Vet-Prep: Ac­cept Touch

Trail Rider - - SEASONAL GUIDE -

If you train your horse to ac­cept be­ing touched, you’ll make your vet­eri­nar­ian’s job much eas­ier and more ef­fec­tive. Here’s an easy train­ing method from re­spected trainer and clin­i­cian Julie Good­night.

Step-by-Step Tech­nique

Your horse needs to learn that if he ac­cepts touch, the touch will soon go away — that it’s eas­ier to stand still and ac­cept the touch in­stead of fight­ing. Step 1. Start with his mouth. Don leather gloves, stand at your horse’s left side, and place two fin­gers at the left cor­ner of his lip. He should open his mouth slightly. Step 2. Move your fin­gers. Move your fin­gers slightly back and into his mouth, avoid­ing his front and back teeth (Photo 1). He’ll most likely shake his head and pull away from your touch, but keep your fin­gers in place no mat­ter where he pulls you. Step 3. Re­ward. Watch for an in­stant of re­lax­ation. As soon as your horse low­ers his head or stops re­sist­ing, pull your hand away (Photo 2). Keep up the pres­sure un­til he ac­cepts it, then re­move your hand im­me­di­ately to re­ward him. Step 4. Re­peat. Re­peat this process un­til your horse al­lows you to open his mouth from both sides with­out re­sis­tance. Step 5. Move around. Use this tech­nique to teach your horse to ac­cept your touch on other parts of his face and body. — Heidi Me­locco (www.whole-pic­ture. org), a life­long horse­woman, equine jour­nal­ist, and pho­tog­ra­pher based in Mead, Colorado.

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