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Franklin Levinson's

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Fearful behavior around a 'flag'.

Hi Franklin,

About a year ago I went to Spain where I went riding. Before I was allowed to mount my horse the guy told me to stand in the horse pen and see what horse came to me. He said that this was the horse that wanted to be ridden. I then was about to tack him up when this man told me to play with him, it was great. The horse played dead, and hot choclate, this is were the horse stands still when ever you look at him. I thought it was amazing that the horses could be so cleaver and so talented and that this man had spent so much time with his horses.

When I came back to the UK 'Hull, East Yorkshire.' I decided to try the same with my two horses Bobby, a 12yr old Cob and Lady my 4 yr old Hackney. Both are the greatest friends. I tried the bag on a stick with each horse seperatly to see how they would re-act. Bobby didn't seem to mind. I've had him since I was 3, so we have pretty much grown up together. I have found out that he is pretty amazing too. He lets my little brother walk along his back and walk under his stomach (from left to right and head to back). But when I tried the bag game with Lady she started walking backwards and bolting at me. I was pretty scared because she has never done this before and she never does this when there is bags just lying around. I put her back with Bobby and showed him the bag again but surprisingly she did nothing. She stared at it and watched me and Bobby, then came and joined in. Whenever iItry to do this on her own she won't let me she seems to panic.

Do you think you could tell me what could be wrong with her or maybe tell me how to prevent her from getting so scared?

I would be so grateful if you could.

Hi Rebecca,

The plastic bag on a stick is called a 'flag'. How you use it is very important as to whether or not you scare any horse. So, it is to be used without much action on the flag with horses that are more afraid than others. Don't 'activate' it so much around Lady. Hold her lead and keep the flag pointed down. Walk her forward and hold the flag pointed down in front of you and do not point it at the mare. Walk around for 15 minutes. Once she settles, quietly and slowly face the mare and bring the flag (pointed down) between you and Lady. Do not shake it or raise it. Reassure the mare and then walk forward with the flag in front of you again. Over a little time the mare will get used to the flag. Over time you should be able to rub the mare all over with the flag. Go slow and gradually. Reward every time the mare tries to stand patiently with the flag near her by taking the flag away from in front of her and praising her. When she really gets good at standing quietly with the flag near her, put her away. Putting the mare away is the greatest reward you can give her for trying to do as you say. Good Luck..

Sincerely, Franklin

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