A few weeks back I went to watch an equine obstacle course. I wanted to see what kind of things they had the horses do to see if Kobi and Sugar could participate at some time. My first instinct is ‘No’!
There were several wacky things that I plan to create here at the Triple H Ranch to start working with the horses since I do want them as fearless as possible. But the first thing, and what I think will be the easiest is to get them familiar with bubbles. That’s right, the soap bubbles that kids like to blow – they are terrified of the small, floating spheres!
I bought a Bubble Gun so I don’t need to blow my own, just press the trigger to have a bubble filled wonder world. Since it’s battery operated it’s quite noisy, so I figured the first step was to get the horses used to the sound.
And I thought it would be easy. Kobi caught on pretty quick to the silent bubble gun but was uneasy when I turned it on. Whenever he would acknowledge the gun with his nose, I would let him ‘turn it off’ and would take my finger off the trigger. So, if he wanted it quiet, he’d have to touch it. What a brave boy!
Sugar on the other hand is scared of the wackiest things that you wouldn’t think would scare the mare who doesn’t let much bother her. She seems to dislike ANYTHING that comes close to her face. We’ve had to work through such scary objects such as the fly mask, the bit and bridle, and wormer.
The first step in desensitization training is to have the horse look at the object – easier said than done with Sugar. She’d look at it for 10-15 seconds and then whip her head away. Then I was struck by inspiration. She LOVES treats. Maybe I could get her to touch the gun with her nose for a treat. Again…easier said than done!
I placed the treat on top of the gun and patiently waited for her to get curious enough or hungry enough to touch the gun and receive her tasty snack. We succeeded twice but by then I was being eaten alive by mosquitos and was losing patience.
I will continue to desensitize them to the bubble machine. I’m hoping that since Kobi is currently my advanced student, that by the end of the week I can have him completely used to the bubble machine turned on and spitting out horse eating bubbles!