Oh no, it’s that time again! Time for Katie to tell y’all some ridiculous fact, or rant about why you should, or shouldn’t, do that whatever it is with your horse.
What I wanna’ discuss this week is sacking out your horse. Maybe not so ridiculous after all?
Sacking out, in essence, is desensitizing a horse to stimulus; loud noises, cars, gunfire, and other things. It is imperative to the safety of you, your horse, and others around you, but best of all, it’s really easy!
How do you begin sacking out your horse? Start small, and build up to bigger things, because training is a process, not an event, and you will more than likely constantly be introducing your horse to new, scary things over the course of his lifetime. A method widely seen is employing the services of a Giant Blue Hungry Noise Monster, aka: a tarp. Well, to a lot horses, it’s not a tarp, it’s a Scary Thing that they need to get away from, because it’s going to hurt them! It’s up to you, trusted herd leader, to show your horse that the tarp is not going to hurt them.
The key to this is to let your horse figure that out on his own. Show him the tarp, or other Scary Thing, and let him think about it, let him look at it, then, when he settles down, move him closer, and so on and so forth, until he’s conquered the monster! Or whatever.
Another facet of this is the fact that horses are cautious because they are flight animals: any mistake they make can kill them — of course a tarp isn’t going to rip their throat out, but they don’t know that –, and they depend on their cautious nature for survival. Don’t get upset with your horse for being afraid of something new, and instead, help him think through his fear without forcing him. Forcing only ends up with people and horses injured, so be patient, and calm.
While sacking out with a tarp is one thing, it’s also important to sack your horse out to ropes. What? Katie, that’s too simple, surely horses know all about ropes!
Better safe than sorry, right?
Make sure your horse is familiar with ropes, his lead rope, your lariat, the lunge line, you get the gist. Here, lead ropes are important, because you’re probably going to use them the most, so make sure your horse knows what to do if he steps on one, or if one gets looped around his leg. In a controlled environment, like in the round pen, or next to your trailer at home, tie your horse up on a long line — leave the 18 inch rule out of this — and go about your business. If he gets a leg over it, or steps on it, do not panic and try to help him, let him sort it out himself, which he is more than capable of doing.
A large problem in the equestrian world is humans freaking out and thinking they need to constantly be helping their horse, when in reality, they’re only making the situation worse, and scaring the animal. The key is to be calm, and let the horse do things by himself.
Remember, everyone, the more time you spend with your horse, figuring out the way he works, the more you’ll learn, and the better you’ll communicate with each other. Get out there and learn some stuff!