These techniques work with the horse to encourage his inherent curiosity and help him stay calm and present, thinking through a challenge rather than rushing through fearfully. The best part is once a horse has had a few positive experiences of working through a new situation with your assistance, he will be more likely to trust you as he is presented with the next one.
Most horse people are familiar with a technique called desensitization. This can be applied in a few ways, but the classic cowboy method is called “sacking out”. A young horse is tied tightly to a solid post, and the cowboy approaches with a blanket. He then rubs the blanket all over the horse’s body. The horse may struggle and try to pull away, but is held firm by the post. This process continues until the horse stops struggling and accepts the situation.