Saturday, May 25, 2024

Sacking Out

Now that the spring rains have subsided, Paul and I were able to get back to working Red. After a three or four week hiatus, he really never missed a beat. Needing to keep him going, we took the next step before saddling, which is sacking out. This pretty simple step, really pays dividends in the long run. 


The basic goal is to desensitize him to a plastic bag. It's about as loud and scary of an object as you can easily come up with. Always good to let him see and sniff what you are introducing to him. 

Once he knows it's not a rattlesnake, then rub it on him so he gets a feel for it. 

Next, we tied it to a whip so we can bang it all around him. Before we get to that point, it's good to walk around with it in the air so he how the bag behaves. When introducing this we always put ourselves between him and the scary object. Beings he trusts us, he'll come to trust that the plastic bag all over him isn't that big of deal. 

Then let him sense it again. This time it is floating in the air, which is new. 

Now we start to wave it all around him. Doing so catches all the different peripheries of a horse's scope. 

Then we can start to rub it all over him, desensitizing him to the random scary object. Red really took it well. But if a horse dances while you brush him with it, just keep going until he decides that it really isn't anything to be scared about and just stands still. 

Once he stands, rub the stop you were banging on to reinforce that he did what you wanted him to do.  

By doing this on his back, we are basically throwing a saddle blanket on. 

The beauty of this tactic is that you can rub on parts of his body from a safe distance, like his hind quarters.

And his rear hocks.

And the ever sensitive flank area. He did good. 

You just can't do enough random actions with the sack. Here we are swinging a rope off of him. 

What this produces is a gentle horse. 

Good stuff. We want to keep going and get a saddle on him, but we don't want to skip important steps in the process. Sacking him out pays it forward, both in the training process and with the scary objects that arise years down the road. It really is simple, but very effective. Like the whole training process, this is a new step that we've introduced, but we don't leave it behind. We'll be bringing it back from time to time. That being said, a saddle is not too far in the future. 

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