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hberrie 12-29-2012 12:33 PM

My horse is terrified of water
Getting him into the bathing stall is a chore and he jumps around the whole time I try to bathe him. He is a sorrel and stays pretty clean so bathing is not a huge issue. He recently had an injury on his right hind leg and I wanted to clean it and cool it with water. I couldn't get near him with the bucket and washcloth. He acted like I was trying to scald him. I ended up using a drawing salve and wrapping with vet tape which worked out fine, but this is a frustrating problem. He won't even step in a tiny puddle. Are there any suggestions to help him get over his fear? Sometimes I feel like throwing him into a lake lol.

riccil0ve 12-29-2012 01:17 PM

Haha, I know the feeling!

As far as the wash stall, I would get him comfortable there without water. If you can't get him in, get him near it. You want to push him just a *little* bit out of his comfort zone. Then groom him there and go about your business. The goal is to get a little further each session. And you'll get further with several short sessions a day than one long one every day.

When you start adding water, do the same thing. I would try to use a "tie blocker" type set up. That can be done with a lunge line looped around a stall bar or fence post. It'll give him somewhere to "run" but he can't go far. If he wants to reel back a step or two, let him, but then bring him back.

Don't use it as an opportunity to spray him all over. The first bit may just be holding the hose, turned off, next to him. Then it might be turning the water on and standing there. Then it may be getting a hoof wet. Take it slow, give him time, and stay patient. It may take him a year to not panic when it rains, but you'll get there! =P

Just remember you only want to push him a LITTLE out of his comfort zone. As tempting as it is to throw him in a lake, that would overwhelm his wee brain, and won't be that helpful, lol.
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Janna 12-29-2012 01:37 PM

Put him in a good pen and spray him all over and only stop if he's hiding still.
I do this getting my colts used to the water hose.

Red Cedar Farm 12-29-2012 01:45 PM

I have to agree with riccil0ve on this one. No telling what happened to him before you got him...someone may have just decided to douse him with cold water from the hose with no warning or thought to how he might feel or react to it. Most horses don't like being hosed down at first, but if you can be sensitive about it and go slow to help him with his fear and aversion, that will go a long way with him as far as trusting you and allowing you to hose him down.
Something I do (but not everyone has access to this) is use WARM water from the hose. It's not nearly the shock to them that a blast of cold water is...

Saddlebag 12-29-2012 02:35 PM

Try him with the hose with the water dribbling out. Hold it to your side and if he stands still, offer him a small treat. Move the hose from your side to your front in about 2" increments and treat him as long as he stands still. If he moves, move the horse back to your side. When he will stand barely spray it on his hoof and move it away quickly, always treating if he stands still. You will gradually work up to his knee then his shoulder and back. Horses worry about getting water in their ears and are often reactionary. When you can dribble water on his back and rump, give him his treat and give him a break for a minute, then start on the other side. By now he knows he will be rewarded for standing still. Don't worry about his chest, head and neck for now. Too often people start hosing a horse down with a fair amount of water pressure and aim for the neck and the horse tries to escape. His skin is sensitive, this is why the dribbly hose. You will be able to increase the water pressure but just work with him with the dribbles for a few times.

stevenson 12-29-2012 03:23 PM

hope those work for you ! I have a couple of horses that are total freaks when comes to water. Every summer we go through if I get wet I am gonna melt.
I have two that just Hate water, barley even put thier lips in the water to drink, and stand as far away from the water trough that they can. One mare is such a stupid animal, that when you give her a treat, she acts like you are trying to feed her poison, every single time. I swear the one horse is seriously mentally defecient.

PaintHorseMares 12-29-2012 03:55 PM

Our youngest mare has always hated water. She'll stand tied if you need to wash/rinse her, but she'll still do a little dance.
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