De-Spooking from the Ground

With their “fight or flight” instincts, horses can be naturally suspicious of objects such as puddles, dark corners of the arena, blankets on fences, tarps flapping, dogs barking, farm equipment, crinkly plastic bags, sliding doors, tractors running ... the list goes on. "Young horses need to be introduced to everything - machinery, dogs running around, lawnmowers - you don't want to bubble- wrap them. That's in the paddock as well, not just in-hand; don't create a vacuum of silence where everything is perfect. If a horse has never seen something, he is more likely to react to it. Foals learn from their mothers. If you drive a tractor by the paddock and the mare doesn't move, then it becomes a nonissue for the foal. It goes back to the basic leading exercises. A horse that is obedient while leading will have a much easier time understanding things that are scary,…

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