Sooo my horse doesn't like the wash stall.

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Sooo my horse doesn't like the wash stall.

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    04-09-2014, 04:37 PM
Sooo my horse doesn't like the wash stall.

I didn't know what to put this under but here I am.
I have a rescued 10 year old apply who let's me do about everything with him.
But there is one problem. The wash stall is a HUGE threat to him.
He almost kills me like every time.
Everyone at my barn likes to tack up in the wash stall because it has cross ties and my horse just learned to cross tie in there. But the issue is he gets so freaky and don't even bother putting tack near him because he would literally kill you if you were in there with him.
I just don't know what to do about it.
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    04-09-2014, 04:51 PM
I would start by taking him in there and just holding him by the lead line while you groom him and just mess around-no pressure and lots of treats. Do this for as long as it takes for him to relax. When he is finally relaxing in the wash stall(possibly weeks), put one of the cross ties on and just hold him with the line on the other side. Just groom, no tacking up. (Take him elsewhere or put a round ring in his stall to tack up for now).
Work slowly up to both cross ties the same way. A lot of horses will panic if their heads are held too tightly so make sure the cross ties have some slack in them.
Then carry the saddle in now and then, just don't try to put it on him. If he's calm, rub it all over his sides.
First you need to convince him that this is a pleasant space to be in and that's going to take a lot of time. You don't have to do what everybody else does at the barn-you have to remember that rescue horses have had horrible experiences that we can't even imagine so trust is not going to be something that happens right away.
    04-10-2014, 02:42 AM
Some thoughts based on what my mare was like...

The wash stall where I am is outside with only one wall, so it's not very confining. However, it's right next to a busy road where there are speed bumps, so often we have trucks going over making loud banging sounds and scooters with no mufflers. Needless to say, my mare would get very nervous there since this whole place was new to her, plus she's kind of a chicken anyway.

The solution was 4-fold:

1. Instead of tying her to anything, I held her lead rope in hand or had a friend do it. She does MUCH better when she's held by a human and not a ring. Eventually she got the point that I could use the ring, but she likes the rope loose so she can move around. Not that she does move around much, but she likes to know she "can" if she wants to. It gives her a sense of security. A short lead rope makes her feel trapped and she gets panicky.

2. I used lots of treats. She now associates that spot with carrots. She looooves carrots. I treated when she calmed down. I patted her on the neck rhythmically and spoke to her in a calm voice to help her relax when necessary.

3. I had another horse she trusts stand nearby. She always does really well when she sees another horse acting totally fine in a place she's nervous about.

4. Pressure/release. When I first turned on the water, she danced around like a crazy horse. I just kept it on, away from her, until she calmed down. Then after giving her a break (release), moved it closer, did the same thing, waited until she stopped dancing and then released the pressure. Then on her feet, same thing. Then on her legs, etc. Eventually she learned to sit still for an entire shower, but it took a while and we have to do it often or she goes back to being nervous.

Note that my mare was never being dangerous towards me. She'd swing her butt around, but not to kick. It was to see things from a different angle. She was always worried something was going to sneak up on her. Her favorite place to stand was with her whole body sideways up against the wall, leaving only the other side vulnerable. The way I fixed that was the looser lead rope. She stands very still when she doesn't feel trapped. If she was being dangerous (rearing, striking, biting), I'm not sure that my techniques above would have worked. I would have brought a pro in for that.

Good luck fixing the problem!
    04-10-2014, 05:40 AM
You can try just doing super fun things in there like if he could have his head in a bucket of grain or maybe he has an itchy spot that you can scratch. That way he associates the fun things with the wash stall. But don't do things he doesn't like until he is comfortable in the wash stall, if he doesn't like being tacked up, groomed or something else then do it outside and then do what he likes inside the wash stall. Then when he is more comfortable you can start adding the other things into your routine.
Good luck!

problem behavior, wash stall

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