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Desensitize your horse, what does that really mean?

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If we look at the definition of desensitize and paraphrase, it means to make dull. The dictionary defines the term as follows:

Definition of DESENSITIZE

1: to make (a sensitized or hypersensitive individual) insensitive or nonreactive to a sensitizing agent

2: to make emotionally insensitive or callous; specifically : to extinguish an emotional response (as of fear, anxiety, or guilt) to stimuli that formerly induced it

de·sen·si·ti·za·tion noun

de·sen·si·tiz·er noun

Medical Definition of DESENSITIZE

: to make less sensitive : reduce sensitivity in <desensitize a nerve with a local anesthetic>: as

a : to make (a sensitized or hypersensitive individual) insensitive or nonreactive to a sensitizing agent

b : to extinguish an emotional response (as of fear, anxiety, or guilt) to stimuli which formerly induced it : make emotionally insensitive <evidence that violence on television desensitizes children to actual violence—Stephanie Harrington>

The question becomes, do we really want to make our horses insensitive, or emotionally insensitive? Re-read the last line of part b of the medical definition inside the karats ( < > ). That is a very powerful statement and I believe a reflection of what we see happening with violence in schools and around the world. Do we want the same fate for our horses?

How do these terms sound to you instead: experienced, seasoned, practiced? I think they sound pretty good. Some of you may like the terms de-spooking, or bomb proof. However, we can never truly take the spook out of our horses nor can we make them bomb proof. Horses are prey animals and their natural instinct is the flight response, no matter how much practice they have had.

Words have power and frequencies associated with them. Take for instance the study by Dr. Emoto and water crystals. He found hard rock and rap music distorted the water crystals; whereas, classical music allowed beautiful crystals to form. He also showed what polluted water crystals (or lack thereof) looked like compared to the same water after it had been blessed, the blessed water displayed a beautiful snow flake style crystallization.

Now apply this knowledge and information to our horses. We do not want to dull our horses. We want to help them become more experienced and seasoned to unexpected objects and unfamiliar surroundings. Next time you're working with your horse, take a step back and think about the power of the words you are conveying to your horse.

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