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JCS
May. 19, 2011, 04:27 PM
Hi trail riders! I'm seeking your wisdom on training a horse to cross water.

We have a 9-year-old Appaloosa mare that we bought last year as a trail horse for my DH. We love her. She's a good horse but pretty green. We basically started her when we bought her, and I had my dressage trainer spend a couple of months with her last fall. She's always been awesome on the trails, steady and brave even when all alone. However, she is Very Stubborn when she decides to set her mind against something. I had a few incidents with her when she didn't want to go a certain way (for no discernible reason) and it was always a long process to convince her to go that way. Her forward button is not well installed.

Now, last year I had no trouble with her going through muddy areas, but we never encountered any actual standing water. She had the winter off but for the occasional snowy ride. Fast forward to yesterday, we're out trail riding. I'm in the lead on my horse, and DH is behind on the mare, Robin. We get to a spot where the trail is covered by water, pretty deep and wide (1-2 feet deep and probably 10-12 feet across). My horse charges through, no problem. Robin won't do it. We work on it for maybe 20 minutes, my horse getting more & more riled up because he doesn't know what the holdup is. We try leaving, so she'll have to cross in order to follow, that doesn't work (she doesn't mind being alone). I have my horse cross back and forth a couple of times... no dice. The bottom is getting muddied up at this point and my horse is beside himself, so we decide to bail and head home. DH wants to keep working on it, so he goes around a different way to where she will have to cross the same water, but headed toward home. He even got off and tried leading her across. Finally it was getting dark so he gave up and went a different way home, but had to cross some mud (which she has crossed plenty of times before). She refused to cross it. But there's no other way home. Finally he gets her into it and halts to praise & pet her--and she flips out, scrambles, and falls in the mud. He stayed on and she was not hurt, so they rode home, but he is devastated and worried that he's traumatized her and that it will be all the harder to get her into water the next time. He's worried that he's hurt his relationship with her, also, and that she now won't trust him.

Thoughts on this situation, and what we could try differently next time? Any words of comfort for DH? We are thinking we will hand-walk her out to the Pond of Doom with a bucket of grain/treats and bribe her. She's extremely food motivated, and also really smart.

cnvh
May. 19, 2011, 05:06 PM
You have my sympathies...

My horse is usually pretty unflappable re: stuff we encounter on the trail, including water. The place where I used to board had a trail that crossed a teeny tiny creek, maybe 5' across, ankle-deep on a "high-water" day-- in the summer it uaully dried up to nothing. A couple winters ago, we went for a ride in deep snow and crossed that creek; the snow was so deep, the creek was completely snowed over.

Horse must have put a foot into the water through the snow when we started crossing the creek, and he had a FIT-- backed up and wouldn't go near it again. I tried every trick I knew and eventually ended up having to back him across it, which he did. But then coming home, he refused to cross it again-- and he was onto my little "back up" trick and planted the brakes. I eventually had to dismount and actually cover his eyes with my sweatshirt to get him across it (it was the ONLY way home).

He was wonky with water for close to a year after that incident... I just made it a point to start taking him through every bit of standing water we could find-- puddles everywhere of every shape and size, in the arena, the parking lot, the pastures, you name it.

Took a while, but eventually he got over himself and now he'll go through pretty much without giving it a second glance. Now, he thinks playing in the creek behind our barn is the coolest thing since sliced bread; he splashes like a little kid if I let him. (I don't let him for very long, for fear he'll try to roll... luckily that hasn't happened yet!)

oldpony66
May. 19, 2011, 05:20 PM
Before heading out on a trail with water again, I would be making puddles everywhere I could - the driveway, the pasture, the lawn... I would not try to cross that kind of water on the trail again until the horse was walking through stuff at home.

I had a QH mare that never did walk through water... frontwards, anyway. Every water crossing we came to, we had to turn around, back through, then turn around on the other side. It made no sense (I worked with her for two years...) but as long as she wasn't looking at it she was OK. I know that sounds weird, but if your horse backs up well, maybe try that to get her feet wet and then she might realize she's OK in there.

JCS
May. 19, 2011, 05:24 PM
Ooooh, good idea. She does back well, just from a voice command. (DH taught her that himself, he was so proud...) Like I said, she is a smartypants, so I have a feeling that once she learns water = not dead, she will be fine... It's just getting her to learn that in the first place.

Beau's mom
May. 19, 2011, 05:45 PM
Got this strategy from Simbalism, an amazing horse whisperer. I put on my high muck boots and filled my barn coat pockets w/ peppermints. We headed out, me on the ground and worked closer and closer to the creek, to where my gelding was willing to get his feet wet. Each move toward the desired behavior got a peppermint and/or a pat. We entered and exited from a bunch of different places and went to a variety of settings to practice. It took several sessions, but now he will cross most wet stuff w/o a problem. It takes time and exposure. You can't rush it or get exasperated. Hang in there, she sounds like she is worth it!

webmistress32
May. 19, 2011, 06:58 PM
An Appaloosa mare? Stubborn? please, say it ain't so! :D

howardh
May. 19, 2011, 09:33 PM
Well, we have followed closely behind balkers and sometimes knowing our horses are behind them has made them keep going.

I have also spanked the horse ahead of me to get him through. Not smart if it is a kicker, but sometimes a well placed whack works wonders if delivered by surprise. They are so used to moving forward, when you spank them they will pop forward automatically to find themselves in the water! It is easy from there.

This is all done with good riders who can read a horse's mind and body language of course....

And with riders who can sit a scoot...

Zu Zu
May. 19, 2011, 09:39 PM
Back her through ~ let her stand half way a few times... "pony" her across
a few times even after she seems to "get it" to make it easier when a different problem presents... she will accept the lead right on through the next obstacle...:D:cool::yes:

GOOD LUCK ~ She'll come around :yes:

meupatdoes
May. 20, 2011, 12:40 AM
Try to find a place where you can walk along a creek and you have a little bit of a shoreline.

Walk parallel and legyield in.

This is dependent on a lateral leg response, not rein.
Look away from the water, walk alongside, gradually legyield in.

Simbalism
May. 20, 2011, 02:41 AM
Beau's mom, thanks for doing the explanation. It does work the best towards getting the horse to get over their water aversion. The first horse I did this with was my app gelding(who had been a breeding stallion until age 7-talk about opinionated) the second was my flighty chestnut Tb mare who is now the best been there done that horse. Make sure you have a long lead line in case the horse decides it's going to jump, so you don't get too close to horse.

candyappy
May. 20, 2011, 03:45 PM
You got a lot of good advice. Just take all the time it requires and don't be afraid to stop a lesson if she hasn't entered the water. If you can leave each training session on a calm and positive note you have won. Hopefully with time and not pushing she will enter the water. I too have an appaloosa mare so I know........

enjoytheride
May. 21, 2011, 04:20 PM
I'm an eventer, but here are some videos of me schooling water on my mare who as you can see was pretty opinionated about it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRrJ-gPEEPg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iY-DMF58dqY&feature=related

Equibrit
May. 21, 2011, 07:48 PM
Get old clothes etc, get in there with them and have some fun. Jump on them bareback and splash around on a hot day.

Painted Horse
May. 21, 2011, 09:18 PM
Your horse is refusing you. Work on asking her to go forward on queue.
Lay a blue tarp on the ground and have her cross it on queue. Advance to some puddles and pretty soon the pond

BEARCAT
May. 21, 2011, 10:33 PM
. Her forward button is not well installed.



Therein lies the rub...

JCS
May. 22, 2011, 01:01 AM
I'm an eventer, but here are some videos of me schooling water on my mare who as you can see was pretty opinionated about it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRrJ-gPEEPg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iY-DMF58dqY&feature=related

Awww, she is adorable! Anti water stompy fit... :lol:...

Equibrit
May. 22, 2011, 10:09 AM
Your horse is refusing you.

Because she doesn't trust in what you are asking her to do. We establish more trust by overcoming these situations. Get in the water with her and have a good time. Forget all the other crap. She has to trust that you are not leading her to a sure and very wet death.

All this leg banging, shouting, whipping etc will just serve to re-enforce her distrust.

katyb
May. 22, 2011, 10:20 AM
I would try very hard not to anticipate a problem - don't assume that the falling down will stick in her mind as a reason to never enter water again. My girls had a trailer accident last fall and both loaded fine afterwards, but I had my son load them, because I was so traumatized and worried, I knew they'd pick up on my feelings. They were fine.

Can you ride in a group of 5-6 horses. One going across might not encourage her, but if the HERD goes across, and she sees it's fine, it may work.

I do think trust and a well developed "Yes ma'am" helps a lot, but my two who are brave and reliably forward have each had times they have refused. Sometimes, it's just being a butthead, and you push it. Once, I could not push my mare through, and after six years of maybe 2-3 refusals in thousands of trail miles, I just decided to trust her judgment. I did work her hard, just to be sure she didn't decide refusing was an easy option.

Tell your husband that he rocks for sticking with it, and for his level of concern. That's wonderful!

Beau's mom
May. 22, 2011, 02:08 PM
Enjoytheride,
What a cutie!

brightskyfarm
May. 22, 2011, 03:20 PM
The one true statement about Apps is: you cannot *make* them do anything. They will crawl for you, fight for you, even die for you, but, its all on their terms. :yes:

Someone suggested making puddles around the farm. She needs to trust water isnt going to hurt her. Its summer, give baths where you wil end up with her standing in a big puddle of water.

Her forward needs work too, I would guess she doesnt hand-jog with you either --- some agility work both astride and on hand. Play stop /start with you at her shoulder, Im sure you can think of other games ...make a shelf, 3 buckets/carrots, apples, grain --, you'll find what is her favorite ;). All with a water element involved.
You can adapt a lot of dog training reward techniques to horses.
Time and patience.

TJGoSurf
Jun. 10, 2011, 09:57 PM
I hate to resurrect an old thread but we have horses that have the same problems. We put in a couple water boxes and so the horses would have to cross it every time they left and came back.

goeslikestink
Jun. 10, 2011, 10:06 PM
Hi trail riders! I'm seeking your wisdom on training a horse to cross water.

We have a 9-year-old Appaloosa mare that we bought last year as a trail horse for my DH. We love her. She's a good horse but pretty green. We basically started her when we bought her, and I had my dressage trainer spend a couple of months with her last fall. She's always been awesome on the trails, steady and brave even when all alone. However, she is Very Stubborn when she decides to set her mind against something. I had a few incidents with her when she didn't want to go a certain way (for no discernible reason) and it was always a long process to convince her to go that way. Her forward button is not well installed.

Now, last year I had no trouble with her going through muddy areas, but we never encountered any actual standing water. She had the winter off but for the occasional snowy ride. Fast forward to yesterday, we're out trail riding. I'm in the lead on my horse, and DH is behind on the mare, Robin. We get to a spot where the trail is covered by water, pretty deep and wide (1-2 feet deep and probably 10-12 feet across). My horse charges through, no problem. Robin won't do it. We work on it for maybe 20 minutes, my horse getting more & more riled up because he doesn't know what the holdup is. We try leaving, so she'll have to cross in order to follow, that doesn't work (she doesn't mind being alone). I have my horse cross back and forth a couple of times... no dice. The bottom is getting muddied up at this point and my horse is beside himself, so we decide to bail and head home. DH wants to keep working on it, so he goes around a different way to where she will have to cross the same water, but headed toward home. He even got off and tried leading her across. Finally it was getting dark so he gave up and went a different way home, but had to cross some mud (which she has crossed plenty of times before). She refused to cross it. But there's no other way home. Finally he gets her into it and halts to praise & pet her--and she flips out, scrambles, and falls in the mud. He stayed on and she was not hurt, so they rode home, but he is devastated and worried that he's traumatized her and that it will be all the harder to get her into water the next time. He's worried that he's hurt his relationship with her, also, and that she now won't trust him.

Thoughts on this situation, and what we could try differently next time? Any words of comfort for DH? We are thinking we will hand-walk her out to the Pond of Doom with a bucket of grain/treats and bribe her. She's extremely food motivated, and also really smart.

he needs to rider her more forwards, have you rode her yourself as it could be hes not up to the same standards as you, so lacks the confindence in pushing her forwards that or lack of knowledge remember a horse will only re-act how you act, so if hes not giving her a direct signal of command ie confusing the horse let say for exsample pushing at one end and pulling the other end, as in push from seat but holding to heavy in the bridle area gives mixed signals so horsey stop dead and stays stopped dead that or naps as in rear spook etc

you must also remember a horse doesnt know how that is as water not solid so one must encourage the horse into it not battle with it to get it in or through
as shes young and in expreince and the rider might not be as confident as you take leading rien out with you, so that you can take hold of it and encoruage her through the water with added aid of the rider using his legs and seat and pushing her through it, take your time dont go charging off as you did and expect her to follow some dont as the splashing is like a shock of cold so wlak her through with you and your horse, and take each step as long as it takes once she realises nothing going to hurt her she will happily come back on the return as it homeward bound but again lead her through it on short lead rein , to lead her through with a rider her head should be at your knee and she should be close enough for you to touch her neck

pj
Jun. 11, 2011, 03:19 PM
An Appaloosa mare? Stubborn? please, say it ain't so! :D

Lies!! It's all lies!! :D

When I first started my appy mare balking was her thing.
"hell no...I won't go" was her motto.
I found out really quick that legs, crops, backing, etc. did not work with her.
The cure was annoying her into doing whatever.
The first time I tried this it took about ten min. The next a couple of min. and then....never ever again has she told me she won't.

What I did was let her stand there and I'd tighten the left rein, release and then the right rein, release, the left and then the right just enough to slightly turn her head. :lol: She decided it was better to do what I asked than to have to put up with that.

The cure for balking when leading was to gently play jump rope (swinging it not actually jumping) with the lead. The rope wouldn't hit her but it was in her face.

And finally but not least was when she decided to run from me when I'd hook up the trailer. I knew and she knew that she would give up but she had to do her thing. Run around like an idiot with me standing there watching her and then she'd come to me. A friend suggested that she was pulling my strings and to cheer her on when she started running from me. I did. "WHATA GAL. GO NADIE GO!"
She stopped dead, came to me and has never run from me again. Her fun was ruined.

As my vet says "she's much smarter than she should be" and while this is my first and only appy I wouldn't be surprised if the majority wasn't extra smart, too.
Seems you have to think outside of the box when training them.

Equibrit
Jun. 11, 2011, 03:26 PM
Some, you have to sit and wait for their curiosity to kick in. It stands to reason that if rider is kicking and beating then it must be something awful, right ?

pj
Jun. 11, 2011, 03:44 PM
Some, you have to sit and wait for their curiosity to kick in. It stands to reason that if rider is kicking and beating then it must be something awful, right ?

I agree and kicking and beating certainly doesn't add to the confidence of a frightened horse.

jeano
Jun. 12, 2011, 11:39 AM
I used the escalating pressure on Sadie when she balked at water when I first got her. (It had nothing to do with the water, she wasnt even close to being afraid.) I'd point her at the creek she didnt want to cross, say lets go. She'd say no. Okey dokey, then we'll do this. Bump bump bump with legs, wait a second, if no forward movement, tap tap tap with the whip, if no forward movement slap slap slap with the whip...and so on. If that got so much as a slight leaning forward from her I'd instantly stop, praise, relax, then begin again. Did that with her once for maybe ten minutes and she gave up in total disgust and hasnt refused to cross water, or just about anything else, since.

My gelding actually WAS afraid of water, or more likely afraid of crazy escalation to horse beatings, given the yahoohood of his previous owners. With him I led him across, in and out of a little creek, got on the bank to remount, and proved to him that he could tote me out of the water and nothing bad would happen. It didnt take but about two wet crossing for me before he got the idea and he has been excellent about crossing water. We did run into an ACTHA quality trail hazard last week--a dead fish in an otter trap right by a crossing. He was terrifed the dead fish would burst out of the cage and devour him but he got over it when I insisted. With him, insisting means keep pointing him at it, bump with the legs a couple times, and on we go.

baylady7
Jun. 13, 2011, 01:31 PM
You need to pick a time when yuou have nothing BUT time to work on this. My friend's mare was giving her trouble at some crossings. So we picked a day to work together (my old guy generally will go) and went to a cross country schooling course with a few water obstacles. I had her have the mare with a halter & leadrope so when she did stop, I would pony her through. It took a few times but by the last time we went to an obstacle she followed us right thru and then went back and trotted boldly in, through and out without losing rhythm. It was a good schooling session and we rode about and hour and one half that day all said (we trail rode too and did other obstacles). Just an idea.