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  1. #1
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    Default ¤Hate those vicious, teeth-barring, horse-eating trampolines!!! ¤

    Long story short...my 5 year old gelding is TERRIFIED of people on trampolines...how nice that we have TWO OF THEM within 1/4 mile of each other on a loop that we ride regularly!

    Anywho...

    I am the type of rider who wants my horse to see and experience many things, because I want a sane solid trail riding buddy for many years to come. This means that no matter how the ride turns out, I want him to get over it!

    What is the best way to get him over this fear?

    Under saddle, when he spooks, he is a bolter...sometimes even thru his well-learned 1 rein stop. He'll turn his head and stop, but then run sideways thru the stop, and will not disengage his hind end. He only does this during a REALLY SCARY spook, which usually is the trampoline or cows running at us in adjacent fields

    Should I try to get him used to this big scary trampoline while under saddle, or walk him up to it while leading him? He is VERY terrified...he puffs up like a rooster, blows out his nose, etc. The whole shebang.

    My initial thought is to call the people with the trampoline (small town, we know them) and ask if the kids can help me out by just sitting on the trampoline, while I have my gedlign just walk up and sniff it. Then have them walk around on it until he settles down, and then maybe bounce a LITTLE until he gets used to it. I would do this while holding the leadrope (not mounted).

    Thoughts?
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuckerForHorses View Post

    Should I try to get him used to this big scary trampoline while under saddle, or walk him up to it while leading him? He is VERY terrified...he puffs up like a rooster, blows out his nose, etc. The whole shebang.

    My initial thought is to call the people with the trampoline (small town, we know them) and ask if the kids can help me out by just sitting on the trampoline, while I have my gedlign just walk up and sniff it. Then have them walk around on it until he settles down, and then maybe bounce a LITTLE until he gets used to it. I would do this while holding the leadrope (not mounted).

    Thoughts?
    I think that is a FANTASTIC idea, and actually what I was going to suggest. If the kids have carrots/sugar cubes/cookies/etc, even better! Then trampolines and children become buffets of delicious food, not scary things!

    If you're not able to get them to agree to that, then it's amazing what a calm trail buddy can do for a nervous nelly. Being the owner of one of those solid trail horses, I am ALWAYS more than willing to go out with people. (As long as they inform me in advance that they're expecting to be babysat, and warn me their horse is afraid of everything...but that's a story for another day!) Heck, I'll even pony people if they want that extra measure of security.

    For his bolting issue....I know it's hard, but I'd work on fixing that...bolting is just so so dangerous out on the trail/the road. Keep working on his "whoa." I have installed what I call a "sugar cube stop" (as opposed to a "spur stop"!) on my horse....for about a week, I'd ask him to "whoa" and immediately reward him with a sugar cube. He is a very food-motivated horse, and caught on immediately. I still carry sugar cubes with me, although he doesn't get them for every halt. (After he politely stopped at X and then looked for a treat at a schooling show. ) But he was stop dead, even in a "scary" situation, and look for his treat. Something about getting a treat snaps him back to reality!

    As for where to be when you're introducing him to things, everyone has a different opinion and it depends on the horse. On my gelding, I like to be on him. He's not a bolter and benefits from a firm leg when approaching things. On my newer mare, at this point in time, I still prefer to be on the ground. She's a baby, and new to me, and I never know quite how she'll react. My one caveat is that if you're working with him on the ground, make sure you have a longer line (not a lunge line necessarily, just a longer lead rope) and are able to hold onto him.



  3. #3
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    I would approach this issue on foot, with a lunge line and lots and lots of time. First I would walk him to the unoccupied killer trampoline and let him learn to chill out just being near. Perhaps lunge him or do other in-hand work with him near the trampoline. If he freaks, move away from the trampoline until you find the distance at which he is calm and able to focus. Gradually move back towards the tramp, stopping at whatever distance it takes to keep him calm.

    Only when he is OK with that would I add in the kids. At first just have them sit on the tramp and repeat the entire desensitizing routine of walking around, sniffing, in-hand work, etc, until he is quiet and OK with that scene. Then have them stand and possibly quietly move about on the tramp ... no jumping until horsy is OK with them moving about. Then introduce some small jumping motions, finally moving to major jumping and screaming .... but only after he is OK (quiet, calm, attentive to you) with each of the earlier stages.

    This will take many sessions; there is no way around that. But once it is done with one tramp, you can introduce the second one and the desensitizing process will go faster for that one.

    *star*
    "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
    - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926



  4. #4
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    Yes, we're working on the one-rein stop because I know the bolting is very dangerous He is my first bolter in 20 years of having horses...I've been lucky! All the others either jump in place, jump forward a step and then stop, jump to the side, or spin. I'd prefer any one of those over bolting!

    The trouble is that the people I ride with all have horses that are also terrified of the kids on the trampoline...the only horse that is NOT terrified is my arabian mare (who woulda thought?!) and since I cannot ride both at the same time, that idea is out the window. She is too sensitive (to aids and body) to have just anybody ride, so I am the only one who rides her, and I'm certainly not going to stick someone else on my gelding for this exercise! LOL!

    The hard part is the kids are not horse savvy, so they aren't very, hmmm...what's the word...receptive to "okay, don't jump until I ask..."

    A neighbor has a trampoline that never gets used beause her daughter is all grown up...perhaps she would let me have it or borrow it, and i"ll have horse-smart friends help with this exercise at home.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  5. #5
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    I prefer to NOT use food as a motivator for this guy, as he is VERY mouthy to begin with, and its quite annoying in a showmanship class when he's grabbing my sleeve, the lead, my finger, etc...we're working very hard on standing and NOT mouthing, I will not go backwards by rewarding with hand treats.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
    She is too sensitive (to aids and body) to have just anybody ride, so I am the only one who rides her, and I'm certainly not going to stick someone else on my gelding for this exercise! LOL!

    The hard part is the kids are not horse savvy, so they aren't very, hmmm...what's the word...receptive to "okay, don't jump until I ask..."
    Well can you not pony the gelding off the mare? Or is she not the type to respond well to that?

    Or perhaps you can find someone you approve of to just lead her, and they can hand graze her near the trampoline while you work with your gelding.

    Borrowing the trampoline also sounds like a good idea....and reduces wear and tear on the neighbors lawn from a hysterical horse.

    Horse savvy or no, kids can usually be bribed into things. Give 'em $20 and they'll be more than willing to sit there quietly for half an hour, promise.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
    I prefer to NOT use food as a motivator for this guy, as he is VERY mouthy to begin with, and its quite annoying in a showmanship class when he's grabbing my sleeve, the lead, my finger, etc...we're working very hard on standing and NOT mouthing, I will not go backwards by rewarding with hand treats.
    That's obviously your choice and decision. But I have had very good luck with using food rewards; it is a distraction as well as a reward, and many horses oftentimes decide that seeking a sugar cube is better than focusing attention on the scary object.

    And not a single one of my horses are mouthy, even the one who came to me mouthy. All regularly get treats, they just understand what's acceptable and what's not.



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
    The hard part is the kids are not horse savvy, so they aren't very, hmmm...what's the word...receptive to "okay, don't jump until I ask..."
    Can you borrow some Pony Club kids? Or other obedient / compliant kids who will be helpful to the process?

    *star*
    "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
    - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926



  8. #8
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    My mare would pony him fine, I just don't think he would be controllable from atop another horse, with a lead line involved, and it would be a disaster waiting to happen.

    I'm kind of in the middle of nowhere (no pony clubs, or 4H around here) so no horse savvy kids to bribe.

    I think the best bet would be maybe to just ask them to use their trampoline with my human friends as the bouncers, instead of the kids, and nicely explain why.

    Or, if they don't want to do that, maybe I'll ask my neighbor down the road if I can borrow her trampoline that is not being used. She'd probably be happy to get it off her lawn, its been sitting there for years
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
    My mare would pony him fine, I just don't think he would be controllable from atop another horse, with a lead line involved, and it would be a disaster waiting to happen.
    Then you don't know how to pony properly. In which case, yes, probably the best idea to just not even mess with that situation.

    Drag your friend's trampoline over and stick in it in his turnout. Then he'll have no choice. Like exposure therapy.



  10. #10
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    Whether it's "properly" or not, I don't see how a 1000 pound horse taking off at the sight of kids on a trampoline will end well when I'm on top of another horse and trying to hold onto him So we're not going to try that!

    I e-mailed the lady with the unused trampoline and asked if I could borrow it for a week. I don't want to take it permanently because my parents will shoot me if I drag THAT to their house and then have ot figure out a way to get rid of it afterwards! LOL! The horses are kept at their place.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  11. #11
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    Score! The woman with the unused trampoline said I can borrow it whenever I would like. The tricky part will be getting it to my house, which is only 1/2 mile up the road, but they are big and a pain to take down and put back up.

    I asked if she would be open to letting me and one other person work with him at her house, to eliminate having to take it down and put it back up at my house.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  12. #12
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    Two of the safest horses Ive ever ridden are terrified of people on trampolines. I rode one horse for 6 months, the other for 1.5 years. I showed both of them. The ONLY thing they were ever scared of, was people jumping on a trampoline. I guess its just so unhuman to them.

    It was never a big enough problem that we retrained them. They made a rule that the kids couldnt use the trampoline when people were riding. So, I cant give you suggestions, I just thought Id let you know that your guy isnt crazy, its a pretty common thing.

    Good luck on training your guy to not be afraid of them.



  13. #13
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    I was lucky that my trainer had a trampoline for her kids that was about 40 feet from the ring. It was nothing for the kids to be jumping about during a lesson, complete with dogs on the trampoline. They also had chickens that thought it was great to hang out under the apple trees at the end of the ring and run out clucking when you went past. Her husband's shop was right next to the trampoline so you never knew what he might be doing. For awhile he was rebuilding an old jeep and doing welding. You'd come around the end of the ring and could see the sparks and smoke in the shop. Another fav was he would give the kids rides on the dump truck parked in front of the shop.(ie let the kids sit in the back of the truck and then raise it till they slid out).



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
    Score! The woman with the unused trampoline said I can borrow it whenever I would like. The tricky part will be getting it to my house, which is only 1/2 mile up the road, but they are big and a pain to take down and put back up.

    I asked if she would be open to letting me and one other person work with him at her house, to eliminate having to take it down and put it back up at my house.
    If you have 2-4 friends willing to help you out then the trapoline should really only take about an hour to set up (depending on if there's a safety net or not). I would be too worried about the neighbor's lawn being torn up from a nervous horse to practice there if there was another option - but that would depend your relationship with your neighbor. Good Luck



  15. #15
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    yeah, I'm not sure WHAT his problem is about them! He literally puffs up like a rooster and blows out his nose. It would be comical, if it wasn't followed by him trying to take off at 100 miles per hour in the other direction!

    These kids are...hmmm...how do I put this...little sh*ts who barely listen to their parents, so it's hard to ask them to stop because sometimes they look at you like you're crazy and stop for 2 seconds and then just start jumping again. I don't get upset, I just deal with the situation at hand because my gelding just needs to get over it. It makes my situation with him hard to work with when they just keep on jumping, but, I like to be optimistic and think of it as a learning experience. He may never be "okay" with it, but he needs to learn to deal with things without bolting (which we ARE working on by doing one-rein stop maneuvers and disengaging the hind end while in a controlled environment). But its a wild scary world out there, so I try to work on those things when the opportunity comes along
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by abbbalonian twist View Post
    If you have 2-4 friends willing to help you out then the trapoline should really only take about an hour to set up (depending on if there's a safety net or not). I would be too worried about the neighbor's lawn being torn up from a nervous horse to practice there if there was another option - but that would depend your relationship with your neighbor. Good Luck
    I talked with her yesterday, and she's open to us coming to her house. We're going to move the trampline to her driveway so he doesn't dig up the lawn. I just have to let her know a day ahead so she keeps her dogs inside (the little one is quite the ankle biter and horse chaser...my gelding USED TO have a fear of dogs running out behind him...he is fine with that now thanks to her little ankle biter....) Ah...love small towns!
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



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