As with anything, there are different ways of achieving all our horse training goals. So how do we know which is best, most suitable for us as riders and best for our particular horse?
I think we need to ensure that we present new material to the horse in the calmest and best possible way. By that I mean breaking it down as much as we possibly can to teach it to the horse and never overloading or flooding him. The term ‘feel’ doesn’t only apply to the reins!
I was talking today about habituating horses to a stock whip. This is not something everyone feels the need to do but it acts as a good example of how to habituate your horse to anything from a whip to an umbrella, chainsaw, bicycles, children, balloons and anything else you can think of.
I say habituate and not desensitise because I want the horse to become ‘used to’ and ‘happy with’ the thing, not unresponsive and in a state of learned helplessness (where he learns that nothing he does gets rid of the scary object).
The two videos below show horses that have never seen a stock whip before and talk you through the process of safely introducing it and building on a solid foundation that doesn’t involve fear or flight.
If you want a confident horse that has learned the lesson and not been emotionally or physically exhausted into submission then you can break everything down in the same way. This will build a strong foundation, a horse that is engaged and wants to learn, which in turn makes for safe and happy riders!