dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Operation Brave

I had originally called this 'operation flappy-things-won't-kill-you' but there were it was a bit too amusing for my FB friends and caused commenting  like 'maybe you should wear a bra when you ride' and 'fix it in time for bare arms seasons'. I have such hilarious friends. 

So I went a different way.

maybe some day

After the unplanned dismount the other day I realized that I needed to directly target sacking out Carmen. I have done this sort of thing before but she sometimes has an explosive reaction at times so I want to do some research. I found this video by Warwick Schiller and really liked it: 

I liked the idea that you have the horse follow the bag because they are more brave when they are chasing rather than being chased. After watching it I drew up my plan and was able to try it today. The weather was warmer and there was no wind. I took a plastic bag, dressage whip and duct tape to create the torture training device: 

I started with our usual lunging. Once I was sure that I had her attention I put down the lunge whip and picked up my 'bag on a stick'. I started by walking away waiving it a bit. She followed nicely for a half the ring but then I got a bit too enthused with my waving and she freaked out. I lowered the stick and let her canter around me a few times until she settled. I then went back to walking with it held out in front of me. She was obviously not impressed but she followed. 

When she seemed very calm I stopped and let her look at it. When she looked I hid it behind me. I repeated this for what seemed like a long time. As we played peek-a-boo with the bag I fought all desire to move it closer. I needed her to approach it- not the other way around. Gradually she started to stretch out her neck towards it. After we did this for a while I walked off with her following again. This time she was much more willing to follow along. I stopped again. After a few more trials of her looking she went up and gently put her nose on it. 

And I stopped it right there. We walked out of the ring and she followed the bag. :) Before we got to the barn I dropped it - I didn't want Irish freaking out and undoing my work. 

It was a good start. I think I will spend this winter really sacking her out so that she's much more confident about things. 

I wore the hat, what more do you want from me?
Trust me, it will save both our lives. 


  1. Sounds like a very good start. :D
    Merry Christmas and happy, healthy New Year to your family and the ponies!

  2. I hope it works for you. The plastic bag training never worked with Gabbrielle, so I resorted to tying bags and balloons around the barn, but had to supervise so that Rock wouldn't eat them. The best thing that has worked for her is shaking her grain violently out of a bag into her food trough and me not walking away with the bag until she shows signs of being interested or settling down. Now I can shake bags in all the horses' faces and they just ignore it and eat, with the exception of Gabbrielle, who still takes a few steps back in horror. But at least she approaches while I'm still shaking the bag. Sometimes she chooses food over fear.

  3. She looks lovely in the hat! Great video from Warwick :) I rode at a barn once where this one lady was nuts with her bag on a stick... scared the beejeezus out of Apollo. So he was sacked out... sort of, in a trial by fire sort of way haha


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love the feedback.