EQUUS - - Eq Tack& Gear -


well man­er­tain ad­ing into ns, you’ll n train­ing, sing him to ntly push- ing the lim­its of his com­fort zone. Over time, with pa­tient rep­e­ti­tion, the horse will be­come less re­ac­tive to the sit­u­a­tion that both­ers him. “If a horse is flighty and ner­vous for the far­rier or for ve­teri­nary pro­ce­dures, one of the best ways to ap­proach this prob­lem is to work with the horse in ad­vance, to pre­pare and de­sen­si­tize him to what is go­ing to hap­pen,” says John­son. “If it’s a young horse, the more you can ex­pose him to a va­ri­ety of cir­cum­stances, the bet­ter.” The tech­niques for de­sen­si­ti­za­tion train­ing vary with the spe­cific is­sues be­ing ad­dressed, but most rely on some form of ad­vance and re­treat: If a horse re­sents hav­ing his ears han­dled, for ex­am­ple, you might start by scratch­ing him at the clos­est point he will per­mit con­tact be­fore re­act­ing, such as the shoul­der. When he ac­cepts that, you re­treat---then next time move your hand fur­ther for­ward up his neck, and re­treat again just be­fore he re­acts. These ses­sions may need to be re­peated, but over time your horse ought to be­come more com­fort­able with the pre­vi­ously feared ac­tions. “Once those horses be­come ac­cli­mated to a As with just about any be­hav­ioral is­sue, the first step in deal­ing with a per­sis­tently anx­ious horse is to rule out phys­i­cal causes. A horse does not need to be ob­vi­ously lame to be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sig­nif­i­cant pain in some part of his body, and the dis­com­fort may cause un­ruli­ness or re­sis­tance. “If a

specifi c pro­ce­dure or event, they re­al­ize it’s not so bad and they don’t panic,” says John­son.


“Grow­ing up, peo­ple told me to talk all the time when work­ing around horses, so they know where you are and you never star­tle them,” says John­son. “Then I worked at a big breed­ing farm af­ter I fin­ished vet school. One of the farm man­agers was an older Ken­tucky horse­man, and he told me, ‘Stop talk­ing! The horse knows you are there. If you are talk­ing all the time, the horse gets ner­vous.’ I re­al­ized there was some truth to that.”

Try some dif­fer­ent vo­cal­iza­tions with your horse and read his re­ac­tion. If your horse re­mains edgy as you con­tinue to talk, hum or whis­per, try keep­ing quiet a while to see how he re­sponds.

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