How to De-spook Your Horse…

Dealing with spooky and anxious behaviour is one of the most common problems faced by horseowners. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be – there are ways to help your horse become calmer, more confident and tuned into you regardless of the situation.

 

This weekend I was dressed up in armour as St George and my young horse, Freckles, was my trusty steed. This wasn’t just for my own amusement (although I do love dressing up with horses 🙂 ); we were part of the entertainment at Sonnets and Serpents, a St George’s day celebration.

 

But what does this have to do with de-spooking?
Well, this was the first event of this kind Freckles had ever been to – there were tents and PA systems and live musicians and a giant dragon and pushchairs and dogs and balloons and lots and lots of children. I needed to do plenty of effective de-spooking work with Freckles to prepare him for this!

He’d never seen anything like this before so I took him through a systematic process of exposing him to various spooky situations and used positive reinforcement principles to make it fun and help him stay calm and connected.

As you can see from the video, it certainly worked!

Considering he’d never been anywhere like that and just a few months ago had been pretty anxious about busy places, noise and children, it just shows the power of positive reinforcement training! What a star!

The steps I took to prepare him for this event are part of our brand new de-spooking course on Connection Training. It covers everything from helping your horse become calm and curious in the face of novel and spooky objects right through to creating a calm happy horse you can take anywhere.

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