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New to eventing -- water element question

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  • New to eventing -- water element question

    Hey guys! I'm brand new here. I am a hunter queen and am still showing my 12 year old OTTB in the Amateur Owner hunters. However, when I went to college in Starkville, MS, I left my show horse with my trainer, and brought my retired XL pony to play with to keep my leg strong.

    So...I unretired him (14.3 blue roan QH who is 18 years old), got him back in shape, and started jumping him again. Turns out he really likes jumping still and of course I do. So the barn I am at is an eventing barn, and I started playing around on some banks and log jumps with my trainer, and it turns out he's pretty darn good at XC. He's a natural at SJ, as I did him up to the 3' hunter and 3'3'' jumpers back in the day. Dressage has been an issue but we are using a new bit and getting much better

    Here's the problem: His last year to compete was in 2007 and the little girl who was showing him broke his confidence. He can be a little squirrely coming up to obstacles XC. we are only showing BN and he was clear the last time when we were at Chatt Hills.

    however, he is even more freaked at "ponds" we have to go to. at pine top, it took up 15 minutes to actually get through. once he puts his front feet in, he's hunky dory. Any tips on how to get him to start believing in himself a little more? any get through the water without a spectacle?

    isn't he cute

    you can totally tell i'm a hunter at heart :/ but ive gotten a little addicted after just 2 events!

  • #2
    Go to as many water complexes as possible and make him go in without the lead of another horse. He needs to trust you and only you.

    It sounds like he's already going in, but a bit hesitant. I would just keep going to any and all complexes. Welcome to eventing!!!
    RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

    "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."


    • #3
      My student's horse had a water complex complex as well. We just had to take him schooling as much as possible. Lots and lots of walking into water complexes.

      And he is SO cute! Great pic.


      • #4
        no wet feet....!!!

        We're kinda working through the same thing with our brand-new-to-us, old, eventer! (17) He knows darn well how to do water, but he'd rather not. You say your horse is fine once he gets his front feet in? Someone told us that some horses don't want to get their feet wet...silly huh? And if you toss a bucket of water on their legs before you school the water, or go XC, they will say "oh well, my feet are already wet, guess it's no biggie." Damned if that didn't work! hahaha


        • #5
          I would present him to, and ask him to go through, any and all water that's available - puddles, ponds, ditches after it's rained, water complexes, etc. IMO, a trusty lead is always helpful too.

          I don't know how practical this is (probably not very) but my guy got over his water phobia during our time down in FL. During the summer (their rainy season) he *had* to go through water b/c his turnout was largely flooded. If he wanted to come in and eat, he had to go through the water. My horse has never been one to miss a meal, so he got brave in a hurry and now any and all water is absolutely no big deal.

          I'm not suggesting that you flood your field or anything, but perhaps if you can finagle it so he has to go through some water to get to his food... A liverpool or something maybe?

          Also, have you worked with him on walking across tarps? Much the same idea as water. If you can get him to confidently walk onto and cross the tarp, you might be one step closer to gaining his confidence w/water...pun intended.

          Good luck and I think your guy is quite handsome!
          Last edited by AEM74; Jul. 28, 2011, 11:17 AM.
          "If ever I did not have a horse or dog in my keeping, I should feel I had lost touch with the earth." ~Beryl Markham


          • #6
            My horse is waterphobic too, so any chance I have to make him step into water, I take him to it. After a heavy rainfall, if there are small or large puddles in the outdoor arena, round pen, standing water by the barn, I walk him through it. Obviously we practice water complexes in real cross country courses if we can get to them. It took him a looong time to get confident, and he still needs to sniff the water before he steps into it, but he will go in now. He even learned to jump into water back when he was doing training level, but he does not drop into water, rather leaps in, which can be quite unsettling!
            "Another member of the Barefoot Eventers Clique"


            • Original Poster

              Thank guys! I have a feeling someone tried to swim him before, and he doesn't believe that the water is only a few inches deep when I ask him to go through.

              I'm a little nervous about putting him through anything that doesn't have good footing, bc I'm afraid that I will make him not trust me as much.

              I will definitely try wetting his feet! He doesn't seem to have a problem going through puddles and will go in our pond if he wants to cool down (by himself of course). So I dont think he minds it if it's his idea. The nearest place to school a real water element is 4 hours away so we don't go very often. There is NO xc anywhere near Starkville.

              Tarps seem like a good idea too!

              The more pressure you give him to go in the water, the more he flies backwards. and i mean FLIES. he seems to like it if you let him break down to a trot and talk to him really loudly. maybe sometimes he forgets who's up there


              • #8
                I rode a great old horse for a while who topped out at Novice because he was so freaked about water. (He has a vision issue that makes it so scary... even a trickle of water on pavement can get him shying.) Apparently the one time his owner tried to take him Training, at Groton House about 14 years ago, he was doing great until the water, at which point he unceremoniously dumped her and galloped back to the stabling area.

                At Novice, where there's no drop or jump into the water, he'd usually go in if you let him walk in. At that level, IMO, there is no problem with not cantering in.
                You have to have experiences to gain experience.

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


                • #9
                  He is ADORABLE!

                  Present him to everything water-y you can find. Puddles, water complexes, everything. If he wants to turn away, make him face it. Encourage him to walk into it.

                  I started my OTTB with scary stuff on the ground around the farm. He's super high energy and enthusiastic, and he feeds off of my enthusiasm, so I'd go out wearing muck boots and we'd go for a run around the barn. I'd skip along singing looking like an idiot and he'd follow me over logs, puddles, retaining walls, you name it. Once he got comfortable with them on the ground, I switched to under saddle. The key for him is to make through it (or over it, with ditches etc) the only way to get past it. Then he's A-OK.

                  Good luck! Wish I had a pony to event
                  Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.