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Troubles Crossing the River...

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  • Troubles Crossing the River...

    I have a 9 year old Friesian/Paint that got 30 days professional training on the ground, then 30 days riding. I have been taking him trail riding and working with him since then. He has went camping and he rides alone or with a group.

    I have two horses so when I leave and ride alone I leave the other behind (I was going to start ponying but the other horse has been diagnosed with EPM. ) He goes through the trails great until we hit a river.

    I started by being on the ground and walking into the water myself and trying to get him to follow. He pulls back and starts to panic. I thought it was just the fact that the river was close enough to my house that he could hear his horsey buddy. I convinced him to walk in the river with my leading then tried to ride him into the river and he reared up (eventually we made it in).

    When we went camping we went across a river in a group and he threw the same fit (minus the rearing). Once we get in the water he is perfectly fine like nothing happened.

    The most recent episode was when I went trail riding with two others and we tried to cross a river ( I went last) and I tried to get him to just stand on the bank but then he reared up and spun around and then lunged into the river.

    As much as I love the rodeo and the fight I go through trying to get him in the river I was hoping for some suggestions or links to threads (I couldn't find anything really helpful) on how to approach this since I don't feel like I'm making any progress.

    Thanks for any help.

  • #2
    I had problems with water with my TB mare when she was younger and first started trail riding. I had some nice small streams in the woods behind the barn that had good footing. I put a halter and very long lead rope on her and filled my pockets with treats. Off we went and started by just getting close to the water. Each step closer was rewarded with a small treat. In between treating, her other reward was to graze for a few minutes to make the whole situation no big deal. We did multiple different sessions of this training until she was good about walking across plus walking up and down the stream without actually crossing. I added verbal cues like step and walk up to the sessions. Walk up is sort of my command for we are doing this now. Step is used when I want her to pay attention to the footing and go easy. I always use step if the footing is iffy as I don't want her to try to jump a stream. Jumping is not allowed, she is to walk calmly and quietly thru. For a while after if we went somewhere new and had to cross water, I may have to get off and lead her, but now many years later she is very reliable about water. This what I have now for water crossings... hehe.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/simbalism/3029621774/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/simbalism/3029621738/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/simbalism/3029621612/

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      That's awesome! I guess I can try the treat approach again. The only problem is he gets panicy when standing next to the water because he just wants to run the other way.

      Guess I'll have to put on my water boots (: The hardest part I'm having is transferring his faith in me when we're on the ground to his faith when I'm in the saddle. :|

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Simbalism View Post
        I had problems with water with my TB mare when she was younger and first started trail riding. I had some nice small streams in the woods behind the barn that had good footing. I put a halter and very long lead rope on her and filled my pockets with treats. Off we went and started by just getting close to the water. Each step closer was rewarded with a small treat. In between treating, her other reward was to graze for a few minutes to make the whole situation no big deal. We did multiple different sessions of this training until she was good about walking across plus walking up and down the stream without actually crossing. I added verbal cues like step and walk up to the sessions. Walk up is sort of my command for we are doing this now. Step is used when I want her to pay attention to the footing and go easy. I always use step if the footing is iffy as I don't want her to try to jump a stream. Jumping is not allowed, she is to walk calmly and quietly thru. For a while after if we went somewhere new and had to cross water, I may have to get off and lead her, but now many years later she is very reliable about water. This what I have now for water crossings... hehe.
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/simbalism/3029621774/
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/simbalism/3029621738/
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/simbalism/3029621612/
        WOW!!! Those pictures are amazing and your mare looks very similar to mine. Are you in the ocean or some sort of lake? That is amazing. I'd be so worried in water that deep that my horse might sink into mud or get swept away or something. How did you work around that, or did you never have those fears? Where in VA are you?

        Comment


        • #5
          TBPONY, the pictures were taken on the Eastern Shore of Va. The body of water is the Chesapeake Bay. In the first picture she is actually just about to start swimming. The bottom is actually sandy and fairly firm in most places. I was a little nervous the first time I tried it, but my mare was pretty steady eddie about it and there really were no waves or current. We're going again next weekend with 4 other fiends and their horses for a long weekend. Tons of fun!

          Comment


          • #6
            Simbalism, that is really cool. Thanks for sharing and have fun on your upcoming trip!

            Comment


            • #7
              I have several Saddlebred's that trail ride.Only one has had a water issue, she also has a noncompliance issue (read: if she doesn't want to do something she'll fight or balk until you win) I chose my battles wisely. She has never gotten over the water issue and I decided she simply doesn't have the temperament or the bravery to overcome her fear given the way she handles other uh-oh moments. She is not a trail horse, at least not to my expectations. Some horses never will be, IMO.

              They do need to go through water in the spring to get to their pasture, she had THE most problems and still has, she is 13 now. She is the only one that will/has never gone into the pond and I've never seen her drink from it. Water should be a trail horses friend.

              No real advice for you, sorry...

              Comment


              • #8
                OP, I don't think you're allowed to post here about a Friesian/paint cross without pictures.

                I spent the whole summer getting my sweet boy OK with water coming out of a hose. I can't even imagine how he'll react to water in a river or a lake.

                Simbalism, AMAZING pictures!
                I have a Fjord! Life With Oden

                Comment


                • #9
                  Not crossing water IS a compliance issue. They don't trust your opinion or your leadership. I guarantee you see it in other areas though maybe you don't recognize it as such.

                  Lots of "go where I send you and how I send you" work without water is the first step.

                  When it's time to go in you'll have the language and precedent set. We never do it from the ground-sometimes the rider will get off the horse and my husband will dally off and drag the horse into the water, then up and down the water and all over and then the rider will try again, maybe led in again if need be. We don't waste a lot of time with it; we'll be encouraging and make the water the happy place to be and work work work when you are refusing the water and maybe we'll back in or all of that but we don't have all day to cross the creek and I don't want to spend all day riding out a hissy fit on the bank while the other horses cross the creek. We point, ask, then tell and make sure to spend lots of time in the water, crossing and recrossing, up the creek, down the creek. Never had to deal with it for more than a handful of water crossings.
                  “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    I agree that it is a compliance issue. I took him by the river today and he wouldn't even get close without panicking. So I rode him as close to the river as I could then I just let him graze we eventually calmed down enough to eat grass (and not freak out), but I didn't attempt the water. I want to get rid of the fear and fight that he has established with crossing the water.

                    I decided that jumping small jumps is the same theory as crossing water. The trust and willingness to believe doing whatever I ask won't kill him.

                    I will post pictures of him later when I'm not at work on the computer from the dinosaur age.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Let me know how these links work for you. (:

                      http://oi43.tinypic.com/2ymbluh.jpg
                      http://tinypic.com/r/axjg2e/5
                      http://i43.tinypic.com/2agl15k.jpg

                      Let me know if these work or not. (: A few of the nicer ones are from way earlier in the year. The one with him in the english saddle was from yesterday!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I don't know about compliance - my horse needs to check the water first (lowers his head, sniffs it) and decide for himself if it looks safe to walk in. If it is clear and he can see the bottom, he will more willingly walk in. If it is murky, or he can't see the bottom, he will not step in, no matter what. I took him foxhunting and the first time we had to cross a creek, the bottom was soft and water murky, knee high. He launched in after a lot of kicking, and really disliked the muddy bottom. Then we had to cross the same creek at another place later, with the same result: reluctance, followed by a lot of insistence (read kicking and use of crop), and he again launched in. At the 3rd crossing, it was a much deeper spot, current was fairly fast, could not see the bottom at all. He said, no way Jose, I am not going in. Another rider with an experienced mare came to my rescue, told me to put my horse's nose on her mare's rump and just follow her in. I did so, and when we got to the water, the mare in front of us lost her footing and went under, rider and horse, right in front of my horse's nose! That's when my horse decided he definitely was a lot smarter than me and did not cross the creek again. I was embarrassed as the master had to return with me on the road, crossing bridges, since my horse did not want to go back the same way we had gone, over the 2 crossings we had already done. I was a guest on my first hunt and didn't know the area to go back by myself.
                        Fast forward 2 years later, just last month, I took my horse foxhunting again. This has been a drier year so creek is much lower, water clearer, footing more firm. My horse lowered his head, checked it out and said "sure, no problem". He crossed the creek several times, no issues. He is smart!
                        ___________________________________________
                        "Another member of the Barefoot Eventers Clique"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Pick a day when its ungodly hot and a place with lots of creeks/streams/water to cross. Take friends with horses who like water. The more the better. Cross water. All. Day. Long.

                          My Arab used to do some spectacular airs above the ground when I first started breaking him out. There was rearing. There was spinning. There was Arab teleporting. There were spectacular temper tantrums.

                          He'd spin and act like a fool. I'd just keep pointing him back at the water. Over and over. Not getting mad. He'd ultimately cross because all of his friends were leaving. Eventually he quit caring.

                          We also did a lot of lessons on going where pointed regardless what he might think of the situation.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Compliance and good judgement are not the same thing! And it's not always a bad thing when your horse is non-compliant but they have to earn the right, I think. Dismissing all water crossings ever is not going to work out!

                            OP he's cute as a bug's ear! Looks spry and clever too-don't let him fool ya! I agree, go with a few reliable friends that understand the mission and have a day at the beach. Keep it calm, no whirling dervish if you can help it. He's still very green and new to the whole thing and you don't want to overwhelm him. He hasn't learned yet to trust you entirely and you don't want this experience to bring out the worst in you both. You can make puddles at home and practice there, leading and riding, and go to the river or creek if you can do it safely but keep it calm, patient and consistent. He's a cutie.
                            “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              I have tried the buddy system and it hasn't worked. I have went with a few different groups of horses to get him in the water and he won't go first so everyone else will get in the water and start to walk away and he could care less. He still wants to wheel away from the river. His reaction is exactly the same if he is alone or in a group.

                              He is okay when I'm leading him I just can't get the trust to transition into the saddle. So when I ask him on the ground he is a little hesitant but goes in. When I'm in the saddle he freaks out as soon as he thinks we might be crossing the water.

                              Cowboymom - Thanks! He knows he is cute, all the little kids love him and he just stands there all proud. It's quite comical to watch. I don't know of a beach near home that horses are allowed on. I will start looking. So the only opportunities I have are rivers and puddles.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by kkmrad94 View Post
                                That's awesome! I guess I can try the treat approach again. The only problem is he gets panicy when standing next to the water because he just wants to run the other way.

                                Guess I'll have to put on my water boots (: The hardest part I'm having is transferring his faith in me when we're on the ground to his faith when I'm in the saddle. :|
                                it's definitely hard to convince a horse that doesn't want to do something to do it, and it'll be harder if you two haven't established a "lead and follow" (i dont mean an alpha and subordinate) relationship. maybe, if you have the time, you can take some time to "play" with him on the ground -- maybe lead him around the woods, curry and brush him, ask him to do some things like walk over "groundpoles" (read:trees heeheh) back up over certain things - teach him to stand and let you mount from ANYTHING be it a tree stump or a rock, etc etc etc. once you've built this sort of "if she's doing it i can trust her that it's okay to do it too" relationship with your horse, things will be much easier.

                                it may also be that your horse, who just spent a lot of time with someone else, hasn't had the chance to build rapport with you yet.

                                imho, i would keep dismounting and leading through the water. water is terrifying to horses, especially rivers, because horse eyesight lacks the rods to be able to decipher depth - what a horse is seeing vs what you are seeing is two different things -- the horse probably perceives the river as a very deep, unfathomable rushing gout of water simply because he cannot see the bottom (no horse can) and has not had the training under his belt to assure him it is safe to cross.

                                with most horses, "seeing is believing" - so having someone he can trust, be it you or a horse in front of him, will help cut out the dramatics and make it a lot less of a stressful experience.
                                AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  If you don't have someone that can just drag him in with you on him, and I can understand not wanting to do that or not having someone to do it, then this is what I would do.

                                  I would practice it on the ground and have a cue, a voice cue, or a pat on the neck cue or something that you can use both from the saddle and from the ground. "dive in" and in you go to the water, treat or pet, rinse and repeat. Do that enough that he can associate the voice cue with getting in the water.

                                  And/or alone/with a group, go to the water riding him and as soon as he starts to get anxious don't approach any closer. Do some close work, circles, backing, take him mind off the situation, don't let it be the same situation that it has been. Go away from the river and then go back until he starts to be anxious and then do some close work, take a break, sit and talk with your friends, whatever but don't let him get so upset. When he's comfortable at that spot move a little closer and do the same thing. Eventually he's going to be calm and working right at the water's edge and eventually from there he's going to step in the water and then you're going to get on with life. Work where he just starts to get anxious and calm him there. All the time you spend doing that is going to seem boring and unproductive but it isn't. By the time he steps in the water he's going to trust you a whole lot more and you're going to know his mind better than you do now. He'll be compliant.
                                  “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Sorry for the slow reply here.

                                    I decided that I'm going to try on work on his cooperation on doing things he doesn't want AWAY from the water. I know that we will have to revisit that sometime but for right now I think that working on things that don't cause him to insta-panic would be more beneficial.

                                    I decided that I wanted to teach him how to jump. (Not high.. ) Just working with him trusting me over a jump but he isn't picking up his feet. He just knocks the pole out of the jump or tries to walk through it. He knows what the verbal command 'step' means. I usually use it on a trail when he needs to slow down and tread carefully.

                                    Comment

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