DVD or VHS (2-DVD or 2-VHS set) almost 3 hours of instruction!
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Lesley Neuman: The First Touch Gentling Your Mustang $45.00
Lesley works with 3 wild horses at a BLM adoption, and very clearly explains what is happening, what she is doing, & what she sees in each horse as it progresses. Study this video and you can learn "pressure and release" gentling techniques to gentle your own new mustang!
Help for Burro adopters! Crystal Ward Donkey Training
All the basics of gentling, handling, and training. A MUST for new burro adopters! Good for domestic donkeys, too!
FLAG WORK, ROPE WORK, SACKING OUT, & DESENSITIZING WORK
Wild horses are extraordinarily sensitive to everything in their environment - they have to be, in order to survive in the wild. We don't want to take that away from them. We do, however, need to help them deal with this sensitivity in a positive and safe way.
Ginny Freeman working with Sapphire, an abused horse. Ginny is desensitizing her to the touch of a rope - teaching her that not all human contact is hurtful.
It is not safe for either you or your horse if it is afraid of every little thing, if it flinches or shies every time a blade of grass tickles its tummy, or the stirrups on the saddle flap against the horse's sides. You also want to make sure that it can handle wind-blown debris on the trail, etc. Lesley Neuman working with wild horses at BLM adoptions
This training is called de-sensitization. "Sacking Out" is a traditional form of concentrated desensitization. "Sacking Out" simply means touching the horse all over (with your hand, with a rope, with a feed sack, whatever) until it can accept this without anxiety.
NOTE: The point is not to harrass a horse with scary things, not to scare the horse to death. It is also not to deaden the horse's responses and sensitivity. The point is to help the horse get over the fear of being touched, and to learn to handle its fears when things are scary.
In the gentling process, we start desensitization way before we get close enough to touch the horse with our hands! We want to make sure the horse can handle all kinds of feels, as well as movements, before we let him close to us. We want to make sure that his intentions toward us are good, and that he is relaxed and comfortable being close to us. To do this we have to get him used to being touched all over his body. We start this from afar, using a rope and/or a lunge whip or bamboo pole.
Just the weight and feel of a halter on its head is causing this wild horse considerable anxiety. Trainer Bryan Neubert, shown here at the 2001 National Wild Horse & Burro Show, is working slowly, calmly, and at a safe distance, to help the horse gradually increase his comfort zone
Ropes, bamboo poles, and leafy fronds are common tools to use on a new wild horse, to help prepare it for human contact.
Reaching out to this colt with a soft bamboo frond allows touching at a safe distance, and helps to desensitize him to human movements. The horse sees the fronds as an extension of the human's arm.
RULES OF THUMB FOR DE-DENSITIZATION WORK:
Your horse's reaction to your attempts at de-sentization may be more than you expected or are prepared to deal with.
Just as you wouldn't ask a kindergartner to write a Masters Discertation, you will not want to accost your horse with very scary things or high energy until both you and he have some background preparation.
1. If you aren't comfortable doing it, or if you aren't sure you understand how to do it, don't.
2. Start small.
Start with quiet energy. Only turn up the heat gradually.
Start with tools that are not highly charged - a soft, dark or neutral-colored lungewhip, used with low to medium energy, for instance. Save plastic bags, tarps, etc. for later when you have more of a relationship built with your horse.
Another part of starting small is - start with the parts of the horse's body where he/she is most comfortable, such as the neck and sides. Save the face and feet til last.
3. Reward the try, even if it isn't perfection.
It's the thought that counts!
4. Don't get into it if you don't have time to finish.
5. Remember: It's all in what you release. Release any positive change, never release a negative behavior (except to save your life, of course - but don't turn the heat up that high and you won't need to worry about that)
6. Always quit on a positive.
Obstacle courses and "Sensory Training" or "Challenges" clinics are an excellent way to build trust while working on reactivity with your horse.
The "BAMBOO POLE" Method of gentling was developed by John Sharp of Oregon. It allows the human to reach out and touch the horse (or burro!) from a safe distance, and in any size or shape of enclosure. You can even do it by reaching through from the other side of the fence. John's grand-daughter, Kitty Lauman, continues to develop this technique.
Sharon Lamm of LRTC uses the bamboo pole method to desensitize three wild burros to human contact.
This burro is starting to see that human touching can feel pretty good. Sharon "saws" the pole gently back and forth over the burro's back, imitating normal equine grooming.
The Bamboo Pole method uses a progressive sequence to gradually develop trust in the horse. Start making contact with the horse by resting the pole on the withers or topline, and rubbing the horse in a circular motion. Do not progress to other parts of the body until that horse is comfortable and accepting of being poled on the topline. Next move to the lower back, then the rump, then the upper hind legs. Then go to the shoulder and sides. The front of the chest and the lower legs are last.
Here's Mike giving baby Pine Nut Pony a rub down to decrease his jumpiness around the hindquarters. This was necessary i order to start handling his hind feet, as well as to increase his general comfort level being handled by people.