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Jewelsb 06-19-2012 12:21 AM

The horror of water!!
I have a new mare and she is really scared of the hose and getting a bath. But she is mostly white and really dirty now! She needs a bath bad!! Any suggestions on how to get her over her fear? She's pretty spooky in general. When I got her she was at an amish trainer and all bloody from them forcing her to do what they wanted of her.:/
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Ace80908 06-19-2012 12:45 AM

I would start really slow with her... my new girl was neglected badly, and afraid as well - I just got her two weeks ago. My strategy was to keep her separated from the other horses, and keep her stalled at night. Her stall is where she gets her hay, grain, and supplements. During the day she is turned out in a paddock alongside the field my other two are in, but I leave the barn door open so she can go into her stall as she pleases.

Every day, several times a day, I go to the barn and mess around. Clean the stalls, sit and watch the horses, brush them down... just hang around. I kept treats on me the first week, and would patiently approach her (she didn't want me to get too close), give her a treat, then leave. After the first few days she would approach cautiously to get a goody. Then I started grooming her in her stall at night while she ate, at first only her neck and shoulders - now I groom her head to toe, including picking up her fronts as she eats... I tie her to pick up her back feet. She now also gets turned out with the others for a few hours, but is kept apart most of the time simply because she is on free feed to gain weight, and my other two are fatties :)

Start working on leading, lunging, walk and whoa - small steps to let her gain confidence. Rub her down with towels and blankets to begin to desensitize her. Lots of praise. Take your time and it will go fast... rush and she'll lose any trust you gain, and backwards you'll go.

After she begins to trust you is when to introduce the hose, and at first I would let her see you dragging the hose around, filling water tanks, etc... just no big deal to see the hose and water. Then I would hold her so she can circle you as you introduce a thin stream of water to her front feet, then move up those legs - just take your time, keep it matter of fact with no drama, and then leave it on a good note.

I am taking it really slow with my girl, and now, after only two weeks, my girl Ivy will come willingly to me, stand for brushing, allow blankets and fly masks, pick up all four and is beginning to lunge. She is also nearly completely white, and she is filthy... but we will do a bath slowly when she's ready.

Good luck with your new girl, it is very rewarding to watch them bloom!

Jewelsb 06-19-2012 01:02 AM

Thanks for the advice. I've had her for almost a month now. I work a lot and just need more time to spend with her. I'm just now getting her to relax a bit when spraying her down with fly spray. She had her feet done today and was scared but did really well. I brush her all over and she does great but gets scared when you first do her legs. I just feel like other people at my barn are probably thinking I must be neglecting her because of how dirty she is, yet my gelding is super shiney and clean lol. Poor horse is covered in stains and has dirty spots all over!
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possumhollow 06-19-2012 02:04 AM

I think I would try a bucket of warm water and a sponge to start with instead of a hose. Our ASB is a toe rag sometimes about the hose, but nothing bad's ever happened to him (he's 12 1/2 and we've had him since 5 months old), he just likes to dance around like a fool.

Foxhunter 06-19-2012 02:27 AM

I never have problems bathing any horse because I do not use cold water. I always use warm.
I dislike cold showers so why should horses enjoy it?

Another thing is that if you try and wash dishes in cold water it does not remove the grease - nor does cold water get a horse clean.
You only ned one bucket of hot soapy water and two of warm to bath a horse thoroughly.

loosie 06-19-2012 03:24 AM

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I'd be worried about my horse shrinking, Foxhunter! :LOL:

She was BLOODY from the trainer?!?!:evil: Poor girl. I agree that taking it all very slowly & working to gain her trust on other less frightening stuff first is the way to go.

DrumRunner 06-19-2012 03:39 AM

Let her have a good long workout and get hot, start with just her legs..Do you have a spray nozzle on the hose? With the different little "settings"? Start with the mist, then the soft shower, and work your way up..It's how we start our skittish horses and they end up loving it...

Foxhunter, mine LOVE a cold shower..Maybe it's because it's usually high 90s during the day here from May - September and if they get a good work out they get really hot and love to be rinsed off..If it's really hot and I'm over while they're turned out I'll just squirt the hose at them and they stand still under it to cool off..

Jewelsb 06-19-2012 04:26 AM

We have a hot water wash rack here but unfortunately it's always cold even on hot muggy days! Yesterday was 97 and yup still cold water came out. I like the idea of using a bucket of warm water and the idea of giving her a good mist down after a hard work I think she would really enjoy it then. The problem is she might be bred too:/ so idk how hard we should be working her. We actually find out later today. If she is
pregnant she's 8 months along. She's pretty big so I'm thinking that she is pregnant.
Yes bloody from this "trainer" so I do need to build trust. All I can say is I couldn't leave her with that guy so we bought her!

Saddlebag 06-19-2012 07:35 AM

Most horses are afraid of getting water in their ears. Plus they are sensitive enough to feel a fly land so often try to avoid too much water pressure. My arab had to have a mist nozzle. Start with the hose pointed to your side and give her a quick splash on her hoof and move the horse away quickly. Don't have the hose on full but about half as you don't want a lot of pressure. If she doesn't move offer her a wee treat. Just work with that one hoof, offering the treat for standing still. Gradually work to her knee, but don't go any higher on her leg. Instead try behind her withers for a couple of seconds and treat. By now she should be associating standing still with the treat and the hose and water becomes secondary. Don't worry about rising her complete body this first time. When next you do it have lots of treats and again reward the standing still. Offering treats at the right time can have a strong influence on the horse. When you offer it always extend your arm so the horse has to turn it's head away from your body to get it.

rascalboy 06-19-2012 05:00 PM

You might need to do sponge baths for now.
She probably just needs more time to get settled in.
You might try feeding raspberry leaves. It's supposed to calm mares down a bit (and some people use it on geldings), so it might help with her. It takes about a month to get into her system. It works very well on my mare. Everyone knows when I run out of raspberry leaves! :D You do need to give a few months off of them during the year, but I usually do that during winter, when she isn't as crabby. I buy a 1lb bag from for like $10, and that lasts a decent amount of time. My mare gets about 1/4c-1/2cup a day.
(Mare Magic is the same thing, but it's way more expensive and the dosage is way too small).

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