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Desensitization: Give the Horse Confidence

Desensitization: Give the Horse Confidence
Fright is a natural reaction of horses. They are animal victims with a developed flight instinct, and this means that they are more likely to flee from danger than to fight it. Increase your horse’s confidence by performing simple, desensitizing exercises with it.

Rope

Start with the least scary object you have – with a chombur.

Stand next to the horse at an angle of 45 degrees to her shoulder, a little at a distance, at arm’s length from the head, so that the horse does not hit you if it gets scared. Performing the exercise on the left side, hold the chombar in your left hand, about 30 cm from the carbine, so that the horse can move, but would remain under your control. This hand also blocks attempts to push you if the horse is scared.

After you fall into place, with your right hand throw the rest of the chombura at the withers of the horse. Throw it rhythmically and pull it from the back. Keep throwing the rope, even if the horse starts to get nervous and walk away – just drop the rope and walk next to the horse. If the horse tries to run away, turn its head to itself – let it look at you and focus on your actions. If the horse stops, stop also you. Give a signal (for example, by a clicker) and treat the horse with a treat to reward her for relaxation and show that she is on the right track. If the horse remains standing still, but will raise its head, wait until it relaxes, lowers its head, starts blinking, snorting calmly, or lightens its hind leg to rest. Stop throwing the rope as soon as the horse shows signs of relaxation. At the same time give her a signal, treat and let stand quietly. When the horse will normally perceive the presence of the rope at the withers, start throwing it on the back, croup, front legs, and then (neatly) on the neck and head. Repeat the exercise on both sides. Once the horse gets used to the rope, proceed to desensitize the horse to a carrot stick or whip.

Carrot stick or scourge

Stand in the same position as when working with the rope, but instead of holding the rope in two hands, hold it with only one hand closest to the horse. Let the end of the rope go down to the ground. This time, drop the cord that attaches to the end of the carrot stick or whip, just as you did with the rope. When you pull the cord from the horse, hit it on the ground so that it clicks. At the same time, throwing him on a horse, be gentle and try not to hit her. You should do it rhythmically, without long pauses. If you stop every time after pulling the cord, the horse will be rewarded with rest, even if she did not deserve it. When she shows signs of relaxation, stop throwing the cord, give a signal (clicker), treat the horse and let her stand. Then start again until the horse begins to relax in your manipulation of the whip or wand throughout your body. Again, start with the withers, then move on to the back, croup, hind legs, neck and head.

Scourge Clicks

Click on the ground with a whip. This sound disturbs many horses, and they seek to escape from such “pressure”. This lesson will be especially useful for horses prone to get scared of various sounds.

Stand parallel to the horse’s jaw at arm’s length, as during the first two lessons. Hold the scourge by pushing it to the side. Start by gently hitting the ground. If the horse is scared, continue to hit the ground with the same intensity and at the same distance from the horse until it stops and relaxes, as in the previous lesson. Slowly move your hand with the scourge closer to the horse until you knock very close to it. If the horse is worried and goes, continue to accompany it, knocking the whip until it stops and relaxes, then give a signal (clicker), treat it and start again. After the horse will calmly perceive tapping on the ground at the withers level, proceed further and knock at the body, at the hind legs, until you can knock right behind the horse. Start with low pressure and gradually increase its amount to medium until the horse gets used to it too. Move on until you can click on the ground from either side of the horse.

In the same way, you can teach a horse to touch a whip / stick to any point on its body. Complicate the exercise gradually. If the horse is afraid or trying to leave, keep the pressure, make it look at you, but do not let it push and run over you. If she is trying to knock you down, send the wave through the league as aggressively as you need to kick her out of your space, still tapping the horse with a whip / wand. Stop tapping when the horse relaxes, give a signal (clicker) and treat.

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Going to a race with a horse, do not forget about safety!
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