my gelding is eight years old and afraid of the spray bottle... i can get him to where i can rub the bottle all over him but when i go to spray him he freaks out... any ideas on what to do
What exactly does your horse do when you try to spray him? I know a lot of horses will kinda move around while you spray them, but if it's worse than that, certainly not good!
Have you tried spraying it next to him, but not on him. This would at least help determine if he's scared of the noise or the feeling. Maybe try spraying it next to him and have someone holding him that is petting him and/or giving him treats while he is calm (and perhaps distract him with treats before you start spraying) and if he remains calm slowly start spraying closer to him until you're spraying him.
You could try putting water in a spray bottle, spraying it around him until he calms down. You could try spraying him then petting, spraying then petting etc...some horses dont like the initial shot of cold so you could try the spraying and petting and see how that goes until he calms down and realizes your not out to murder him with the bottle!
I'm not sure about the severity of the problem, but I will give advice based on my personal experience.
The best thing definitely would be to get out on a nice warm day and bring him out into a big open space with a spray bottle full of water...then do an average pressure/release deal. Start spraying him and follow him around when he moves and ignore his reactions, just keep spraying consistently. Stop spraying when he shows any better result (if his head was in the air, stop when he lowers it; if he was moving away, stop when he holds still even for a minute; etc.) and completely remove all pressure, maybe give him a pat and then turn your back. He'll likely lick his lips. Wait a few seconds for him to think and relax, then start again. Continue gradually until he accepts it as calmly as you want him to.
This part can be completed usually in a pretty short time, under an hour for pretty sure...but you may have to repeat over a few days until there is never any reaction. It should work out if you take the time to do this as long as you make sure that you never stop spraying while he is moving away or reacting otherwise negatively, because feeling the pressure of something he doesn't like and looking for relief and needs to be taught that the relief comes from standing nicely until you are finished.
My horse is also freaked out with fly spray. I make the "shh" noise the spray coming out of the bottle does, and don't let her see the bottle. I consistently make the noise, and every few seconds or so I put in a shot of the fly spray on her. She doesn't even notice, because she can't tell the difference between my spray and the can's spray. I like rocky pony's method though..
I'm not sure if you're already doing this, but I find that it helps if you start with spraying the legs first, and work your way up. That's just what I do when my boy is being jumpy with a spray bottle.
I agree with the water bottle and spraying around him first. That's what I am doing right now--my silly mule apparently forgot what a spray-bottle was over the winter and is being freaky about it right now. I walk a loop around him with the water bottle, spraying it away from him until he settles, then he gets praise and a good scritch. Then I bring it closer until he settles. Praise and scritch. Then I let him see the bottle in my hand and spray toward his front legs, where he can see it. Praise and scritch. The back legs are harder, since he can hear and feel it, but can't see it. I show him the bottle, spray it gently toward his chest, then continue toward his back legs while spraying his low body, so he can see then feel the continuation of spraying. Praise and scritch. I gently spray his nose when he settles (start away from face then bring toward face, spraying the whole time)--not for fly spray purposes (I wipe on face) but for general desensitization. He's doing well, and a couple more sessions should have him back to normal.
My 8 year old gelding was terrified of the spray bottle when I got him. I did the exact method rocky pony mentioned. I think it's important to start out in a field where you have some room, don't tie him. I'd spray (always starting at the legs) and let him backpedal a bit, moving with him each time. It took most of last summer to get where he would stand still and let me do it, and this spring he's still very tense and twitches his skin, but he does let me spray him. Just takes a lot of patience, and whatever you do, don't get mad at them - it only emphasizes in the horses mind that it's a bad experience if you lose your temper and yell.
I had this exact problem with my two year old when i first got her...she would totally freak...all i can say, which is what most have said...get a spray bottle and fill it with water..next...BE PATIENT! put her on a lead...and spray a few times...she will turn in circles, turn with her..this also helped me...start walking with her normally spraying the bottle in front of you, so she see's it and just barely feels it, but while still walking..it took me about 2 months before i could go into her stall without holding her ans just spray her and her stand still...just be patient and consistant...it will happen..:D
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