Big problem. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 03-28-2020, 05:16 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2020
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Big problem.

Hey there! I have a problem with grooming my new filly.

You could say the situation couldn't be worse: she hates the water and freaks when it touches her, she can't stand being groomed and even after we've fixed her biting problem, she still lifts a hind leg to kick when someone tries to brush her, it's rarely sunny enough so I can't get her used to the water with consistency, and she's very, *very* dirty. A horse who likes being groomed but is just as dirty as her would be a pain to clean, so you can probably understand the dilemma here. Not to mention her thick winter coat makes it even more complicated.
She seems to be extremely itchy and I just want to ease it for her, she must be so uncomfortable. Any help?
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post #2 of 7 Old 03-28-2020, 06:43 AM
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Hi & welcome,

How old is your filly? Do you know much about training? Much experience? Any experienced help available(I know at this time it's not likely...)? While of course it's good practice to do it regularly when you can, horses do not need to be groomed, and they don't need to be washed either & it's generally not great for them to be washed regularly. And they will not suffer from being dirty (generally speaking). So first & foremost, don't stress, your horse isn't going to die from lack of 'cleaning'.

So... assuming there's nothing actually making her super sensitive(like allergy, lack of Mg or some such), just take your time & desensitise her to being brushed with a soft brush, using approach & retreat. Rewarding her for what she CAN give you will help too. And wait until the weather warms up, and desensitise her to the hose gradually too.
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post #3 of 7 Old 03-28-2020, 07:45 AM
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I agree with Loosie over non grooming and washing.

I never bathed my horses unless they were sweaty like after a day out followimg Hounds. I would wash their tails. When washing I always used hot water.

I would start grooming her on places another horse would groom her, a rubber curry on her withers and neck in a circular motion, and her quarters should be more of a pleasure than a stiff brush.
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-29-2020, 04:44 AM
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I will also ask how old is your filly.? And I agree with the others That getting the horse clean is not a big priority. If she is itchy, she will roll in the dirt or sand to relieve it. She will shed the winter fur off eventually.

More important to me would be gradually getting the horse accustomed to being groomed. And, in the process of that, nipping the attempts at kicking in the bud.

I’ve used two different techniques for a horse that tries to kick while handling it. One is to simply groom the horse as normal. In your case, it’s not necessary to try to get the horse clean. Only that she becomes accustomed to you rubbing her with a brush. Work your way back to the ticklish spots. Be attuned to the signs that she is about to kick. Loosie suggested the advance and retreat method. I’ve used that to good effect with horses that didn’t know better, which sounds like may apply to your filly.

In other cases, I’ve given the horse a sharp, open handed smack to the belly with either my hand or the brush itself. Then, continue as if nothing had happened.

A lady at a barn I used to board at showed me how she cured a persistent kicker.

She had one of those “carrot sticks”, sold by one of the natural horsemanship guys. Looked like a buggy whip to me. What I deemed important about it was that it was long enough to keep her safely out of range if the horse really lashed out. Also it had a good combination of flexibility and stiffness, that she could use it as a whip, or to simply poke the horse with it.

She started rubbing the horse with it, near the withers first. Then, gradually working back to the ticklish spots. If the horse showed signs of getting ready to kick, she gave it a good poke, usually near the hip, sometimes wherever she could reach quickly. Then, went back to gently rubbing the horse as if nothing had happened.

If she missed that opportunity, or the horse was intent on kicking and actually lifted a hoof at her, she would lash the fetlock and hock until the horse put the hoof down. Then, resume the rubbing as if nothing had happened.

To get a horse accustomed to water and baths, I have used a bucket and sponge rather than the scary water hose. A little water at first, with as little splashing as possible. Then gradually more.

Hope that helps some.
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-29-2020, 09:24 AM
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Before putting a brush to a horse...
Are you able to run your hands all over the horse with the horse accepting touch calmly?
Till your filly accepts your touch everywhere...
She, your filly knows no better. It is you who must teach her that brushes are nice to feel on the body... a gentle touch not hard strokes to their baby body and not hard brushes.
Just as they must learn to wear, accept and then be handled by a halter...grooming is something they must learn and experience through trust.

Water.....out of the scary hose.
Again, something they not know, not understand and are fearful of...
Introduce it, not force it...
Let their curiosity have them investigate that thing hanging on a fence with a gentle trickle coming from it...
Start with a foot once they touch with their nose to get wet...if they tense...retreat and slowly go again.
A bucket and sponge is a great idea if you must bathe, but again, introduce it slowly and without making them fearful.
It takes time for babies to be exposed to all new things as they know nothing..
Forcing brings on scared of results...they'll allow but never trust cause you dominate them.
The bad part of that though is the day a injury comes and you must treat, doctor and medicate your horse who felt dominated not trusting of you is going to fight for fear of "it hurts".......

You mention dirty and itchy in your comment.
Have you checked for lice?
A winter fuzzy coat, dirty body is a perfect host hiding place for the bugs who can drive any animal nuts.
Here you go with the baby accepting your hands touch as dusting powder can be placed, sprinkled and rubbed in easily by hand on a young one, or one who is scared...

Babies bite and need taught it is unacceptable just as they must learn they do not kick nor strike...gently but with firmness they get the message quickly when you give loving discipline instantly in response to a wrong.
Her trying, threatening to kick is her way of protecting herself from what she not understand you doing to her..
Do not set them up either by putting your body in a teasing or threatening position, but set the baby up for success and when they do comply by allowing you to do something that a few days ago was scary, frightening and reaction negative...remember to lavish praise for doing good.
Our body language along with our voices they also read far better than most give credit for...
A look from me to my horses has them backing away as well as a gruff sound makes them take notice real quick and stop whatever it was they were doing to get a warning of "Quit" from me...
If you discipline, its over and done...never carried forward. Forget it and move on.

Babies and young are so much fun, but they will challenge you and what you think you know.
Biggest is remember that every time you interact with this young-one you are teaching, so teach well with love, kindness and well-thought out actions so the learning process is fun and enlightening building trust and them liking what you are doing with them...always positive experience and end on a positive lesson learned or revisited so praise and sweet is what is remembered.
Lessons not long in duration as concentration is not well developed...
Make lessons intriguing they want to see/feel what you are doing, gets you further faster than forcing and domination.
I only got to work occasionally with babies but loved that time of introducing and the trust they gave till you frightened them.
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The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #6 of 7 Old 03-29-2020, 09:25 AM
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In addition to the above, how is she with other touch?

Are you able to touch all areas with your hand(s)?
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-01-2020, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2020
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Huge thank you to everyone who responded!
I managed to give her a shower, and it went better than expected. :)
I actually completely forgot about this post and instead received help from a few horse owners at our ranch. To those who were asking, she's two years old.
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