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Bathing Issues

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  • Bathing Issues

    Hey everyone! So I'm having some problems bathing my 3yo mare. She won't stand still and runs circles around me when I'm spraying her the hose. I've used the shower setting on the nozzle and just the hose, also a bucket and sponge which she did do better with. But still, I want her to get used to being sprayed down. I've even tried using a chain which didn't do much and having someone else hold her. Any tips and advice to deal with this baby stuff would be appreciated. Stay cool everyone!

  • #2
    Cross ties.


    • #3
      My boy hates bath time and dances about. I figure if the worst thing he does in life is try to avoid bathing (and this horse LOVES water under saddle) then I let it fly.

      But it is frustrating when the handler gets as wet as the horse in the process

      I too would like to hear how others deal with this!


      • #4
        I am a breeder. We do babies.

        Stand them in the washrack, leave the lead rope on. Get everything set up ahead of time.......meaning water temp. and the way it will spray. Have someone at the head. Start your spray on the front legs and do not take the spray off the legs no matter what they do. All of mine settle down when they realize that the spray well not stop if they move. The legs and belly are the hardest. Move on up the front (if u do that they will only back up, not bolt forward out of the washrack). Things should settle down.

        Its not rocket science.....just keeping them focused and knowing that they cannot excape. No harsh tactics are needed. '
        Just my way of doing things.
        hunter/jumper ponies


        • #5
          Umm...I'm going to, respectfully, suggest just the opposite of cross ties. BUT, it really depends on what the horse's actual issue is. If she's just using the water as an excuse to be disrepectful, cross ties might work. Or she may really be VERY afraid of water and not just blowing you off when you're telling her to behave at bath time, in which case, if you trap her in the cross ties and THEN assault her with water, things will get worse. Removing a horse's ability to move when they're afraid is not the way to get them to relax and accept what you're trying to do. So you've got to figure out if she's truly afraid or just being unruly.

          My horse was a non-bather when I first got him. I tried bathing him outside and holding him at first since just walking him into the wash stall was a no-go. He showed very similar behavior to the OP's - meaning I just couldn't hold him and bathe him at the same time. I knew enough of his history to know he'd had a very significant injury at one time that had likely had to be flushed and cleaned and that he'd probably worn a neck cradle because of where it was - probably associated lots of running water with pain. But nonetheless I had to get him bathed and I didn't have anyone to help me on a regular basis, so I tried the cross ties again, and just reasoned I'd go slow and try to desensitize him. Well, after he stood up on his back legs I decided there was a flaw in my thinking somewhere.

          So I went back to the out of doors and let him relax by grazing - horses can only think of one thing at a time, right? - and also being in a area where he was free to move around, and me not trying to hang onto his head helped a great deal. This was a LONG process, but now I can bathe him in cross ties. He still hates it, but giving me filthy looks is a long way from rearing, jawohl?
          Blog: The Continuing Adventures of an (ahem) Mature Re-Rider without a Trust Fund...but, finally, A Farm of Her Own!!


          • #6
            Use enough discipline without propagating the fear. Start super slow and work your way up. I've used the theory for getting a horse used to a spray bottle as well.
            There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.
            -Winston Churchill


            • #7
              Never said we put them in crossties. I said, put them in the wash rack and keep the lead rope on. Never do we cross ties babies or even those that do not know how to stand quietly. One in front, lead rope on and then we go about bathing them.
              hunter/jumper ponies


              • #8
                Start your spray on the front legs and do not take the spray off the legs no matter what they do. All of mine settle down when they realize that the spray well not stop if they move.


                • #9
                  How is she with the hose being dragged behind her and all around? I've seen horses get upset because they were scared of the hose more than anything else. Just a thought.

                  I would take the nozel off and start with a trickle on the legs, barely any water. Proceed like Sugarbrook said. You don't take the water away until she stands still for you--i.e. you reward standing still. Just take your time and maybe the first time you bateh it is just a leg and shoulder.

                  I think you have to decide if it is fear or "I don't want to" and adjust your handling accordingly.
                  DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette:


                  • #10
                    Water temperature is key with my guy.

                    He HATES cool water to start with. Even in the 90+ temps these past few days, I have to start off with the water warm till he's wet all over then gradually dial it down to cold. If I go too fast from hot/warm to cool/cold he starts flinching and cowering away from the hose and then almost panics.

                    It takes a bit longer to do it this way, but I now can get him easily into the wash stall and get him cool, whereas before he wouldn't take a step in and it was a battle from start to finish.

                    Also, no cross-ties till you're CERTAIN you've overcome the issues. Nothing scarier than a panicky horse in a wash stall on cross-ties.
                    Last edited by Canterwell; Jul. 25, 2011, 11:14 AM. Reason: Adding info


                    • #11
                      Break it down into smaller pieces for her to get used to. Often hoses are more of an issue than the water itself. Have her on halter/lead (and use a rope halter if necessary...more "bite" to them) and just drag a short (6-8 feet or so) of hose all around her...including over her back, under her belly, around her rump, bump her legs with it...all until she stands still....stop ONLY when she stands still for this....if you stop when she's fussing you taught her that fussing about it will make it stop (horse logic is different from human logic). Once she stands for a hose being all over her got to a real hose and a nozzle with a fine mist/spray setting and adjustable pressure. Begin with her feet....same thing...spray until she stops moving and then stop the may have to pay close attention to YOUR feet so you don't get tied up with the hose. Stop spraying when she stops moving and tolerates it for a second or two. Increase the amount of time you expect her to stand still before stopping. Gradually move up legs (front and rear) to chest, barrel and then on to topline/neck. If she's a bit tired and its a hot day she'll come to appreciate it and even enjoy it more quickly. My broodmares stand in a line while I'm filling water tanks so they can get a shower....kind of funny as some don't do face showers while others love 'em....and you can tell the pecking order of the herd in a heartbeat as you look at the lineup.

                      RE water temperature.....if you have the hose filled with water, laying in sunshine and the nozzle turned off, you'll get several gallons of warm water every few can use that to get them adjusted to accepting slowly cooling water temps...just turn the nozzle off and allow the hose to warm the water for a few minutes...doesn't take long in direct sunlight...if it gets really warm (and it can, esp in dark colored hoses) using a fairly fine spray allows it to cool to comfortable as you spray.
                      Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                      Northern NV


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks everyone. I always start at her feet and go slowly while I talk to her. Unfortunately I don't have control over the temperature of the water (thought it might be that too) but I'll try leaving the hose out in the sun. I think she's afraid of it so I'm working on desensitizing her to that and other things (had some issues with a big umbrella today but she got over it). Bathing her was much easier today, so I was pleased. Thanks again guys, really appreciate it!


                        • #13
                          If she'll tolerate a sponge, get her wet first with that, then use a hose. They don't seem to mind it as much once wet. ( It also works when trying to fly spray....wet them first, then use spray bottle of water. They learn to adapt to the sound without feeling the spray hit them.)


                          • #14
                            Like Sugarbrook said, if you don't stop when the horse tries to act up/get away then they learn that the water doesn't go away when they do misbehave. I have done the same thing with a very, very large appy who, at 4, had never been bathed. However I did it with him on a 15 foot lead and just let him move. (Didn't own a washstall.) Eventually he figured out the water wasn't going away no matter what he did, so he just stood still. I worked on this daily with just the hose and didn't attempt to bathe until he would stand to be sprayed.


                            • #15
                              Pretty much what Sugarbrook said.

                              Summer is the time to teach them to love to have a bath. When they are hot hot hot, sweaty sweaty sweaty, nasty nasty nasty nasty, salty salty salty, well you know what I mean.

                              The heat is the BEST time to teach. Get in a habit of hosing each and every day like at the hottest time of the day perhaps. Maybe 2 times a day. You will have clean babies, and they will learn to get over it.