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Desensitizing, this will even help you get into shape

Bucking horse | © Stockphoto
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Don’t underestimate the art of desensitizing!

A lot of horse people just like to throw on a saddle, tighten the girth and let her rip. Their thinking is: “They’ll get used to it once they got all their bronc bucks out.”

Yes, this is true, but it’s frightening and sad how many horses that come to me at a later age still are wary of the saddle going on their backs.

There is an easier way to do this, one in which you don’t ever have to worry about them being afraid of you mounting them, putting on a saddle or even a saddlepad.

Many of my students, or people just passing by, give me strange looks when they see me in the round pen working with a youngster. Cause you will be working every muscle in your body desensitizing a young horse.

Stand next to them at the end of your lunging session (or at beginning or even during, it doesn’t really matter) and start hopping up and down next to them.

Keep jumping and using your voice to ask them to stand still while doing this, only stop jumping once your horse doesn’t move away from you any more….

Some horses get this right away, others just like making you dead tired and sweaty in the process. But luckily they catch on really quickly.


I always repeat this on both sides of the horse and will introduce swirling the lunge around them as well – even tightening the lunge around their belly to get them used to the girth going there.

Once they trust you flopping your arms about and jumping up and down next to them and they finally understand that it doesn’t mean you are going to eat them, at this point you are fine to introduce the lunging girth or saddle.

Never underestimate what this desensitizing can do, it helps them not to be as frightened of you once you are on their back moving with them! And well, at least the bystanders get a good laugh!

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