Originally Posted by trailhorserider View Post
I handed my friend a plastic bag on horseback once. I don't remember what it was, or why I was handing it to her, but I remember her horse's reaction, it took off sideways for about 30 feet! I guess my horse was used to me doing dumb stuff like that, but hers wasn't. I try to get all my horses used to slickers and stuff. Some horses you don't even have to hold the reins, others act like they might get antsy even though you "know" they should be able to do it. Some horses seem like they are just one quick movement away from loosing their cool.
So anyway, don't hand your friend a plastic bag unless her horse is bag-broke.
Heck, some horses even need to get used to the sound of velcro. And some nylon jackets make horse-eating noises too.
I have that horse. Anything new can set her off. Heck if something used to be beside the riding ring, and was moved, it can set her off. Bags, jump standards, velcro, opening a pop can, a bird squawking, the sight of a haybale I threw in a field, the sound of a metal tape measure being shaken (just found out about that one a few weeks ago), the sound of thunder, name it. Suprisingly, some things don't bother her that much. I can carry a little folding stool with me so I can mount from the ground, pull it up with a lead rope, fold it behind the saddle, and she's cool with it. I can get her used to things like velcro, but something new will likely get a reaction. I try to introduce these things in ground work sessions, or using clicker training. Because I do new things with her every time, she knows it is a sort of game, and has come to expect that there will be a puzzle to solve each time. Oddly, when she's in that mindset, she's less likely to react.
But then I also have a gelding who is so chill, he can fall asleep in the middle of a horse show. Total chaos around him doesn't phase him. He once slept through an ice storm so violent it flattened our gazebo within minutes (he was safe in the barn, and I stayed with the horses).Though he does get a little upset when he sees the trailer. With him, I walk in front, behind, I don't worry too much. With my mare, I also do those things, but I keep my hand on her, make sure she is paying attention to me, not to her environment, and keep my feet far enough away from her hooves that if she spooks, she won't land on my toes. Learned that one from experience.
My point is that yes, some horses will always be somewhat reactive. I desensitized my mare to a lot of things, but if we bring in something new, there's a pretty good chance she will react. So don't get worried, but be prepared.