Desensitizing - How do you do it? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 50 Old 05-04-2019, 08:26 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by loosie View Post

IF
you introduce the 'scary' stimulus at a level that is NOT seriously frightening to the horse (ie not 'classic CA style'), then I don't have a problem with that method.
I don't think CA is advocating "flooding" - especially when you watch his videos on desensitizing. (My reference is "Training a Rescue Horse".) He also says that you want to provoke a "response" from the horse, rather than a "reaction". To him, it is important that the horse still think about what is going on rather than go into fight-or-flight, which he knows does not allow for learning to take place. I am mostly thinking about his "desensitizing to training aids", where he rubs his stick all over the horse or drapes the rope all over the horse. The horse gets nervous about it for a while, but never freaks out.

I do know that he says, "Heart attacks are free, so give your horse one!", and I do agree that this is irresponsible because most people don't look at the nuances of how he implements those slogans.
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post #12 of 50 Old 05-04-2019, 09:48 AM
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I agree with what everyone has said, however, horses can be SO unique. I had a big appaloosa mare that I did theatrical jousting on. She just hated an object that we rode at called a quintain. The quintain consists of a dummy knight in armor on one side and a heavy bag of sand on the other side. When the rider strikes the dummy knight directly on the shield, the dummy swings around and the bag of sand will have a go at the rider . . . unless the rider is fast, accurate, and gallops away.

Although my mare did everything in the joust shows that she was supposed to do, she hated and despised that quintain. I kept it in her stall so she would get used to it. Although she was happy to go in her stall and eat her food, she never ever EVER got used to the quintain. I think I jousted with her for about 6 years. Hated the quintain with a passion no matter how many practices, no matter how long it lived in her stall, no matter how we desensitized her. We took off the bag of sand and had her joust at a ring on the knight's shield. She didn't care. She said, "I don't like doing that stunt, Mom. I'll do everything else, but not THAT creepy man."

@bsms , thank you for posting my all time favorite story about the bullock cart. I love that story and wish everyone who rides would read it and heed it.
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post #13 of 50 Old 05-04-2019, 10:34 AM
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Something I believe, although I cannot prove: While horses may spook at something they see, they also rely strongly on hearing and smell. Bandit to this day will stroll past a dozen garbage cans, then become very concerned over #13 - or #33. There are garbage days where he doesn't care (much) about any of them, but then a day will come where ONE is a problem. MY explanation is that the scary one smells different to him. Maybe some rotting meat inside?

I can't smell it and Bandit now KNOWS I cannot smell it. He has also become aware that he hears things long before I hear them. People say the horse should just trust the rider, but what do you do when the horse KNOWS the rider can't smell or hear well enough to assess the threat? I'm pretty sure Bandit views me as a badly handicapped rider incapable of early detection of possible threats. OTOH, once I view and think about a threat, he knows I'm pretty good - based on a long track record - of deciding how much a threat that thing is and how to handle it.

Jet fighters have a RWR - Radar Warning Receiver. A simplified display (pulled off the Internet) would look like this:


That would tell you the plane is heading toward an SA-2, 3, and 6, with the SA-2 (surface-to-air missile 2) being the primary danger at the moment. I think Bandit has assumed the role of an equine RWR. When he hears or smells something of concern, he gives indications of increasing discomfort about something. Like an RWR, he tries to give azimuth and approximate range (where he looks and degree of discomfort). If I can spot it, look at it and decide how to proceed, he usually (not 100%!) accepts my judgment. But since he knows this particular monkey on his back isn't good at detecting threats, he may become pretty agitated over...something...at the 2 o'clock position (for those old enough to remember analog clocks). And if I cannot detect and properly assess "the threat" before it enters the "lethal range", then Bandit may choose to take evasive action.

From his perspective, trail rides are where he leads his herd through bad guy territory with assistance from the staff officer he carries on his back. Only HIS staff officer has a broken threat detection system, so Bandit needs to feed his staff officer information.

I don't know if any other horses are like that. Bandit is a bit of a character. My description seems a good fit for how he behaves on a trail ride. And I have no idea how one would "desensitize" him apart from just riding him, listening to him and making good decisions. My whacking him with a carrot stick or pool noodle in a corral would be SOOOOOOO unhelpful! It would just mean his staff officer was BOTH handicapped AND psychotic!

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #14 of 50 Old 05-04-2019, 10:44 AM
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I'm going to go with this,

It depends on the learning style of the horse.

I have one who hasn't a care in the world. Another who is deathly afraid of the tarp, unless it's in his stall, then it's food. The ATV is parked next to him, for 10 months now, and he still gets extremely nervous and panicked when they start it up and drive it out, every day... He can go outside away from it if he wants, but he is still afraid. He was originally trained CA. With this guy, neither works.

What I try now I'll bring my scary stuff in, he runs away, and I wait until he gets brave enough to check it out on his own. Lot less running around for me, more running away for him than CA allows for. Takes a long time.
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post #15 of 50 Old 05-04-2019, 11:10 AM
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I like this description bsms. Very much like this description.
Working with your equestrian partner, each with strength and weakness combining to make a strong relationship of togetherness.
You listen, you talk...you communicate with and to each other...
Isn't this in the end what you want...a partnership!

I also fully agree with knightrider...
Sometimes no matter what you do, no matter how long you do it the horse will not accept certain things...just will not.
At that point, you the rider must take a different tactic and stop continually desensitizing exposure cause it isn't working.
Now the onus is on you, the human, to figure out another way as knightrider did...
We have a much greater brain power when harnessed and used optimally than our horses....

Filou...this...
"I have one who hasn't a care in the world. Another who is deathly afraid of the tarp, unless it's in his stall, then it's food. The ATV is parked next to him, for 10 months now, and he still gets extremely nervous and panicked when they start it up and drive it out, every day..."
Again, it is environmental outside influence to me.
Tarp outside looks different than inside in his stall...the stall is the horses dominant place of home.
The ATV once is makes noise or moves is far different a thing than the object that not move, breathe or make noise...
Run that thing, ride it and move it for hours a day all over the place in his sight...he will get who-cares about it too...
However, take that same thing to a new location and you will again have the same reaction.
Location, location, location has much to do with reaction, reaction, reaction.

"Desensitizing" to me is a each horse time and place individual thing.
Riders reaction to, horses perception of...makes it a issue or not.
The horse has a brain and uses it...that keeps us on our toes!!
Mine will not often spook at anything...that one time caught off guard in a different anything and yup, we have a dance and stupid come to be...
They're horses...they have a brain and think, period.
...
jmo...
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post #16 of 50 Old 05-04-2019, 11:23 AM
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Except as a tool to build trust I really don't agree with desensitizing (CA) per se. If you can't read a horse well enough to tell the difference between flooding and shutting down and accepting and trusting then you don't need to be doing that. IMO it is all about trust first and the individual's getting over his dislikes (no fear) and being a partner - doing what you ask and trusting he'll be safe. That builds with everything you do and expose them to overtime. With drafts that work the streets you pony them and they figure it out as if they don't trust you they do trust mom or their buddy. The learning (desensitizing) is is directly passed from horse to horse. Same applies with other others. If they are with horses (or you) they trust they get over things much quicker.



Just an interesting note. There were auto waterers put out in all the fields this spring. The horses that had been exposed prior (in their stalls in the barn) and knew what they were and the sounds they made had no problems. Those that had never seen them wouldn't drink until they came in for their meal where the one non auto was located and they'd drain it. Adding salt to the feed and not filling the non auto tank made most desperate enough to figure out that was the source and they had to use it. One of the horses would go up to the tank in his pasture and lick and chew as if submitting, then dip his nose and dance back, still licking and chewing. His buddy would shoulder him as far away from it as he could. This horse just flat out refused to have anything to do with it and wsn't going to let buddy get eaten by the thing either. There was enough dew on and in the grass that it took about three days for him to get over it. Now, no biggie for any of them.
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post #17 of 50 Old 05-04-2019, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Filou View Post
I'm going to go with this,

It depends on the learning style of the horse.

I have one who hasn't a care in the world. Another who is deathly afraid of the tarp, unless it's in his stall, then it's food. The ATV is parked next to him, for 10 months now, and he still gets extremely nervous and panicked when they start it up and drive it out, every day... He can go outside away from it if he wants, but he is still afraid. He was originally trained CA. With this guy, neither works.

What I try now I'll bring my scary stuff in, he runs away, and I wait until he gets brave enough to check it out on his own. Lot less running around for me, more running away for him than CA allows for. Takes a long time.
The training this horse had CA style, may have turned him into a horse that reacts at every single thing, especially if humans are around the item.

It could be that things are only scary if a human is holding them, because that was how he interpreted the CA style training. "Humans want to scare you" may be the "training" he received.

You will have to change his thinking in relation to humans to have any long lasting results IMO.
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post #18 of 50 Old 05-04-2019, 12:25 PM
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I have a mare that chases the 4 wheeler when delivering hay to them and then as soon as they are eating and I take off in it, it is suddenly something to spook at again.

There will be only one of you for all time. Fearlessly be yourself.
Coffee is my spirit animal
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post #19 of 50 Old 05-04-2019, 02:47 PM
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In most cases my method is to get the grandkids, their puppy, some toys, crank up the music, yell at the grandkids to not climb into the rafters (again, and loud enough so they can hear me), tell the horses corny jokes, feed the grandkids (again), take a horse or two with the grandkids and their puppy to check it change gates, call to the grandkids to stay out of the creek (again), wash barn windows or a piece of equipment while holding a horse with the pressure washer, tell the grandkids not to keep turning it off (again).

By the time horses that I work with get to a ranch work or the polo field, it's nothing.
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post #20 of 50 Old 05-04-2019, 02:52 PM
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@boots kids are the best for it right?! I have the funniest video of my littlest desensitizing her colt in the most random ways and he’s just goofing off along with her. She’s jumping off panels and crashing into things. Lol

I think there is a noticeable difference of horses raised where kids are to those in grown up households. Things my horses wouldn’t bat an eye might run my parents’ through a fence. They just get used to the ruckus I guess. ;)

I have geese and chickens to add extra help too. The dang dog herds the geese all around, and often under whatever colt you are riding’s belly. Then he gets the goose running and honking and flapping wings with me yelling at the dang dog combined. Lol
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Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? - Balaam’s Donkey
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