Water Shy? Or Spray Shy?
My horse has a very big and interesting past. I don't know most of it other than the fact that she was neglected and left in a field with nothing for 2 years of her life. She is the calmest horse other than one thing: she is water shy or rather, fly spray shy. I let her smell the bottle, letting her know its not going to hurt her and then begin spraying the bottom of her legs gently. Right away, her eyes roll back, her ears go back, and she starts to back away. I mean, I'm kinda a softie towards her past, knowing that she was-I don't know-abused by wet things. I don't know how I can help her get over her fear of things getting sprayed on her, and I've tried just about everything I could. Help?
A lot of horses either don't like the sound a spray bottle makes, the feel of spray hitting them or likely both. Anyway, fill your bottle with water and keep working on her. I doubt she'll ever like it but she will learn to tolerate it.
I don't think the sound of the spray bottle is a problem for my mare though. What I had to do in the past was to put a sock on and spray the fly spray onto the sock, and rub it onto her. I sprayed the sock right in front of her, and she didn't even flinch. So now I really don't know what's wrong with her. Or perhaps I'm doing something wrong?
Then likely she doesn't like the feel of spray hitting her. Same thing applies, use water in the spray bottle so as not to waste spray and use it on her. She'll get desensitised.
Maybe it's the sensation of the spray. My pony is the same way -- only get this. I can spray his rear & belly all day long. Let me pass his shoulder and he has the same reaction. So this is what I do:
Start in a comfortable area (any area she'll accept it). Slowly move; when you reach an uncomfortable area, move backwards to the 'comfort.' Then repeat the process, slowly working your way all over. It's worked well with my guy... And also helped me get him calm about handling his feet. (Before, when you passed his "elbow," he would jerk his leg up and set back.)
Water shy... This is what I do with my gelding & my boss's "dangerously" water shy filly (she will kick out if you're not careful). I stand in a position where I can move them around and not lose the pressure (the water spray). I set it on a basic filter, such as it would running straight from the hose, and get to it. Let them dance... As soon as they stand for 3 seconds or so, I take it away and bring on the praise. (The filly loves to be scratched in her sweet spot as a reward.) Eventually the "stand" time got longer, and now they stand calmly for it.
Spray with water, get her in a confined area but where she can move around you and have a hold of her head and just keep spraying so that she circles around you whilst you keep spraying.
You stop spraying when she stands of her own accord.
I had the same problem with my horse for a couple of years, using wipe instead of fly spray and when I decided to try and fix it I was spraying her in three days.
Put the horse on a lunge line, fill your spray bottle with water and don't spray at the horse but rather, spray around the horse. Most likely the horse will pull away and go in circles on the lunge line. Keep spraying until he stops which might be several minutes then quit spraying after he stops. Try doing this a few times a day, spraying until he stops.
Next, start at the back feet and spray until he stops.
Get the idea? Be consistent. Work 15 minutes or so on this two to three times a day.
Most on the forum don't like to give treats, but when the horse stops I'd give a peppermint treat and a good pet down with lots of praise.
My mare still doesn't really like the spray bottle but she tolerates it, and that's fine with me.
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