Suggestions for getting a horse to cross a creek?
 
 

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Suggestions for getting a horse to cross a creek?

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  • How to get horse to cross creek
  • Getting horse to cross a creek

 
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    01-10-2012, 01:51 PM
  #1
Weanling
Suggestions for getting a horse to cross a creek?

We don't have many opportunities to cross water where I ride, but I spent a good hour of my Saturday trying to get my 12 year old appy to cross a 3 foot wide, 4" deep creek. Other 3 horses crossed without a problem.. mine, not so much. Finally got him across, but don't want this to be a problem every time or no one will want to ride with us! So, anyone have good suggestions on desensitizing him to water, or how to get a reluctant and very stubborn horse across a creek?
     
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    01-10-2012, 01:53 PM
  #2
Green Broke
How did you finally get him to cross? Knowing what you did that did (and what didn't) work will be helpful.
As a general response, though, the best way to desensitize him to this (or anything) is exposure -- so time to practice, practice and practice.
     
    01-10-2012, 01:58 PM
  #3
Yearling
Yep, Mac is right, repetition is the key. My boy was terrible at first, but after working for quite a while on it he takes a quick sniff and away we go. It helps a lot to have a pasture mate go right in front of them. I have had to lead him through it a few times as well. Also, once you get in the water spend lots of time in it. Walk him up and down the creek if you can do so safely. Watch that he doesn't start to paw and lay down, but let him get good and comfortable in it. I was on a ride once and a friends mare absolutely refused to cross, all 15 of us sat for 45 min waiting on her to cross. Multiple people got on and tried to get her across but no go. Finally the owner ended up hooking her to the biggest gelding on the ride with us and he pulled her across. I wouldn't recommend that, but just so you know it's not just you!
     
    01-10-2012, 02:11 PM
  #4
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacksmama    
Yep, Mac is right, repetition is the key. My boy was terrible at first, but after working for quite a while on it he takes a quick sniff and away we go. It helps a lot to have a pasture mate go right in front of them. I have had to lead him through it a few times as well. Also, once you get in the water spend lots of time in it. Walk him up and down the creek if you can do so safely. Watch that he doesn't start to paw and lay down, but let him get good and comfortable in it. I was on a ride once and a friends mare absolutely refused to cross, all 15 of us sat for 45 min waiting on her to cross. Multiple people got on and tried to get her across but no go. Finally the owner ended up hooking her to the biggest gelding on the ride with us and he pulled her across. I wouldn't recommend that, but just so you know it's not just you!
I would have said the same thing
     
    01-10-2012, 03:08 PM
  #5
Weanling
What I finally did..
After ME trying, giving him lots of time, walking the others back across in front of him so he could see there were no monsters there and a friend who trains horses, trying.. I finally suggested I try to lead him across.. no go... so I ended up standing in the middle of the creek, holding out a candy cane I had in my pocket... and as he got as stretched out as he could ( still on dry land...) my friend gave him a good smack on the butt and he went flying across...
NOT how I want to have to do it every time of course!! =)
     
    01-10-2012, 05:03 PM
  #6
Yearling
Hmm, well you don't want to have to carry candy canes forever,lol. I really like the "approach and retreat" method for something like this. Personally, I would take some candy with you and give him one standing by the creek, just a little piece, while giving lots of pats and scratches where he likes it. Get him as close as you can to the creek before he stops, give him another tiny piece and lots more scratches, he'll probably be good and focused on you and your sweets by then,lol. Try, just for the heck of it, to get his front feet in the water with no more sweets, but if he won't go coax him in with a sweet and just let him stand with his fronts in and love him all over. Then walk him out and love on him. Try again to get him in the water, maybe the fronts and a back toe, without anymore sweets. The object would be to work him off of the food reward and more toward affection, slowly working him further into the water. You want him to be relaxed and happy as possible. He will be the one to dictate the pace you can move at, he may get over it really quickly or he may take days to walk calmly into the water and stand, but it's really important IMO to make sure he is calm. I wouldn't want him to rush in and slip on rocks or hit a drop off into deep water. That's what I'd try any way:)
     
    01-10-2012, 07:56 PM
  #7
Green Broke
I wouldn't lead a horse across, seen too many horses jump right where the handler was. But that's me.

With Walka, I had the more experienced horse go first. Walka still refused, expected that, so I picked a spot and kept his nose pointed in that direction. Then I waited. When I felt him settle down, cued him forward. Of course he went backward. That was okay, still had him facing that spot. And waited again. I was quiet and patient. I let him build his courage up and finally he took one step in. Praised him, but not over the top. I let him sniff and paw a couple of times and then cued him through it. Took a total of maybe 20 - 30 minutes and was quite boring for anyone to watch

He crossed everything that day without hesitation afterward (we have many water crossings on my trails, so got lots of exposure).

Keep him pointed where you want him to cross. And be quiet and patient. Make sure your friends know that it will be a training session.
     
    01-11-2012, 02:07 PM
  #8
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walkamile    
I wouldn't lead a horse across, seen too many horses jump right where the handler was. But that's me.

With Walka, I had the more experienced horse go first. Walka still refused, expected that, so I picked a spot and kept his nose pointed in that direction. Then I waited. When I felt him settle down, cued him forward. Of course he went backward. That was okay, still had him facing that spot. And waited again. I was quiet and patient. I let him build his courage up and finally he took one step in. Praised him, but not over the top. I let him sniff and paw a couple of times and then cued him through it. Took a total of maybe 20 - 30 minutes and was quite boring for anyone to watch

He crossed everything that day without hesitation afterward (we have many water crossings on my trails, so got lots of exposure).

Keep him pointed where you want him to cross. And be quiet and patient. Make sure your friends know that it will be a training session.

I second this. Patience and persistence.

While I much prefer the method outlined above, I have worked a couple greenies in-hand on a line with a friend also on the ground and it worked. I approached crossing the scary creek much as I would asking to load into a scary horse trailer.. one person with the line on the other side of the creek out of landing range, the other person with a dressage whip on the side with the horse. Keep the horse focused on the other side and reward any sort of forward movement with a cessation of the whip tapping. If you are patient and persistent, the horse will eventually decide the water can't be nearly as bad as the ongoing tapping (though one fun gelding took almost 3 hours). Reverse water-torture method, right?
     
    01-11-2012, 06:18 PM
  #9
Green Broke
You need to learn and train your horse to go where you point. Instead of leading or pulling him. This is round pen and ground work issues.
Something you can do in a round pen. Lunge him like normal at a walk. Left and right, add obstacles and send him over, log on the ground, old tires, etc. get him used to looking and stepping over things, but you send him, do not pull him over. Then get a cheap plastic tarp. Throw it on ground, but not stretched out. Get him walking on that. Then use a garden hose and spray water all over it creating puddles , walk across that. Lay they hose on it with it turned on, walk across that. Hook it up to a sprinkler, walk through that. Always go left and right, after daily training like this for a while and it looks like he is getting with the training, do the same thing from the saddle.
     
    01-12-2012, 05:41 PM
  #10
Weanling
I agree with everyone: patience and persistence gets another vote.

You have to wait an hour. So? It will take as long as it takes, there's nothing wrong with that and nothing you can do about it. Put all thought of time out of your head, and if you only have a limited time frame, chose another day to tackle water crossing. Sure, the other riders had to wait on you, so maybe go out with a smaller group of close friends that will help or at least be willing to wait without you feeling like you're wasting everyone's time.

The most important thing is, as with anything else, is to never, ever give up. If it takes 6 hours or 20 minutes, don't give up or you lose and the fight will be that much bigger the next time.

I put pressure on them when they want to turn away or go away, and let them relax when they're standing near or facing the water. Then begin to put more pressure on them. Pressure and release, and wait them out. Pressure and release works for most everything. As long as you don't make a big, scary, stressful deal out of it, the more you do it, the easier it should become. I also agree with Jacksmama-spend time in the water and crossing the water, letting him get used to it. Again, the more you do it, the easier it should become.

As you discovered, getting off and leading is probably not the best idea. It's far too easy for a horse to jump on you or drag you and for you to get hurt. And a bribe (kind of) worked, but remember that you won't always have food, and eventually your horse is going to need to learn to go because you told him to, not because he's in the mood for a treat.
     

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