Desensitizing or Sensitizing?
Fanny is very sensitive. Sensitive horses are not for everyone. I was raised by Arabian horses, so I not only understand sensitive horses, but I prefer working with them. I like my cow horse babies to be as "feely" as possible. That's what it takes to compete in Open classes. Having said that, cow horse babies are more "explosive" than Arabians just because of their athletic talent bred to do quick explosive movements. I keep that in mind when working on trailer loading, tying, or blanketing. At the beginning of the year, Fanny was not ready to work with the flag, it was a big "NO". No big deal. There are other opportunities to work on trust. She has since worked on wearing a fly sheet, and hauling out a little. Because I found little ways to work on trust over the last couple of months, she handled her first real time with a flag like a star. The main thing about desensitizing or building trust with a horse, is to not make anything a big deal, and that includes teaching elements of their job. I don't want any worry in my horses, I want them to feel confident and bold about their job. There are some trainers that feel like desensitization ruins the feel in a cow horse, but I believe that horses can do more than we think they can. With colt starting, I believe for both of us, and young horses use my belief as a bridge to confidence. That is the "try" I am always speaking about. "Try" is the horse suspending his instincts, and giving me his trust and the benefit of the doubt. I honor that by not being greedy and demanding, but by allowing and setting up for success. We only have the right to ask for a try. These are abstract concepts, but I do show how they apply when I am teaching other horsemen.
Enough philosophy! Here's The Fanster showing off the principles at work: