Masking senses

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Masking senses

Post by Sydney on Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:59 pm

Ok I need a bit of a brainstorm here for a final paper I am working on in university and need some more ideas. It's a 12 page long paper pale .

Think of ways we mask a horses senses.
When the particular sense is masked what does it overcome?

I've been thinking about a few in particular that come to mind.

Blinders: I use them, but I train my horse without them so they know exactly what is going on around them before I mask their ability to see. They can however still look around behind them if they turn their heads. I always found it easier when vehicles passed my horses but they are fine in traffic when I am riding them, whats the difference really? They can go either way. Blinders are customary in a show ring though.

Blindfolding a horse to get it on a trailer. I was working the other day and this man was having the darndest time getting his gelding on the trailer. He would get on then rocket off and hurt people. I think they have been doing parelli with this trainer (no offence here to anyone that follows I just find it kind of tedious and boring for the horse to have to get on and off without going anyplace, again just my opinion) and loading him on and off and on and off. Now he just gets on, stands there for a moment and shoots off. They blindfolded him and he hopped on and stood there wile they could put the butt bar up and tie him. I've seen this blindfolding method work on several horses. It's funny if you ask me how when their sight is taken away most of them follow blindly.

A lady I show with has a stallion. She uses vicks vapour rub and puts it in her boys nostrils so he can't smell the mares at the show. One day she may not have the vicks and that gives her nothing to back up on when studlee decides he has a new girlfriend.

Ear plugs. I tried to use a fleece ear plug in one ear on Indigo to clip the outside fuzzies on her ears for a show. I didn't want hair getting into her ear canal on accident. She shook her head like mad until I was able to dislodge it. Plan two, I wet the hair before cutting it so it came off in clumps...aye that mare.
Other people use them to muffle the sounds of everything around the horses that are reactive to them, particularly show jumpers it seems.

Can anyone else think of some more ways we mask our horses senses? (senses: taste, touch, hearing, sight, smell) Would really be apreceated.
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Re: Masking senses

Post by lightertouch on Tue Jun 09, 2009 1:55 am

We mask our horses' taste and sense of smell with strong flavours to get them to take medications, and to drink water at a strange place (Kelly Marks uses electrolytes in her horses' water so all water tastes the same, regardless of where in the country/world the horse is - I'm kind of surprised more racing trainers haven't cottoned on to this as apparently horses not drinking and therefore not being properly hydrated which affects their performance, is a big problem).

There is the technique when giving an injection, of tapping the opposite side of the neck - masking/confusing their sense of touch so they don't notice the needle.

Show jumpers also often wear flyfringes with ear covers. Does this count? I'm not sure if its to mask sound, or prevent flies in the ears during a round?

Physical fly barriers mask touch. Mutual grooming becomes difficult through a rug, nose meshes prevent the horse feeling things with its muzzle, as well as it might.

I try to mask my horse's sense of touch when applying fly spray, by running my hand over her skin at the same time as squeezing the trigger, hoping she won't notice the spray settling on her coat. I have limited success!

Hope this helps Smile
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Re: Masking senses

Post by lightertouch on Tue Jun 09, 2009 2:10 am

On the loading issue, I have to disagree with you Sydney. Many horses are either pretty nervous on first being asked to load and travel, or have had horrific experiences with it.

My horse is FAR from bored when asked to load and travel, her adrenaline shoots up and she still finds it difficult to be asked to stand in the trailer/box, despite having travelled successfully several times. I had the opportunity to practice with a trailer for around 20mins the other day, and even having spent that time just loading and unloading, her adrenaline was very high and we did not achieve all I would have wanted - she was still reluctant to stand in the trailer, preferring to try to walk straight back out, and just couldn't relax. I'd be over the moon if she was ever bored by it! She does load and travel fairly well though, love her. Theres a lot to be said for the opportunity to practice without the added stress of travelling and activities at the other end. It also allows you to make sure the horse has boundaries that ensure everyone's safety. As you mentioned the gentleman who's gelding would get on, then leap off. This is an extremely dangerous and common issue which can be overcome with practice without the demands of travel.

Loading is after all, one of the most stressful and 'unnatural' things we ask our horses to do. Thats a lot of instinct to overcome! It is probably the most common issue natural horsemanship trainers are asked to help with, and the one they claim is most testing of their skills. IMO, it is the most likely activity to result in suffering and abuse.
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Re: Masking senses

Post by Sydney on Tue Jun 09, 2009 6:41 am

The horse did load really well though thats the thing.
Indigo also gets her adrenaline going. She hops right up and so do my other horses. I can't say any of mine have ever had a trailering problem but ones I have got to work with have.
I've had more success with hard to load horses just getting them to load once where they are standing, taking them around the block and quitting for the day. Repetition is not my thing in that area. I don't like to outstay my welcome. I have done the load and unload, load and unload and with horses that have real fear issues of the trailer it's not as successful. Some get bored real quick then they don't want to do it at all. Just my opinion/experiences.
I talked to the owner this morning. He called and said that they got the trailer shut this time without him freaking out and did take him down the road and back and he was really good. Without the blindfold this time.

I think the problem with trailering: people load their horses for the first time and they are good. It's not the loading problem it's their driving. I see drivers slow down, speed up like they normally do and take corners really sharp. It's unbalancing and upsetting to a horse to be in a trailer that tips them around unpredictably.

I had to use the water trick for my pony at shows. I've used applejuice though. Same thing masking taste.
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Re: Masking senses

Post by lightertouch on Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:40 am

Don't misunderstand me, repetition to the point of boredom is v. bad! I think I just misunderstood your point Sydney, it almost sounded like you were advocating not practicing loading!

The methods I've seen that are most effective are slowly, slowly, taking time, teeny amounts of pressure (how my horse was trained), which for well-balanced horses is a good way of learning to load with very little stress, and Monty Roberts' method which (at its simplest) involves getting partway on, reversing off, getting further on, reversing off, all way on, turn round, stand a bit, forwards back down the ramp, etc, etc, to the point where they often start loading themselves. Its v. impressive to watch! For me this method covers the unload too - training calm, slow, relaxed and safe unloading.

AJ sounds way nicer than electrolytes - foul stuff!
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Re: Masking senses

Post by HorseHippie on Tue Jun 09, 2009 10:46 am

Well, I can't really help with the university paper, but along the same lines of the apple juice and water - I use apple cider vinegar. It is also good for them as it will repel bugs - both inside and out! Just a couple of teaspoons in the water and it goes a long way!
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Re: Masking senses

Post by Sydney on Tue Jun 09, 2009 3:21 pm

Oh I know what you meant, I was just getting at that a lot of people load and unload so many times the horse gets bored and sour to the idea of getting on a trailer, as what happened to the gelding I mentioned. He just expected to be there all day even though he was loading decent and resented trailer training. As a result he would just jump right off once he was on.

Believe it or not the electrolytes you can get in a lot of flavors. They actually don't taste bad to a horse and can even be mixed in with feed.

Another one I thought of was to get my old mare Naigen to take a de-wormer I would use applesauce so she would like the idea of the syringe. She absolutely hated wormer and I understand why because the last time she was wormed before I got her was when they didn't have flavoring and were HUGE tubes. You could put the wormer in her feed and she would know and leave it there, leaving me out $$$ for the wormer. She got better the more I gave her applesauce then tricked her with the wormer and another dose of applesauce.
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