Monday, May 15, 2017

Dollar Store Desensitizing

What was supposed to be my first off-property trailer adventure with Quest got completely drowned out by unending torrential rains this weekend. It was disappointing but we made the most of a dreary, cold, and wet situation by doing some desensitizing work in the indoor arena instead.

Mareface got to play with some new toys

Before going to the barn, A and I stopped by the local dollar store to see what they had in stock and found LOTS of stuff to work with. There is much to be found and utilized if you look carefully and think creatively enough!

Unsurprisingly the barn was totally deserted when we pulled in. I admit it was pretty miserable walking through the pasture in the rain and I questioned my sanity for a moment. But the weather did effectively deter the usual weekend boarders from coming out so A and I had the entire indoor to ourselves the entire time we were there. Poor Quest was shivering from the cold rain and wind though so I immediately got the cooler on her once we were in the arena and set aside her rain sheet for later. While mareface dried off and warmed up, we started working our way through the new toys. 

Mary Poppins ain't got nothing on me

The umbrella was the first item up and it caused quite a bit of concern at first. Even just opening and closing it caused Quest to scoot away with snorting and nostrils flaring. She still wasn't 100% happy with it at the end but she was much more brave and stood quietly while I opened and closed it, twirled it around, and waved it above her head. 

As I moved on to the other objects, it was really neat to observe how it took progressively less and less time for Quest to get over her initial concern. Her reactions at the very worse were to move her feet and evade the offending object but she eventually figured the game out.



I tried to up the scare-factor as much as possible by doing things like draping and running the flag over her ears and eyes, bumping her between the legs with the pool noodles, etc. While my antics worked handily at first, Quest caught on and  soon quietly stood, resigned to her tortured fate.

Towards the end I could tell the marebrain and her attention were starting to fry- the bouncing inflatable beach ball and popping balloons finally did her in, so we called it a day. A and I let the horses go blow off some steam and get a cardio workout. For obvious reasons, it was the first time in awhile that I free lunged Quest. She was definitely feeling good though and looked happy for the chance to finally move out. 

Zoom zoom

All in all, it was a nice break from riding to do something a little different, plus it's always beneficial to spend some time on the ground for things like this. And thank goodness for dollar store items that can be repurposed for horse-use too; no harm, no foul if something gets destroyed/trampled/stepped on. 

Anyways fingers crossed we have better luck weather-wise in the upcoming weekends though and I actually manage to rent the truck (a different story for another time) so we can get out for some trails. If not, I think I found a few more locations to explore which could be used for actual distance training (e.g.; +15 miles). I am really hoping that is the case- it'd be great to be able to condition right from the barn and put the money saved towards attending more rides. One could dare to hope!

10 comments:

  1. haha the tolerance on her countenance is my favorite

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    1. Haha omg yeah I was cracking up while going through my camera roll selecting pictures for this post. Her degrees of tolerance went from "THIS IS GOING TO KILL ME" to "Oh, this is fine" rather dramatically. That's mares for ya

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  2. I love all the work you put into making Quest the best all-around equine citizen she can be.

    Fingers crossed for beautiful weather for you in the upcoming weekends!

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    1. Oh I try! Her reactive brain is (and probably will be) forever her biggest bugaboo so we're taking steps to try and make the reactions less dramatic lol And thanks, I'm itching to do more miles ahhh

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  3. oooh so fun! i so badly want to do one of those bomb proofing clinics one of these days too haha, but this looks like a great way to diy some of it!

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    1. Same here! I've seen pictures of those walk-through-fire-like-a-BA clinics and kinda want to try it haha Quest will definitely think I've totally lost my mind

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  4. Dollar store! Brilliant idea! I'm going to have to do this with the baby horse. We've been doing jackets and plastic bags and the scary picnic table (which I mount from now). Pool noodles and an umbrella are great ideas!

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    1. A and I saw a clinician at Horse World Expo years ago who suggested the dollar store and it was a omg duh moment lol I hope baby horse enjoys the new toys ;)

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  5. This is a great idea!! I love the umbrella the most.

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  6. I love love love this idea, Henry could use some practice with a few scary things haha :)

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