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Horses that refused water that you had to quit eventing

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  • Horses that refused water that you had to quit eventing

    I may own that horse. He has always had issues with water obstacles but for some reason now he has decided to be a dick. When he was "softer" and not in as good shape, he was better about it. As he has become fitter, his tantrums are more pronounced. We have moved up to Novice and is fine with the jumps but when he sees the water or frog pond ......or puddle, it's all brakes. The worst part about this is if we school it one day, painfully, but we are getting thru, if we do a schooling show the next day, it's as if he has never seen it. This is a horse who does not care if you have spurs and a crop, you get the middle hoof. I have backed him in to get him in, trotted around and worked in the water 30 min. The next day, nope.

    We went to Catalpa a few weeks ago. There was a creek that was about 4' wide. It took my trainer and I 20 min to get him close to it. When we finally did, he leaped 14'! Came back over the other way, barely. Turned to it again, at a walk, hell no. A trot produced a rear and spin. He is a big 17 hand Holsteiner. I have gotten off him and lead him thru back and forth, got on him and hell no.

    Honestly, I'm not looking for advice. Ok, if you have some miracle I'll listen. Just wondering how common it is to get to a level and you have to give up because a horse will not do a component.
    "Punch him in the wiener. Then leave." AffirmedHope

  • #2
    Squirt his legs with the hose before you go out. Sometimes they stop being such drama queens about getting feet wet when the feet are already wet.

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by Manahmanah View Post
      Squirt his legs with the hose before you go out. Sometimes they stop being such drama queens about getting feet wet when the feet are already wet.
      Oh he's wonderful in a wash stall. Drinks from the water hose. Likes a bath.
      "Punch him in the wiener. Then leave." AffirmedHope

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      • #4
        If you like everything else about him I would put him in training with someone who has water on their farm and will work him with it daily. Once he remembers that it’s not scary they can take him off the farm. I wouldn’t fix it with fear. He has to understand that it’s not scary.

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        • #5
          You need to teach him that water = fun

          Clicker training is perfect for stuff like this. Hire a dog trainer, or even better and person who understands horses and dogs, and have them teach you. You want to show the horse that puzzling through the problem will get them a reward. Something as simple as asking him to touch water results in a party and cookies. You cannot eat when you are afraid. If you’re eating, things need to be at least somewhat alright.

          I use the ‘show me’ command for anything scary. That means I want them to walk up to it and touch it... this gets a cookie. You will be shocked how quickly this can turn things around with a food motivated horse.

          (I’m not making this up - pretty sure Beezie Madden had to do this for one of her GP jumpers that was scared of the water jump)

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          • #6
            Two perpectives. First, I've had a horse that just didn't want to play and it took me longer than I wish it had to realize it. His antics scared me and were not fun. So, if you are feeling that, pay attention and ask yourself what *you* would enjoy and start planning accordingly.

            Second, I had a timid TB who acted like every water jump was a new type of obstacle he'd never seen before. He'd stop way out. I was throwing my hands up at Pre-Training level as every event it was a question how long to get him in. Once when I spanked him at the edge, he bucked me off at a standstill. Luckily I stayed dry and I was so mad I jumped back on, smacked twice more and in we went. Before the one-fall rule, obviously.

            I would trailer him 3-4 hours each way just to school at the closest water jumps. Even as he got more obedient he still was hesitant and I finally entered our first Training after 9 events at Pre-Training that summer. Lucky for me the water was just a bank drop with no log.

            I moved him up to Prelim after 5 Trainings the next year. I had to ride my pants off at the water. He'd go, but was always hesitant and looky. Lost all rhythm and I had to create all the impulsion; it was usually scrambly. We did a (old) CCI* with steeplechase and the Olympian/course designer told me we gave him a heart attack with our trip through the water 😆

            Two short seasons of Prelim and we were encouraged to move up. At this point I was truly worried about the water complexes, as Intermediate has much bigger and more technical lines and I knew I couldn't just get by with a hope and prayer. I was out there schooling Int. waters, when most sane people don't do that in cold blood.

            So we survived that and entered our first Intermediate, double entered Prelim in case I chickened out. They didn't have the mini-Badminton water line but it was still a very technical line where you had to pick 3 or 4 strides through the water in order to either do a one stride out or a bounce out over a very upright vertical. Then the second complex was only a few jumps later and was a big scopey drop to a steep pimple to a steep downhill trakehner. Yep, I thought this was it, the day we'd finally got in completely over our heads.

            I warmed up and it was early so the sun was in our eyes and my horse stopped at the warm up fence. Not a confidence builder for our first Intermediate!! Well the starter was calling me and I felt sick but off we went. The water was at least half way through the course.

            Everything was going well and as I approached the water, I was putting him together and kicking and ready for the hesitation which never came! He powered through the 3 strides, jumped up the bank and bounced over the vertical and that was the day my horse decided he *did* water complexes.

            So, that only took 5 years. This lovely horse took me around a CCI** with steeplechase, which is my avatar.
            Blugal

            You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng

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            • #7
              At the one and only horse trials I was ever in, I was on a lovely old gelding who'd flunked out at Training because of his water issues (he'd dumped his owner into the water at Groton House and galloped back to the barn, and I think that was the point where she realized it just wasn't going to happen.) It turned out that he had partial vision in one eye. With steady encouragement, he'd jump almost anything, except for water. He was just scared of it... Once when I was riding he jumped over the trickle from a hose running down the driveway.

              My mare can be tricky about water. I have video from before I bought her of her hesitating at a tiny drop into water, and then pooping in the water. She does have opinions! And the daughter of the owner of the above horse took her to camp, which had a drop into a stream; she'd regularly take a flying leap off the edge, trying to miss the stream entirely. I've never evented her, but have worked a LOT with her on dealing with water. If she can stop and lower her head and sniff it, and maybe paw a little if she can't see the bottom, she's willing once she commits to it. We board near the Ipswich River and will cross it regularly -- including to get into Groton House. It's belly deep water and I let her take her time with it.
              You have to have experiences to gain experience.

              1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

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              • #8
                Perhaps a rehab facility that has a pool? I would find a place that would swim him for a few weeks. Might get him to think a little differently about water obstacles.

                Though he might be most worried about what he can't see (mud monsters) and not really the water itself, in which case a swimming pool might not be the trick. If that were the case, I would take him mud bogging.

                Ages ago I had a mare that went from hydrophobic to hydrophilic after spending a couple months at such a facility for an injury.

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                • #9
                  Nope.....never had to quit because of it. Have I had horses that took longer to get confident at water? Yup. But you have made it a fight.....when it is both about them learning to go where you tell them...but also to trust you. You have to build their confidence...and that takes TIME and patiences in the training process. Most are easy about it...but there are always some (often more careful jumpers) who are not. My one horse now going Advanced...was schooling Intermediate questions but still green about water....so we kept him at training level and schooled water constantly. One day (after 2 years of VERY careful schooling)...he got it and was totally on it. But even still, when he moved up the next levels, he would always school water the week of an event. Keeping it confident building...not a battle. And we will probably always do this with him. I have another youngster who is also unsure....so have taken a ton of time to school it often, school small crossings etc and I’m careful in how I introduce it and not to over face him. I recognize that he isn’t being a dick....he’s not confident and using what nature has instilled in him....to flee....you have to instill confidence and trust to overcome that instinct. If you come right at it and put the pressure on...some will fight you hard...so you have to use more tact. Avoid the straight out confrontation but at the same time...he does need to go where you tell him (so you have to be careful what you ask). But if you don’t want to take the time to do that....and he has talents elsewhere...then it is totally fine to do something else too. But this is a training issue that most CAN overcome with correct training and time......and it helps if you have access to lots of good places to school water.


                  ETA: Short version of what I’m saying...Yes I’ve STOPPED competing much and definitely moving up levels until I worked through this one problem. And often it does take time. But I haven’t given up with producing them as event horses over it. It just took time. And if he is schooling everything great at Novice...but still has an issue with water....you don’t move up. You may stop competing until you solve it. It doesn’t mean you stop progressing. I keep schooling the dressage and the jumping...an other aspects of xc....but we stay competing at a level that they can be confident in the water and continuing schooling. And as we progress at the other skills....it often helps with the water issue.
                  ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I know someone who purchased an older horse. Was a former show jumper, but a bold confident mare, and was really nice on the flat. They figured she would be a great learning mare, up to novice or training.

                    They could NEVER get her to jump into the water on the first go. This is with a 4*/advanced eventer's help with the training. The second approach she would jump no problem. She couldn't ever get her over it, and they had to quit.

                    Agreed that while this is really annoying to you, you need to stop spanking him at the water. Can you use a lead horse for awhile, get right up on his ass and ride into and out of water over and over again? Do you have any lakes nearby that you can go for a long trail ride, have your dude be super damn thirsty, and then take him for a swim/drink? Do you have any trails nearby that have significant/several water crossings (back and forth across a creek) that you and a buddy can take turns leading over (buddy being confident about it)?

                    Even with a buddy, don't take too long before letting the lead horse take over. Your horse needs to learn see water, go. If he's pussy footing around at the edge, just let the lead horse pass you to get him to go in without muss or fuss. Then try to lead again on the next one.

                    Water needs to be where he wants to be. Not somewhere he goes to get away from you. Not somewhere he goes and gets worked for 30 minutes. If anything, that's where he is allowed to stand and rest.

                    Final suggestion - a pasture that often gets water logged, with a friend who is a mud puppy. Splashing and playing in the water alleviates fear pretty fast, too.
                    Last edited by endlessclimb; Aug. 19, 2019, 03:05 PM. Reason: EDIT: Or if he's out on pasture, flood the area around his feed bin/hay bag. You want grain? You've got to come into the water, bud.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post
                      They could NEVER get her to jump into the water on the first go. This is with a 4*/advanced eventer's help with the training. The second approach she would jump no problem. She couldn't ever get her over it, and they had to quit.
                      .
                      Since a lot of SJ are taught to jump over water....it can take them even longer to understand that isn’t what is being asked. And even with a 4*+ trainer....since this horse was bought to be a schoolmaster...I can almost guarantee that they were not going to take the time she needed to over come the issue...and that is why they stopped. It is REALLY hard to wait and work on this one issue when all the other pieces are there...and in fact everything else is easy...to give them the time to work through the issue. And lots of riders want to get on with their competitive goals...and if a YR...they are on a clock of aging out. That isn’t wrong either. This is something that often there is NOT a quick easy solution. No matter how good of a rider you are. And not everyone has access to the schooling opportunities either. But absolutely agree with the lead....I will not even take a young horse to cross a tiny stream unless I have a reliable lead horse...and a lot of time.
                      ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I had a horse that would not do water on course. Long story short, he ended up switching disciplines to hunters. I am finding this to be an interesting thread, as back in the 80s when I had this horse there weren't many training techniques that didn't involve increasing force (after the lead horse, foxhunting, etc. ideas had been tried). I admit for trail riding I got off and led him over/through water.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post

                          Since a lot of SJ are taught to jump over water....it can take them even longer to understand that isn’t what is being asked. And even with a 4*+ trainer....since this horse was bought to be a schoolmaster...I can almost guarantee that they were not going to take the time she needed to over come the issue...and that is why they stopped. It is REALLY hard to wait and work on this one issue when all the other pieces are there...and in fact everything else is easy...to give them the time to work through the issue. And lots of riders want to get on with their competitive goals...and if a YR...they are on a clock of aging out. That isn’t wrong either. This is something that often there is NOT a quick easy solution. No matter how good of a rider you are. And not everyone has access to the schooling opportunities either. But absolutely agree with the lead....I will not even take a young horse to cross a tiny stream unless I have a reliable lead horse...and a lot of time.
                          Horse was 19. No use in continuing. The fact she would go second time makes me think it was actual fear. Otherwise a totally wonderful mare.

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                          • #14
                            I had a gelding who'd cut himself jumping off a bank into water that he had not done before. After that he WOULD NOT go off a bank into a new to him water jump. He'd go in down a ramp and after that he'd jump off any bank at that complex, forever more.

                            I had to be careful where I competed - and after a while decided that there was plenty to do where he was OK I didn't need to go other places where we might have trouble.

                            Of course his logic was flawed in that walking through the water today doesn't mean all will be fine 3 months from now but that's horse logic for you.

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                            • #15
                              When I bought my mare the sellers said that she would refuse or jump creek crossings. Turned out they were small enough to jump, so I took her to a trail that had 17 water crossings. She had a lot of meltdowns but didn't want to leave her friends behind, jumped the first few, then hit some that were too wide to jump, including 1/4 mile in the creek itself and by the end she was plowing through them in the lead. I trail rode her quite a bit at places with water before we ever schooled XC on a course and she didn't even blink. Sadly, she didn't like the rest of the whole XC thing so she's now a trail horse.
                              http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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                              • #16
                                I own one of my best (ever) mares because she went to an eventing trainer to get started and gave a huge middle hoof to the water. Funny story, I took her up through the 1.40m jumpers (and she won almost everything she ever walked into), and yet she NEVER jumped a dug in legitimate water jump. Fortunately, most of our venues used liverpools, and the big one (tbird) at the time always offered an option fence at the water in the rare event it was included on course.....although back then they had dug in water jumps in the one-step-below-the-GP-field ring, and we had to give those wide berth too.

                                But all of that being said, I never tried overly hard to fix the water problem because it's mostly a non-issue in the jumper world. I did spend many days and hours trying to address the issue AT the show I discovered the problem at (she jumped one of the water jumps and then would. not. get. within 20 feet of it from that point forward). I always laughed it off as an obnoxious quirk of a very headstrong and alpha-type mare. Funny, though, when I tracked down her breeder she told me they had sent the mare to the eventing trainer and the gal told them she was "way too good over the fences to be an eventer." And it was so so clearly code for, "the $%&^*! mare wouldn't go near the water!" (because a-how many eventers do you know who *dislike* a horse who jumps well and b-from her reaction at the show, the water was a big legitimate very difficult to fix problem).

                                I sure am happy that whoever had her opted not to take the time to address the problem the way it probably should have been addressed early on....she's sure been a once in a lifetime horse! And on a related note, she's now 23 and FINALLY last year decided it was okay to walk/trot/canter through big mud puddles.
                                __________________________________
                                Flying F Sport Horses
                                Horses in the NW

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                                • #17
                                  Not water but I've got one who detests ditches. He's memorised where all the ditches are on the local courses. In his case, it was symptomatic of his disinclination to do anything that he thought required effort (either mental or physical). He now does dressage and loves it, and I have a couple of others who think jumping ditches/water/etc is the greatest treat imaginable so we are all having far more fun.

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                                  • #18
                                    My guy is 50/50 about jumping into water at first asking...then fine. Well 93% of the time he is a fun ride...XC. Put party on over painted jumps...not planning any long trips anymore.

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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by clairebear_nz View Post
                                      Not water but I've got one who detests ditches. He's memorised where all the ditches are on the local courses. In his case, it was symptomatic of his disinclination to do anything that he thought required effort (either mental or physical). He now does dressage and loves it, and I have a couple of others who think jumping ditches/water/etc is the greatest treat imaginable so we are all having far more fun.
                                      He can be a little ditchy too, depending on the day but it's generally an issue I can force. I have gotten off and led this horse in the water complex totally flooding my boots, got back on and he has refused to step in. He knows where the water is and starts getting weird about the jumps 2-3 jumps away because he knows what's coming. He HATES gray water complexes, you know, the water is milky gray, verses a clearer water version. He has aversion to stepping in a puddle when you are leading him. Will almost jump it just trying to lead him thru it. Took him on a trail ride. Thought getting left behind would be motivation. Yeah, nope. It does not help that this horse has no issues with spurs and a crop.

                                      Our local water complex (6 min from my barn, yeah, I know) expanded the complex a little bit and now it is gray milky water with a kazillion frogs all along the edge and turtles floating in it so this is not helping. But at Novice you can't not expect water. We have a small 2' wide creek crossing at my barn. When I try to lead him thru it, you get a giant leap, then we go back and forth. Once he is walking (sort of) thru it, I get back on and he won't get near it. He knows when we are getting within 150' of it and starts wanting to spin.
                                      "Punch him in the wiener. Then leave." AffirmedHope

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Do you have someone in the area that's good with training on a lunge line? (Forgot the exact terminology but it's basically ground training over fences on a lunge/long line.) It's a great way to build up confidence/discipline and takes some of the emotion/rider component out of it... Also if he does a 14 foot leap over, you're not as likely to get tossed!
                                        Road to the T3D
                                        Translation
                                        fri [fri:] fritt fria (adj): Free
                                        skritt [skrit:] skritten (noun): Walk

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