes this.
     
    04-26-2013, 04:14 PM
  #9
Started
I chased the dogs with my horse to get him over his fear. Two or three times of 'chasing' the dogs as if they were mini-cows, and my horse is completely over it. He knows that he can push them around and move their feet, barking or not, so he's 'in charge' of them and they just can't be scary any more.

Now, my horse was nervous about it the first couple of times, but we have built a relationship over the past two years where he gives me the benefit of the doubt when I ask him to do something he thinks is nuts. So, he was not happy about it, but I directed him, and with a lot of leg, got him to go up to and get in the dogs' face. Very few dogs will do anything to a horse that is (from the dogs' point of view) getting in their face and challenging them. When it comes down to it, horses are WAY bigger than dogs. That also puts the scary thing in front of the horse so that kicking or bolting or biting at heels is far less likely to happen.

None of these interactions were planned, and none of them were with known dogs, but the option was face off with the random stray dogs and get them to back off and teach my horse chill out about dogs, or risk trying to ignore the dog, have it run up behind us and/or bite, and wind up with my horse bolting or worse. Now days if a dog suddenly appears, he'll startle like if anything suddenly appears, but once he knows it's a dog, he just keeps an eye on it without worrying or getting tense (wondering if we're going to herd it, I'll wager). We've gone on a couple trail rides with dogs now too, and that, with horse-trained/respectful dogs was sort of the final step in dog training my guy. Now they're old hat.
     
    04-26-2013, 04:17 PM
  #10
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlideStop    
Horse are prey animals, they are nervous by nature. So if you approach a yard with barking dogs walk past it, let the horse do his spook, stand there until he is calm with the dogs running and barking then continue down the road. Turn around and return to the barking dogs. Repeat the same steps as the first time. Then again, and again, and again, until your horse just walks by calmly.

I don't see how that is teaching your horse to be nervous or how he is avoiding work. Being nervous is an instinctual gift given to horses (and not so much their humans) to keep them alive.
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I would keep him walking past the dogs rather than to stand there waiting for him to get used to it. Yes, I would walk him back and forth by them until he stops paying them any attention just like I do with the bale of hay in the ditch or the big rock just off the trail. I do not stop and let them decide it isn't going to eat them. I prove to them it is not going to eat them by getting them closer and closer to it at each pass.

My reasoning is I want him to follow my directions when he spooks rather than his own directions while I'm on his back. If I let him stop while he is spooked until he decides its ok then I just put him in charge of my decisions and that is unacceptable for my safety.
     

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