A Good Grounding

Part 15: Flags

Please read and heed Rules of Engagement before trying this exercise.

Flags are spooky but harmless, so they're great desensitization tools. Back when I served in the County Sheriff's Mounted Posse we frequently rode in parades and patrolled fairgrounds, two venues where plenty of flapping, snapping flags just come with the territory, so our horses needed to be comfortable around them. I made a set of 3-foot by 5-foot flags from heavy rip-stop nylon purchased at the local fabric store, and attached them to long stout wooden dowels. We mounted these on the fence posts bordering the arena so that they would flap in the breeze as we rode by, closer and closer until the horses were quite comfortable. We also worked with the flags in hand using some of the same exercises discussed in the preceding Stick and String exercise, flopping the flags over the horses' toplines and swinging them overhead. We made sure to work with the flags around their faces, as well. Once they could handle all of this completely calmly it was no trick at all to carry flags at our sides as we rode in parades.