Scared of Spray Bottles & Won't Back Up Straight?! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 07-11-2012, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Scared of Spray Bottles & Won't Back Up Straight?!

I recently started riding a new pony for someone to get her back into riding shape by the time they can get back into the saddle and there a couple problems I want to make sure I am handling correctly!

She is terrified of spray bottles, I went to spray on some fly spray since she's in the trees there are a lot of bugs, the mare tries to step away. I've been spraying and petting her with it and showing her the bottle and a few times I was able to spray her entire body without her caring but the next time I go back she does the same thing and tries to step away. What is the best approach to get her to trust the bottle completely that I can just go up and start spraying her?

Another issue i'm having is that when I ask her to back up she side-steps to the right. I've tried changing the pressure between my left and right leg as well as left and right rein and every time she still goes to the right. I'm not sure how to tackle this one! I've been told by the owner she's thrown off two people after hitting the electric fence because she wouldn't stop backing up, she's tried to do this to me once but when asked to go forward she stops.

Thanks for any help in advance! :)
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post #2 of 4 Old 07-12-2012, 09:22 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: SE TN
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I've been working on this starting on Friday last week so we're into day 6 today. I put the spray bottle in the stall with her and left it there all day.

Twice a day, I'd put her on a lounge line and start spraying.....she went in circles for probably five minutes before she stopped.....I kept spraying for about 30 more seconds.....not at her or on her just out to the side.....

When I quit spraying I gave her a peppermint......then slowly started spraying first she circled again...but this time stopped in a minute or so.....repeated.....stopped in a couple of circles..I did this for maybe 20 minutes, morning and evening....when we quit I put the spray bottle back in the stall with her.

Day three she stood for circles.....several peppermints then!

It's fun to make this kind of progress.....I'm proud of her.....

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
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post #3 of 4 Old 07-12-2012, 03:02 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Missouri
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I'm sorry but there is no way acclimating to fly spray should take six days...just not necessary for it to be drug out like this.

While a horse may act up a little bit on 2nd go? Most won't if handled right when teaching it/applying it.

You are teaching horse that it is something to be concerned over by dragging it out.

Show horse bottle, squeeze it a few times, use water to spray at first so don't waste money of course, and then spray horse. Work at chest and shoulder area, then sides. If horse moves, move with them, and if horse keeps it up? Get after the horse and make it stand still.

This is why having a "be still" or "stand" command is so important. Horses can and do stand still for hours.

Horse isn't terrified of it, horse has learned it can do what it wants to, hence the backing up deal.

Horse is backing up as defiance to keep from doing something it doesn't want to do. It is barn sour, spoiled, buddy sour, what have you, but at this point, it is winning the game.

It is ignoring your cues, and the whole fly spray battle is but another part of it. Horse does not respect you period.

You need to reassess your handling skills as that is the root of this more than likely. Petting, praising, letting horse walk all over you, leads to this type of thing.

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post #4 of 4 Old 07-12-2012, 10:02 PM
Join Date: Jul 2012
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Good job with the fly spray! Some horses take longer than others to get comfortable with that. Personally I'd avoid the use of treats as that tends to distract them from what they're learning. But this method seems to have worked for you.
With my horse and fly spray I did something similar, if she moved away, I made her move A LOT. If she wanted to dance around to avoid the spray I'd make her yield all the parts of her, backing, lunging in circles, everything until she realized it was just easier to stand still for 2 minutes than work for 20.

As for turning rather than backing while riding - my first thought is check her teeth. Sometimes when they have a sore spot on one side they react like that. If that's all fine then clearly it's back to basics. Practice on the ground getting a strong, straight back up. When horses back up on their own they trot backwards, diagonal pairs moving backward. Often when told to back up they're awkward and jumbled and back up one foot at a time, which often confuses them and they'll often end up moving backwards and sideways. So practice backing on the ground until your verbal cue and light pressure makes her 'trot' backwards, showing she's comfortable with this. Then move to the saddle, use your verbal cue and even gentler physical cues. When backing I find many people have trouble remembering the release of pressure. The moment she backs relieve the pressure. Each time asking a little more of her.

For only 6 days of work sounds like you two are doing well. :)
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