Yesterday I discovered an object that scares Rocky more than any other object I have found in my 3 years of owning him. He has snorted at it consistently when walking past it, but yesterday, he actually spooked and tried to quickly turn around to get away from it. Obviously, somewhere in his mind, this object was going to eat him. The object in question was partially under snow, patiently waiting to leap out to devour my faithful steed. He just knew it was going to get him.
I was going to put a picture of it in here, but I couldn't get it to work. http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/43557?feat=509635-GN1
Go ahead, follow the link. I'll wait.
Are you back? Ok. Yup, it was an L.L. Bean snow tube. I know the price scared me, too, but that thing was terrifying to my poor horse. So, instead of going for a trail ride like I had originally planned, we spent TWO HOURS desensitizing him to the snow tube. By the end of the two hours, Rocky would stand calmly while the snow tube whooshed its way across the snow to bump into his front and back legs, slide all the way around his body, including in front of him. He still snorted when he sniffed it, but he was determined to stand still and appear calm while I moved the tube around him. He would also walk quietly next to me (rather than trying to push himself in front of me so I would protect him) while the tube dragged behind him. Not attached to Rocky- that was still too scary- but if I had the tube in my hand and Rocky in the other, I could walk on both sides of him while pulling the tube behind us.
This is the same horse that often takes a nap while I try to desensitize him to other things. I can drag a tarp off of him, both from the ground and while riding. If he steps on it while I'm riding him and its dragging around, he carefully keeps going. Calmly. I don't know what it is about the tube, but it scared his horsey brain to no end.
At the end of the two hours, he was mentally exhausted. He looked so tired it was a little comical. Rocky tried so hard to be calm and not give in to his flight response that he started dozing at his tie post almost as soon as I put him there.
And now I should head out there today to see how scary the tube is today- and before we get the massive snow storm we are supposed to get.