Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Allison Price
Horses are naturally spooky. Some horses more than others. Experts will show you how to reduce the spook-o’meter.
According to the old saying, horses are only scared of two things. “1. Things that move. 2. Things that don’t exist.
It’s funny, sure, but also frustratingly true.
This is not the fault of horses. They evolved as prey animals and were able to keep alive by being alert and ready to run. They live by the motto, “Go first…figure that out later.”
Some horses are more spooky than others depending on their past experiences and inborn personality. Here are three training strategies for horses who react more to the world around them.
1. Plastic Magic
It’s not magic, but a plastic bag can help to calm your horse’s fear-o-meter.
Clinton Anderson, a clinician, says that a plastic bag poses a triple threat to horses. It is an unknown object that moves or makes noise and it is an unknown object. It is a great desensitizing tool because of this.
Attach a bag that is ripped open to the end of your training stick. Then, tie your horse into a halter with an extended lead. As your horse becomes more comfortable with the bag, you can start by waving it around.
You can now rub the bag all over your body and use the stick to scratch his favorite places. You will eventually be able to slide the bag over your back and then flip it onto your body. Finally, you can rub your face with the bag .
This method works for horses of all ages. Clinton uses plastic bag desensitizing to help a wild colt.
2. Clipper Calming
Clippers are often a spook because they can be noisy, strange, and possibly snake-like. Julie Goodnight, a clinician recommends a gentle desensitization of your horse to clippers.
She says, “It programs relaxation & acceptance into your horse’s behavior.”
You can simply present the clippers slowly to your horse, and then remove them quickly when he shows interest. Relax muscles, lower the head, take a deep breath, and show acceptance.
Julie provides a step-by-step guide to clipper desensitizing.
3. Have a ball
Tommy Garland, a clinician, says that you can train any horse, especially a timid or anxious one, to be calmer and more relaxed using an air-filled ball.
Horses will be startled by the ball’s shape and size. However, they also stimulate their natural curiosity which is a positive thing.