A desensitized horse is a safe mount for riders of all skill levels. Whether you’re trying to desensitize your horse or train one to use for riding lessons, exposing the animal to a variety of scary situations is the best way to make him or her bombproof. These three exercises can help you train your horse so you know he or she is reliable in unpredictable situations.
Set Up an Obstacle Course
Colorful objects often spook horses. The more unfamiliar items you can expose your horse to, the less scary the items seem. Try creating an obstacle course in your arena so your animal is exposed to the items in a controlled, familiar environment. You can create a simple course using objects such as feed buckets, lead ropes, cones and cavaletti horse jumps. As your mount grows accustomed to these items, incorporate unfamiliar items such as colorful flags, mirrors and toys. The goal is to teach your horse that unfamiliar objects will not always hurt him or her.
Use Loud Noises
Once your horse is accustomed to random objects, you can move on to loud noises. Cars backfiring, music playing and shouting are all common triggers for horses so if you can show your mount that loud noises aren’t always dangerous, he or she will become a more reliable companion. Start by exposing your horse to soft noises and gradually increasing their volume. Use one sound at a time until your horse becomes accustomed to it. Once one sound stops scaring your mount, move on to another noise. Keep repeating this process until unexpected sounds don’t cause your horse to spook.
Travel To Unfamiliar Environments
While the desensitizing process should start in your usual arena, you can’t be confident that your horse is truly unflappable until you take him or her to unfamiliar environments. Be sure your mount is bombproof at home before you take him or her somewhere else. Whether you go to another arena or on a trail ride, the goal is to see how your horse reacts to unexpected situations in a different environment.
To desensitize your horse is the best way to ensure you have a reliable mount. The process may sound daunting but it involves exposing the animal to different situations so he or she learns to act appropriately. Using these three exercises can help you train an unflappable horse that you can trust to act predictably in any situation.