Have you ever seen someone tapping their horse with a crop or dressage whip that has a rubber ball on the end of it? That is an endotapper. It is a useful tool that some people use to help their horses to relax, especially in stressful situations.
Firstly, I will address the weirdness of it – whacking a horse with a rubber ball looks weird. It sounds weird. Wasn’t I just advocating that slapping a horse is for use only when he has attempted to bite or kick? The difference here is that the endotapper must be used in a very specific way in a very few specific places on the horse’s body for it to work properly.
The nice thing about endotappers is that it is a drug-free way to relax a horse, and it can also be used as a reward. As a cautionary note, however, not all horses are enthusiastic about this, and most must be trained how it works. The places where the endotapper can be used are always soft, fleshy areas, such as just behind the withers, just in front of the withers, or on the triangle on the neck where injections are given. Some horses will hate one spot and enjoy another; try them all. But start off behind the withers, because it is the easiest to reach.
To teach the horse about endotapping, stand on the left side, with the horse in a halter. Hold the lead rope in your left hand, the endotapper in your right, and face the horse’s shoulder. Tell him to ‘stand’, if you have such a command (see this page to teach him to stand). Begin tapping in the appropriate place at a regular rate of about three taps per second. Do not slow down, do not speed up, be firm, but do not use too much force. Your horse will have no clue what is going on. If he moves, politely ask him to stop and keep going. When a horse is endotapped, the idea is that he drops his head immediately, maybe licks his lips, and relaxes. Tapping in the places I described will cause an endorphin release, as will the lowering of his head. If he does not lower his head, politely ask him to do so with your left hand (see this page to teach head control).
In time, this skill can be used in busy, scary environments, as a reward, and it can also be used to train the ‘end of trail’ position (all four feet brought together under the horse), and the lay down.