Friday, March 18, 2011

Year of the Tarp

Friday March 18 2011

Can your horse handle the sight of a tarp?

What if it's flapping in the wind?

Will he walk over one?

Will he drag one? Can he pick one up?

Will he wear one?

Can you drag one over his head?

Why shouldn't he be able to do all of this with a tarp?

I decided this is the year of the tarp, where all the horses here will get tarp broke.

With some of them it's easy because they aren't worried about tarps. (They are more worried about monsters and such, which can take the shape of tiny little birds, or big scary monsters that humans can't see.)

Finneas, and Dudley (who can be afraid of wee little birds), had no problem walking over or dragging around a tarp, or being wrapped by one like twin sausages.

Today Mac picked one off the rail, drug it, had it pulled over him from one side to the other. He was eyeballing it, but with only verbal reassurance from me it didn't bother him.

Steph's older horse Rhett wanted nothing to do with a tarp, so his lesson was only to come close enough to put his nose down and snort loudly and sniff it and stand by it. Some horses are so startled by it that I just drag it around with me, pick it up and wad it up, open it up and flap it up and down in the air, far away from them just so they get used to seeing me handle it.

Stormy's friend Tex is very leery of the tarp, but when his friend Stormy walked by him wearing it, he thought that perhaps it isn't that dangerous.

The ideas is to not force any of them to do anything that will scare them, but to allow them to conquer the tarp step by step, at their own pace, with little stress.


  1. I've done some of this with clicker training. Once they figure out they get a reward for interacting with the tarp, the tarp becomes their best friend! :)

  2. Looks like fun. I need to do some despooking things with my Boys.

    Speaking of: my one boy spooked at mouse on a nearby log once. Elephant genetics??? *lol*

  3. Great post...cute pics. Apache could eat a trap for breakfast...she will wear it, drag it behind her, walk through a tarp "car wash" torn into strips with the wind blowing like crazy, and walk across a tarp, matter what the color...even black (the scariest color for all horses).

    But touch her with a raven feather....God forbid! That's just too terrifying!

    Give her any old tarp but please hide the raven feather.


  4. Gosh, Merri, I am really concerned of how stressed out your horses look in this tarp training. LOL! The real question is, "does Raven II approve of these methods on his horses?"

  5. Oh my, tarps have been seen in different colors too.

  6. I haven't done tarp work since I started Sassy a couple of years ago, but I'll probably do Chickory this year. They have tarps here that they are used to because part of Beamer's pen has a tarp that flaps and blows around, and I have used tarps to cover hay so they are used to the noises tarps make. Should be interesting with Chicky, as she has a really strong flight instinct!

  7. What if our tarp is blue? Does that make a difference?!
    We haven't 'played' with the tarp in a while. We need to get it out and revisit that crinkly thing!

    Word verification: angshest - sounds like angst to me. That which my horses will probably experience when I get the tarp out!

  8. I got a kick out of this entry :)

  9. Steve ties pieces of tarp to the front of the barn. The horses have to go past blowing tarps to eat their hay. This works pretty well. The horses adjust to the tarps all by themselves.

  10. Great training. I've seen a lot of horses go rodeo at the simplest trigger. Worst was when some neer-do-wells built a snowman at the juncture of a popular trail...