HIDEAWAY TRAINING TIP
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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
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
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.
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.