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Two Minute Training

All horse owners have one thing in common… we all want our horses to behave perfectly when other people are around. No horseperson wants their horse to be known as that horse, and it is the simplest of tasks that seem to earn a horse that name. Some of the scariest moments for a horse owner (and horse) are with the vet. Deworming and vaccinations can bring out the worst in a horse, and every vet wishes that more people would take extra time to work with their horses to overcome this. Two minutes a day can go a long way to making everybody feel better about a visit from the vet.

The most troublesome, yet easy to remedy area on the horse is the head. Deworming pastes, intranasal vaccines, eye ointment, and dental care are all things that can make your horse look like a crazy animal. Directly behind the head is the neck, and everyone has seen a horse that hates getting a shot of any kind. If you take a few minutes out of your day, everyday, you can get your horse over a lot of these problems. All you need to do is say hello to your horse.

1.  Start at the horse's forehead. Most horses really respond well to a good rub on the forehead. When they are foals, and still nursing, their forehead rubs on the mares belly as they feed. After a while, I think the horse learns to associate that rubbing with good things like eating, or safety. I think rubbing their forehead brings back those feelings from somewhere deep down inside of them. Whether it works that way or not, you start by rubbing the horse on the forehead.


2.  Next I move on to the ears. A horse can get a lot of bug bites in the ear that can need medical treatment. Or, the vet may need to perform an ear twitch to keep the horse occupied while they do something more painful to the horse. All you need to do is rub by the base of the ear until the horse calms down. Once the horse is calm, take a hold of the ear and gently pull the ear straight up away from the skull.


3.  From the ears I move down to the eyes. When I worked for the vet I hated putting eye ointment in. Almost no horse tolerated it. To get the horse to be more calm about having their eyes touched you just need to rub them. Cup your hands and rub them over the horse's eyes. If you really want to do a thorough job, use your fingers and pull the eyelids apart slightly.



4.  Pick their nose. I know it sounds terrible, but more and more vaccinations are being given intranasally. If your horse starts to colic, the vet may decide to pass a tube down the horse's nose to put mineral oil in their stomach. All you need to do is slide your thumb up into the horse's nostril. Just remember to only do one side at a time. It is not an appealing step, but it pays off in the long run.


5.  From the nose drop right down to the mouth. Take your finger (or thumb) and slide it into the side of the horse's mouth. Rub the horse's gums very well. If you want, take your index finger and rub it up the inside of the horse's cheek. That will let you fell the horse's teeth. If the edges feel very sharp, your horse may need to have their teeth floated. If you do this everyday, your horse will be much better with getting their dewormer.


6.  At some point your vet may need to put a nose twitch on your horse. To prepare the horse for that idea, just take a hold of the horse's nose and pull out slightly. That is usually the hardest part of putting a nose twitch on.




7.  To get the horse better about shots you'll need to pinch them. That's all. Just give them a few pinches along the front if the neck where blood is drawn, and a few on the side of the neck where shots are given. As long as you can manage to stay calm when you actually do give a shot, the horse shouldn't know the difference.


You may have noticed that these are all things you probably do with your horse anyway. Just put them into order and do each of them everyday. Walk up and pet them on the head, wiggle their ears, and play peek-a-boo. Pick their nose, rub their gums, and pull the end of their nose toward you as you give them a big kiss. It all takes less than two minutes to do, but if you do it everyday you will notice a difference. All training is not complex or mysterious. It just takes patience and common sense. So go out and say hello to your horse.


Michael Hockemeyer is a professional horse trainer and author of "Basic Horse Training".  With over 10 years experience training mustangs and their owners, he has developed easy to follow steps to get the best out of even the most ill mannered horses.  Michael and his family run their business, Kicking Bear Mustangs, from their home in Northern Illinois

Basic Horse Training is listed for sale on Amazon.com


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