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Old 07-11-2009, 10:51 PM  
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desensitizing a jumpy horse

We have a 13 year old gelding that is a great beginner horse; once he is caught and saddled. There seem to be some trust issues, it took a long time for him to let anyone come up into the pasture and even pat him, let alone catch him. No matter how much we handle his ears, or work from him left side he is jumpy, pulls his head up and away. You touch him and he twitches, we don't work with him every day but it is frequently enough that in the 3-4 years we've had him he'd be over it. He does not tie, but I know the cause of that: he broke 2 different halters and he learned! We now have a rope halter that he can't break, and now that the county fair is over, we are going to reteach him to tie.

Once he is caught he is all business; he stands great for saddling and not much spooks him, he is slow, does not give more than asked for, but if asked will do it. We road past the neighbor's pig farm one day when they were loading pigs for market and you can imagine the noise and commotion; he did not blink an eye!

I am going to ask a friend of my daughter's ride him and see if he knows anything we haven't found; gaming or whatever. I would eventually like to sell him, but is is worth nothing like this

Is there any way to get him past all this? I don't really know how to desensitize a horse, though you'd think after a while he wouldn't jump if you are in front or beside him and touch him.
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Old 07-11-2009, 11:02 PM  
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Do you have a round pen, or anything like that that you can work with him in?

John Lyons, for one, has written numerous books and articles that deal with desensitizing. The round pen training also helps with catching, etc. because the horse learns to trust you as the leader. I could go on and on, because the whole subject is quite fascinating. Monty Roberts also does "Join Up" , again putting the human in the leadership role and inspiring trust.

It seems if you could get a few of the main principles down, this horse would be a gem.
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Old 07-12-2009, 12:30 AM  
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It sounds unlikely to be a pain issue if he is fine when ridden and not spooky, so it is likely learned behaviour. I am not sure he needs true desensitizing, as his issues sound very specific, and possibly a result of past handling.

What do you do when he jumps away or twitches? The key is to make sure that you maintain contact until he stops pulling away/twitching. When he stands for it, remove the pressure and do something possitive with him, and then try again. Make sure you set yourself up to succeed, so that means using means to make sure he can't pull away from your touching, which may mean holding him with a chain shank or working in a smaller space. It may take a long time to get him to accept the touch without him twitching, so make sure you give yourself as much time as it needs. Eventually he will learn that the touching goes away when he is still, and from there he will come to realize the touching isn't so bad.

Karen
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Old 07-12-2009, 01:52 AM  
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I guess I swear by Clinton Anderson...he has a lot of great exercises using his stick and string, and his lead rope to desensitize...

I would definitely start with the rubbing, and concentrate on his worst areas...rub rub rub, maybe itch him a little bit and see if that gets a positive reaction out of him. The more times you work on this and as many times as it doesn't hurt him, the more confident he'll get.
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Old 07-12-2009, 05:43 AM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EquineAlberta View Post
It sounds unlikely to be a pain issue if he is fine when ridden and not spooky, so it is likely learned behaviour. I am not sure he needs true desensitizing, as his issues sound very specific, and possibly a result of past handling.

What do you do when he jumps away or twitches? The key is to make sure that you maintain contact until he stops pulling away/twitching. When he stands for it, remove the pressure and do something possitive with him, and then try again. Make sure you set yourself up to succeed, so that means using means to make sure he can't pull away from your touching, which may mean holding him with a chain shank or working in a smaller space. It may take a long time to get him to accept the touch without him twitching, so make sure you give yourself as much time as it needs. Eventually he will learn that the touching goes away when he is still, and from there he will come to realize the touching isn't so bad.

Karen
we do continue to handle him until he stops moving/twitching/pulling away. I don't know what he is like with my husband,who he seems to be better with for catching than me.

We do have a round pen, but I've found that is is easier to catch him in the paddock because it has square corners (easier to corner him).

does John Lyons have videos, or is his stuff on youtube?
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Old 07-12-2009, 09:10 AM  
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Don't know about Youtube, but John Lyons definitely has videos - also a magazine that I really enjoy. The purpose of the round pen is not to catch the horse, but to let him "catch you". In very general terms, he has to work until he allows you to walk up to him, or touch him, or whatever you are trying to do.
Monty Roberts is very good on this subject and it does work.
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