Sunday, November 20, 2011

How to blanket safely

In response to Dimes Golden Delight comment last week I am going to share how to blanket and unblanket your horses safely.

Things to consider before you blanket

Blanketing should not be stressful. In order for me to even consider blanketing my horse I must first be able to catch them easily where ever they will be wearing the blanket. If I can not catch them I can not safely help them if they become tangled, or injured.   

If you can not comfortably touch underneath your horse's stomach and and handle their legs you should not try to blanket your horse. You first need to teach your horse to handle a rope and your hands before getting into your horses personal space in the process of blanketing. I choose to desensitize my horse to things on their body by using a soft cotton lead rope that I gently throw over their top line (the back and hindquarter) first, then amongst their legs looking for and rewarding the 5 signs of relaxation. The five signs of relaxation are; stopping the motion, blinking their eyes/ not flinching, lowering their head, relaxing a foot, and breathing/ chewing their lips. In desensitization you reward your horse by stopping your behavior when your horse stops or further relaxes. So when you first expose your horse to the rope/ hand/ object/blanket you are watching for and immediately rewarding your horse by stopping your behavior when they show acceptance by doing one of the 5 signs of relaxation. If your horse chooses to move when you first touch or show them your rope/ hand/ object/blanket do not pursue them. Just follow them maintaining the same distance and movement until your horse decides to stop or relax further.  These steps done properly can be used to desensitize your horse to just about anything....................

Stay tuned for part two later this week.        

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