Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sacking Out the Problem Horse - Full Article

Story by Tracey Emslie, John Lyons

Sacking out is a vital training tool. Done well, it creates perfect horses. Done poorly, it causes lifelong problems. Learn the difference here.

Your new horse seems a real charmer-until your saddle blanket slips off and he throws a classic tizzy fit. Or maybe a neighbor has put up a flagpole and your otherwise fine trail horse doesn't respond in a patriotic manner on windy days. Or maybe he strongly objects to swinging ropes, flapping towels, your taking off your jacket, or any of a hundred other distractions.

"Ah," will say a friend, trainer, or absolute stranger. "You need to sack him out!"

"Sacking out" is a vital training tool that's widely misunderstood. Done well, it produces a safe, confident, and responsive partner. Done poorly, it can cause problems that haunt the horse and his subsequent owners/riders for the rest of his life.

What Is Sacking Out?
An unusual object that disturbs your horse is like a pop quiz at school. Sacking out is a way to respond to the pop quiz. We talked about this in "Meet the Monsters." (To review this article from the October 2007 issue, go to horse, and search for "meet the monsters.")

Sacking out gives us a way to control the pop quiz with a training exercise in which we actually plan disturbances for the horse. They help teach your horse to respond to "go right," "go left," "stop," "go forward," "back up," "speed up," or "slow down" cues even if there's something that might startle him, such as a waving towel or a crackling tarp...

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