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by Developer Services

Training Tip of the Week: Avoid taking a scary object away when the horse is moving his feet

 

Timing, meaning when you release the pressure is critical when training horses, especially when desensitizing. When you’re desensitizing your horse, never take the object/pressure away until the horse stands still and shows a sign of relaxing. If you take the object away while the horse is moving his feet and using the reactive side of his brain, you’ll teach him to be scared of the object. Instead of him relaxing and standing still, he’ll think the answer to getting away from the object is to run. Using the Approach and Retreat Method, you’ll teach the horse that if he stands still and relaxes, the scary object will go away.

Remember that your horse is a prey animal with the natural desire to run from anything that scares him. You have to constantly reinforce to the horse that the answer is not to run from danger, but to stand still and relax. In fact, you’ll prove to him that when he does stand still and show a sign of relaxing, the object will go away. You want the horse to think that the only way he can feel safe is to stand still and relax.