Hi, Michelle, there is a different behind the scenes, but don't get rid of this yet.
Behind the Scenes
Behind the Scenes
Behind the Scenes is usually thought of as the fun times, when we’re off duty. It definitely is. But, in reality, it is really the most important part of the training we give to our horses, bonding with them, letting them feel safe with us. We show them love, trust, friendship. Respect. We play with them. We listen to them. We never force them to do anything in training. We think of ways to have them want to do what we are trying to teach them. We always build their confidence by training in increments. And we always leave it on a good note.
Once the trust is there and the love and bond is there, it will be the strongest relationship ever had.
We're always preparing them for different experiences, for what might unexpectedly happen to them when they are out of their safe home environment. Sounds, quick movements, sudden loud noises. Things that will startle them and frighten them.
We are always finding ways to desensitize them. We put a big black plastic bag over their bale of hay, and every time we go to the bale bags of hay to refill their hay nets or hay balls , we let them eat some hay while we are filling them, but as they are eating, we rattle and flip the black bag around as if it was a normal sound.
Desensitizing them to Sudden Noise and Movement
There are so many learning opportunities through fun and play and through exposing the horses to the unexpected. We skateboard next to them to introduce them to sounds out in the community, as if a skateboarder is racing down the street. And we know that around this curve there will be a dog barking trying to approach them.
Out in the Community
We take them out for walks in the community to get them used to crossing blue lines in handicap areas. We do not know why they are skittish with blue lines, but those blue lines get them every time. You can see how Paul patiently waits and doesn't force them to cross the lines. He softly encourages them to let them know it's okay, but he lets them do it at their safe pace as he takes tiny steps too.
We also have crepe paper hanging in the corral so that when it is windy, the snap and sudden movement is something they will get used to.
We also have soothing quiet time with them, like when we actually sleep with them in the evenings and play soft music. They lie down close to us so we can stroke them.
We crunch water bottles and soda cans next to them like it's an everyday thing. In the corral we snap big plastic trash bags when we're cleaning up, as if it's a normal thing.
We try to prepare the minis for scenarios they may encounter throughout our community travels, whether we are visiting bedridden people in homes or hospitals, children who scream in their ear, hospital trays dropping nearby,