Plasticphobia Update

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Ferrah

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Sorry in advance for the long post.

Thank you all for all your wonderful suggestions. I had the day off work today so I went right out to the stable to get busy working on this problem because she is really dangerous about it sometimes.

I put Ferrah in the largest paddock we have, .75 of an acre. I was going to put her in the pasture, but there is still lots of green grass and she has foundered twice in the past.

I put one plastic bag halfway inbetween her feeder and the other end of the paddock, there was a light breeze so the plastic was flapping a little bit, but not too much. As soon as I turned Ferrah out she high tailed it top the end of her paddock and ran back and forth at the far end of the paddock looking like she was trying to jump the 5 foot fence, she got lifted on the electric wire on the top rail of the fence and then stopped looking like she wanted to jump the fence and just ran back and forth trying to find a way out. I put Ferrah's hay in her feeder and little bit of her favorite purina horse feed. She was very interested in getting fed but she would walk over to where the plastic bag was and if it rustled even very slightly she would run back to where she started. I watched her do this for about two hours, she got a total of four mouthfulls of food which she didn't chew every much. Eventually she semi calmed down in a corner of her paddock but she would still pace and get upset if the plastic rustled. Even when she did stand still her ears were going back and forth like crazy. She snorted up a storm which made all the other horses at the stable spooky too.

I called my riding instructor and she camne over and told me to take the plastic away for awhile so Ferrah could finally eat her breakfast and so she could cool down (she was pretty sweaty by this time). After Ferrah ate we put the plastic back up with the same result.

My riding instructor says we can continue this and if there is no improvement in a reasonable amount of time we will take down a bunch of the panels for spare paddocks and make a 60' round pen. I don't know how to do round penning but my instructor does. We are also going to call up the local acupuncture/message therapist if none of your other suggestions seem to work

I called up the lady I leased her from and asked her if she had any past history on the horse. Apparently Ferrah used to be one of the top hunter/jumper horses for children and was sold for $18,000 at one point, then unexplicably she ended up on a ranch where she was branded and used to pole bend and barrel race. Then she ended up at a local equestrian center boarded by a very nice but timid lady. Her owner very quickly got frightened of Ferrah and she ended up in a pasture for five years doing nothing at all, her owner boarded her there waiting for her to die
Then the lady who I leased her from got Ferrah for free and she was pretty much unrideable, she would bolt, jig and wouldn't stand for mounting. Then I took her on as a 4-H project and in two lessons with my riding instructor we solved the bolting, jigging and mounting problem. In the next month or two we discovered Ferrah had some really good training! She LOVES to jump and can switch leads like a wild thing! We don't jump much anymore because of her age though. Good old Ferrah has aged really well though, no one believes be when I say she is 22!, they all think she is 10 or 12!

Anyway that is her past history, sorry for the long post. Thank you everyone who has replied offering suggestions, but drugging her will be the last thing we try.

Thanks again!
 

Miniv

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Ferrah,

I agree with Rabbitsfizz and your trainer about not doing the plastic thing while she's eating.

If you can, print up the different suggestions in your other thread and let your trainer read them. See what SHE says......

Good luck,

MA
 

~LadyBug~

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Sounds like your'e off to a good start.

Let us know how it goes with the massage therapist, I would be interested to know being an ESMT myself.

Good Luck!!!
 

Marty

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I liked the basic idea and I would have usually attempted that too on most cases like this. It made sense and I would have normally agreed with this method. But not in this particular situation. I just felt that Ferrah is a horse that is way too wired to try to confine her in any area with something she panics over even if it was a large area. I've got a fence crasher myself that has panic attacks so I understand this is just no fun.

Sounds to me like Ferrah was quite frantic today. This is exactly what I expected she would do and it worried me. That's why I suggested things that I did to get her calm before trying to work with this stuff. I did fear that she would feel trapped and go through a fence or something to flee. ..and then get so worked up by grabbing feed and running off with it back and forth like that ....it would only get her terribly nervous and upset and hot. A recipe to founder again.

Now, this of course was only the first attempt and Rome wasn't built in a day. So of course it is highly possible that if you repeat this action daily and cut the time in there down that she may get accustomed to it and accept it. She won't like it. But she can accept it. But that is your decision to make and a quite a risk. On the flip side, she just may totally freak and say "I"m not doing this again no way" and have an unfortunate wreck.

I have one other suggestion for you that I didn't mention was to play some music in her area while trying to desensitize her. I use a wide variety of music. You may want to crank it up and see if that muffles the rustling of the plastic at all.

I'm glad to see that you may consider an equine massuse.
 

hobbyhorse23

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A comment on the other thread made me think about one more thing that could have caused her fear. It doesn't sound like it with her history, but if she's ever been trained by an Arab trainer for either halter, liberty, Saddleseat, etc., she could easily have developed a mortal fear of plastic bags. I've seen trainers tie the bags to whips and chase the horses with them, even beating the animal with the "bagged up" whip until the mere sight of it makes them panic. Great for keeping those ears on the whip in halter, and getting them snorting for liberty.
Also great for chasing an English horse up from the rear so they'll strengthen their legs in all those bands and chains on the front end.


Sorry, venting.

Anyway, the horses that learn from this method are practically impossible to retrain. It's not that they're dumb, it's that they're smart! They learned the lesson well the first time and have never forgotten that their JOB is to run and snort if plastic comes out, under pain of the plastic growing fangs and biting them with the help of that "trusted human." Grr.

Edited to add: No, I don't mean that using the crinkly properties of plastic to get a horse to run for liberty is evil. It is very effective and can be done with no fear at all, entertaining for both horse and human. But the folks I was talking about were AFTER that horse. They wanted that horse to think they were going to die if they got caught, and then of course couldn't understand why that horse didn't want to get caught after they quit shaking the whip.
 

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