I have absolutely no doubt my techniques work, none. However, Faith
has been causing my faith in my techniques to be a little shaky. In
the beginning I had a little difficulty with the Jekyll-Hyde
personality changes going from flawless to forget it.
And then I found out she was 50/50 horse.
50/50 horses are the result of breeding two breeds of horses together
to produce which is essentially a half-breed horse. A half-breed
horse is intended to infuse the best characteristics of both
breeds. When it works out that way, fine, but usually not so much,
especially when you breed to horses with opposing breed
characteristics such as a Morgan with a Friesan or an Arab to an
Appaloosa, ala Faith.
Anyway, with a 50/50 horse you don't know which half of the horse is
going to control the horse at any given time. In Faith's case she is
sometimes flighty and fluttery, or as many people say, "Typical
Arab." Other times she is "Everything is cool. Yuk! Yuk!" or as
many people say, "typical App." The only time she is consistent is
when she is abnormally spooky. If anything sets her off the Arab
temperament comes to the front and she goes into another world where
not even she knows where she is and wild eyed, flat out escape is the
only option. She has slammed into the side of a 50 foot round pen
and moved the whole pen, gone through a 2x6 4 rail pressure treated
arena fence trying to out run string dangling off from the training
surcingle and a bunch of other seemingly innocent spooks.
My goal in dealing with spooking is to teach the horse to "look to
me" no matter what happens. I'll be the one to determine the value
of the spook which is always "ignore it." I don't desensitize the
horse to anything in particular, I desensitize the horse to every
thing - "No matter what it is that spooks you, I'll deal with
it. Focus on me, I am your relief. All peace, all comfort, all
security is by me." I do not want the horse physically connected to
me at any time.
I can't recall it ever taking much more than a session or two to get
that idea across to a horse.
I tied a 50 gallon plastic trash bag on the end of my longe whip lash
and added a clip for a little weight and I could send that bag
exactly where I wanted it which was where Faith didn't want it. Any
movement of that bag produced wide open runs around the pen. When I
wanted to change her direction I simply tossed the bag in front of
her and off she'd go the other way.
Session after session after session I'd let the bag control her
around the pen. The moment she would look at me, the bag would
stop. As soon as she looked away the bag came to life again. The
improvements were so small you had to have a magnifying glass to see
them. The progress was so slow you had to have a sundial to time
it. At no time did I allow her to get winded or sweaty.
Today, after the therapy clients were finished and the barn
activities had wound down I put her in the RP again for the I don't
know how many times that was and I could tell right off she was
**beginning** to show the headway I was working toward. She was not
as wary of the flying bag and only made a couple rounds before she
stopped, faced me and advanced toward me right by the bag. We stood
there for awhile then I moved the bag against her. She didn't like
it, she snorted and quivered but she stood. When I upped the bag
pressure she went around behind me and kept me between her and the
bag. I could see the shadow of her behind me and I began whipping
the bag through the air in front of us and she stood there, very
light on her feet but she stood there.
I sent her out a couple of times and allowed her to come in to me
close by the bag. I draped the bag across her face a couple of
times. She didn't like it the least bit but she stood.
On that note, I gave her a pail of feed and went and fixed the
tractor while she ate.
Marv "Horses have been my life's work. I didn't know I'd work a
horse for the rest of my life." Walker