horses need exposure

I met people who are very careful when handling their horses. They do not walk closely behind them, they do not walk or move quickly, they don't even speak up when around the horse - because he might spook. The problem here is: prevention does not help your horse to become braver and it does not help him to deal with situations that might scare him. The more we avoid to expose the horse to stimuli the more he is likely to get scared. Therefore we better prepare the horse that out there will be things that scare him - and support him so he can handle it.
I participated in a clinic with Dave Ellis years ago and he was saddling a green horse. He did not sneak the saddle on his back, he did not prevent the stirrups from touching his flanks. He did not slow down his movements. He was exposing the horse, and yes the colt was scared. "Someone lied to that horse", he said - the horse had been made believe that a saddle would not move, had no stirrups that would touch his flanks. But through the exposure he learned to cope. We need to allow, sometimes even cause fear in our horses for them to learn how to deal with it.

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