Sunday, April 25, 2010

Horse Training - Reader problem with Horse not walking over a Tarp

A reader named Bill from Tacoma, Washington who has a Tennessee Walker gelding, wrote with the following problem.   “After watching you have your horse go over a yellow tarp ground obstacle in the (round) pen, I tried to get my horse to walk over a green tarp, but he would not go near it. When I pressured him and forced him towards the tarp, he would leap over the tarp. He did about two dozen times, so I gave up. What am I doing wrong? Or is my horse just not going to ever walk over the tarp?” Note: Bill is talking about the post dated 19 April 2010.

Bill, I assume you are in a round pen or other pen. I would lay out the tarp and place your horse in this pen for a couple hours just to get comfortable with the green tarp. If you watched him continuously, you may see him go over and put his head down smelling the tarp. I even knowed an old boy who placed some alfalfa in the middle of a tarp and the horse eventually walked onto the tarp to get a bite. I don’t like doing this, so I would try it again like so:

When he seems like he isn’t paying the tarp anymore attention or is unconcerned about it, go ahead and work him at a walk or a trot. You can free lunge him or use a lunge line hooked to his halter. Don’t pressure him to go over the tarp just yet. If he stops at the tarp, let him rest here and determine for himself that the tarp isn’t going to hurt him. Putting his head down and smelling the tarp is a good sign.

When he appears comfortable, ask him to go forward over the tarp and try to keep him at a walk but a trot is also okay. Don’t give up on him if he takes another two dozen jumps over the tarp, I’m confident he’ll eventually step on the tarp then figure it out that it’s okay. You got to have patience with him, it’ll make for a better horse on the trail.

If you are lunging him on a lunge line, you can have him lunge in small circles moving closer and closer to the tarp…also placing the tarp long ways will make it more difficult for him to jump over it.

If you try to teach him what you want and he fails to understand then you give up, what you teaching him is the fail. He don’t know it, but he figures it out.

Same thing happens on trailer loading. People will try and fail to “talk” their horse into a trailer, then give up. Well, they are teaching their horses not to trailer load. So don’t try the going over a tarp unless you have the patience and have the time.

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