Right now, Jake has 'flight or fight' as his reaction to the emotion of fear. Through these Bomb Proofing exercises, I keep Jake near me. When he does not move, I stop applying the stimulation. I do not continue for long. Nor do I expect him to be completely calm. But I do expect him to be completely still. And I expect him to stay close to me on a loose lead rope. Thus I am giving him the tools to manage his fear in an acceptable manner by teaching him that the sooner he stands still, the sooner, I will deal with the threat. So STAND STILL JAKE, AND AWAIT MY INSTRUCTIONS.
In this first video below, you will see me manipulate a Lunge whip around Jake. I slap the ground with it. I crack it, I make whistling noises with it and I flick it over his back. I do not do this gently, or slowly. I need it to be frightening. I am not trying to get him over it completely, I just want hims to get scared, and stand still, and realize that I will handle the hazards. Eventually, he will lose his fear of the whip, and the movements. Then I will move on to something else that scares him.
In the following video below, you will see me working with Jake with a small cane and a string attached to it. I am working it the same way I would work a lunge whip. I can also use the cane to touch different parts of Jake's body in order to make sure that he is not excessively sensitive to touch. It allows me to touch him in a way that keeps me safe and my anxiety level low. I can even use it to hook his back legs and if he kicks or lashes out at it, I wont care. The beauty of Jake is that we have been working with him for about 4 or 5 days now and we have made sure that each step of his training has been small enough that he conquers it with flying colors. I truly believe that the fastest way to get things done with horses is slowly. And if you try to squeeze a ten day job into ten minutes, then it will take ten months, assuming you ever get it done at all.
In this next video below, you will see me working with Jake and a blanket. I do not ever want a horse to be afraid of blankets, flapping things and tack. As far as scary objects are concerned, in my mind there are two kinds. The first are normal everyday objects with which the horse should be totally familiar. These are the class of objects that the horse will encounter everyday, and which should not scare him at all. The horse needs to be completely comfortable with these objects. And furthermore, he needs to be comfortable with these things being dropped around him, knocked over, tossed, and tangled. And so I work at it so that at some point, it almost looks like I am assaulting the poor horse with the object. The last thing I want is a horse that needs to be carefully tacked, and if a blanket were to slide off, or a saddle dropped that the horse would spook and hurt someone or himself. So over a couple of days, I make sure the horse is completely comfortable with the objects NO MATTER HOW THEY ARE HANDLED.
The second class of objects are things which I cannot possibly expect a horse to be accustomed to. These include 18 wheeler trucks, wild animals, parachutes, parasails, and all sorts of things that the horse will inevitably encounter on a beach or a trail. Unfortunately I do not have the resources to expose him to all these things even if they were not an infinite list. However, through the exercises I have laid out in the videos above, I am doing my best to give him the tools to manage the fears which he will inevitably experience.