HELP YOUR HORSE BECOME BRAVE AND CALM
ON TRAILS, SHOWS AND NEW YEAR`S EVE
The best way to help horses become braver and less spooky, is to expose them to unfamiliar objects - while helping them find relaxation. Also called desensitizing. There are however, a couple things to be aware of when desensitizing a horse.
Teach your horse to respond to signals first
I only work on desensitizing after I have taught the horse to respond to body language from a distance, and I especially teach them to find their own stop by moving the hind end over. Desensitizing horses, without having this in place can be very dangerous.
1. If the horse spooks we have no tools to get the horse out of our space or to help them calm down.
2. If all we do is desensitizing, it is going to be very hard to get said horse to respond to signals.
Stay safe and avoid statue mode!
When desensitizing, it’s very important we place ourselves correctly. Not holding the horse, but rather give plenty of slack in the lead rope and space for the horse to move away or spook. It`s dangerous to be close to the horse, because if they spook, they might jump on us.
If we hold horse still or tie them up while desensitizing, or in other ways make them stand still, chances are, we’ll flood them. The horse will then stand still without being relaxed and go into what I call “statue mode.”
Statue mode is not a good place to be in. While standing still the horse is either blocking things out or too terrified to move. Statue mode can be recognized by the horse not moving the ears,they also tend to have a stiff neck and not blink.
The problem with statue mode is that the horse isn`t as relaxed as he or she appears, the reaction goes inwards not outwards. This makes horses shut-down, which is the saddest thing horse training can produce and difficult to reverse.