Desensitizing Your Horse

March 20, 2017 2 min read

Taking care of your horse is about more than just making sure it has all the supplies it needs to feel comfortable. With natural flight instincts, desensitizing your horse is for your safety as well as the horses. Why? Because a scare horse can be dangerous. The horse's instinct is to run in situations where it feels threatened, and you won't be able to change that instinct. What you can do is ease the horse’s fears by desensitizing them. This is possible at any age, not just for young horses.

Safety should always be your first priority.

The process of desensitizing a horse is still dangerous, because it's getting them used to something new. For that reason, you may want to be on the ground at the beginning, rather than mounted on your horse. Another important safety tip is to have a friend nearby while you're desensitizing your horse. If anything goes wrong, you want someone to have an eye on you. Start slow and recognize that it's an ongoing process that will take patience for you and for your horse. Horses are empathetic animals, so yours will be able to sense if you feel nervous or concerned. Stay positive and maintain calm the whole time you are desensitizing your horse. Otherwise, you could spook the horse.

In the meantime, your techniques should be the pressure and release method.

Put a little pressure on them to push them forward, then released once they move forward as a reward. After your horse has grown comfortable with an object, ride over it, but keep in mind that you can start with walking, then move to trotting. Over time, you can deliberately desensitize your horse to all kinds of items. As a matter of fact, some owners like to make an obstacle course made up of all different kinds of items to test their horse’s confidence, such as blankets, plastic bags, balls, road signs, lights, and more! As long as you're kind but firm, it won't be long before your horse is confident in the face of almost anything you encounter. Ultimately, you both have more fun and be safe out there when you ride.


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