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Sacking Out is the term that we use to describe the process of desensitizing the horse to things and actions around him so that he is not afraid of every new object around him. This is important because you will not want the horse to spook or startle at the sight of you approaching with a pad or saddle or blanket or anything else for that matter. This is just as good an exercise for older horses as it is for young horses just getting started.

We like to start the process with the horse haltered in a paddock or round pen. Then connect a long lead rope to the halter. Hold the lead just under the horse's chin with your left hand and hold the other end of the lead about two feet from the loose end. You want this end just long enough so that you can swing it a little.

Now, holding the horse firmly with the left hand, gently swing the two foot loose end of the lead at the horse's chest. If you've kept the loose end short and are moving gently, the horse should not have minded this much. Now repeat this gentle slapping with the lead many times over and over. As you do, if the horse looks pretty comfortable, gently swing the lead at his front legs, sides of his chest, middle of his chest, lower neck, etc. When the horse stands comfortable while you swing the short lead all over his body that you can reach, it is time to increase the length of the lead rope to about four feet and repeat as above. After a little of this, your horse should begin accept it pretty well. Do the same for six feet of lead rope and then eight feet of lead rope. Each time you move to a longer lead to swing at the horse, you will be able to reach further back on the horse's body and you swing it at his sides and belly and back and rear legs. As much as you can reach. Remember to do both sides of the horse. The key here is repetition and keeping the horse calm. If at any time your horse starts to get upset, back up and go slower.

If you've got the horse standing calmly while you swing the full length of a long lead rope all over him, it is time to move up to 25 foot soft rope. Tie one end to the halter and swing the other end at him as we discussed above, going longer and longer with the loose end. Go easy. When you can toss the whole looped up rope up on his back and neck and rump with out him getting excited, coil up the rope and rub it all over him including his neck and head and face.

Next, with the end still tied to the halter, move about eight to ten feet down the rope and try to slowly swing (like a jump rope) it up over the horse's head so that you are holding the rope and it goes over his back to the other side and connects to the bottom ring on the halter. Walk around the horse keeping hold of the rope end and swing it back over the horse to the other side. Repeat until the horse is completely comfortable.

By now, you have have gotten the idea that this is a progressive exercise, taking the horse through a series of things to desensitize him and bolster his confidence in you and himself.
Next take small objects like a curry or brush and rub him all over with it. Repeat this with many objects to increase his tolerance of anything that you might bring around the hors
Washcloths, candy wrappers, bridle, milk jugs, feed scoop, small plastic baggie, saddle blanket, saddle. Just about anything that you can imagine that you might ever take around the horse.

Remember to start slow and small. This is imperative. It might seem like a lot of work right now, but it will save you hours and hours of work later. The horse will build his confidence quickly as he understands that you won't do anything to hurt him. Keep at it and eventually his confidence in you will be so great that there will be practically nothing that could spook him while you are with him.