I was on an ACTHA ride last year in Ocotober. One of the obstacles we had to go through had jack-o-lanterns and a child in costume handing out candy. What a great idea. Thankfully, my litte arabian mare didn’t mind a bit. But what would have happened had I not prepared her ahead of time.
I spend lots of time just walking horses through trail obstacles and exposing them to things they could come up against while working. But this year I am going to be more creative and put out Halloween costumes and displays to get them ready for the season trails. Things we take for granted can be a big scary ‘horse-easting’ beast to our horses. You can do this at home. Here are a few tips.
1. Make a stick scare crow. It’s easy just using a broom and duct tape a small branch across it for the arms. Put old clothes on it and stick it in the ground. Put an old hat on the broom part of it and don’t worry about it having a face. Then hand walk your horse by it. If your horse doesn’t spook, great!
2. Get out an old sheet and hang it from a tree. A slight breeze is all you need for this scary, ghostly object. Be sure to hand walk your horse by it just in case.
3. Take large black trash bags and drape them across bushes. For more fun, turn your large trash can over and cover it with the bag, then put a pumpkin on top of it so that it looks more like a living object to the horse. Be safe and once again hand walk your horse by it first.
4. I strongly suggest that you put these in an enclosed arena first before sticking them in your yard. This keeps you and your horse safer in case he spooks and takes off running.
Your goal is to teach your horse to trust you and depend on you for guidance regardless of what he comes in contact with on the trail. Go slowly, use lots of affirmation for your horse (pats, scratching withers and a kind voice works wonders).