How to Cure Head Shyness and Sack Out a Horse

After recieving an email about a problem with head shyness, I thought this article would be helpful. A horse may be head shy for a number of reasons. The horse may have been abused by a previous owner or had a bad experience in the past. It is important to find out as much as you can about your horse's past experiences. If possible, talk to your horse's previous owner and politely explain your horse's situation. The previous owner may be able to give you helpful information. If not, don't give up. It is also important to listen closely to your horse's body language. Does the horse only become head shy when around a certain object or, is it a constant issue? It may help to introduce your horse to having its head touched slowly. A common technique is "sacking out." This technique introduces horses to unfimiliar objects slowly.

Sacking Out a Horse:

First, warm up your horse up by lunging him. While sacking your horse out, keep a halter and leadrope on him and leave him untied. (But, be sure that your horse can't step on the leadrope!) This will give your horse room to shy away and feel more comfortable. When you first introduce your horse to a "scary" object, he will probably shy away. This is fine; your horse needs to feel that he can escape from threatning situations, instead of being trapped.

Pick an object (blanket, saddle pad, pillow, etc.) and slowly bring it to your horse. Let him sniff it. Then, move the object around all over your horse's body, swinging it around. (Hold on to the lead rope as you do this. Tip: wear gloves in case of rope burn.) This will probably cause your horse to jump, which, again, is fine. Once your horse is used to the object, try again with a different object (plastic bag tied to whip, rope, etc).

The most important thing to remember during this process is to stay patient. Don't get angry with your horse.

If your horse is afraid of having his head touched, try doing some T-Touch massage on him. Start with the body and gradually try to move up to the head. Don't try to accomplish this in one day.

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