De-Sensitising Tactics

Discussion in 'Training Horses' started by Indigo King, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. Indigo King

    Indigo King New Member

    Hi, I have quite a sensitive, flighty mare and I was just wondering if anyone out there has any tactics they have used to quieten/de-sensitise their horses that they have had success with?

    Just looking for some things to do with her that will help her get used to different environments and changes that are happening around her.

    I do realise all horses are different and some things will work for some and not others, but if anyone has any ideas I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. equislave

    equislave Well-known Member

    I have only ever done that type of work with a trainer - never tacked it on my own but three things that worked for me.

    Liberty work - helped cement our relationship so I was seen as leader which had a calming affect on the horse and meant that they listened to me with respect.

    Doing the usual thing with various objects, tarps etc so they learn to face up to things rather than run from them.

    Making them work HARD when attention is not on me. This is either through free lungeing or on a line depending on the location. If the inside ear is not on me or the head is out looking at something the pressure is put on until the horse submits. There is no compromise when we do this and is probably one of the best things I have learnt for teaching the horse not to focus on all the scary interesting things "out there". After one solid session of this work my current horse OTTB can now go anywhere and get off the float relaxed and happy. If there is any tension then a couple of circuits on the lunge and the head drops, the body relaxes and all is good.

    Like I said though, everything I have done has been through regular lessons with a trainer but has really helped me build my confidence in my ability to handle challenging situations. Hope this helps.
  3. Indigo King

    Indigo King New Member

    Thanks for that, I haven't yet tried any objects or liberty work. But she is worked hard when she is not listening and soon realises that she has to which I think works great, she is still just jumpy and has no confidence. Who did you do your liberty training with?
  4. serendipity

    serendipity Well-known Member

    have a chat with RVP, she is helping me through the same issues with my mare
  5. Indigo King

    Indigo King New Member

    Thanks for that Serendipity, Who is RVP?
  6. serendipity

    serendipity Well-known Member

    Sorry, RVP is a member here on stockies, Rainbow Valley Performance Horses can find her website or on the forbidden site.
  7. Indigo King

    Indigo King New Member

    Thank you, I will get in touch with her!
  8. Horseagilitywa

    Horseagilitywa Well-known Member

    Just exposure...
    and talking to people like RVP ;)

    This is my super sensitive brumby (not our best liberty video, but he copes with my fat butt running with him now lol), hes so much better.

    edited to add video...
  9. duel_jetty

    duel_jetty New Member

    Positive reinforcement

    I realise this thread is old, but could be useful for others that have the same problem...

    You can train your horse to explore new objects using positive reinforcement. Get some treats- tiny bits of carrot work well- and reward the horse whenever it approaches or touches a scary object. Over time the horse will start to anticipate a reward for exploring scary objects, and the anticipation dampens the flight response.

    Instead of training your horse to just deal with one scary object, you can change their whole attitude towards scary objects and help them to act more confidently.

    Temple Grandin's book Making Animals Happy has a great section on horses where she talks about dealing with flighty horses.

    Good luck with your mare!
  10. Blackbat

    Blackbat Well-known Member

    This positive reinforcement thing works like the bomb for us. A carrot won't help a horse who is losing the plot, obviously, but it is valuable to gain wins for tense, suspicious, introverted horses like mine at least. It keeps his focus on looking for what I am asking, not what's happening around him, therefore keeping him relaxed and thinking. The biggest success has been in his fear at the beach, I credit 'carrot training' for his confidence that has him entering the water without prompting and even swimming out deep past me to show how clever he is. The proud expression on his face is priceless. Some might see it as cheating not training, but I've never seen anything work so well.

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