Desensitizing your spooky horse using a tarp

Posted in: Ask A Pro, Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life, Video

Ask A Pro Question:

My horse spooks at the strangest things. I know he was desensitized as a colt. How do I get him over this spooky behavior?” 

Thank you for your question. It’s easy for us to forget that sometimes we need to go back to the beginning with our horses. Horses are never too old or too trained for desensitizing work, even if they don’t seem spooky. It’s been at least a year since I visited the tarp with Nutter Butter. This is a great desensitizing trick if your horse is spooky.  You can see here, other than a couple places where he got lost, and kind of started (by jumping forward), he was certainly not bothered by it. It’s important, in the course of starting or training a horse, that you get them good with all sorts of stimuli, and then revisit these challenges throughout its life.

Why would one want to work at this, you might ask?

Well, it does a few things. It helps the horse learn to deal with different pressures, and different intents. He can learn that the tarp can go over him, around him, bang him, etc, and that he can take that, because it’s not going to hurt him. Further, he can learn that moving from it is acceptable when done quietly. If my intent is to have him move, he should move. If my intent is to have him stay, he should stay. Having a horse that sorts out your intent makes them safer, nicer and more fun to ride, so long as we are consistent. This is just one more tool in my “arsenal”, seeing as how I’m gonna wanna rope on him, take him to rodeos, barrel races, and other events where there will be noises and things he may not understand. If I’m not bothered by these things, he shouldn’t be bothered either!  I hope this helps.

Happy Horse Handling!

Posted in: Ask A Pro, Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life, Video


About Jenn Zeller

Jenn Zeller was transplanted, from a big city in Texas, to the plains of South Dakota. The only person in her family to ride, she grew up rodeoing, managed a rodeo scholarship to college, and earned a marketing degree from Tarleton State University. She went...

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