|In order to understand "entrapment panic," it is important to know first that in the nature of a horse, the main defense is to run from any danger, or for the matter from anything else that scares him. The second important aspect is to know how horses perceive time. In our article on “Nature” it states and explains the time dimension in which the horse lives. The horse is able to live only in the “present – now” concept of time. Therefore the two catalysts of “entrapment panic” are the flight reflex (running way) and the “now” time zone. Understanding this will help solve many problems with horses. It is also important to keep in mind the main reason for fear in all living creatures under the sun: fear of the "unknown"/unfamiliar/unpredictable = fear of possible pain.|
|When we attach a saddle or just a girth we introduce the unknown, unfamiliar feeling of an object that is attached to a horse now (hence to him permanently). The unknown (unpredictable) creates fear (or at least heightens the senses), the attachment is a form of entrapment (cannot escape from it) and the now also means permanently. Therefore, the panic of entrapment sets in. The horse will buck and jump because he cannot run away when he is fenced-in while being saddled. In the open, he would buck and then run like hell, only God knows how far, and then eventually come to terms with it.|
first and most important thing to teach any horse when training for
anything is that what ever we are doing to him is only “temporary,”
and if circumstances allow, he can escape from it. If the horse is
finally able to predict, for example, that the saddle will come off
in time on its own, or that he will not stay in the trailer “for
ever” he will adjust and adapt more quickly.
Of course familiarity plays
also, since it will eliminate the fear of the unknown/unpredictable.
Of course familiarity playsa great role
also, since it will eliminate the fear of the unknown/unpredictable.
better understanding of “entrapment panic” I will use different
examples of teaching a horse to stand tied, because any tying of the
horse entraps him; thus he feels that he cannot run and he panics.
On large farms in Europe I have seen 25 to 30 weanlings at a time being tied to the walls, up high on chains and heavy-duty halters, during a massive weaning process. They all panicked, but in time they gave up and were thus broken for tying within one day - the next day only very few fought and for a very short time. The more we "betray", or better said, entrap horses during the time they are being raised and trained, the more stressed they are and the more resentful and "distrustful" they become to us humans. On the large commercial places, and in the old days the military remount centers, they do not have time for personal involvement with horses and it must be handled in this way; there is simply no other solution. It is therefore very important to understand that horses, for the most part, do not like us, though they will adjust, adapt and accept their destiny.
|When teaching a horse to tie, I prefer to simulate the "tying" with a lead-rope attached to the halter and the other end is not fastened to anything, but slides through a ring on a wall, while I hold that end of the rope. After the horse gets the idea of staying in the space limited by the rope, I will finally tie him up at first on one tie. I personally like to tie horses on ties with string in between, so the horse can break them anytime (they sell new and fairly safe and practical contraption now like the blocker tie ring), hence he will not be unnecessarily introduced to entrapment. The latter is not necessarily a part of "tying" education (separate issue), but it is a precaution to prevent possible "entrapment panic attack" and thus the possibility of injuries to the horse or the people around, and the possibility of not being able to tie the horse ever again. (A well broke horse for ties - cross-ties will move forward when he feels the tension of the rope.) (Rubber ties are dangerous and only inexperienced people use them.)|
were many ways I have trained and broke horses, because of the
trainers I had the chance to work for as well as the time when I was
self-employed. One way is for example: when I am teaching a horse
for the first time for the girth, I will only set it on his back and
when he spooks I keep it in my hand pulling it off, hence he feels
he can run away from it. He quickly relaxes and I keep repeating it.
After the horse stops moving away, I put it around his chest, do not
buckle it, but gently tighten it with one hand. The horse will react
as most do, moves or jumps away from the unknown feeling. Again I
hold one end in my hand and the horse feels that he can runway from
it. Since most horses remain semi-unafraid in the
"un-entrapped" state, they are aware of any actions that I
take and they are learning much faster.
above paragraph is in no way a suggestion on how to break or train a
horse; it only describes a particular way in which I have avoided
“entrapment panic.” When one trains a horse, he should be very
experienced in that department, because the training of horses
requires certain expertise that cannot be taught by men, but by
horses alone. It is down right preposterous to write books, to give
clinics or teach how to train and break young horses. If I wrote a
book on such training (or gave a clinic on it), it would surely be
the shortest book you have ever read. It would say, "Do not do
it! Get a job somewhere with experienced people to show you how, and
under their supervision get to ride and train many horses, since the
horses are the true teachers of riders, trainers and horseman."
is also another way of breaking horses, which is in these days often
demonstrated by the “miracle” trainers, who show people how to
break/train hard to handle horses. That kind of method is as old as
the horse industry and it is called “wearing down the horse”
method. Simply said, you bother the horse so long till he gets so
tired, that he couldn’t care less if he lives or dies. At that
point anyone can do with him anything he wants, since the horse is
exhausted by the fear alone.
be able to see when a horse feels entrapped and to know the right
thing to do in the fraction of a moment, is the essential part in
training a horse. Our ability to respond, and the speed of it, is
crucial in decent training of horses; this can only be developed by
experience and taught by horses, not to mention a certain level of
talent (most people will never get it). If you need to buy a book on
how to train or ride horse, you are just as foolish as the people
who wrote it. The difference is, that the writers made money, while
you stand a good chance to injure your horse, the people involved or
get hurt while paying for it.
One should take from this article, that every time we put the horse into an “entrapped” situation, we should be aware of the reasons for his reaction and understand it. It is also important to avoid putting our horse in the “entrapment” whenever possible, because it will always cause some damage to his character, if not physical damage as well. In layman terms, anytime you expose the horse to fear from which he cannot escape, you are inflicting an immense mental stress on him, which will often leave irreparable mental damage to the animal's character, not to mention the damage to your relationship with him and the horse's perception of people.
Written by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a Lee Stanek