I agree with Brighteyes.
I do a lot of silly things (that could be super dangerous with a lesser horse) with Lacey because I know how she'll react and I know that she'll take whatever I do in stride. I think of it as "confidence building" for her since the silly things I do to her prepare for the silly things kids do daily (she's also my lesson horse) and they help her take strange, scary situations in stride.
However, I never let her get panicked. I only take her to a point where she's a little worried, then let her work it out and learn that she's really fine. It teaches her that I am in control of the situation and that she needs to be calm about stuff so I can "save" her. And, it's really helpful for times when crazy, out of my control, junk happens in life.
Like, last summer, at camp, there was a popped, super shiny, foil balloon that ended up on the trail (in the middle of a deep forest, who knows how it got there). We were leading a ride of 8 other horses with very barely beginning riders on board and I knew that the horse behind Lacey, and I, would go bonkers if he saw the balloon and cause the rest of the line to panic. So I had to figure out how to carry the popped balloon, out of sight of the horse directly behind us, while still controlling Lacey (which is a 2 hand job, at times). So, since the balloon had a hole directly through the middle of it, I put it over Lacey's head and had it around her neck for the rest of the ride like a necklace. She wasn't thrilled, but she's used to crazy stuff so she was just like "whatever" instead of freaking out.
There have been other times like that, and they've all ended well since she knows that I might do anything but that no matter what I do, she'll be safe.
I do think there's a level of "crazy" that shouldn't be crossed (ie, putting the horse in danger, causing the horse to truly panic and pull back/freak out) but I think little scares that are recovered from relatively quickly, are just fine.
The falling off thing seems a little silly, but if they enjoy that, that's their prerogative. Personally, I like it that Lacey takes it as a personal affront when someone falls off since she's only been fallen off of a few times, I feel that she works harder to keep me on that way, but if those girls want to fall off all the time...Whatever floats their boat...
Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding
Rest peacefully, Lacey.
Last edited by Wallaby; 02-16-2011 at 08:56 PM.