KBR Horse Training Information

Exercising Body AND Mind

Bomb Proofing:
Producing Horses You Can Trust

Part Five

Participants at work

May Bomb Proofing in Stagecoach, Continued

The Waterfall

The Waterfall was a simple obstacle, basically an arch constructed of PVC pipe. Plastic streamers and small brass bells attached to the horizontal top of the arch would dangle and move in the wind. The Horses had to stay focused on their handlers in spite of the plastic strips fluttering over their heads and brushing against them.

As with trailer loading, the handler asks the horse to lower her head, then gains the horse's confidence through bonding. With the horse more relaxed, focused on the ground and her handler, she can pass through the obstacle relatively stress free.

Lollipop on alert! Head up, wary of the streamers
Sue lowers her Arab's head and reaffirms bonding
Passing confidently through the streamers

The Flag Lane

There were two variations of the flag lane. One was a series of small fluttering flags set in traffic cones. The lane could be easily made more narrow as the horses adjusted to it.

The second variation was a series of "goonie birds" with heads that would bob in the wind (or if a horse poked one with its nose.) The horses had to accept fluttering objects down low near their feet.

"Pinto" Cheyenne and Mitch in the flags
Narrow Pass Barrels

An arrangement of barrels was set up where handlers could lead or longe their horses through a variety of tight turns and cloverleafs with narrow clearances.

Bob demonstrating the barrels with Spirit

Flag Alley

The real challenge with flags came with the 50 foot long "Flag Alley." Two flag lines of were strung on either side of the alley. Scattered inside the alley were some crushed aluminum soda cans and a slightly rippling tarp. The horses had to remain focused and quiet with the fluttering on both sides, noise from the cans and their natural wariness of the tarp. (When it was less windy we would also add plastic bottles.)

It made a difference whether the horses started the alley from the tarp side or the open side. They tended to proceed carefully over the tarp when entering the alley from the tarp side, and to rush or jump the tarp when leaving the alley. They acted differently when multiple horses were in the alley as opposed to being by themselves. Handlers could adjust their approaches until the horses were comfortable with all the elements entering from both directions.

Mark & Lightning clearing the tarp
Luanne & Flash approaching the cans
Willis pausing Scout in the alley
Parade of horses in the alley

Additional Distractions

After lunch we added some dimensions to the course. A few of the mustangs didn't like working around horses with riders so folks with saddle horses rode them near the mustangs. A few of the horses didn't like horse driven carts so Joanie hitched up "Treasure," her mini, and drove all around the arena.

Trailer Loading

We had a few horses with trailer loading issues. One mare had "blown up" in a two-horse trailer just a couple of days before. A couple of horses would typically take upwards to an hour to get into a trailer. We brought a stock trailer and a two-horse straight load trailer into the arena.

After working all the obstacles amidst all the distractions, every horse that was asked, including the trailer freaks, loaded quickly into the trailers and would stand quietly. Some would even load off-lead.

A formerly troublesome mare to load -
Loading on a slack lead and later on voice command

See y'all next time!
For a complete feature on teaching horses to load into various trailers, please visit Trailering Made Easy.

Continue to Building a "Horse Course"

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View the Knightsen Bomb Proofing Session

The Bomb Proofing DVD is Now On-Line!

Filmed at the 2004 Western States Wild Horse & Burro Expo, "Bombproofing" explains the logic of setting up a bomb proofing course, how to handle horses in the course, safety issues and more. The participants in the video are all wild horse adopters, mentors and 4-H members with (former) wild horses, and with BLM Ranger Stan Zuber and Koal the mustang ranger horse.

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KBR Horse Training Information, 2004 Lamm's Kickin' Back Ranch and Willis & Sharon Lamm. All rights reserved. Duplication of any of this material for commercial use is prohibited without express written permission. This prohibition is not intended to extend to personal non-commercial use, including sharing with others for safety and learning purposes, provided this copyright notice is attached.
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