Easy-to-frighten horses are skittish and can be difficult to work with. But if something in the environment is scaring your horse, there are ways to help your horse be more calm.
Researchers tested three different methods to find out which was the most effective.
The Fear Stimulus: A white nylon bag.
This research used a white nylon bag that was able to be moved along a line. This was found to be universally uncomfortable for horses, and provided a good test stimulus.
The Habituation Method
Horses were exposed to the nylon bag repeatedly until they had become more calm.
The Desensitization Method
Horses were gradually exposed to the nylon bag. The first stage was much less intense than later stages and horses only moved onto the next stage when they were totally comfortable with the current stage.
The Counter-Conditioning Method
Horses were given food rewards every time the nylon bag appeared. This intends to build up a positive association that overcomes the negative association of the fear response.
Most effective method: Desensitization
The desensitisation method was the only method that worked for all participating horses. It was the most effective, longest-lasting and fastest process.
To see some of our horse arena photos, download an EquinaBuild brochure here.