My horse is terrified of baths/fly spray - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 05-30-2009, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
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My horse is terrified of baths/fly spray

Sooo, I know this is probably totally weird, but I was sort of hoping someone could give me advice here...

Annie just turned 3 this month, and while she is a sweet, gentle horse, she is sadly lacking in ground manners, and she seems to be afraid of everthing. She just totally lacks confidence and doesn't seem to have been exposed to much. (I just got her in January).

The first time I bathed her, she got so horrified that she was actually trembling...even when I switched from the (low pressure) hose to just using a soaked rag.

The first time I sprayed her with fly spray...same response. On Thursday, I tried again, and the same thing. So I tried rubbing a rag soaked with fly spray on her face, and she flipped out so badly that I was afraid she would hurt me and/or herself, and then she stepped on the bottle of fly spray and crushed It's funny now, but at the time I was EXTREMELY frustrated. This is really weird, because any other time you can practically yank on her ears, rub her whole face, pull on her mouth, etc., and she just gets a silly drowsy look on her face. She is never, ever mean-spirited...everything "bad" she does indicates fear, not bad temperament. And even when she's afraid, she doesn't kick, bite, or stomp her feet. She just tries to flee.

The problem is, she has to have fly spray on her...she's absolutely covered right now. Any suggestions? Obviously, the long-term solution is that I need to build trust with her/work on ground manners/respect. But meanwhile, the flies are eating her alive.
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-30-2009, 11:35 PM
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Im not sure if they are available where you live, but there is a fly thing that you can attach to your halter and it looks somewhat like this, but you can get ones with a fly repellent on each strand/string. Also, as it sounds, your horse is scared of wet rags/things.. but they make fly spray wipes, and they are kinda like them hand sanitizing wipes, but they have fly spray already on them, and they work really great for around the face and under the horses body near the more ticklish areas.

My mare is scared to DEATH of fly spray as well. Shes fine for baths, but not any kind of spray. I usually just spray it in my hand, and rub it all over her. It gets messy, but it works well if they dont see the spray bottle.

here is the picture of the fly repelent halter thing..

dont know if i helped at all but good luck! i know how frusturating it can be!
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Last edited by Jillyann; 05-30-2009 at 11:36 PM. Reason: Spelling
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post #3 of 14 Old 05-31-2009, 11:32 AM
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I'm having the same problems with my own three year old. He goes absolutely up the wall when you come with a hose or fly spray bottle -rolls eyes- Scared of everything too.

I would try internal fly repellents. I believe garlic is one of them...I've never actually tried it though, I just know it exists.

You could also try roll-on fly spray. You could hide it in your palm and at least see if she'll let you do her face. :)

Wait! I'll fix it....
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-31-2009, 12:19 PM
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Will she even come near the spray bottle? If she will, let her sniff it. Don't spray it or anything, just let her sniff it. Try tying her up next to the other horses when you fly spray them? Same thing with bath time. Have her watch other horses while they get their bath. This is may help the problem, but it never hurts to try.
If she'll sniff it, then start to rub the bottle all over her. If shes calm during this, try spraying some a little on her pastern. If she freaks out, let her sniff it again, remember it's not scary.
A lot of times it just takes practice. We have an Arab gelding we got at a sale for only $125, and he was an awesome riding horse but HATED fly spray and bath time. He was in our trail riding business. He needed to be fly-sprayed before trails and bathed after wards, so he needed to get over it. When it came to fly spray, he was the same as your horse. He trembled, backed up, reared forward, anything to get away. I would grab him by his bridle, and have him go in a circle around me. I kept his head tilted towards me, so he could see that nothing was going to eat him. Then when I was done with one side I'd switch to the other side. Eventually his walking became slower and slower, and after a while he'd just stand there and let me do it. This took many tries though, so I don't know if it's the best method but it worked for the little Arab.
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-31-2009, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Lori1983 View Post
Annie just turned 3 this month, and while she is a sweet, gentle horse, she is sadly lacking in ground manners, and she seems to be afraid of [I]everthing.
The first time I bathed her, she got so horrified that she was actually trembling...even when I switched from the (low pressure) hose to just using a soaked rag.

The first time I sprayed her with fly spray...same response. On Thursday, I tried again, and the same thing. So I tried rubbing a rag soaked with fly spray on her face, and she flipped out so badly that I was afraid she would hurt me and/or herself, and then she stepped on the bottle of fly spray and crushed It's funny now,
Has Annie been to the trainer? I think that Annie probably needs to start at the beginning with her training. Horses, even very sweet ones, can be downright dangerous.

Let me tell you about our Joshua. He had the winter off. My health went downhill pretty rapidly over the winter. We had to ready our house for sale. It's now on the market. We had a lot going on and we just couldn't ride. Yesterday we sprayed Joshua with fly spray. Well, he decided that the fly spray was gonna kill him. He totally freaked out. Scared the other horses. Our trainer worked him out of his attitude. Now, the silly boy ran from the scary fly spray rather than eat his dinner (his favorite activity).

It took making him downright out of breath and some work in the round pen to get the stinker to start behaving. It's OK to be afraid. It's NOT OK to be a goober head. It also took a mighty fine gash in his leg. He's now got a pretty decent gash that required packing and wrapping.

We could easily have been hurt because Joshua was a goof ball. Instead, he was. Your horse will trust and respect you if YOU are in charge.

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post #6 of 14 Old 06-02-2009, 10:31 PM
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My family used to own a breeding farm and every year we would have at least one foal who had similar problems... for the spray i suggest first getting her used to the bottle (filled with only water as sometimes the contents of the bottle can be what upsets the horse), once used to the bottle start moving around her with the bottle but not doing anything, once she is ok with this start making noises and moving around as if spraying but not actually doing anything then slowly ad small squirts in between noises and slowly increase.
As for the hosing that needs to get done asap as you will be in a lot of trouble if she gets a cut or something that needs to be cleaned... i would just try a low flow of water, start by holding her in one hand and just letting the water come out of the hose with her watching, do this every day until it doesn't bother her (ad a treat or possibly let her eat a meal while hose is running in front of her...slowly move the hose closer and closer and eventually get to the feet and work your way up.
This should take no more than 2 weeks or so...the water isn't hurting her so as long as it is a comfortable temperature and low pressure she really has no excuses and there is no reason that she can't learn to accept it, just remember that if she starts to have a meltdown, as log as you take it slow it should be perfectly acceptable to her.
Good Luck!
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post #7 of 14 Old 06-03-2009, 06:32 AM
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I'm having similar issues with my new DW mare. She's been unhandled for so long that she needs sacked again.

Fly spray is the devil as far as she's concerned, but I can't bear to see her itch so much from the bugs. So, each time I groom her I spend a good twenty minutes letting her sniff the bottle, rub it on her nose and her cheek, down her neck and on her body. Then I hold her in one hand, stretch the other hand out with the spray bottle and spray it slowly with her being able to see it. Repeat process, and praise, praise, praise!

At the end of the 20 minutes I'm able to spray her down with the fly spray IF I keep it slow like I did when I was showing her it's not a big nasty snake trying to eat her.

~CoCo 17hh 4 yo OTTB~
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post #8 of 14 Old 06-03-2009, 08:05 AM
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just keep working with him, my arab was the same way, they just have to know the fly spray aint going to kill em, its all in desenitizing them

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post #9 of 14 Old 06-03-2009, 02:59 PM
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My experience has been that if you start at the hooves and work your way up, they will be OK with the noise/feel by the time you get to their head (fly spray or water sprayer) rather than starting at the head or body.

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post #10 of 14 Old 06-03-2009, 04:27 PM
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I'm working a 3 year old right now that used to have this problem. The way I fixed it was to get an empty spray bottle and fill it up with water, no sense wasting money! I began rubbing the bottle half full all over his body. (Half full so it sloshes) Once we were ok with that on BOTH sides and head I began spraying the forequarters. He danced and carried on but I kept his head bent in towards me with about 2ft of slack and just kept spraying like nothing was happening. When he quit moving I sprayed twice, stopped and rubbed with the bottle. I did this all over the horse, forequarters, down back to hindquarters and back up to neck and up to ears. The same way, it took about 40 minutes and my arm was sore from spraying but it worked. Remeber to put your hand over thier eyes when you spray the face. For the face and ears I usually soak a rag and rub it but I still want them to stand for the spray. Also, once you accomplish this it doesn't mean that they are broke to the spray. You should keep doing it for at least a week everyday. It takes time to really train a horse. After a week you can miss a day or two but repetition wins!

Good luck

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