horse panics at insects

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horse panics at insects

Post by Admin on Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:43 am

Hi panel. I've actually got an Arabian, but I like this gaited site anyway, and are hoping you can help me out. My Arab is a 6 year old mare and she is overreactive to insects on the trail. She's not spooky about things, but comes completely undone when those big black flies land on her. She totally panics and has almost dumped me on many occasions. I understand about desensitizing, but don't know how I can desensitize for fear of big black flies. They DO hurt. She even gets antsy and jiggy if a tick starts climbing on her. I have very little to complain about with her- she's a wonderful gal. I can throw things around her head or her legs and she never moves. It's just the insects... If we could overcome this, I'd be relieved. Any suggestions?



Michele
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Re: horse panics at insects

Post by Ed Dabney on Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:22 am

Hi Michele,

It sounds like you've done a good job with your mare as far as desensitizing her. It's hard to desensitize her to things that are beyond your control so you want to be sure you have taught and practiced with her some very good basic control cues especially one rein lateral flexion and disengaging the hindquarter so that when she does panic you can regain control quickly to avoid being "dumped". When she becomes "antsy and jiggy" you want to be able to direct that energy into constructive exercises that you and she know well and have practiced in calm training sessions. You should know how to ask her and she should know how to do lots of different movements such as:

-flex the neck laterally left and right

-move the hindquarter left and right

-move the shoulder left and right

-back up

-side-pass

All these movements should be taught on the ground first then practiced in the saddle so when she becomes distracted by insects you can refocus her attention on you by giving her lots of little jobs to do, moving different parts of her body in different directions. Change the jobs quickly to keep her really busy thinking about the job at hand and paying attention to your next request. You can't make her stand still or be calm but you can give her something to do with her energy. She will be able to release her nervous energy by moving her feet but in a constructive way that you are directing. For a full description of these essential exercises performed on the ground and mounted please see our instructional DVD, "Six Keys to Harmony" on our web site at http://www.eddabney.com/video.htm Also be sure and fly spray her thoroughly before venturing out on the trail.



As far as desensitizing to insects, my main suggestion is to let her live outdoors in a pasture 24/7 so she can learn to deal with the insects on her own. Horses that live outside, like they were designed to do, usually learn to cope with all the insects. If it is impossible for you to let her live outdoors in your present situation then it would be well worth it to board her somewhere for a month or so where she could live outside with other horses in a large open pasture.



Ed Dabney
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Re: horse panics at insects

Post by Admin on Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:30 am

From former panelist Cody:

This is a tough one. I've had this happen on occasion. I would start by letting my horses know that it was ok for me to SWAT flies that land on them. By this I mean that they have to know that I am trying to help them and that they shouldn't be upset and get scared when I try to smash those horse flies while I ride them or on the ground.
Horses will get to realizing that you are the one who makes the flies go away, then they will stay calmer to allow you to get them off.
OR you could make a huge mosquito net that covers the whole horse. Lol.
Another observation I've seen is that spoiled stall kept horses CAN be more sensitive. Mabey my own opinion, but I have noticed that.
Never underestimate the power of having control over your horses feet.
This can keep you safe OR SAFER than not having it when being attacked
by an angry mob of biting insects.

cody.
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