Training horses in Oregon.
An important part of a young horses training is to desensitize and sensitize him. The goal of desensitizing so that he isn’t afraid of certain things and has confidence in scary situations. The goal of sensitizing him is so that he instantly and willingly listens and responds to our aids. In Motion Sport Horses
sees “Sacking out” as a really useful way of desensitizing any horse.
It is very important to understand how dangerous this process can be for an inexperienced handler. A fearful horse is likely to kick, strike or attempt to bolt sideways, with the potential to cause serious injury. Hiring a professional trainer to establish good ground manners, as well as starting your horse undersaddle maybe in your horses and your best interest.
When starting to desensitze a young horse who hasn’t been exposed to much stimulation, it is wise to have him tied in a stall where the walls provide safe boundaries for him. Use a lead rope attached to the side of the halter. I prefer to use a saddle towel, but a bath towel or light weight saddle pad like a Navaho blanket works well too. Introduce your “sacking out” object to the horse by allowing him to sniff it. This in itself, builds confidence in the horse. With the horse standing parallel to a wall, and holding the lead rope with a steady contact to the halter, begin to rub the saddle towel along his shoulders, retreating the towel often and letting him sniff it again. As the horse gains confidence and is willing to stand still, advance to rubbing him along his neck, topline, haunches and down his legs, being careful and watchful for his reaction of “I’m afraid and I’m trying to retreat!”. If he is really reactive, work on just a small area of his body. Don’t move on to other areas until he is unafraid with the towel touching him. However, be sure repeat the same process on both sides of the horse.
Beginning to sack out a 3 year old warmblood in Southern Oregon.
Whenever the horse is calm, still and shows confidence, be sure to reward him with your voice, pats on his head, neck or shoulder and/or feeding him treats. Some youngsters are very reactive to this process. Take your time and use lots of rewards when the horse earns them. This process can be continued and built upon daily until the horse stands calmly while being rubbed all over. At that point in time, you can begin the shake and flap the towel in the air, a distance away from the horse.
Sacking out your horse can end with some of the following results: gain the horses trust; to have a steadier, less spooky horse on the ground; his confidence to be saddled; and even to pick up objects from his back or to take off your coat while riding him. If you need help with training your horse in Southern Oregon, let’s talk!