No, it doesn’t mean your four-legged friend is indestructible, but it may make him a superhero! The bombproof horse is the one who safely packs around beginners and boyfriends and besties. He makes it easy on you at the end of the long, hard, work week, when you really and truly just want a quiet ride in the woods, sans fireworks. And while he may not win races or championships, he does a fair job winning our hearts.
Sgt. Rick Pelicano acquired his bombproofing skills as a mounted police officer with the Maryland National Park Police for over 25 years, and his two bestselling books BOMBPROOF YOUR HORSE and BETTER THAN BOMBPROOF translate the techniques he used in preparing police horses and officers into easy-to-use lessons from which anyone can benefit. Here are the Top 10 ways Sgt. Pelicano recommends bombproofing your horse:
1 Teach your horse to round-pen, longe, and long-line—a horse that is obedient and manageable to your directions from the ground is more predictable and enjoyable to ride.
2 Learn the 7 “magic” under-saddle skills that install the controls you need to (almost!) always get the desired response from your horse: leg-yield, shoulder-in, rein-back, turn on the forehand, turn on the haunches, side-pass, and neck-reining.
3 Minimize “scary” obstacles—starting with a less-imposing version can help persuade your horse it isn’t so bad after all.
4 Begin potentially anxiety-producing activities on the ground—introduce your horse to a new situation or object before you climb aboard.
5 Perform repetitions—walk by the frightening bush, stump, mail box, or bike (whatever it may be) over and over and over, until your horse thinks nothing of it. Then walk by it again.
6 Divert your horse’s attention—when the loudspeaker at the show or the rustling in the bushes on the trail up ahead gives your horse the shakes, immediately give him a task, such as trotting a figure eight, so he pays attention to you and not what’s going on around him.
7 Get your horse moving—provide an outlet for his nervous energy to avoid evasion and conflict.
8 Change direction—approaching an unfamiliar object from a different angle can give your horse a fresh perspective.
9 Tell your horse everything is going to be all right—sometimes a little reassurance goes a long way.
10 Consistently and creatively school your horse in the bombproofing skills he should possess—cross water, walk on unusual surfaces, stand through loud noises and unknown odors, and cope with sudden disturbances.
For step-by-step instruction on how to bombproof your horse, check out: BOMBPROOF YOUR HORSE and BETTER THAN BOMBPROOF by Sgt. Rick Pelicano, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
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Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.