Trouble hosing your horse off? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 09-23-2009, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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Trouble hosing your horse off?

Here is a wonderful article written by a 3 star Parelli Professional about how to help your horse become confident with hoses and water.

Wash Those Fears Away

"Prepare your horse for the possible, the probable and the inevitable." Pat Parelli

It is probable that at some point in your horse's life your vet will prescribe cold hosing of the legs as a therapy. How do you convince your prey animal that the hose and the water will not kill him?

Remember that everything we do with horses is simply some form of Game 1, 2 or 3 (Friendly, Porcupine, Driving). We want the hosing to be Friendly, but many horses perceive it as Driving.

The Driving Game uses rhythmic pressure, but the Friendly Game is rhythmic motion. Its purpose is to desensitize the horse and help him to become more tolerant and brave. Regardless of the stimulus, use the four R's of the Friendly Game- rhythm, relaxation, retreat and reapproach. Use retreat and reapproach with steady, predictable rhythm while keeping relaxation in your body. Smiling helps! You're going to start by simulating with the end of the 12-foot line, progressing to the hose and eventually using the hose with water running out of it.

With the lead rope over your arm or in your hand and your body relaxed, use rhythmic motion to approach, retreat and reapproach the hrose. Ideally, retreat before the horse moves. At first you may miss it, so use that information as your baseline for how far to go. Try again. Observe closely. Approach slowly and retreat quickly before the horse reacts! As you retreat in a timely way the horse will begin to relax. As it does, change the rhythm to approach-stay-retreat-pause-reapproach-stay-retreat.

Be sure you can rub the horse with the rope before using the hose and can rub with the hose before turning on the water. Once the water is flowing, it is highly likely that as you approach and retreat some drops will fall on the horse. If he moves now, keep the rhythm going (approach-retreat-reapproach-retreat) quickly until he slows down or stops. Then give him a big retreat and wait until he licks his lips. Fairly quickly the horse will move less and less, and he will stop more and more quickly. Before you know it, he will not move as you splash the water on. Retreat! Soon you will be able to pause with the water on the legs- at first for a moment or two, then for a second or two, then longer and longer. Your partner will progress from intolerance to tolerance to acceptance, and eventually, as he discovers the cooling, pain-relieving effects of the cold water, even to enjoyment. Your prior and proper preparation savvy will turn a potentially challening situation into just another great Parelli Friendly Game!

A note of caution!
Right Brained Introverts can look as if they are accepting while they are still intolerant because their reaction is to freeze in place vs. move. Watch for these subtle signs:

*Hard, staring eyes, no blinking- often with the head up and body tense; horse is frozen, likely to explode!
*"Airplane" position of the ears often accompanied with head tilted as if looking out the top of the eye.
*Starting block position (hind leg appears cocked but is actually braced wide under the body, as opposed to a relaxed cocked leg, which is relatively straight from the hip to tail)- the horse is half gone!
*Ribs arcing away, hindquarters arcing toward the stimulus or you.
*Not breathing or shallow breathing.

If you see any of these, slow down, retreat more quickly and wait longer before you reapproach- long enough for the horse to relax (signs of relaxation are licking, blowing, blinking, lowering the head, etc.). It may take several minutes or up to an hour and a half! As Pat says, with a smile, "I've never seen it take longer than two days."
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post #2 of 16 Old 09-23-2009, 02:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spirithorse View Post
Remember that everything we do with horses is simply some form of Game
Sorry - that theory does not sit at all well with me.
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post #3 of 16 Old 09-23-2009, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
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That's fine.
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post #4 of 16 Old 09-23-2009, 02:53 PM
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Sorry... I don't agree with that at all. If you retreat every time the horse acts up, won't that just teach him to act up to make you retreat?

I think you should approach and STAY, not retreat. Like, if you're hosing off a leg and he starts to act up, keep the hose on his leg without moving until he stands still, and then continue. That way, he learns that you're not going stop spraying him no matter what he does, so he might as well stop trying.

That's just my theory.
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post #5 of 16 Old 09-23-2009, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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If you were to stop COMPLETELY when the horse gets nervous, yes, you would teach him to be nervous. But doing approach, retreat, reapproach will not teach the horse to be nervous.....using rhythm helps the horse calm down because it's consistant and predictable. That's why when the horse finally stands still you RETREAT altogether, just like the article says. That big release shows the horse that was the right response.
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post #6 of 16 Old 09-23-2009, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CloudsMystique View Post
Sorry... I don't agree with that at all. If you retreat every time the horse acts up, won't that just teach him to act up to make you retreat?

I think you should approach and STAY, not retreat. Like, if you're hosing off a leg and he starts to act up, keep the hose on his leg without moving until he stands still, and then continue. That way, he learns that you're not going stop spraying him no matter what he does, so he might as well stop trying.

That's just my theory.
Mmm.. Mine too, apparently; because I agree :) And it always works just fine.

Most people are like Slinkies; they serve no real purpose, but they bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.
When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on for dear life.
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post #7 of 16 Old 09-23-2009, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CloudsMystique View Post
Sorry... I don't agree with that at all. If you retreat every time the horse acts up, won't that just teach him to act up to make you retreat?

I think you should approach and STAY, not retreat. Like, if you're hosing off a leg and he starts to act up, keep the hose on his leg without moving until he stands still, and then continue. That way, he learns that you're not going stop spraying him no matter what he does, so he might as well stop trying.

That's just my theory.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunny06 View Post
Mmm.. Mine too, apparently; because I agree :) And it always works just fine.
Ditto to the above. Works wonders for my guys. To my mind, any release of pressure is a reward for whatever happened within 3 seconds ago. Partial release = little reward, total release = big reward. Now, if my hose-shy horse is afraid, I won't approach any further, but I like to catch them when they're a teeny bit past comfortable and stop and let that become comfortable, then retreat, not find them genuinely frightened and have to back off to the teensy past comfy state.

"Just My Theory"

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #8 of 16 Old 09-23-2009, 06:27 PM
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Bless your heart Spirthorse,
But you are just giving an old cowboy a headache with too many steps and I am going to need a book to remember it all.

Simple method;

Tie up mare on hot day.



Wash her down and the baby gets wet too.



Baby grows up and likes water also.
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post #9 of 16 Old 09-23-2009, 08:46 PM
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problem is, it doesn't work with geldings. But we did get to go help an "old cowboy" load his dead horse and haul it to the dump last summer. Thought he'd hard tie him and make him get used to water. Poor bugger hung back, broke the halter, flipped over backward and fractured his skull. Simple huh?

The bottom line is that no one method works for everyone. For people who have trained horses all their lives, you likely have your own techniques. For people who are learning but still competent, there may be other ways to try out. You don't need to bash something because it isn't the way you'd do it. Just say nothing at all...

Last edited by tealamutt; 09-23-2009 at 08:49 PM.
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post #10 of 16 Old 09-23-2009, 10:13 PM
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Let me get this straight teal.

You can't hose down a gelding with water?

You must live in a very strange part of the horse world indeed!



I will add more steps to help you out next time.
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