September 16, 2013

Scary Things....

Desensitizing is something I enjoy.  Dani is a fairly stable horse (no pun intended!) but she has her moments when things get her riled up or spooked.  No horse is 100% bombproof but my goal is to get Dani really steady for anything that comes her way.

Pulley with milk cartons!!!

The first thing when there is an obstacle, is to find a starting point.  I will use the noodle cowboy curtain for an example.  

Dani was able to calmly stand near it even when the wind blew the noodles about but walking through it by having the noodles touch her head....that wasn't gonna happen.

So I tied the noodles back and just had her walk under the arch essentially.  Lots of praise.

Then little by little noodles would find their way from being tied.  All this time I'm on the ground with her and leading her through to give her confidence

If I found a sticky spot I would retie some noodles until I got her consistently walking through them.

I would end my sessions with us standing at the noodles, face in them and me manually moving the noodles over her neck and body.  I would then retreat and give her a nice scratching.  Rinse and repeat.

The next session I would start a little back from where I left off; meaning less noodles down  at first but very quickly I could release the noodles more and more I found.

I eventually had all the noodles down and she would follow me through.

Next I asked her to walk through on her own.  With a little encouragement and just waving the handy stick by her rear she walked through on her own.

I'm at this point right now, and we are talking maybe 6 short sessions spread over an inconsistent amount of time!

My next steps will be to send her consistently through the noodle curtain on her own.

Then we'll try it under saddle.

Under saddle we may have to go back a few steps meaning the noodles will get tied back again but things can be very different under saddle so it's not REALLY a setback.  She won't have me on the ground with her so may lose a little confidence and I am sure I will be slightly tense (I will work hard not to be though!)

She could have no issues at all.  I'm very happy about how she's responded to this scary thing.  She was also exposed a few weeks ago to the tarp pulley which I was quite impressed with (as were some other riders stating she was brave)  It makes me feel confident that when I get a trailer and can work with her on loading her issues with that will fade away.  The whole point is to really think about what ever issue or scary object the horse is upset about and break it down into very small bits.

How can you make it less scary?
Distance from the object and intensity are the two main things that can be played with.  
Also getting a horse to think about something else like work (doing side passes, backing, yielding the hindquarters, longing, etc.) a slight distance from the object and resting near it also works.

How can you stay patient with a stubborn horse?
Set small goals.  If a horse is really having a hard time remember to adjust your goal for that day.  Get one step in the right direction if that's all you can get and quit on YOUR agenda.  Reward your horse and just enjoy being with them.  Once the work is done hand grazing or a nice grooming will benefit you both.  Tomorrow is another day!

Coffee can drag!  Such cool ideas!

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