“Police horses have to go through a lot of excitement to get to be a certified police mount”, Yogi thought while bravely navigating the obstacles course placed in the large indoor arena of The Horse First Farm in Brooklyn on January 23rd. Handled by Lisa Wolters, a freshly baked horse enthusiast, Yogi was the personification of calm and serenity while carefully checking out each obstacle before bravely tackling it.
The Madison Mounted Police Unit conducted a ‘Despooking Clinic’ at The Horse First Farm to provide civilians the opportunity to learn basic desensitizing skills that are part of the training program for horses that patrol Madison’s busy inner city streets. Piles of trash (very clean trash, I might add…), tarps, tires, an inflatable snowman, sources of sounds, smoke and loud noises and many more scary sensory items confronted horses and owners with their skills or lack hereof. After a brief introduction of desensitizing strategies presented by retired Mounted Police Officer Jill Klubertanz, horses and riders went on to get some basic Natural Horsemanship instruction from trainer Gretchen Arndt and then went on to maneuver the obstacles course to the best of their abilities. For some horses – like my horse Yankee, a newcomer to both Natural Horsemanship, traveling ‘abroad’ and spending time with lots of strange people, horses and scary stuff – it was asked a lot. Yogi, though, had fun with it. “Don’t worry, Lisa,” he seemed to say. “I know you are more concerned than I am right now. I won’t let you down.” The Madison Mounted Police Despooking Clinic was a great experience for all of us. Lisa was beaming, Yogi was calm as ever, Yankee finally calmed down and then felt so good that he had to roll right on the spot and Stefanie learned about ‘thresholds’.
What a day! And what a horse named Yogi!For more information about the next Madison Mounted Despooking Clinic or to host such a clinic at your facility please email firstname.lastname@example.org.