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SWR Blog: Desensitization or Confidence building?

A confident horse is a thinking horse.”

Anyone who has ever spent five minutes listening to a natural horsemanship clinician has heard the word “desensitize”. In some peoples mind this means getting a horse to where you can crack a whip, while standing on it’s back waving a flag, as a pack of wild chihuahuas with plastic bags tied to their collars run figure eights between the horses legs. Yeah, it really happens!

I agree that the process of “desensitization” is very important in a horse’s education. But do we really understand its true purpose and are we doing it with that purpose in mind?

I don’t think about desensitizing a horse, instead I think about building the horse’s confidence, both in itself and in me. There is no way that I can desensitize a horse to every scary thing out in the world. I can however present a host of probable scary object to the horse in such a way that we can work through them one step at a time. This allows the horse to become increasingly confident in themselves, and in me as their herd leader.

A confident horse is a thinking horse. And that sets us all up for much more successful partnership in the future…regardless of what the “scary” world throws in our path!

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