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Help Me Get My Horse To Cross Water!!

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  • Help Me Get My Horse To Cross Water!!

    My mare does not like to get those precious feet of hers muddy or wet, which doesn't help when I want to take her in the Extreme Cowboy Challenge Race at our barn next month. How can I get her to cross the little stream without jumping it and launching me into orbit? She slams on the brakes even when I try to lead her through it. We are talking a stream in the middle of the summer in SoCal ie. mostly mud with a little slowly trickling water. I want to be able to ride more on the trails, so we need to be able to cross water! Thanks!

  • #2
    in hand walk her in with lots of carrots,
    in hand back her in with lots of carrots,
    get a group together and have her follow and have a horse that is not afraid to "push" her in from behind (providing she does not kick)

    you can not think "oh there is water or a puddle or what ever" on the ground. You just need to keep an open mind and not think about the ground, just forward. oh and lots of carrots.


    • #3
      Go play in some water with her on a really hot day.
      ... _. ._ .._. .._


      • #4
        See threads on trailer loading.
        This is a similar issue where the horse needs your leadership. A horse must follow where you lead it and that includes crossing puddles and creeks and rivers...
        So some work on the ground is in order, (re-)establishing leadership and trust, and yes, some desensitizing (playing in the water) will help.
        Carrots/treats will speed up the learning process. But only treat when the horse walks forward! Correct timing is everything since you don't want to reward the wrong behavior.
        Good luck!


        • #5
          I've blindfolded a horse, led them in, taken off the blindfold and voila! They are standing in water. After letting them stand there for a while, walk out and then back in. This has worked successfully with three different horses. Granted, they were all really obstinate about the whole process leading up to this maneuver, so this was the last resort.

          Usually I'll try to go with someone else who's on a steady eddy type, and just put my horse's nose on their tail and follow them in. Just don't get in a hurry. Once they take one step in, just sit there and relax and pet them and be happy with a little progress. All my horses cross water without hesitation now.


          • #6
            I also did lots of inhand work with my TB mare that thought water was evil and to be avoided at all costs, even when it was in the riding ring. Had a nice stream with good footing in and out plus very tiny pebbles on the bottom behind the barn. I took her down there with lots of treats in my pockets and a long lead rope, and just let her graze as close as she would get, then gradually closer with treats offered and given for forward movement towards water. Once I got her to step in, she got lots of praise and treats. Then I had her walk around in the water, in and out, backing in and out. This took several sessions until there was no major problems. Still for about a year when I went on trail rides she would often refuse to cross. Rather than making it a huge issue, I would dismount, and lead her across(once I was on the ground she would walk right across). Then I would get back on and walk her thru it. Now she is a steady eddie about water and will even go swimming.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
              Go play in some water with her on a really hot day.
              This is what finally worked with Quattro. We have a large but shallow river he has to cross to get out to the trails and schooling jumps, and for months he was having none of it. That is, he was having none of it until the temps hit 100 degrees and a splash in the river looked like WAY more fun to him than actually working!
              "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


              • #8
                Back Him through the Water ~ Riding

                Just ride him up to the water's edge and then turn him around and BACK HIM ACROSS THE WATER ~as what he can't see won't hurt him and he just needs to get his feet wet a time or two to figure out it feels good and that the alligators a have been removed ~ Works like Magic ~ I promise ~ * Start with a small water "hazard" like * muddywater across a gate opening ~ then a small creek type water "hazard" somewhere that you will have some space to turn around and repeat the backing across safely and several times...
                Last edited by Zu Zu; Jul. 23, 2010, 11:21 AM. Reason: spelling / addition
                Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                • #9
                  As somebody else said - it's the exact same problem as horses who won't load. This is a lack of leadership and trust problem. Spend time working the horse near the water until she is completely comfortable and relaxed. If it takes days or weeks of sessions, then take the time to go slowly and do it right. Gradually get one step closer to the water. If she freaks or starts getting wiggy, then go back to where she is comfortable. Baby steps. Eventually you want to point her nose toward the water and ask only one step toward the stream. Once she takes it, then reward her lavishly, and stand there and rest. Continue asking for only one small step at a time. Don't give her the opportunity to bolt and jump.

                  I don't like taking shortcuts and using tricks and gimmicks on horses. Take your time to do it right and you won't get those trail rides where the horse just "all of a sudden decides not to cross the water" or "just had a bad day and decided she wasn't going in the trailer." These types of "she just decided........" moments come when people have holes in their training. They want a quick fix and they want the horse in the water or in the trailer TODAY. You just can't do it that way.

                  Think of it as a kid cramming and memorizing right before a test - writing notes on their hand so they can cheat. Is that knowledge that is really going to be retained for decades, or is it likely to fade away after the test is completed? Or is it the years and thousands of repetitions of the same information over and over again that is going to be retained?

                  Sure if you're in a desperate situation and the horse HAS to do what is being asked RIGHT NOW then you use whatever gimmick or shortcut it takes, but do NOT delude yourself into believing that is training, because it isn't. There is no such thing as a shortcut trick that "works like magic." I've done enough trail riding without different people and their horses to figure out the ones that are truly TRAINED and the ones that have been gimmicked into stuff.

                  When we have to sit at a river crossing for 15 minutes so Suzie Q can get Dobbin across, even though he's been in the water 100 times already, he's not trained. The horse should go in the water because his leader is requesting that he do so. He shouldn't go in the water because it feels good on his feet.

                  I'm sorry for the snarky sounding tangent but it's really starting to bug me when I see all these suggestions on how to short cut trail horse training. I've ridden with these shortcutted horses enough times to figure out that it's REALLY really highly annoying. And I have ABSOLUTELY been guilty of it myself! It took me a while to figure it out.


                  • #10
                    Have you tried riding her in company across water? That usually works wonders and gives the horse enough confidence to do it on his own after he's done it a few times.


                    • #11
                      I just wanted to say to be careful if you have a horse that is a leaper over water. If you have the horse in hand be careful you don't get jumped on.

                      Heck I was ponying a friends obnoxious mare to get her over water and that brat to a flying leap and nearly ended up on top of me while I was on my horse!
                      Missouri Fox Trotters-To ride one is to own one

                      Standardbreds, so much more then a harness racing horse.


                      • #12
                        Hawk knew the creek we have to cross to leave the back of the property was full of horse dissolving sulfuric acid. He was really frightened of it, would break a sweat and in general be most unlike his usual sweet and willing self when asked to Get In the Nasty Acid.

                        One day I took him to the creek, dismounted, crossed, asked him to join me, and he leaped across. I was able to lead him back INTO the creek and mounted him from the creek bank. All good so far, he's crossed the creek, and he's in the creek. So then I rode him OUT of the creek, back INTO the creek, and finally we did a couple of more or less correct and not to panic stricken crossings under saddle. Basically that was the last time we had any trouble.

                        This issue seemed to me to be more of his PTSD from his former owner forcing him to do stuff. Once he realized it wouldnt hurt him and that I would continue to insist that he suck it up and Cross Water he was fine. Now he will even seek out puddles to play in. There is one tiny streamlet with footing that makes both my horses want to play Grand National water jump games but I have learned to grab mane and pray at that one. The water is about half an inch deep and less than a foot wide but the horse eating alligators in there Must Be Jumped With Room to Spare.


                        • #13
                          remember rubber riding boots? they re excellent for this. get off and lead her across. Stand in the creek.


                          • #14
                            Have a Friend &quot;Pony&quot; you across

                            Put your halter over your bridle -- attach long lead and ~ have a friend "pony" you and your horse across several times.
                            Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cashela View Post
                              I just wanted to say to be careful if you have a horse that is a leaper over water. If you have the horse in hand be careful you don't get jumped on.

                              Heck I was ponying a friends obnoxious mare to get her over water and that brat to a flying leap and nearly ended up on top of me while I was on my horse!
                              Ditto this advice!!

                              On the John Lyons DVD I have, he talks about horses jumping on top of people when people get off and lead. I've had it happen to me before and in my experience, it is MUCH safer to be on the horse than in front of them. That didn't used to be my position on the issue, but since nearly being killed by a horse flying through the air and wanting to sit on my shoulders, I keep my butt onboard.

                              I trim horses for a lady who was tyring to lead her mare across a highway. The horse spooked and bolted, ran her over and did a lot of damage. She was hurt for a long time after that. She would have been safer on top of the horse.


                              • #16
                                If this is more than a minor issue with this horse - then hire a professional who will educate your horse in the "right" & safe way about crossing water ~ yes, always be careful ~
                                Last edited by Zu Zu; Jul. 23, 2010, 03:18 PM. Reason: addition
                                Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                                • #17

                                  Steve Lantvit actually has an Extreme Cowboy Race course on his farm, and holds clinics all the time on how to overcome the obstacles. Why not drop them an email and see what he has to say?

                                  I went to one this spring, and he successfully helped this woman's little reiner mare become a water pony! It was awesome!

                                  He drills the importance of forward movement, and not turning away from the obstacle, ever. Once you turn away your horse wins that argument.

                                  Good Luck! I know plenty of people who have dealt with the same issue!


                                  • #18
                                    Oh, I agree for most things that I would rather be on the horse than hoping he wont land on me! On the rare occaisions that I do what i did with Hawk I am more than prepared to get the heck out of the way and always get back on as soon as I've made my point.

                                    Not too awful long ago Sadie rubbed her bridle half off--unclipped the bit attachment on a halter bridle on one side and spat the bit out. I had nothing to steer a hardmouthed and hardheaded mare with except a loop of reins swinging from the one snap that was still attached. Bit was of course banging in to her neck and generally being a nuisance. Naturally we were ON the road, but closeish to a driveway that would get us back to my barn. My riding buddy voted to dismount so we could reattach the bit--problem with that idea being that neither one of us can mount from the ground so at least one of us would be leading for the rest of the ride and crossing the road to get to the correct side. I said, nuh uh, lets BOTH stay on, Sadie WANTS to go home anyway and we are almost there, booted her across the road and put her on auto pilot and had no mishap for the quarter mile or so ride back. She leads well and both horses would probably have been fine with one or both being led, but we didnt have to dismount and we didnt.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thanks for all the advice everyone! I will see if a friend of mine can come with me a few times and if she will follow the other horse over. I tried leading her over in just a halter, but the second time she leapt and landed pretty close to me, so I am reluctant to keep working on the ground- I want to keep all of my body parts intact.

                                      Like I said, the "stream" right now is mostly mud with a little bit of mostly still water, about 2 1/2 feet wide. Over the winter when we had rains the parking lot flooded and I was able to lead her through it pretty easily, the water was about mid-cannon bone. I think this resistance on trail may be more of a 'you can't make me do it' alpha pissy mare thing. She's an easy loader and usually a pretty good horse at doing what I ask, but she's a mare


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by mypaintwattie View Post
                                        My mare does not like to get those precious feet of hers muddy or wet, which doesn't help when I want to take her in the Extreme Cowboy Challenge Race at our barn next month. How can I get her to cross the little stream without jumping it and launching me into orbit? She slams on the brakes even when I try to lead her through it. We are talking a stream in the middle of the summer in SoCal ie. mostly mud with a little slowly trickling water. I want to be able to ride more on the trails, so we need to be able to cross water! Thanks!
                                        being confident dont get off, sit in and ride her through it,
                                        when we have horses in to re trian or school then we take them all out in the asap and we go through puddles in the woods and build up there confindece from there and then go and find some deeper ones longer ones and so then perhaps find some we can jump as a bit of varity , horses like these cant judge the depth of the water so sometimes will nap, and this is what your mares doing its not she doesnt like water at all - it wether you have the confindence to sit and ride the truama and say oik on your bike get in

                                        so start off with hacking out if you can or find an area that has a huge puddle and make her walk through it, as soon as she does pat and prase and say she shes a good girl,
                                        then try your little stream dont be a wuss and let her take your lead
                                        you be the leader and tell also use your voice to back up your legs and seat
                                        and say be voice - come on lady lets go

                                        then go find some local small x/c course that have inviting water obsiticals that she can wonder in but has eonugh area for you to push and move with most proper x/c have a sanded area at one end or both with optional entry/exit and then on the other side have small jumps could be a step down and a jump out etc

                                        or find a local spondered ride with optional jumps thing is you when trianing a horse thats not done it before you want to be able to take your time and encourage the horse throught the water

                                        what you must not do is get off as your far stronger on top than you are on the floor
                                        i take it she jumps as that what you said thats encouraging as she not afriad of the water more like your unsure so whats happening she says no and then you let her say no which sorry have to say this by getting off your actually rewarding her and encoruageing a bad habit - so we must not do that

                                        what you should do as you know full well shes going to put the blocks on so change tactics prepare yourself shorten the reins and sit well into her and loads of leg on and push her through it - think it as a jump sit leg on push and sit in and really use your stomach mussle and ride her through the water when she done it then really really praze her next time she should go through a lot easier every time she does pat and praze

                                        dont let her whip round or try to change direction be positive in your adjective is forwards - ok