Don’t mind the spray

EQUUS - - Eq Letters -

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.

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