Appropriate gaits: Halt, Walk
While leading your horse or mounted, interact with various objects in and near the arena. Tap the wall loudly or drag your whip along it. Pick up a whip from a rail. Drape your jacket on a rail, ride around it then pick it up. Trade items between riders. Push the gate.
Tip: If your horse reacts, keep repeating the action until they relax a bit (licking lips, relaxing eyes, slowing down, looking at you).
Time: 5 mins
Tip: Make sure your horse’s escape route is not through you!
Tip: Start this exercise unmounted and test each action slowly, and from a distance, first. Gradually get closer until your horse reacts.
Tip: Get permission from other riders before starting, this could cause your horse or other horses to spook.
Tip: Remember to reward any signs of relaxation immediately by 1) stopping the motion. 2) moving the scary thing away. 3) praise. This teaches your horse that calmness works.
Tip: Do not reward bad reactions. If your horse flinches or moves away, continue the same level of intensity until they relax.
Important: If your horse does not relax faster over time, STOP. Your timing is probably off or you are escalating too fast. Have a professional review your technique.
Good for: Desensitization, trail, pleasure riding, bonding