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Horse afraid of water/fly spray?

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  • Horse afraid of water/fly spray?

    Hi! I just recently started riding a mare for a woman. She's a full fjord, I think? Anyways, she's TERRIFIED of flyspray and the hose. It took nearly a half hour for her to stop running away from the hose, and that was after tying her to a hitching post. I really want to work with her to try to get her to stop freaking out so much- but I don't know how other than slowly introduce it to her. If you put fly spray/water on a rag or cloth, she's fine. She is very out of shape so she sweats a lot even after a just a five minute walk around the ring so I really need to be able to hose her.

    Any ideas of this? I really want to help this mare out. Thanks for any ideas you could give!!

  • #2
    Maybe it's a draft thing? My draft x is the same. I still have to sponge him off with water, but I have got him where he'll let me fly spray him. He's 30, so I cut him some slack.

    My young fellow who used to be scared of the hose and the fly spray? Nah. He had to get over himself.

    I started with his front legs below the knee and talked to him quietly while I sprayed him. If he moved away, I kept spraying. If he stood still, I stopped spraying. Rinse, repeat, moving on from the lower front legs to the upper legs, then the tummy, then the back, and so on until you can do the whole horse.

    Whatever you do, don't stop spraying while he's moving away from you. Cause, naturally, if you do, you've just rewarded the behavior you don't want.

    Oh, BTW, I hold the lead rope in my hand. I don't tie the horse. I don't want a tied horse panicking on me. Allow the horse to circle around you while you hold the lead rope. Don't try and stop him moving - it needs to be his decision to hold still. If you force him to stay still, you're liable to set off some wild horsey-claustrophobic reaction.
    I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


    • #3
      Originally posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' View Post
      Oh, BTW, I hold the lead rope in my hand. I don't tie the horse. I don't want a tied horse panicking on me. Allow the horse to circle around you while you hold the lead rope. Don't try and stop him moving - it needs to be his decision to hold still. If you force him to stay still, you're liable to set off some wild horsey-claustrophobic reaction.
      I had myself and another person holding her. It didn't matter if I kept spraying, she would try to take off and rip the rope out of the hands of whoever is holding her. Having a FAT fjord ripping out my hands isn't my cup of tea. She literally dragged me at one part because I refused to let go. She's not doing it to get out of it, I think, she's genuinely scared. At the hitching post, she did move but she stood still. I want to get her to the point where she can get to that point before getting tied to the hitching post. Thanks!!


      • #4
        I thought my horse was scared of the being hosed down, he would dance out of the way and pull back. But, no he really hated anything cooler than tepid water even on a hot day. Once I figured out he needed warm water he was fine.

        Is it the scary hose or the water? Don't spray just run the water from the knee down and gradually work your way up.

        For fly spray do the same one spray on the legs or chest and give a cookie.


        • #5
          Every year my dumb mare forgets she's not scared of fly spray and every year we spend weeks in a HUGE fight trying to remember that's she's not actually scared of it...
          (Yes I have thought of spraying her with water year round, it gets too cold in the winter).

          I always fly spray while they eat (outside) because I can usually get them to stand still. I start with one squirt on the shoulder, praise. Continue over sides/hip if they are in a good mood about the whole thing. (This is for re-starting fly spray). Leave neck/legs/groin for the next day if they are getting antsy.

          Like with most things, getting them COVERED the first time out or not is not going to kill them, so get done what you can, accept it and move on.

          To start with when she came home, I had to accept getting just a shoulder and then have her take off. It took about 2 weeks to get her really calm about fly spray again (I freely admit I don't have the brightest pony in the world... really just too darn smart for her own good).

          I don't tie or hold, just let them loose (in their pasture!) so I don't have a horse half way across the paddock with a lead rope dangling. May take longer that way but we're back to me being able to walk straight up to her in the field and have her stand still while I fly spray with no reward.

          Just keep making it a very positive experience, and eventually they'll get that the fly spray isn't actually trying to eat them GL.

          (and yes, about the hose /\ start on a hoof, lots of praise, work up slowly. I always hold while I bathe though).
          "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
          Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
          Need You Now Equine


          • #6
            I had a filly who was not only terrified of spray bottles, but she would lunge at me, and try to kick me. Yeah, fun stuff. However, once I figured out a plan, it took about 30 minutes before she was standing quietly while being sprayed. Here's what I did, you can modify it to suit your needs:

            Get a well fitted rope halter, with a long lead.

            Fill a big spray bottle up with water. Better yet, fill two up.

            Lead horse in a small paddock, with the gate closed in case she gets away. Now, I stood on the outside when I did this, because my mare was scared and aggressive, to be safe, but if all she is, is scared, you can stand with get.

            Start spraying. First in the air, then on her legs, and so on. When she pulls back, give get slack, but keep spraying. When she stays still, or walks towards you - non aggressively - stop spraying, and give her a pat and a break.

            It may take a long while, but eventually she will start to relax.

            If the issue is with the water hose, do the same thing with it. If you are patient, it will work.
            The Equine Wellness and Nutrition FB Group - Come join us!!


            • #7
              My young horse was the same way. For fly spray, he had an epiphany one night when the flies were horrible and I sprayed him a little and the flies went away! same epiphany with his fly mask, which he had hated previously too. Now he stands nicely for fly spray and shoves his head in the mask! I make sure the sprayer is set for a very fine mist, and I don't "shoot" it at him, but hold it fairly close and squeeze the sprayer slowly, so it doesn't hit him suddenly and make him jump.

              Water has been harder. I started in a small paddock with a buddy tied beside him, with grain in their feeders. Bucket and sponge and a hot, hot day when the cool water felt good. I got him to the point where the bucket and sponge were no big deal (he still hated the water dripping off his belly!). Then we went to the wash stall in the barn and got him to go in willingly and eat a flake of hay from a cart. Groomed him there, etc. so the wash stall was no big deal. Worked hard on "STand!" and "Whoa!" Got a friend who is both patient and authoritative to hold him while I ran the hose nearby... worked it toward his feet and legs... same rationale someone else mentioned, if he danced around the water kept coming, if he stood still it stopped. He doesn't like the nozzle on the hose, the hissing noise and the water pressure both, so I just use a weak stream of tepid water from the end of the hose. It's taken most of the summer but now when he's hot and sweaty after work, I can take him into the washrack, hold him myself, hose him off (carefully) and scrape him. My big plan for next weekend is to try to wash his tail in a bucket, which will take two people and a big bag of carrots. He's gray, so he needs to be able to deal with water eventually, but he's the kind of horse who needs things to be his idea and picking a fight is NOT something I want to do.

              Good luck with your Fjord. I think I'd find a wash stall or someplace a little more confined. Don't put her in a place where she can pull the rope out of your hand and leave!


              • #8
                Are you using a chain shank where you can have a little control? If not, get one. No one ON EARTH can hold a horse that wants to leave with just a rope shank. Then, use a lip chain for a little more control at the very beginning until she settles a bit. A lip chain relaxes them (you don't use it to punish, just control) and you can hold a pretty unwilling horse with one. As soon as she figures out you are NOT going to let go or let her move, she'll give it up. If you have warm water, use it, and start on the lower legs, letting her kick behind until she stops, but not taking the water off.


                • #9
                  My SWB did this years ago - It was the sound of the sprayer. So put water in the sprayer, hold a lead line (with gloves) in a stall. This way horse can move agay from scarey thing.

                  Start with spraying the legs, then cookie. Repeat. When horse stands for that move up towards shoulder. Don't worry at first when they don't stay still - idea is that they do NOT body slam you (SWB mare did) but can move "a bit" to be more comfortable around noise/feel of liquids hitting legs.

                  Anoth horse had issues with hose. Same thing - lead line, let them move (run in circles if they wish) and spray below the knees. Gradually work your way up towards body.

                  Take everything slow.
                  Now in Kentucky


                  • #10
                    My OTTB is terrified of any spray bottle, but he was abused at the track. It has taken me letting him see and smell the bottle, allow me to rub it all over him, put it away and repeat next time. Then after a week, start spraying just a little, and put it up. Gradually add in more sprays. After a few weeks I was able to spray him without a total come-apart. He doesn't love the hose either, but again, I think it is an issue of someone coming at him with an unknown object. Patience has been the key with mine.
                    Little Star Chihuahua Rescue
                    The Barkalicious Bakery
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Valentina_32926 View Post
                      My SWB did this years ago - It was the sound of the sprayer. So put water in the sprayer, hold a lead line (with gloves) in a stall. This way horse can move agay from scarey thing.

                      Start with spraying the legs, then cookie. Repeat. When horse stands for that move up towards shoulder. Don't worry at first when they don't stay still - idea is that they do NOT body slam you (SWB mare did) but can move "a bit" to be more comfortable around noise/feel of liquids hitting legs.

                      Anoth horse had issues with hose. Same thing - lead line, let them move (run in circles if they wish) and spray below the knees. Gradually work your way up towards body.

                      Take everything slow.
                      I went through the same thing with my SWB. We spent a couple of hours in the round pen with a a spray bottle and a big bucket of water for quick refills. The difference in approach is that I sprayed him until he stood still, then stopped as a reward. Did not stop while he was still moving. It took several sessions, but he got over it.


                      • #12
                        I can bathe my fjords no problem. And I haven't met a Belgian yet I can't bathe. It's not a draft thing or a Fjord thing.

                        Sounds like your horse was never taught to accept it. My bet is that it's the sound. Work on muffling the sound at first. Desensitize. Reward her for when she tries to be sensible. Keep the whole thing low-key. If you feel yourself getting annoyed, find a good note and stop. Maybe keep the first few sessions short and pleasant, working just on standing quietly with sound of hose near her legs or rinsing her feet?

                        It's great she ties. Can you tie her along a fenceline so she can't run in circles around the post? If she moves a little when you try to gently rinse, that's ok. The moment she stops
                        moving, stop spraying. Reward the try.

                        I respectfully disagree with adding pain to the mix (chain shanking) with a horse who is already upset. A smart horse will begin to associate the wash area with "I'm about to be shanked". If she was worried bad things with happen, banging the chain across the bridge of her nose will just reinforce something unpleasant is happening.
                        Veterinarians for Equine Welfare


                        • #13
                          No one said anything about "chain shanking" a horse. I was talking about being able to keep control of the horse so it couldn't leave. And the lip chain is NOT painful, but produces endorphins. Why would you even think I was talking about snatching them? For something they are afraid of? Simple pressure of the chain can stop them from running over you.

                          I teach 10-20 horses a year about the wash stall and fly spray. None of them hold it against me and they learn it very quickly.