My horse won't let me wash her. - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 17 Old 08-30-2013, 03:41 PM
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Forget tying her, as that is just making things worse.

Take her out of the barn where you'll have some room to run around and get your hose. She is rearing because you aren't letting her move around and you're making her terrified, you have taught her to be terrified as every time she gets anxious it leaves her alone. That is rewarding that behavior. Do this by yourself, it can be a tangled mess if you try and do it with two people and the timing will always be a bit off. She isn't being a brat. She has no idea how to behave and you need to teach her.

You've got to understand horses here, they are prey animals and their first instinct is to run away from scary things. So far you have taken that away from her and the only thing left she has to do it fight it. If you insist on putting her in a small space or tying her, you are asking to be hurt.

I use a spray nozzle and set it on shower, it's a light spray that's consistent and goes a ways so she's always be in spraying distance. Take your horse and just keep spraying her, starting on her top line not her legs. The topline is where everything else starts with desensitization and this is no different. I doubt she has a panic attack every time it rains.

When she freaks out and runs around just bump her nose back toward you so she can't get a lot of momentum built up. The important thing is you ARE letting her move around, you've already found out when you try and make her stand still she gets defensive of herself and rears up. During this you'll be standing at a 45% angle to her shoulder, too far back to be struck and too far in front to be kicked. You are working with her here, you are letting her move, giving her that option if she needs it but you're keeping spraying her. After a bit of a panic she will see that running is not working for her. A horse can only stay worried so long before they try something else. It may be backing up, it may be standing still. As soon as her feet stand still one second take the hose away. Horses don't learn from pressure, they learn from the release of it. This is why you take it away, you are telling her 'good girl'.

Start again, building that until you can spray her withers and back, then go to her butt, up her neck and then down her legs. After she stands still when you spray, wait until she relaxes then take it away. When that side is good go to the other. Horses brains do not transfer that sort of thing so start over, starting with her topline. In one session you should have her pretty well desensitized and able to be washed. This doesn't mean the next time you can tie her up. You want her to consistently be able to get hosed off without getting anxious. I would hose her everyday for a few days, then she will be ready mentally to be tied up while you do it.
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post #12 of 17 Old 08-30-2013, 03:57 PM
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I wholeheartedly second what Demon said. I do this by myself but I keep the lead short enough that they can only circle around me. I let them circle and keep the water spraying at their feet until they get tired of circling and stand, then I take the water away and give them a scratch in their favorite spot. Continue over and over and over, getting higher each time.

One piece of advice from someone who's trained a lot of horses that have never been bathed before. Ride the pee out of her first before you even try giving her a bath. I'm not talking w/t for 30 minutes. I'm talking working her hard for 2-3 hours until she's dripping sweat, utterly exhausted, and all she wants to do is stand with her head hanging between her knees.

Start rinsing her off while she's still hot and she'll soon learn that the cool water feels amazing on her hot body.
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post #13 of 17 Old 08-30-2013, 07:53 PM
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this sounds kind of mean , but is not. I had a mare that would rear and strike when tied trying to hose off. Since I had a mare motel type of set up , I took the hose , started squirting her, just her legs, until she got herself into a corner soon as she stood still and tolerated it, I stopped. bad behaviour, she got sprayed, if she acted like she was gonna go over the fence, she got a wet head, i would spray front to back , back to front. I made sure it was a really hot day so that the pen dried. Not ideal, but I did not have a stock to tie in her in, and I had no one to help. Took a few days , more like a couple of months, after a while no rearing , she still hated the water hose , but would cross a creek or river and play in it, and would always do that.
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post #14 of 17 Old 08-30-2013, 08:13 PM
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when I have seen the pros teach a horse to get used to the water they DO NOT tie them. You would like them to not feel trapped. Let them move around you to if they need to. Start the water at the ground and get closer to the horse, when the horse reacts move the water away. Pressure until the horse reacts and then release. You should be able to gradually move up the leg and stop at the foot for a bit, if he is fine move up a bit, at the 1st sign of a small reaction stop and work slowly. If you do some learning on pressure and release it will help you with many of your other training aspects. You might be able to get some videos' to show you how its done. I saw Ken Mcnabb demonstrate it on his tv show and he was washing the horse in a short time.
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post #15 of 17 Old 08-30-2013, 09:08 PM
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I'm mean.

They can throw as big of a fit as they want, but I'm not stopping until I'm done. Funnily enough, after 3 times this year the fit throwing is basically non-existent. The first time I got after her because she thought that rearing (full up) was going to make me stop. She got a hose across her butt. Hard. That ended that rather quickly and she has become more and more settled every time. The gelding is good with baths because he learned that fighting it doesn't make it go away.

I'll say that when I first bought my gelding I was all "oh he doesn't like it and he's having a fit so I'll stop" and do the approach/retreat thing, but that just led to him having a fit even harder each time. I had to get tough (on myself first) and then him.

No, my horses don't fear me either. Both of them greet me with nickers (they are free fed with no grain so they aren't greeting me for food) and walk up to me freely in the pasture for no other reason than to say hi.
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post #16 of 17 Old 08-31-2013, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by smrobs View Post
One piece of advice from someone who's trained a lot of horses that have never been bathed before. Ride the pee out of her first before you even try giving her a bath. I'm not talking w/t for 30 minutes. I'm talking working her hard for 2-3 hours until she's dripping sweat, utterly exhausted, and all she wants to do is stand with her head hanging between her knees.

Start rinsing her off while she's still hot and she'll soon learn that the cool water feels amazing on her hot body.
I used a similar method to get my gelding to ride into the water. After 2-3 hours of riding the hair off of him it did not take much coaxing to get belly deep into the lake for a drink.

When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure. - Peter Marshall
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post #17 of 17 Old 08-31-2013, 08:45 PM
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I wanted to clarify (because it probably sounds like I come up to my horses with a pressure washer nailing them in the face) how I do this with mine. Basically it's like several other people said, I start with the front legs and work my way around and up. Now it's routine with them and there are no issues. Unless they are completely mentally fried, like my gelding was a couple weeks ago, but we got through that with the normal routine.

Miss Pony got nailed on the butt because I do NOT tolerate dangerous behavior on the ground (saddle is a work in progress lol), also it was very obvious that she was not afraid, but was throwing a tantrum. She is well known for being dangerous when throwing a tantrum. Not much actually scares the little beast, but she has very specific ideas of what you should and should not be "allowed" to do to her on the ground. I've been teaching her, albeit slowly sometimes, that it's not really her decision and no amount of tantrums are going to change that fact.

Anyways, the point of this long winded explanation is basically to say that if the horse was truly fearful I would approach the issue in a slightly different manner. I still wouldn't stop because she said so, but I wouldn't push so hard.
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bath , hosing , rearing , training , washing

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