Training Tip: Don't Force Your Horse to Accept a Spooky Object

When a horse is frightened of an object, the worst thing you can do is force him to approach it. The more you say, "You WILL accept the clippers," the more nervous the horse gets and thinks that there is a reason to be scared of it. If you want your horse to use the thinking side of his brain and relax rather than reverting to the reactive side of his brain and moving his feet, you have to stop being the predator that takes a direct line approach, and start thinking more like your horse--a prey animal--that is cautious. Rather than forcing the object on him, you’ll use a step-by-step method to desensitize him.

Whenever you desensitize your horse to any object, you'll always use the Approach and Retreat Method. You'll build his confidence by approaching him with the object he is scared of and then retreating by taking the object away when he stands still and relaxes. It's important not to take the object away if the horse is reactive and wants to move his feet. Mother Nature says, "Are you crazy? Don’t stand there, run! If you're frightened, don’t hang around, run!"

You're trying to say, "Don’t listen to your mother. When you get frightened, stand still and relax." You want the horse to realize that the quickest way to get a scary object to go away is to ignore it. For example, using the Approach and Retreat Method you can teach your horse to stand still and relax while you clip him, apply fly spray or flap his body with a plastic bag. You'll teach him that if he stands still and relaxes, the object will go away.
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Downunder Horsemanship | 2014 Events Getting Penciled In

2014 Events Getting Penciled In

Although we're only three months into 2013, our tour team has almost finished planning the Walkabout Tour schedule for next year. Each year, Clinton takes the tour to six stops across the country. As a general rule, we try not to go back to the same venue within a three-year period. The growth of Walkabout Tours in recent years means that only facilities capable of accommodating 4,000 fans are feasible. In fact, the team actually visits each potential facility to meet with its management and tours the grounds to get a feel for its layout. We'll be announcing the 2014 schedule in the fall of this year!

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