How to desensitize a spooky horse?

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by horsemagster, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. horsemagster

    horsemagster Full Member

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    My horse has been introduced to few foreign things. He has little knowledge of things like noisy grocery bags and banging doors despite he is 13. His personality also is naturally cautious and curious. I am afraid he may kick someone out of fear. How do i get him to calm down about everything? (This may cause his food aggression as well)
     






  2. DancingArabian

    DancingArabian Senior Member+

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    I don't know how long you've had him, but I would build a relationship with him so that he knows you, trusts you and sees you as leader. That can reduce or eliminate a lot of overreaction and will help you increase the odds of bringing the horse back to sanity in a loony moment. Once you've established that, then I would start exposing him to things. Quietly at first, then escalating. For example, I wouldn't charge at him with a plastic bag, but I would hold one and let him sniff it, let it hit his legs, let it tumble to the ground, etc.
     
  3. meljean

    meljean Senior Member+

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    I imagine it is your handling that is making him this way. I'd get rub rags and use on him when grooming, quit worrying about spooking the spook out of him and treat him like you and he had some sense.

    Much of the time the horses are spooky because of the handler. Evaluate the way you are working with him.
     
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  4. coloredcowhorse

    coloredcowhorse Senior Member+

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    Agree with MJ....much of the time the spookiness comes from the handler. In the meantime you can check out John Lyons and Clinton Anderson and a dozen or so other reasonably sensible folks who have videos/DVD's out there and see what can be done....but realize that desensitizing is only half the deal...you also need to sensitize to respond to things you want the horse to respond to.......and timing is absolutely everything with both of these steps....when you release the pressure teaches the horse to either accept it and NOT respond to it or to respond quickly and lightly. If you don't understand the process don't do it as you can really mess up a horse badly by improperly working these concepts. Suggest, given the very basic things you have posted/asked about, that you find a trainer for both you and horse.
     
  5. Horsetails

    Horsetails Full Member

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    My Spirit is super spooky. He's a 5yr Spanish Barb from the reservation, and he's never been saddled. I hang things, bags, blankets, plastic bottles, anything that he's afraid of on his corral bars so that he can get to know the items at his leisure. He was scared of trash cans, so I set one in with him and put a treat on top of it a couple times a day. I'd say just don't push things on him, but at the same time get him exposed to the spooky items. IMO if the horse overcomes fear on their own as opposed to having i forced on him, he'll be stable and secure in his own mind. Again, that's just my opinion.
    Heidi
     
  6. amberly

    amberly Full Member

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    look up some Parelli games. The Friendly Game is to help the horse become used to items.
    Buck Brannaman also has some great stuff.

    If you want any info on how to do the friendly game, jsut say so and I will do my best. It really works, my horses doesn't think spray bottles are the devil anymore ;)
     
  7. sheree

    sheree Senior Member+

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    OP if ur nervous on him when new things come in the way, then ur horse is likely to spook, as they look to you for comfort and confidence, its like riding in the bush and something all of a sudden falls down or a noise..if ur expecting him to spook at somthing, ur horse is probably going to be looking for things to spook at just as ur riding and being nervous as to what he will spook at....when ur nervous ur horse is nervous, all horses spook at one time or another and usually unexpected...but your worrying at what he is going to spook at and that brings the message to the horse *should i be scared* if ur relaxed ur horse is relaxed, if ur nervouse then your horse is nervous
     
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  8. horsemagster

    horsemagster Full Member

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    When i first got him he was spooky at everything. He came like that. he has gotten less high strung though as i worked with him.
     
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  9. Episefa

    Episefa Senior Member+

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    I would recommend getting a trainer to help you. You're nervous around this horse and it is making him nervous. Also it's hard to desensitize a horse because you have to know the right amount of pressure, what kind of pressure to apply, and the right timing to release the pressure.
     
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  10. VermilionStrife

    VermilionStrife Senior Member+

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    I had a friend who is a horse trainer explain something that made a whole lot of sense. A lightbulb went off in my head like "oh, DUH!"

    If you go about desensitizing him to something and you make a big deal about it, you're basically telling him that there IS something to be afraid of. In my case, teaching my horse that a tarp on the ground really doesn't have fangs and want to eat him. He told me to walk calmly around the tarp, ignoring it, with my horse between the tarp and me. Walking around it, eventually circling closer and closer. After a few minutes, not only was he walking over the tarp, but he did it in a relaxed manner. We may not realize it, but sometimes, we are part of the problem. I was and I didn't even know it! :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2013
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