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RezaluteSupreme 09-28-2013 06:37 PM

Scared of fly spray?!?!?!
I just bought a 14 year QH gelding and he's afraid of bug spray!!!!! I use horse frontline stuff, but I really just want to be able to spray on and ride. Any ideas on how to get him used to the spray. (I am able to spray it into my hands and rub it on him, but it takes way too long. He's just scared of the spraying part)

TrailDustMelody 09-28-2013 07:03 PM

What worked with my mare is basically to spray her until she realized it wasn't going to kill her. Fill a spray bottle with lukewarm water and start spraying the ground, then work your way to his shoulder, etc. Just keep it rhythmic, horses like patterns. :) Good luck!

DraftyAiresMum 09-28-2013 07:38 PM

Do as TDM suggested with the warm water, but do not stop until he is standing still. The second he stops moving, stop spraying and praise him. If he starts to get belligerent or nasty as you're spraying, drop the bottle and make him work until he submits (lunge him in small circles on the lead rope at a trot). He'll soon realize that the quieter he stands, the less time it takes and the less work he has to do.
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womack29 09-28-2013 07:43 PM

I agree TDMs idea is great. My mare was 5 when I got her and I think had never been exposed to fly spray. I did what TDM said and in just 2 lessons she no longer was afraid.

RezaluteSupreme 09-28-2013 08:08 PM

Thanks a bunch, I'll try it tomorrow:)

MAG1723 10-03-2013 11:19 PM

I agree with TDM. My mare was scared of it but I would do it everyday, start at her feet to her shoulder and back to her hindquarters. eventually I could go down her neck. Now she is totally fine with it.

Palomine 10-05-2013 06:02 AM

Horse is having you on. Get after horse, make it stand still for this, and don't stop when horse quits acting up either, as that makes this worse, and don't praise it, as it is doing nothing praiseworthy.

bsms 10-05-2013 11:32 AM

I've got a gelding who is still scared of spray bottles. He is a little better after a hundred spray bottles of water, but only a little. My family finally decided it was too much work with too little payback to be worth worrying about. We rub his face with repellant on our hands, but he's on his own after that. In all others ways, he is the most reliable, well mannered horse we own.

Saddlebag 10-05-2013 12:07 PM

bsms, look into clicker training. You don't need a clicker, just cluck with your tongue. With a water bottle I stood aside of the horse facing rearward. The bottle was aimed to my side well away. The idea was to get him used to the sound of the spray. If he stood still I clucked and gave him a treat. I then moved the spray to about a 45* angle and continued spraying. Each time his feet didn't move c/t. Rather than spray in front which might hit him, I moved it so it barely touched his hoof, c/t, then only to his knee c/t then where his shoulder meets his rib cage. Horses are very protective of their head (sight, hearing, odor detection) so that is why I move the spray from knee to rib cage c/t. After that you can likely spray him all the way around. Be sure to stop before the shoulder c/t. What I have found is that by respecting the horse's fear of it getting his head, that after a few days of being sprayed, he will be calmer about having his shoulder and neck done. Start each time as you did the first time, rewarding his progress. After 3 or 4 days you can move thro several stages before offering c/t. BTW, always show the spray bottle to the horse first and allow him to check it out. By taking my time about this my horse knows to stand when I show him the bottle and there is no need to tie or even halter him. When I'm done he might get a treat or he might get his itchies scratched. Either way it's pleasant for him.

beau159 10-05-2013 12:12 PM


Originally Posted by Palomine (Post 3796762)
Horse is having you on. Get after horse, make it stand still for this, and don't stop when horse quits acting up either, as that makes this worse, and don't praise it, as it is doing nothing praiseworthy.

I completely disagree with this. If you just continue to spray, spray, spray when the horse is terrified of the spray (even if the horse stops), you are just waiting for a wreck to happen because you are giving the horse zero release and overwhelming it.

You need to desensitize your horse to the fly spray, the same exact way you'd desensitize a horse to anything else they are scared of.

Usually it is easier to start desensitizing around the shoulder area. Start with your horse loose. He'll feel less "trapped" if he is not tied up. And if he moves around you, so what? It's a work in progress. Give him a good foot or two of slack in the lead rope, and make sure you stay to the side to keep yourself safe (never stand in front of him).

Fill an old bottle with water so you aren't wasting expensive fly spray. :-) Point the spray bottle at your horse's shoulder and start spritzing him with rhythm. He's going to try to move away from you. That's okay. Do not stop, but do not move closer. Move with him and hold your "pressure" steady. The very instant he stops moving his feet, STOP spraying and turn away from him. That is his release of pressure for doing the correct thing. Give him 30 seconds to "soak" and then do it again. He'll probably move again. That's okay. Hold steady. The very instant he stops moving his feet, then you stop. Make sure to do this on both sides of the horse. Don't overdo it. Working on this 10 minutes every day is plenty.

Eventually, you'll get to a point that your horse will not move when you start spraying. So then your "reward" to stop spraying him is when he shows signs of relaxation. So you might start spraying him, and his head elevates and his eye get wide. Continue to spray until you see some sort of relaxation: head lowering, blinking, licking lips, etc.

Work on one body part at a time, keeping in mind you may have to start from scratch when moving to a different body part. Lower hind legs (for example) may be more scary for him that front legs. Always position yourself to the side of the horse to keep yourself out of harm's way.

Timing is very important. Don't stop spraying too soon, or your horse will learn incorrect behavior. Don't stop spraying too late, or your horse will not be rewarded for correct behavior.

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