AnnShh

Best Way To Desensitize To Crop?

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My gelding has come a long way in the past 2 years that I've been riding him. He is so chill about everything now (really wish I could event him this season, because he's chilled out a ton and I think would be great) and I have started riding him with a dressage whip because he is not as responsive to my leg and occasionally needs a reminder to wake up and pay attention. He is fine with the dressage whip- I can carry it with no problem and when I use it he doesn't spaz, he just pays more attention and is more forward.

I never thought I'd have to say this with my gelding, but I think I may need to start carrying a crop when jumping. He's still forward, but not as much as he used to be. Still looks perfectly happy to jump, knees up, ears forward etc... but he lacks the impulsion he used to have. I don't know if he's just getting bored with the size, or if he's just becoming more used to jumping that he doesn't put forth as much effort or what. 2'3 is nothing for him, and he easily gets over even without the impulsion he used to have but it would be much more comfortable for both of us to have him a tad more forward!

Problem is that he completely spazzes if I even carry one with me when riding. He supposedly was jumped and evented in the past so I don't know if one was used excessively on him or not- but on the few occasions where I've tried to carry a crop, he throws his head straight up in the air, is prancy at the walk, really fast and going at an inconsistant/unsteady pase at the trot and often breaks into a very poppy canter (like him holding back but saying "lemme go mom, come on, I want to go!" ). On the ground it doesn't phase him- it's just when I'm in the saddle. I don't mind sitting through this if he'll eventually get used to the crop so that I can carry one when jumping *just incase* but wanted to make sure I would be going about it the right way.

Should I just carry it with me everytime I ride, whether I'm jumping or not, and let him work it out and figure out that carrying a crop doesn't mean the sky is falling?

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I would start on the ground. Depnding how freaked out he gets, just get him used to it. Rub it all over his neck, down his back, along his shoulders, butt, stomach etc. Get him really used to it on the ground first, sounds like maybe they used to whip him hard with the crop... [just saw he's fine on the ground]

Maybe have you sit on him and someone on the ground rubbing it all over him. Then when you are on him rub it all over and have someone give him treats on the ground... not too sure because it all depens on the horse, but try to associate the crop with good.

:]

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Have you tried spurs or is the crop necessary?

Just work on the ground with him. Keep the crop close to your body then use the butt end to scratch and rub him, first on the sholder than work forward then back then forward then back, rubbing and scratching him with the butt end.

Once is relaxed with that, use the whole whip then the business end. You may have to do it a few days in a row before using it to cue him on the ground with it. Then start cueing on the ground like you would in the saddle. Go very lightly and when he responds rub him with it as a reward. This teaches that the crop is NOT totally a bad thing and when he responds correctly he is soothed and praised with it.

The reward is what teaches him that he did what you want. After he gets it on the ground you get on and rub him all over with it and ask gently with the crop, again, when he does it rub and praise. After he is "ho-hum" about using it you can stop with the rubbing but continue the verbal praise for a time.

You should be fine after that.

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I have not tried spurs yet and have thought about it, but don't know that I'd feel comfortable using them because I'm still a bit weak in my one leg (due to an injury) and I sometimes struggle keeping my leg position steady. I'd hate to accidentially spur him... with a crop I could just keep it with me just incase, not risk using it accidentially and I think just having it with me would be enough to give him incentive to move off my leg more.

I can already rub it all over him with no problem whatsoever on the ground... but I'll try sitting in the saddle with it and just rubbing it all over him and then go from there :)

Edited by AnnShh

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We think phobias should be dealt with the same way a horse learns anything else. Pressure and realease. If the horse is only afraid of the crop when you ride, then it will take riding with one to get him over it. Using it on the ground will have little value.

We also are careful with out timing on when we school on something they have talked themselves into a panic over. We never approach the horse with it when he is fresh. You are just wasting your time if you do and the horse will probably end up worse. We put in a hard ride first -- an all day ride if we can.

Then, when we get home, we go into the round pen with the tired horse and, in this case, a crop. I would start out tapping my leg with it on the inside. The round pen keeps him from 'blowing out' away from the crop. They get this bad because the release has come when they acted up, so they have literally been taught to do it and this is reafirmed every time a rider quits doing it before the horse gives up.

If he is worse on one side, usually the right side, start on the other side first. When he quits prancing and dancing and slinging his head, you stop moving the crop immediately and tuck it under your arm. I have not found that any reward other than 'release' actually does any good. Then after standing quietly for a minute or two, take the crop and start tapping your leg again. The horse usually settles down more quickly the second time. Again, when he settles down, put the crop out of sight and let him stand.

After he starts 'giving it up' easier, take the inside rein and start making tiny circles while tapping your leg at the same time. It is kind of trickly because you have to take the inside rein with your opposite hand. They will chase their tails for a while, but they will stop at some point and just stand there. Again -- instant relief when they do.

Then, if you have time, go to the other side and repeat the whole process.

I have always tried to get it done in one session. I've had some sessions last well into the evening, but I hated to have to start over. Plus, I have found that when I got the result I wanted in one long session, the horse was only a little nervous but not in a panic the next day and just kept getting better and better about it.

I have inherited horses that would not even let you move your hand without leaping 15 or 20 feet, horses that would not let you un-coil a lariat rope, horses that went totally bonkers if you tried to drag a log or tire. You name it. People can foul up horses for just about anything that they do or try to do, get a bad reaction and give up the idea. The rider gives up the idea and the horse then figures out it is really a bad thiing and that he avoided it by throwing a fit.

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Cheri Wolfe: Great advice, thanks! When you are in the roundpen tapping your leg with the crop, you are in the saddle, correct? Just wanted to make sure I'm understanding it right :smilie:

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Great advice from everyone-I'll add:

Take it slow and REWARD him for every little thing :)

Will Do!!! He's the type of horse who you HAVE to take it slow with and reward lots. He does try hard to please though :smilie:

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