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Expanding the Comfort Zone

Do you want a horse that's easily upset by what goes on around him? Or would you rather have one that takes it in stride?

Trainer Clinton Anderson defines three zones in the horse's mind. In the comfort zone, the horse is relaxed and confident. In the unsure zone, he's nervous and concerned. And in the life-threatening zone, he's having an all-out panic attack. We want to expand the horse's comfort zone and the only way to do that is to cause him to venture outside of it.

"Every time you push your horse into the unsure zone, and then you don't let him return until he learns something, that comfort zone gets bigger and bigger. Basically, he learns to tolerate more and more things. He also learns to be sensitized and move away from more sources of pressure."

The horse tells you he's learned something by softening his eye, lowering his head, and licking his lips. These are signs you can remove the stimulus that initially made him unsure.

 

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