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  1. #1
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    Jul. 30, 2005
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    Default Cooling a horse who won't tolerate cold water

    The baby horse is chestnut and sensitive. He won't tolerate cold water at all. I have to use warm on him. I've tried starting out warm and gradually adding more cold but he hates it and reacts strongly.

    He's entered in a couple of small events over the summer. I've always used cold water after XC to rinse them off.

    Ideas please on how to cool my sensitive flower?

    Thank you.
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  2. #2
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    Jun. 23, 2003
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    Berryville, VA
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    Try adding alcohol to the warmer water. Of course, he may object to that too. How violently does he react?
    Yvonne Lucas
    Red Moon Farm
    redmoonfarm.com


    "Practice doesn't make perfect. PERFECT practice makes perfect." - Jim Wofford

    "Some days you're the dog, some days the hydrant." - Jim Wofford



  3. #3
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    Jun. 20, 2008
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    For when you go to event try putting water into a bucket as soon as you arrive at an event - put it out on the sunny side of your trailer - if you set it out early enough then it should be warmed up by the sun when you need it to cool/sponge him off / alternatively you could get a large hot water thermos fill w/ boiling/hot water and take w/ you; then add to water in bucket to warm up the water.

    At home maybe you could get one of those electric tea kettles (you could get one of those adapters that you plug in to cigarette /outlet in truck/car too) to warm up cold water.


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  4. #4
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    He won't tolerate cold water at all.
    What does he do?
    What have you done/tried to desensitize him?



  5. #5
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    Thanks folks.

    I have hot water at home, so I can hose him with warm without much of a problem.

    I'll admit, he took my completely by surprise the first time he reacted- he's normally pretty calm and relaxed about everything. He kicks, does little mini rears, and throws his head about. He's five, so he's still pretty young and it's something I'm going to keep working on.

    I always start at the hoof and gradually work up the leg so he has time to a get used to the feeling. I've started off with warmed water and gradually reduced the temp- as soon as it starts feeling cold, he reacts.
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  6. #6
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    I think I would be training him instead of babying him. There's going to come a time in his life where he'll NEED the cold water.

    Continue to work on it at home. Forget the head right now (though, to properly cool a very hot horse, you'll need to get his head, as well). Focus, right now, on teaching him to tolerate good, cold water on the important parts- between his back legs and under his tail, his and down his front legs, and at least over his rump. School him how you would school any icky on the ground thing. If he kicks out, swat him (I'm one to make them think the barn's going to fall down around them for about 5 seconds if they threaten to kick, though). When he stands, lots of praise. Don't tie him or cross tie him, and get someone (competent) to help either hold or wash. And you both may want to wear helmets while doing it.

    There really is no good way to cool down a hot horse without cold water. I realize you are in the UK, so don't necessarily have to deal with the heat and humidity I do here in the summer, but without it, my horse would fry. And he hates it, too (got his first cold bath of the season the other day....his reaction was like "this is NOT in my contract!"). Just keep working on it. He'll learn to tolerate it, even if he does have the look to kill in his eye the whole time.


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  7. #7
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    Baby horses on the track get a bath EVERY SINGLE DAY and soon learn to be completely comfortable with it. They most certainly aren't born that way and the week when a pack of new 2yos hits the barn is always full of fun and games. Take your time, use water that is just about at his tolerance limit, gradually lower the temp, and persevere at home so that when INEVITABLY he has to have a cold shower he will have learned to cope. You have the luxury of choosing the temps at home (so do I, it is great) but you do want him to not lose his marbles if there are no options.
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  8. #8
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    Apr. 30, 2002
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    Short answer: tough. If he's hot enough and the weather is hot enough, he won't care what temperature the water is. Some things I tolerate and some things I just don't. Standing still for stuff I want to do to them is one thing I am death on. After all, we ask them to work with us about 1 hour out of 24. And it rains on him when he's turned out, doesn't it?
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
    www.eventhorse.wordpress.com


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  9. #9
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    Sorry for the late reply.

    He seems to like the sponge much better than the hose.

    He was a little bit pushy when I got him, so it's a work in progress. It's something that I am always working on. Hopefully when we get some decent weather (had snow today!), he'll realise that cold water feels nice.
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  10. #10
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    My horse was like this when I first got him - at 3 and a half. He still isn't thrilled about it (unless it is a very very hot day) but he HAS to deal with it. Keep working with him. It used to take two people to bathe him, I can now do it myself. Everything but the head. That I have to sponge.
    What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!



  11. #11
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    Mar. 14, 2011
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    I agree you need to work on this - as you are planning on doing. However, if you absolutely must avoid a fight in a public place due to lack of help or other reasons, add rubbing alcohol to the coolest water he will moderately tolerate so it evaporates quicker and therefore cools him quicker. Use a sponge and have multiple buckets so you can use fresh water when the first pail gets dirty and gross. Water doesn't have to be really cold to cool off a horse.



  12. #12
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    Nov. 5, 2011
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    He will sweat less as he gets fitter. Try walking him until he is cool. Very boring for you but very good to relax the horse and loosen tired muscles. OR, sponge off the sweat patches, don't drench him. In the UK it is highly unlikely your horse will get hot enough to wash him after a small event.

    Days of my youth we were actively discouraged from washing horses. Seen as a bad thing and a cheat to get a clean horse. It removes natural oils that they need in the field.



  13. #13
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    I'm trying not to pick a fight with him over this because I am on my own, and my shoulder isn't quite healed.

    I'm washing him down every day at the moment, and he is much better with a sponge than the hose. I think part of it is the cold weather we're having here. (His last owner had a heated wash stall, and he went in that. I'm not that posh!)

    I'll try the rubbing alcohol trick, thank you.
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  14. #14
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    I have a fragile chestnut soul as well. Hosing her off as a four year old would have resulted in both of us getting badly hurt.

    I started with luke warm water in a bucket and applied it with sponge while standing in the wash stall. Once she was completely wet, I could use the hose to hose off the front legs.

    Over the course of the summer I was able to work up to using the hose over the entire body but only after I first soaked her with luke warm water by sponge.

    The next year I was able to use the hose if I started with her legs then chest and neck and slowly worked up to the rest of her body.

    Some battles don't need to be won right away - I find that with my particular horse, I will get there, it just takes time.



  15. #15
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    I'm glad I'm not the only one with a sensitive chestnut.

    He's fine if the water is warm, but I think the sensation of cold water is too much for him. I'll use the sponge for now. I'll also give what you're doing a try.

    Thank you!
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  16. #16
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    Well as a person who hates to be cold I fully sympathize with the horses - unless I am REALLY hot, cold water is painful and unpleasant. Why do we expect a horse to feel differently?

    I always set my wash buckets out when I get to an event - even if it's not sunny, they will be warmer than "well" temperature when I use them. If its sunny, they'll be a pleasant wash temperature.

    If it's cold, and the water is cold I use a squeezed out sponge to clean my horse. It takes a little longer but you don't get that bad reaction you do with sloshing lots of water.

    I trained my green/baby horses to deal with the hose on a stinking hot day. I wanted them to think it felt good to be hosed - it's the sensation of being sprayed, not just the temperature that can be startling. So when it's really hot, work him, and then try a hose bath.

    But otherwise, I'm with the horses - I don't want a cold bath and I will complain if I get one!



  17. #17
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    I don't expect my horse to LIKE a cold bath, but I do expect him to tolerate it without being an ass (and my horse is very capable of being an ass).

    At least from where I stand, I always hope my horses are going to need to tolerate an FEI vet box, where there cool down is monitored by a team of vets. So, they need to learn to DEAL with the unpleasantness of cold/ice water and lots of people around them. That's why, if I have them from when they are young, they are quickly taught to suck it up if they are hot, and not try to kill anyone if they need a cold bath.

    They don't have to like it, they just have to keep four on the floor.


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  18. #18
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    Frogg Togg Chilly pads?



  19. #19
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    Jul. 17, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowbritches View Post
    I don't expect my horse to LIKE a cold bath, but I do expect him to tolerate it without being an ass (and my horse is very capable of being an ass).
    Pisgah: 2000 AHHA (Holsteiner x TB) Mare (lower level eventing, with a focus on dressage)

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  20. #20
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    Complaining is what a sensible adult would do. Throwing a tantrum is (one would hope) a different story. I expect an adult horse to be an adult. I give babies the education they need to become capable of coping with a cold bath, which I might add I hate GIVING as much as they hate GETTING. But such is their lot in life, poor creatures.
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