Desensitizing | Introducing the Tarp to our Horse Carbon
Updated: Mar 7
Carbon has an interesting personality. He is overconfident and underconfident at times and when he chooses to be either or, surprises me. Very very playful, clever, and at times rambunctious. When he is upset he can be a handful and a bit nippy but I think I know someone who was very similar. *coughhidalgocough* Usually very common with colts I have noticed, the only difference is Carbon is waaay more athletic than Hidalgo (Hidalgo would agree btw), not as lazy, and a tad more clever but also easier to intimidate if need be. The hard thing with Hidalgo and Clyde was they pretty much didn't have a flight response. Carbon definitely does but might be due mostly to his age as he can toggle between GO-GO-GO! and yawning out of boredom really quickly. I use it to my advantage but I have to be good with my timing and still always learning about timing. I also wanted to work with him on how he handles his fear. He seems slightly more sensitive to sound than most horses I have met. New sounds get him the most and sometimes things/people/animals "popping out of nowhere" but pretty much depends on his energy level and state of mind. If he is amped up and excited, to begin with, I have to get him to stay with me and focus. Physically he does a good job of controlling himself. He may spook/bolt but nothing too outlandish but mentally he does get overwhelmed which is totally understandable. Not exactly easy since he is young, it is like asking a kid to do their math homework while at a carnival. If he is more relaxed, not much bothers him. Another thing I noticed is he does act older than he is at times, more like an unruly stallion in certain situations. I don't think Hidalgo started that behavior until he was 2. We are gelding Carbon in March which I will make a separate post about. Hopefully, it helps him out a bit.
We introduced him to a tarp. It is both a strange object and makes a lot of noise. I usually do this as a way to have "controlled scary moments" for both of us to work through. We tested out his mom first with the tarp, she might have been worked with it in the past as she was super comfortable with it which really helped us all. If mom freaks out baby will definitely freak out and most likely I and Nathan will also freak out haha. I have a collection of videos of Carbon being exposed to the tarp. It quickly went from a scary thing to a toy that he loves pawing at. You can also see he is more concerned about the cat than the tarp and doesn't care about the loud banging in the background. I think this all helped when it came to buying his first winter blanket. He had zero problems with having it put on, just accepted it, straps and everything. Even running with it, the straps around the back legs can feel restricting. He was concerned at first but more annoyed and sorta kicked out a few times while running then got used to the feeling quickly. Not sure if related or not but he has no problems with puddles or the ground/footing changing on him so far.
The only thing I would say with the tarp is every horse reacts differently and I have seen some horses terrified just being in the same area as one so take it slow. Getting your horse to walk on it is fun but they can get it wrapped around their legs and then scare themselves more and more which is not what you want. Carbon sort of did it at 3:38 but he didn't really care too much and was thinking more than reacting. You can have wooden poles on the edges to weigh it down and prevent the tarp from moving so much as the horse walks across it.
PS: Nathan did great, I have done this before so it is fun to watch and see Carbon and Nathan bond and trust each other.