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This is a discussion on Bathtime! within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    08-18-2009, 09:59 PM
Super Moderator

How do you train a horse to be ok with water on it's face?

Lacey is totally excellent beyond excellent about getting a bath, except for getting her face wet. I really want her to be ok with water running down her face because I feel like that'll get her face so much cleaner than a wet rag and I won't have to remember to bring a wet rag to the barn whenever I want to give her a bath.

I gave her bath today and I worked at desensitizing her to the water on her face. I had her tied up, because she knows she can get away if I'm just holding her (I've tried and failed at that method,) and I brought the hose up to her cheek let the water run on her cheek for a moment and then since she reacted well (just put her head up) I went back to spraying her chest. I continued with that method and I was able to get her nose (all the way up to about 2 inches before her eyes) completely wet and I got her to accept having water run over her nose for about 15 seconds but her main issue spot was around her forelock.

She absolutely refused (throwing her head up, repeatedly, acting like she was going to pull back, she didn't though etc) to let me anywhere near her forehead/forelock with the water. I tried doing it without the hose on and she was totally fine with the hose being in her face. I tried going between her ears and while she didn't freak out as badly she still didn't like it and she wouldn't let me do that for more than a second or two before trying to get away.

Should I just keep doing what I'm doing? She seems the most worried about getting water in her eyes so I tried to be sensitive about that and not get the water in her eyes but I was stubborn too and I figured out a system of holding the hose so she could throw her head around forever but still be getting it wet. Heheheheheh

Any ideas?
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    08-18-2009, 10:19 PM
I have to use a very fine spray to do around my horse's eyes and ears. I just use a little trickle, just enough to get the job done. Sounds like you're making good progress. Just try to do a little each time until she gets used to it.
    08-18-2009, 10:43 PM
I wash my horses faces with a wet wash cloth. I do not spray them in the face.
    08-18-2009, 10:46 PM
Super Moderator
Yeah, I'm not spraying her in the face, I'm just letting the water run over her face. The hose doesn't have one of those spray attachments so it's basically like I'm wringing out a washcloth over her head, only more continuous.

I wouldn't blame her for not being too happy if I was spraying her in the face! Haha
    08-18-2009, 10:52 PM
Maybe just turn the hose down to a trickle and try running that over her head so it's not so much pressure.
    08-19-2009, 10:25 AM
Originally Posted by 7Ponies    
I wash my horses faces with a wet wash cloth. I do not spray them in the face.
In the warm weather I bath my horse daily, not soap, just warm water and sponge and I would NEVER spray water in his face. You wouldn't like it either if some sprayed water in your face.
I use my sponge on the face after ringing most of the water out of it.
I also don't use a cold spray for bathing. Nothing but luke warm water for him.
    08-19-2009, 11:29 AM
I guess I'm the mean one in the bunch, I spray them in the face. It doesn't begin with accepting water to the face, but respecting your hand to keep their head down. Basic manners are a must, I then start with keeping my hand on the noseband of the halter, I start on the forehead, work around the eyes, along the pole on the cheeks, and under the face. I'm always very careful not to get it in their ears. It doesn't take long at all to get into this daily routine, and usually after a week or so, I can rinse their face without any halter at all, just a hand over their nose and they drop their head to my waist level to get it rinsed off. I don't do a trickle of water either.

I know it sounds mean, but where I live, if they have sweaty faces day after day, I will get serious skin conditions. They all get rinsed off daily, they stand without a halter and drop their head to get it rinsed without a halter. A simple trickle or a wet rag or sponge would never get the deep down sweat. None of my horses mind this. I started using this method that I learned at a show barn that I worked at as a teenager. A lot of the horses actually enjoy it. My 4 yr old has had it done this way since she was 6 months. She loves to stick her face in a running hose.
    08-19-2009, 11:35 AM
I knew a guy once who would tie his horses up and pressure wash them down all at once O.O .... sounds crazy but the horses got used to it and were the cleanest ones at the rodeo haha!
    08-19-2009, 11:43 AM
Super Moderator
That's crazy about the power washing. Did he power wash their faces too? O.o

Yeah, Lacey has been having some eye issues (she gets tears from the flies in her eyes, then the tears attract flies even after the tears and gunk are long gone, even with a flymask) so I need to be able to get her face more clean than a washcloth ever could.

My end goal for Lacey is to have her hopefully be able to be a babysitter horse somewhere down the road and babysitter horses are generally good with water in their faces. My plan is multifaceted.

And just to reiterate, I am not "spraying" her in the face with the hose. The water comes out of the hose at about 1/3 full power most of the time and that's about the pressure of the water on her face too. I would never ask her to handle having water on her face in a way that I wouldn't want to have water on my face. And since I can handle this hose putting water on my face, I feel she also should be able to handle this hose putting water on her face.
    08-19-2009, 11:50 AM
That's crazy about the power washing. Did he power wash their faces too? O.o
He would spray from a distance so it would be like a torrential down pour on them... so I would assume yes.... he did get their heads haha.

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