Rosie and I recently started playing with a big green ball. It’s not quite as big as some of the ones marketed by natural horse trainers, but it’s still pretty big! The ball is actually an exercise ball I bought at a sporting goods store. I just hope it will be strong enough for the abuse the horses and I will put it through!
I started by letting Rosie approach and investigate the ball on her own, letting her be in control of the situation. I didn’t want to push her or force her. As I’ve written about in the past, forced novelty can be pretty scary for animals!
Rosie seemed generally unbothered by the presence of the ball, so we tried a bit of targeting. It only took her a few minutes to figure out that touching the ball would earn her a treat! Eventually, we’ll progress to having her push the ball with her nose.
After practicing targeting, I played a bit with touching the ball to her sides and putting it on her back. She was a bit skeptical at first, but acclimated to the ball pretty quickly. Exercises like this are great for a young horse. The ball will help Rosie get use to strange objects moving around above her and on her back. This is more than just fun and games; it also helps prepare her for further training. If she’s already learned to accept things on her back and moving above her, then it will be easier and safer when the time comes to start her under saddle.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out some of the other posts about Rosie.