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RememberMeForThis99 05-20-2013 05:07 AM

Help! Won't go into creek!
I recently purchased as my first horse a 4 yo tb mare. You may think "as a first horse!?!? O.O" but she was never raced and was trail ridden to build up a level head. I can put a black trash bag over her head and she doesn't even move. The one problem I have had with her is she will not step down into a creek on the trails (there is no way around this creek).

I do not think it's the water that's worrying her, though. To get down into the creek the horse has to go down a short but steep muddy-ish slope. Or you can go down a slightly less steep slope that ends at some pebbles/rocks instead of straight into the shallow creek. She will not go down either.

Yesterday I tried to take her down both of them under saddle and on the ground, she simply refused either way. The same was today. My friend rode her horse down both ways in front of us, by the way. She just wanted to turn away from the bank. She's a very willing horse at all other times so far.

I really don't know what to do! I'm an avid trail rider and I even do JPRs, I don't want this fear of going down the slope (which I really hate myself, by the way, but you really can't reach the other trails unless you cross the creek) to get in the way of happy trails!

I haven't tried her crossing any water yet, but she loves it being bathe if that makes any difference. She'll jump down little drop offs as well. The paths to get down to the creek aren't exactly inviting, I'll admit, but she wouldn't even follow her friend...

Sorry for typing so much, I just really want you all to get exactly what I'm talking about! And thank you in advance!! Oh and I brought her as an event horse not a trail horse if you were going to chide me on that...

SorrelHorse 05-20-2013 05:32 AM

Horses looking at water is tricky. They can't perceive depth, so to them it looks very scary.

For me, I like to work a horse pretty hard next to the water and then offer them a rest facing it or when they take a step towards it. If they back away, then I take them away and work them hard again. Teach them water = rest.

Or, alternatively, if the horse is of sound mind I will back them down the slope and into the water. Once they are in, generally they are fine.

horseluver250 05-20-2013 07:39 AM

I have had good luck getting a horse into water by backing them in first, as sorrelhorse suggested. You would have to find a safe spot in the creek to do so though.

CowboyBob 05-20-2013 09:27 AM

when you say you "recently" got this horse, how recently? How much do you think you have worked with this horse up to now? Horses are not scared of water, they drink water they will walk through it on there own at will. (its madding isn't it). I think that you and your horse have work to do it shouldn't matter what is in front of you, water, tarp, jump, stairs, road, bridge, ditch, or cliff. If "your" training is where is should be you ask the horse to move forward if you have done what you need to do, your horse should move forward. Just because she is "great" at everything else doesn't matter. You have found one of the "thing" that you horse feels is too much for you to ask.

As for working with her to cross the creek. If you haven't had her very long I would skip it do lots and lots of ground work, working on obeying and trust. Once you feel you have some very good ground rules and your horse know you are the boss no matter what, then come back to the creek.

If the creek has ANY embankment to it I WOULD NOT back you horse down to cross the creek. (IMO) FOR ME I would back a horse into anything to get them into it BUT that's just my opinion.

When I am getting a horse to cross water or whatever they don't want to walk up to. I point their nose at the thing and ask them to move forward (keep a good seat don't lean forward). So I ask them to move forward, the ONLY time I move them away from "the thing" is when they move forward. So I ask them to move forward, they take a step in the right direction, I release the perish, if the horse is getting too worked up I will ride away from the thing (I might just turn them away from the thing), give them time to rest a few seconds then point them back at the thing, and ask again. So on and so on, over and over until they cross the water, step on the tarp, smell the scary rock...whatever the "thing" is.

But, if this is a big fight I have to decide do I really need to fight this here and now, can I work on this problem in some other place, what is the training that is lacking in my horse that is holding them back from doing this. ITS NOT THE WATER its a training issue. let the water go, think about training.

jamesqf 05-20-2013 02:26 PM


Originally Posted by RememberMeForThis99 (Post 2566193)
I don't want this fear of going down the slope (which I really hate myself, by the way...

Maybe the horse is smarter than you are? As she sees what sounds like a somewhat dangerous slope with a creek at the bottom, senses that her rider is nervous about going down it, and (quite sensibly, IMHO) decides she's not going to do it.

So can you find another creek without the slope to practice creek crossings? And could you ride that crossing on another horse until you are confident?

PS: The steepish muddy slope going down to the crossing suggests you can't readily desensitize by going down there...

stevenson 05-20-2013 02:47 PM

I would not back down a slope. That is just asking for trouble. I had a paint that was afraid of water that was over his knees, we had to cross a river, and we crossed it the first time, mid stream we had a rodeo. I was pretty bruised and banged up b y the time we got back to the barn. After I healed up, I statred ponying him into the water, he figured out how to swim, then it was on bareback to swim him easy to slide off, wet jeans stick to leather, after a month or so, he would swim.

AnnaHalford 05-20-2013 03:25 PM

Can you lead her down the slope / across the creek? From your post, it sounds as though you tried only under saddle, or did I miss something?

Edit : yup, I missed something :)

You need to work a bit more with your horse, then the day you go down there to try again, have the time to stay down there. Make her life difficult if she tries to turn away, give her a break and lots of praise if she stays facing it or takes a step in the right direction.

RememberMeForThis99 05-20-2013 04:25 PM

@CowboyBob; I have had Jane for a week and a half. I've done groundwork, free lounging and did a couple 'bombproofing' sessions. As I've said I've put a trash bag over her head, and she's done everything else I've asked of her. Also never once did I say she was "'great' at everything else". Do not quote what has not been said, please. And the 'one problem I have had with her' is of course an exaggeration. It's just the one problem I have not been able to solve or figure out how to solve so far, I come to this horse forum with a humbled mind and to get help. I do not come to be talked down to and to have people imply I'm a total idiot.

@Jamesqf; She may actually. I'm very confident with the creek and slope though, I've been through it on other horses and know there isn't any threatening danger of going down it. There is another creek that I will try just to see if it really is the stepping into water or the slope that's the problem (CowboyBob; ever think that the horse may have been abused in/around water so associates water with pain?)

@AnnaHalford; I will try this. :)

@SorrelHorse; I like the water equals rest idea. It's a muddy slope so I don't think I'll try backing into it... But thanks!

@Everyone; thanks for replying! I won't have time to go down to the creek today but I will do some more groundwork with her. I also have things in the ring I need to help her with! :)

trailhorserider 05-20-2013 05:17 PM

I think you really took CowboyBob's post the wrong way. When I read it I didn't get any of the negativity you seem to have thought was there.

Actually, he took the time to write out a really good reply. :-)

Because you haven't had the horse very long it is only natural that you guys don't have all the kinks worked out and all the trust you will have with a horse you owned for a long time. I don't think it means the horse doesn't respect you or's just a new horse and she doesn't trust you 100% yet. That doesn't mean it won't be there once you have a better relationship.

Will the horse cross (or at least get down to the water) if you lead her? That may help you get at least down to the water.

RememberMeForThis99 05-20-2013 06:06 PM

@trailhorserider; it was a good reply, I just couldn't help but feel a bad attitude as I read it. Especially with all the 'quotes', caps, bold text and '(it's maddening isn't it?)'. Others, like yourself, manage to get their opinion out without ticking the person you are trying to explain your opinion to off. And yes I totally agree about our relationship, I just asked about it because I didn't have any idea to help work it out and I didn't want to ruin her. She's such a wonderful horse so I'm trying to be as careful as I can when training her. I'm going to try another creek to see if she'll cross it later on in the week.

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