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Confidence Builder: Plastic Bags-Part One

Teach your horse that plastic bags are not a threat.

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Parelli explains how to slowly introduce plastic bags to your horse

Many equestrians are familiar with the “plastic bag of death,” either on the trail or in the arena, when a plastic grocery bag floats into a horse’s path and he is certain it will kill him. Wouldn’t you like your horse to know that the bag is not a threat? You can build his confidence in only a few minutes a day, using the concept of “approach and retreat.” When horses are worried about something, they gain confidence by approaching the object until they get nervous, then retreating until they feel safe enough to re-approach and check it out again.

Wad up a plastic grocery bag in your hand and allow your horse to investigate it. Don’t shove it under his nose – let your horse approach the bag. Hold it a few feet away and let him grow curious about what’s in your hand. When he gives it a good sniff, use that same wadded bag to give your horse a good rub all over his body, and allow it to make some noise. Take breaks where you un-wad and re-wad the bag, making as much noise with the bag as your horse can comfortably tolerate. Notice your horse’s reaction, and if he gets tense or worried, retreat. Slow down, back off or make less noise. Repeat the process until you see a change. Your horse should relax, lick his lips or exhale deeply and sigh.

Read the Confidence Builder: Part Two >>

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Reader Comments

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

7/19/2014 11:47:05 PM

I have one horse who spooks like the bag is going to kill him. Then he's okay approaching it and after a bit he's fine. But that's only with that one. The next bag is the same old story. He spooks at everything new no matter how many things he's been acclimated to.

Grey    Ames, IA

1/16/2011 10:42:23 AM

I've also done the treat trick, my mare got all snorty when someone was crinkling a plastic bag near her, but when she found out that it contained treats she'd decide to put her face right in it!

Jennifer    Cheltenham, PA

1/7/2011 9:58:39 AM

Whne my hores was alive I ried to teach him not to be araid of plastic bags. It worked for 1 day! by the next day he would forget his training setion and I would have to start all over again. After several months of this I just got tired and stoped tryinging. Some horses are to stuborn to learn some thing new. But he was smart in other areas and rather well behaved.

Mary    Wimauma, FL

6/25/2009 8:11:55 AM

My horse use to be afraid of plastic bags and flags. We decided to hang plastic bags and flags all around his turnout. Also, he was deadly afraid of plastic chairs. We put a plastic chair in his turnout with carrots on it. Now he runs to the chair for his treat. It does not take long for him to learn that bags, flags and chairs are acceptable human cargo.

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