My horse leaps over water
Steve and I just got two great horses, and we discovered my mare's most interesting ability to date, on a trail ride yesterday. When we approached water (small streams in wooded areas), she was clearly anxious. She fussed around on the side, held still and then lept to the other side. I barely hung on.
Does anyone have any ideas on teaching horses to handle water less dramatically?
I think horses believe that the little fishys and frogs will eat them :)
First I have to ask if you were in a group, did the other horses jump over it? She may have just been doing follow the leader. If not, you need to work on her water fear. If Steve's horse doesn't jump, let him go first with your horses nose right in his horses butt. If that doesn't work, go to the crossing and get her as close as you can without crossing then turn away, keep getting her close and turning away. (advance and retreat) if she puts a foot in give her a good girl and retreat. Just let her do it one foot at a time. Let her put her nose down and investigate it. If she acts like she is going to jump turn her away from it. It will take some time but she will get it, have patience and have fun with your new horse.
Horses are naturally claustrophobic, they hate anything that traps them or limits their ability to run away. Water is a great example of this because horses cannot move quickly in water, and if you’ve watched those nature programs you’ve seen the alligators lying in wait for the zebras and antelope that have to cross. This fear is what is genetically programmed into every horse’s instincts: stay out of the water!
The answer lies in helping a horse to become more confident with himself, with you. When he trusts your leadership he will do what you ask, without fear, however, the more you force a horse to do the things he’s afraid of they less he will trust you. It’s all about preparation, simulation, approach and retreat.
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