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Need advice for a horse afraid of the hose

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  • Need advice for a horse afraid of the hose

    This horse is fairly new to me. He's 6 years old. He's not spooky. This is the first fear I've encountered.

    I put him in the cross tie and turned the hose on, not anticipating any trouble at all. He nearly came out of the cross ties!

    Since then, I've spent about 5 minutes twice a day for a week trying to desensitize him to it. I've tried it with the hose turned off. I have tried it with the spray nozzle removed (so it doesn't hiss). I've tried very low water pressure. I have given him treats for tolerating it.

    No progress yet. I still haven't been able to hose even one hoof!

    What's your advice?
    I have a Fjord! Life With Oden

  • #2
    I would hold him on a lead (not in cross ties), bring the hose with slow-running water close to him (aimed at the ground moving toward a front foot), and as soon as he pulls back or spooks, make him back up (away from the hose) about ten steps. Lead him forward and repeat this until he shows improvement. That may mean he will stand and allow the water/hose a few feet closer, or it may mean he will let you hose his front legs. Be patient, calm, and firm. Keep the sessions short -- five minutes max. If you do it every day he will soon be bored with the whole thing.

    There have been studies lately and there was a thread on CoTH about observational learning, that horses can benefit from watching another horse performing or learning an act. So if possible, bathe another horse in close proximity so your horse can observe. I would think it would be especially beneficial to bathe a horse that loves it.
    "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina

    Comment


    • #3
      I've had luck with holding the horse in a pretty open area (not cross ties) and just holding the hose in my hand. The horse can circle around me all it wants. As soon as they stop circling, I turn off the hose. Once they are comfortable with that, I start hosing the feet. Again - horse can circle all it wants, I just follow it with the water. Horse stops, I stop hosing and lots of praise/treats/whatever. When the horse tolerates the feet, move up the legs and over the rest of the body.

      Timing and coordination are key. Don't try to push too much in any one session and fry his brain -- let it take however many sessions over however many days.

      Comment


      • #4
        What Halt Near X said. My horse was HORRIBLE about the hose when I got him. Bathing him was a tedious two person job. Now he's mostly fine. He's very reactive as it is but time and patience will do it.
        What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

        Comment


        • #5
          It's going to take a lot longer than a week! Keep at it, he will get less resistant. An extra person could help too. They could hold the horse while you let the water run ten feet away, then 8 feet, then 5 feet, etc etc.... you can cut a length of hose and a couple times a day teach the horse to let you rub it all over him too.....sometime when the horse is tied , pick up the regular hose (turned off) and carry it around and plop it 10 feet away, go brush the horse, pick up the hose, play with it a bit, drop it again, brush the horse- let him know that it's no big deal to see it moving around...
          My daughter's first horse HATED hoses..probably took a month of every day messing with her. She never "liked" them but she tolerated them...you can see she's not thrilled but she's dealing with it lol
          http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b2...rdan/hose2.jpg
          Kerri

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          • #6
            I love the idea to let him watch other horses getting baths.

            I also really believe in warm water- asking for the horse to tolerate the hose, the splash AND the cold... it's just too much. (Unless it's 110 out)

            I was going to say- let the hose be an inanimate background noise- on the gound running while you groom with brushes... then propped on a bucket allowed to overflow. Then draped over a fence rail and splashing onto the bottom of a turned over bucket...

            at the same time you are letting the hose acclimate- I'd try to do little water tasks with the horse- using warm water and various tools- like a wet washcloth, a wet brush, a sponge, a squirty dishsoap bottle, a spray bottle.

            You can also do hose jobs with a horse audience- park your car/truck near a safe hitching rail and just wash your car. Then go play with your horse.

            Comment


            • #7
              Small steps, lots of exposure (even without water) and time/patience.

              Get a short-ish piece of hose and just start touching hom with it. Let it brush all over him until it's no big deal. Then a longer hose. Then see how he is about water from a bucket (no hose) so you can know if it's HOSE or WATER or both that bother him. Small bites is how you ingest an elephant.
              Click here before you buy.

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              • #8
                When Sonny first came here he was not happy with getting hosed down. Since my horse Petey couldn't care less I'd just put both on leads and holding both leads in one hand I'd hose Petey down with Sonny standing right next to him. Sonny would still bounce around but couldn't go far and he got used to the idea faster since Petey obviously didn't care. Same with fly spraying. If you have another laid back horse you can use/borrow, try it that way. For many horses it helps a TON when they see others surviving something without reacting. After that I'd just hose Sonny down by letting him circle and always starting at the feet, with lots of praise and quiet, calm talking. I find the "It's no big deal" and "get over it" routine works 90% of the time with anything new or scary. And having access to a laid back horse speeds up the process.
                You jump in the saddle,
                Hold onto the bridle!
                Jump in the line!
                ...Belefonte

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                • #9
                  Slowly ~ daily ~ on lead line ~ start at hoof ~ worth the effort !

                  Slowly ~ daily ~ start at hoof ~ worth the effort !

                  Keep at this ~ Jingles laced with some extra patience ~
                  Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    What does he do when you fill the water bucket in his stall with the hose? What does he do if you have the hose running across or down the aisle and he has to walk over or near it? Hose on but inert, vs hose off? hose on and moving, like when someone has to drag the hose past him to fill another water bucket?

                    I have a younger gray gelding who has never loved water, and we all know gray horses need more baths than any other color... he is now 6-1/2 and I can just about get him in the wash stall and wash pieces and parts by myself without a huge fuss - still haven't given him an actual nose-to-tail bath. He is much happier if I have a second person nearby with a pocketful of treats, dispensed at random moments of good behavior! He's no longer afraid of the hose, he just doesn't like it. Prefers I not use a nozzle, but I'm not sure if it's the pressure he doesn't like or the hissing sound and sudden on-off.

                    When he was 2 I started with a bucket and a sponge, tied next to my other horse in a small paddock. I would tie them, feed them, and bring my bucket and sponge and scraper to wipe down their chests on hot days and then fly spray them. That routine worked really well, but he didn't transfer "I like water from buckets with sponges" to "I really won't die if I stand in the washrack and get wet from the hose." Time and patience...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I've had several "semi-feral" horses that I've started over the years as well as teaching lots of foals to stand for baths. Sounds silly, but I never start at the hoof. Try starting at the point of the shoulder first, and work your way up the shoulder towards the withers. The feet are (for me) usually the last thing.

                      Sheila

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MistyBlue View Post
                        When Sonny first came here he was not happy with getting hosed down. Since my horse Petey couldn't care less I'd just put both on leads and holding both leads in one hand I'd hose Petey down with Sonny standing right next to him. Sonny would still bounce around but couldn't go far and he got used to the idea faster since Petey obviously didn't care. Same with fly spraying. If you have another laid back horse you can use/borrow, try it that way. For many horses it helps a TON when they see others surviving something without reacting. After that I'd just hose Sonny down by letting him circle and always starting at the feet, with lots of praise and quiet, calm talking. I find the "It's no big deal" and "get over it" routine works 90% of the time with anything new or scary. And having access to a laid back horse speeds up the process.
                        This!! I did it for muzzle clipping, and vacuuming too. I had one that just loved the clippers, another the vacuum. The scared one one figured -"I'm missing something". All done.
                        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I picked a hot, hot day and put him on a lead line with 100 feet of hose. I let him back away but I kept the hose in his direction and eventually I splashed his feet, he danced and as soon as he stopped I moved the hose away. I kept doing this calmly and didn't let him panic. Was just about to run out of hose and he stopped and I swear you could see a light bulb go off over his head 'hey, this feel kind of good' and he let me hose him off.

                          He's a water baby now. I think what worked with him was I didn't pressure and I gave him a choice. It let him figure it out.

                          As already said, it's timing whether to splash him or not and how far to push.

                          Good luck, he'll get it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I prefer the classic "flooding" technique for desensitizing a horse to a hose.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              OK, well, today I hooked up and ran the hose so that a small stream ran in the barn, near his hay, all day. The horse was quite concerned! The little donkey, who normally gets pushed off the food, got more than his share of hay today. But by the end of the day, the hay was all gone. I may leave the hose dripping like this all summer. (I'm catching the water in a big tub for them to drink.)
                              I have a Fjord! Life With Oden

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I have a front on my wash stall. Since I have foals around all the time and have also had some yearlings/2yr olds that came here and never had a bath it has worked well for me. I actually have 2 wash stalls right next to each other, the one with the front and one without. Both are 12 x 12 and the one with the front is enclosed with board fence and a 6' pipe gate. When I have something not used to the hose I simply close the gate. With foals it's super easy as I will just wash mom and baby ends up wet at least a little and soon they are enjoying it too.
                                For one more like your situation, I would put him in the closed one loose, and just let the hose run next door. I would also hose off a friend next door too. I NEVER let them get worked up enough to make them try and jump out, and being loose seems to give them enough of a "free" feeling they settle sooner.
                                Next step would be to try hosing his feet still while he's loose in the closed wash stall, and working my way up until I get him all wet. It has yet to take me more than 2 or 3 times before whole horse is wet. Horse can still be "free" and walk circles around you. Often I find these horses getting their first full soapy bathes loose, but enjoying it. By the time I crosstie again, they are fine.
                                Check us out on Facebook at EVER AFTER FARM

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I had an ArabX like that, except she was terrified of spray bottles, water, sponges....pretty much everything. She would not only spook, but try and jump on top of me in the process. I tried pretty much everything, but we just never had any breakthroughs. Eventually though, I found the solution. I used a rope halter, and an extra long leadline. I put her in a smallish paddock - a round pen would work too - and I stood outside of it, while holding on teh lead rope. On went the water hose, and I just started spraying her feet. She freaked out, but I just kept at it, spraying away. It helped that it was a hot day, and I had worked her beforehand. Eventually though I was able to spray her completely off. I did the same thing - on another day - with a spray bottle filled with water. Just stay nice and calm, and only stop spraying when they stop freaking out.
                                  The Equine Wellness and Nutrition FB Group - Come join us!!
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                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I always teach my horses to stand for the hose on a warm, rainy ( NO lightning or thunder) day. We stand in the rain a little while, then slowly add the hose, wiggle it around until the horse doesn't care, then turn on the water. No matter how they dance, if it is raining they can't avoid the water and they settle pretty quickly.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I've had a lot of foster horses, and they have all gotten over their fear of the hose in one session.

                                      I bathe my horses first. They will all come and stand in the spray for the fun of it, so that's a good introduction for the foster.

                                      After doing my easy girls, I just pull out the horse in question, and start spraying. Horse moves, I move with her, keep on spraying. None has kept up their reaction for more than 5-10 minutes, and I have emerged intact as well. Treat it like it's not scary, just another thing we do, and the vast majority of horses will go along.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by katyb View Post
                                        . . . After doing my easy girls, I just pull out the horse in question, and start spraying. Horse moves, I move with her, keep on spraying. None has kept up their reaction for more than 5-10 minutes, and I have emerged intact as well. Treat it like it's not scary, just another thing we do, and the vast majority of horses will go along.
                                        There ya go. Classical horsemanship 101.

                                        Continue the stimulus (flooding) till the horse stops reacting to it. The worst thing you can do is STOP spraying when they freak out and try to bolt. If you quit before they relax you're just teaching them that if they freak out you will quit spraying. That is the horse training you, not you training the horse.

                                        Continue spraying until they get over themselves, relax, and realize it is really just something mundane and boring, then REWARD THAT REACTION by, dare I say it, "quitting on a good note."

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