Standing with no halter in middle
of round pen while doing desensitizing and learning to stand with more
Isabelle is being very cooperative
while I put on the following items : saddle blanket, saddle, 2 plastic
buckets, plastic sack, and tarp. Also included is a manure fork.
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Here I am putting on the saddle blanket. Notice how Isabelle stands
relaxed knowing that this is not a big deal.
Isabelle knows it is no big deal because she has already learned that
whatever I do she will be safe with me. I reward her for being a patient
student by giving her some grain.
she knows that she can trust me, she is confident enough to check out
what I am doing. She watches everything in a relaxed manner without
moving away or anticipating an unpleasant event In fact, she was trying
to "help" me. Here I am getting the saddle ready to put on her
Isabelle checks out the first bucket that I put on her.
With everything I do she looks to see what I am doing. Which is great.
It lets a horse get involved and know that it isn't a big deal. Nothing
to hide. The orange tarp is not an issue. Just another thing. The same
with the plastic sack which I tied to the bottom of her tail. She paid
no attention to this item either.
Here I am touching Isabelle with the manure fork all over the body. She
was really paying attention to this item. Notice the ears are in the
"what's going on" position.
Every time a new item is accepted
by the horse without moving away, a treat is given as a reward. Do not
give a treat if the horse did not do what was asked. A treat given at
this time tells the horse that you wanted him to react by moving away
from the item when what you really wanted was for him to think of it as
no big deal and stand still. Once the horse has accepted an exercise,
decrease the frequency of the treat giving and do a rubbing and verbal
reward for doing well. A lot of people want to pat the horse as a
reward, but would you rather be rubbed or patted? Patting is not a
relaxing feeling, while rubbing is soothing.
Each of the items that I mentioned
at the start are used individually before they are used all at one time.
To get to this stage it could take one horse a couple of lessons or it
could take a horse a month or more. Each horse is different in how they
react to a situation. The idea of doing the above exercise is NOT for
the horse to get used to an item, BUT to accept any item or situation