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  1. #1
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    Default Aluminum cans tied to surcingle to despook?

    Has anyone tried this as a despooking method? Please share your experiences with me, as well as any alternative "Scary Things" you have done with success with your horses.

    Thanks in advance.
    Alis volat propriis.



  2. #2
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    Not cans, but milk jugs and 2liter soda bottles. Save the caps and you can fill them with coins to be both floppy boppy AND noisy. Has worked pretty good so far.
    Owned by a Paint/TB and an OTTB.
    RIP Scoutin' For Trouble ~ 2011 at 10
    RIP Tasha's Last Tango ~ 2010 at ~23
    RIP In Sha' Allah ~ 2009 too young at 5



  3. #3
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    Ahh... good idea for the plastic cans. That will be something that can bounce along his sides and teach him that it's totally OK to have things bump him.
    Alis volat propriis.



  4. #4
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    Be careful though in case of a huge out of control panic!

    I've recently hung milk jugs from above the stall door dangling down midway for my little crazy. Took him about 1.5 weeks to decide he could handle it.

    Then cut an old torn tarp into curtained strips where they have to walk through it to get into the barn aisle.

    I HAVE to get my crazy one to improve. He has caused two serious injuries when brush touched his leg or belly during a trail ride!
    "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"



  5. #5
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    Be sure to de spook the horse to the cans etc BEFORE tying them to the horse! Nothing worse than sending the horse into a panic, racing around with the scary thing tied to them. I saw a young arab run through TWO fences trying to escape a plastic bad that was tied to it to “despook it” .

    What is your end goal? I ‘sack out’ young and green horses, by rubbing the scary object all over them, and then from above (to get used to the idea of it coming from the rider).

    Never once tied the object to the horse though.



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Appsolute View Post
    Be sure to de spook the horse to the cans etc BEFORE tying them to the horse! Nothing worse than sending the horse into a panic, racing around with the scary thing tied to them. I saw a young arab run through TWO fences trying to escape a plastic bad that was tied to it to “despook it” .

    What is your end goal? I ‘sack out’ young and green horses, by rubbing the scary object all over them, and then from above (to get used to the idea of it coming from the rider).

    Never once tied the object to the horse though.
    We've sacked out with a plastic bag, both tied to a line and whirled around and all over him, and we have worked with a tarp from above, below, around, in front, and in back. He has also walked back and forth underneath the tarp. He has taken all of this in stride.

    We are also working on round penning in general, as in send him away, move him by moving his hips through body language, getting him to turn into and away from me by where my shoulders are placed in relation to his body. He is GREAT at this and has learned very fast.

    My end goal is to get him to understand that the world will not eat him alive and that it's totally ok to be surrounded with things that rustle, move, make noise, go bump in the night.... etc. I want to eventually do trail challenges with him. We are a very long way from that right now.

    My more immediate goal is to work to find out where the holes are in his training. He is very suspicious and curious, but at the present, those traits are working against us.
    Alis volat propriis.



  7. #7
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    If your goal is to despook, do that not by first spooking and making a horse to stand there and take it, but by only asking the horse to take what he can without getting tight or scared.
    If the horse is starting to react, back off and start again with less scary first.

    It is a bad idea to tie anything scary to a horse to despook it.
    Advice from someone that got to retrain horses well meaning people tried to despook without knowing what they were doing.

    One had two yearlings, the one he was working with and another one waiting, sell out when he tied something floppy to one "to get him used to it".
    Horse got away from him, both ran thru fences and ended up badly injured at the vet.

    Use common sense when doing anything around a horse.



  8. #8
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    Thanks, Bluey. You're exactly right about working up to it and reading the horse's reaction, releasing the pressure at the correct time.

    FWIW, I'm not even 100% sure I want to do anything like the cans with him, but I do need other ideas for getting him to a point where he isn't scared of his shadow. That's why I also asked for suggestions on things to do. I don't want him to get bored and start to anticipate what's coming next.
    Alis volat propriis.



  9. #9
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    Tying anything "spooky" to a horse is a very bad idea. You are asking for trouble ( and a terrified and quite likely injured horse).



  10. #10
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    Umbrellas, balloons, plastic bags, milk jugs, cardboard boxes is what I use on the ground when de-spooking.
    We could all take a lesson from crayons some are sharp, some are beautiful, some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they still learn to live in the same box. Unknown.



  11. #11
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    Just remember, you don't want to have to despook the horse to whatever you are using, but teach a horse that whatever comes around is not something to spook from.

    There is no way we could come up with all out in the wide world a horse may spook from, so despooking to this or that and still having a suspicious, watchy horse is not going to help that much.

    Teach a horse that things come and go and he is still going to be ok just standing or working around them.

    To stand there and scare a horse until it stands there, that takes much longer and gets a very quick horse, some cutting trainers used to do that, thinking the horse was learning to move fast on it's feet.
    Ok, maybe, but really, a horse with plenty of cow will do that once working cattle without needing to learn to move quickly first from spooky things.

    Present scary things to horses first from a distance while working on other, dragging something in FRONT of a horse many times starts getting it interested.
    Horses seem to think stuff moving away is not scary.
    The same standing there or worse, coming at them, the horror, selling out is their first reaction.

    I think all this is hard to explain, much easier to do.
    I expect everyone is already teaching horses right, but some times it doesn't come quite right when talking about it.



  12. #12
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    Ditto for not tying anything scary to the horse.

    I like to use a flag. Doesn't have to be some fancy one the 'clinicians' sell, either... I use a buggy whip with the lash taped down and a plastic bag taped to the end. I'm sure there are plenty of flagging how-to videos on the net.
    Is it me or do 99.9% of cowboys just look better with their hats on?
    <><



  13. #13
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    I've done a lot of what I dubbed "Passive" despooking. The one gelding was terrified of the tarp. They were out on the pasture, but would come through the gate to the dry lot for breakfast and dinner. So since we have a 16ft opening with double gates, I swung both gates open and secured them, and fixed the tarp on the ground, folded up a little at first. He could get over/around it with ease if he wanted, but he HAD to get passed it to get to his food.

    A week later, it was laying spread out unfolded and all horses were plodding across it without issue.

    Things flapping in the breeze bothered him, so I'd put big black contractors bags on trees near where they liked to graze in the shade, tarp on a portion of the fence they pass by frequently, big yoga ball out in the pasture for them to play with or move 'all on it's own' in the wind. Neighbors had a party, balloons wandered into our pasture, those got hung up where horses couldn't get tangled in them but would see them.

    All that flapping, shiny, rustling sound making happened whether I was there or not. And the horses began grazing and relaxing closer and closer to the spooky objects until one day, they didn't bother them at all.

    I still want to cut down some of the PVC pipes we have, get some elbow joints, shred one of the tarps and make the 'car wash' obstacle. I've done some stuff to lead up to it (recycled party streamers for this) Hung them over the stall entry way. Started out by feeding instead of in the stall, in a ground feeder, where they'd see it. And moved it closer and closer, until the ground feeder was in the stall, and then resumed feeding in the usual bucket. There was a lot of "WTF IS THAT?!" on their part at first, but these guys are so food motivated it makes life easy.

    They all do silly things, like wear party hats, (some took more work to get to wear this than others, one it was a case of get the big shiny cone hat within ten inches of the head without it shooting up in the air and call it a day kinds of leading up to it) sparkly garlands, bells, Navajo pads become 'Pharaoh's hats' Moving it further and further up the neck as they get used to it flapping as they move until it can be worn on the head. For my super spooky monster I used this before transitioning to a folded up tarp. Didn't want the tarp getting caught in a breeze and unfolding before I was ready for it to and him going out of his skin over it.
    Owned by a Paint/TB and an OTTB.
    RIP Scoutin' For Trouble ~ 2011 at 10
    RIP Tasha's Last Tango ~ 2010 at ~23
    RIP In Sha' Allah ~ 2009 too young at 5



  14. #14
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    Great post, EI. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    Scout is coming along and seems to be doing good with facing his fears. We worked in the round pen last night on accepting the fact that things are going to bump against his sides and make a lot of noise, and it's totally A-OK. He freaked out the first time the stirrups bumped him, but came right back to me. After that he was fine with it. I lunged him with the saddle on and just let the stirrups bounce. He did great.

    Funny.... the BO came by on his way from feeding his dogs and asked what I was working on. I told him we were trying to work through some fear issues. His answer? "Oh just tie some cans to him and get out of the way. He'll learn."

    The more I think about the cans, the more I think I don't need to do it with him.
    Alis volat propriis.



  15. #15
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    Nov. 16, 2006
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    Default My saddlebred trainer did this

    Many MANY years ago I had my saddlebred with a trainer that routinely used empty soda cans to break the 2 year olds to drive.

    After getting a good foundation ground driving, he would string 4-6 cans lengthwise and tie one string on each side of the horse at the hip - attached to the strap that held the crupper. If I remember correctly, he would start with two cans and then add as the horse became accustomed to the attachment.

    It was to desensitize for eventual hooking of the cart. He always worked until the horse was calm in the round pen, then the arena, then outside, etc. Also desensitized for something banging against their hip/legs, especially if a horse got a leg over a shaft.

    Those cans sure made a racket!! But the horses got used to it and it became ho-hum after a while.

    Not commenting on whether it is a good method or not, but I never saw a wreck and he was a very good trainer. He swore by those cans.



  16. #16
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    In the old, old days, I worked with someone who used old feed sacks (the flexible ones) and put some cans in them). The horse would be slowly introduced to the noise in the bag, it would be rubbed on them, etc. Finally, they would be out in the ring with a western saddle and it would be tied (fairly tightly, but with enough give to make noise) to the saddle and the horses were let loose to do what they wanted. Some bucked REALLY hard, most did it for fun. They'd run around and buck and make it make more noise then they'd get bored with it. I only saw one that freaked out a bit, but he didn't get hurt, all he did was run until he was exhausted. Not good.

    Funny thing, the ones that thought it was a game and bucked NEVER bucked later when a rider was on them. It was really funny.

    It's just not something I do to may horses. I will use scary bags, etc., around them on the ground and pull up and down zippers and jackets on and off when on, but I don't see a need for it. I will say, however, that those other horses actually did have fun. You should have seen how proud they were and relaxed. It was not stressful for 99% of them, when it was done correctly. It was just something new and loud, and did make them less worried about noises on their back and on the ground.
    "Relinquish your whip!!"



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velvet View Post
    In the old, old days, I worked with someone who used old feed sacks (the flexible ones) and put some cans in them). The horse would be slowly introduced to the noise in the bag, it would be rubbed on them, etc. Finally, they would be out in the ring with a western saddle and it would be tied (fairly tightly, but with enough give to make noise) to the saddle and the horses were let loose to do what they wanted. Some bucked REALLY hard, most did it for fun. They'd run around and buck and make it make more noise then they'd get bored with it. I only saw one that freaked out a bit, but he didn't get hurt, all he did was run until he was exhausted. Not good.

    Funny thing, the ones that thought it was a game and bucked NEVER bucked later when a rider was on them. It was really funny.

    It's just not something I do to may horses. I will use scary bags, etc., around them on the ground and pull up and down zippers and jackets on and off when on, but I don't see a need for it. I will say, however, that those other horses actually did have fun. You should have seen how proud they were and relaxed. It was not stressful for 99% of them, when it was done correctly. It was just something new and loud, and did make them less worried about noises on their back and on the ground.
    You realize that you may have been desensitizing the horse to noises, but you were also teaching and letting them practice bucking under saddle.

    Just as horses learn and get better the more they practice anything we want them to do, I don't think we want riding horses to get to practice and become good at bucking, for obvious reasons.

    Maybe you think the horses were having fun, but do think about it again and do you still think so?
    I think horses were not thinking fun or not, but were resisting a scary situation, even if they may not have been too scared eventually.
    They were learning to act up when something scary happened.

    If you are going to use bags of cans, do it to the level each horse can accept, during very controlled conditions to avoid things like running away or bucking.
    Use whatever you want to use so the horse can learn not to be wigging out and increase as they can take it without resisting.

    Scaring a horse into learning not to get scared is the hard way to go about something simple, that is teaching a horse to think, not react when scared.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    You realize that you may have been desensitizing the horse to noises, but you were also teaching and letting them practice bucking under saddle.

    Just as horses learn and get better the more they practice anything we want them to do, I don't think we want riding horses to get to practice and become good at bucking, for obvious reasons.

    Maybe you think the horses were having fun, but do think about it again and do you still think so?
    I think horses were not thinking fun or not, but were resisting a scary situation, even if they may not have been too scared eventually.
    They were learning to act up when something scary happened.

    If you are going to use bags of cans, do it to the level each horse can accept, during very controlled conditions to avoid things like running away or bucking.
    Use whatever you want to use so the horse can learn not to be wigging out and increase as they can take it without resisting.

    Scaring a horse into learning not to get scared is the hard way to go about something simple, that is teaching a horse to think, not react when scared.
    Did you COMPREHEND the entire post? They were not taught to buck. I stated that they later never bucked under saddle when a rider was on. It was an interesting thing.

    Also, they were not scared. They trotted around with them clinking away and didn't care or notice. They could work on a line and just walk, trot and canter calmly with them on later. The first time, they'd already learned that the bag and noise was not scary, so it really wasn't a big step to having it no their back. Many didn't even notice. A FEW bucked and made it clang. One horse I saw should never have had them put on.

    Yes, it was desensitizing them to noise.

    No, I don't do it. I just saw how it worked and thought it was interesting and YES I did understand when a horse was stressed (still do--it's what keeps me alive on my horses) and when they are relaxed and happy.

    It actually is a game for some, when it is used properly. They were entertained, not afraid. You weren't there, you're making judgements based on your imagination. You're also not reading and trying to COMPREHEND what was written.

    I said what I meant, and I meant what I said. It's all there, the good and the bad. A lot more good than bad WHEN DONE CORRECTLY.



    Go train a lot of horses and work with a lot of different trainers. I know you'll then know the difference between a frightened horse and a relaxed horse. Your assumptions are fallacious and not helpful in this discussion since you obviously have no first hand experience.
    "Relinquish your whip!!"



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velvet View Post
    Did you COMPREHEND the entire post? They were not taught to buck. I stated that they later never bucked under saddle when a rider was on. It was an interesting thing.

    Also, they were not scared. They trotted around with them clinking away and didn't care or notice. They could work on a line and just walk, trot and canter calmly with them on later. The first time, they'd already learned that the bag and noise was not scary, so it really wasn't a big step to having it no their back. Many didn't even notice. A FEW bucked and made it clang. One horse I saw should never have had them put on.

    Yes, it was desensitizing them to noise.

    No, I don't do it. I just saw how it worked and thought it was interesting and YES I did understand when a horse was stressed (still do--it's what keeps me alive on my horses) and when they are relaxed and happy.

    It actually is a game for some, when it is used properly. They were entertained, not afraid. You weren't there, you're making judgements based on your imagination. You're also not reading and trying to COMPREHEND what was written.

    I said what I meant, and I meant what I said. It's all there, the good and the bad. A lot more good than bad WHEN DONE CORRECTLY.



    Go train a lot of horses and work with a lot of different trainers. I know you'll then know the difference between a frightened horse and a relaxed horse. Your assumptions are fallacious and not helpful in this discussion since you obviously have no first hand experience.
    In your post, it sounded like they were put on, then turned loose to buck and that is what I was responding to.

    My experience is retraining horses that someone had tied stuff to and never could get them broke after the wrecks doing that caused.

    I already said, if someone does whatever they do well, then anything they want to do is ok.
    When whatever we do makes a horse react badly and that includes running around bucking, then I will repeat, there are better ways, I think, to get a horse used to things around it.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    If your goal is to despook, do that not by first spooking and making a horse to stand there and take it, but by only asking the horse to take what he can without getting tight or scared.
    If the horse is starting to react, back off and start again with less scary first.
    Yes, this is the way to do it. Keeping the horse calm will allow him to plug his brain in and think his way through. Making it so scary he can't do anything but bolt, is a sure way to sensitize him to scary things and not trust you.



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