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Do you become frustrated when your horse sticks his nose up in the air, or pulls his head away when you're trying to bridle him? We've all been there at one point or another. There is an easy resolution to this maddening issue.

1. Teach your horse to lower his head (see my head drop exercise in my Groundwork Essentials Book or DVD).

2. Practice taking a halter on and off to teach your horse to lower his head.

3. Use the same head down cue (pressure over the poll) when you go to bridle your horse.

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Myth #1 - Sending a horse around the round pen will decrease his adrenaline.

This truly depends on what speed you are "sending" the horse around the round pen. Most often "sending" a horse means at a canter or a lope. Tell me, how often do you see horses cantering or loping, especially at mock speed, and their adrenaline comes down? For some horses this can be true, but it requires the right circumstances for this to be true. For most horses, their adrenaline goes up. Especially Arabians and Thoroughbreds who are built for speed, they get more amped up the faster you make then go around the pen.

Myth #2 - Round penning a horse makes him easier to catch.

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I like to start with grooming. Grooming is a great way to get to know a horse and to build trust. Why? Because if you open up all your senses, be present in the moment, turn off your cell phone, not talk to your buddy, and truly focus on the horse, s/he will tell you volumes of information about him/her self.

The horse will tell you where on his body he is ticklish, where he is in pain, where he likes to be scratched, where he is comfortable being touched and most important where he is NOT comfortable being touched.

When you have all of this valuable information, you can use it to gain the horse's trust. You may still be asking, well how do I do that?

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A study conducted by the Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition unit of the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom has found young horses under the age of three are not able to understand when a human is paying attention to them.  Adult horses, however are able to use head movement and open or closed eyes to understand when a human is paying attention to them. The results of this study suggest the ability for horses to read and understand human body language is a skill that develops over time and with experience.

We've seen and/or heard what happens when a foal is raised by a human and doesn't understand horse body language...

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Desensitize Your Horse - What Does that Really Mean?

If we look at the definition of desensitize and paraphrase, it means to make dull.  The dictionary defines the term as follows:

Definition of DESENSITIZE

1: to make (a sensitized or hypersensitive individual) insensitive or nonreactive to a sensitizing agent

2: to make emotionally insensitive or callous; specifically : to extinguish an emotional response (as of fear, anxiety, or guilt) to stimuli that formerly induced it

de·sen·si·ti·za·tion noun

de·sen·si·tiz·er noun

Medical Definition of DESENSITIZE

: to make less sensitive : reduce sensitivity in <desensitize a nerve with a local anesthetic>: as

a : to make (a sensitized or hypersensitive individual) insensitive or nonreactive to a sensitizing agent 

b : to extinguish an emotional response (as of fear, anxiety, or guilt) to stimuli which formerly induced it : make emotionally insensitive <evidence that violence on television desensitizes children to actual violence—Stephanie Harrington>

The question becomes, do we really want to make our horses insensitive, or emotionally insensitive?  Re-read the last line of part b of the medical definition inside the karats ( < > ).  That is a very powerful statement and I believe a reflection of what we see happening with violence in schools and around the world.  Do we want the same fate for our horses?

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