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Desensitizing a Horse

I rode my Appendix horse, Scooter in the morning like I usually do. After I ride I will un-tack and hose him down to get all the sweat off of him before putting him in the field. He has gone through this routine many times but this time there was something different. Against the fence, where I would hose Scooter down, were four ladders stacked on top of each other. In my mind I paid no attention to them because I have seen ladders before and those were just stacked out of the way to be used later on.

Scooter however had never seen such a thing. This long metal thing was suddenly near the fence he had past so many times before. Could that thing hurt me? It is gonna move? I do not want to be here if it gets up. I have no clue what was going through his head other than the fact that he did not want to be near them.

Scooter trust me enough to continue walking with me which brings him past the scary object. He did however let out a snort and walk sideways away from the ladders. Nothing that could have put me in danger. Some horses when they are afraid of something will freak out putting the handler and other people or animals around them in danger. Since I have desensitized Scooter to many other things in the past he reacts well with new situations.

Knowing that Scooter was did not like the ladders I decided to bring him up to them. The opposite of where he wanted to go. At first he sunk back on his hind end to try and refuse to go closer. I just stopped and let him snort at the ladders, which is his way of warning them that he is not here to play games. Then I had him move a few more steps closer. When I was close enough to the ladders I sat down on them to show Scooter that they were not alive. After a few minutes he realized that nothing would happen so he came a little closer when I asked.

This only took about five minutes until scooter was eating grass right in front of the stack of ladders. I stood on top of the ladders while he ate to show that it was okay to touch them. Scooter now walks past the ladders with no worries and will not hesitate to go close to them.

Horse Behavior | Horse Training




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