A Little Desensitization

Once in a while we like to work on a little desensitization with our horses. In essence, this basically means that we scare them a little with harmless objects until they aren’t scared any more. Most horses will freak out over a plastic bag flying in the wind, especially if they have never been desensitized before. A horse that is in fear for his life, even if the object of their fear is something meant for carrying groceries, can be extremely dangerous. Horses are prey animals and are always on the look out for threats to their safety’; once they feel unsafe, the thinking part of their brain shuts off and they go into panic mode.

As we creep closer to our furry family member, scary tarp in hand, we reassure him in the process by petting him and speaking sweet nothings into his perked up ears. Once he has calmed down and is no longer afraid, we kick it up a notch. Same goes for cracking a loud stock whip that sounds like a 22-rifle going off. You get the idea.

The whole idea of desensitization is to make your horse “bomb proof”, so to speak. This way, when something out of the ordinary happens, they are calm. What is the crucial ingredient to their calm? You.

Your steadfast reassurance and calm demeanor during the desensitization process is what helps your horse understand that all is well. In the event of danger, real or imagined, your horse will look to you for reassurance instead of going into a dangerous and fruitless panic.

I believe that God works with us in similar ways sometimes. He asks us to step out of our comfort zones, scaring us a little, while continuously reassuring us with His peace and provision, until finally we realize that with Him, we are safe.


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