Don’t mind the spray
Justine Knott Salem, Oregon
“From Tolerance to Acceptance” (Conversations, EQUUS 467) offered some good pointers for training a horse to accept the spray from a water hose. Here are a few more tips I have found that work.
First, use warm water! A nice, warm spray is much more soothing to a horse than the shock of cold water. As the horse becomes fully saturated you can slowly reduce the temperature of the water. Usually, the horse will enjoy it as the water slowly cools him down.
Also, rather than spraying a jet of water straight at the horse’s body, try aiming the hose into the air so the water falls on him like rain. Keep the water away from the face and ears. Often, a horse who hates a direct spray will find this enjoyable. As the horse gets saturated and is standing calmly, a reduced spray can be used directly on the body. Joseph Berto White City, Oregon that there is one additional resource to help with a fearful horse.
The rider may be inadvertently triggering her horse’s replaying of the tragic attack by also being fearful herself of the events happening again every time a horse comes behind her. She needs to make sure that she, as the rider, consciously communicates with her body language that the horse should act as she expects him to.
Often, I have riders who tell me that they are asking the horse for X, when I can clearly see their body language asking for Y or clearly not trusting that the horse will perform X. Horses don’t hear our words and respond to what we tell them, but rather they respond to what our body language is telling them. They have fears of their own, but I’ve also seen the most terrified of horses perform flawlessly because whatever was scaring them didn’t affect their riders, and the horse would trust that the rider would not allow him to be harmed.
I think in addition to the suggestions of the trainer, encouraging the rider to also not be fearful of a repeat performance by consciously remaining calm and envisioning (and therefore expecting) her horse to remain calm in that situation might be of some assistance.