I mentioned recently that Francie is very spooky. She freaks out of birds flying by, the sound of my voice, cars turning in the driveway. You name it - it might be spaz-worthy.
I decided some desensitization was in order. I remember doing similar activities with Phoenix when I was training him twenty years ago. I do this a little more gradually than some of the horse trainers, but I do feel gentle exposure to intimidating things is helpful later on. Also, just going through the process of facing the monsters with a horse helps to strengthen the trust bond.
I created some 'scary' obstacles in the arena. Francie didn't have much trouble with my first creations, so I decided to up the scare factor. I went out and bought....a scary blue tarp. You can see - just riding by the blue tarp was terrifying.
One thing especially horrifying about the blue tarp is that when you step on it, it makes crunchy noises.
Horses don't like the noise. Or the color. I just keep reassuring her. This helps strengthen the trust bond between us. Francie learns that I'm hear to support her when life gets scary. She knows I am by her side to offer kind encouragement.
Francie wants to rush across everytime.
On this day, it was raining, and the light drizzle made more noises on the tarp.
My brave girl.
After a few days of repeated blue tarp exposure, Francie finally let me ride her over the tarp.
Gentle, repeated exposure to intimidating things really does work.
You don't have to force them.
Just reassure, and keep trying.
A little each day is fine, in my experience.
What a good girl.
A scary pool noodle contraption.