Preparation for Bathing
Problems with hosing a horse for a bath?
Chunk it down!
If a horse doesn't like bathing, let's see where, exactly, his comfort zone
about the whole thing is. Is it prior to seeing the hose? Then we need to
do some targeting and friendly games with the hose. Is it the sound of the
water? Let's practice turning it on and off and CT'ing for calm when it's
on. Is it the contact of the pressured water on his skin?
There's lots of things for horses to be afraid of with water gushing out of
a hose aimed at them.
Chunk it down. Look at the comfort zones. Let's find what we CAN reward
him for and start there.
<< Even if a person feels
like they've broken the steps down, but are still having trouble, then
they can break those steps down too. To keep whittling down until the
horse tells them, "okay, I can accept that!" >>
Time and time again I have started at the END, with bad results. You would
think I would learn. I think maybe I should give the clicker to Apache.
Once I brought a bucket in his stall to try foot soaking. Guess who got
Ideas for "chunking" bathing down:
Warm water in a spritz bottle -- start low on the leg and work up.
Sponge soaked in temperate water -- same thing - start down by the hooves
and work up. IMO a lot of times horses don't like the feel of water
dripping down them.
Hose on a low trickle with preferably room-temp water. Note -- sometimes
the horse can be more afraid of the hose than the water. If that's the
case, start with the hose alone.
I also prefer to do the water thing somewhere where they're comfortable,
but can move around. I let them walk away, but I stay with them,
maintaining as steady contact with the water as I can and click for
standing still. Sometimes with wash racks, the horse takes one look at the
set-up and says - this is too weird! I remember giving baths to my 4-H
animals when I was 12 years old. Animals included a 1,000 heifer and a
skittish yearling Arab. I'd start with 6 or seven five-gallon buckets full
of water for each animal, and set them out in the sun for an afternoon (in
August.) After I and the horse were both wet (which ALWAYS happened) we
never had any problem and my animals were every bit as clean as those
others used a hose on.
>> She was fine till the water touched her legs. Nothing else bothered her
(she's got a very calm temperment). But would start circling me when the
water touched her, or try bullying me. <<
Well, break it down in ever smaller steps. How about putting the water
on a cloth or a sponge first and doing approach and retreat with
that. Next step could be to put your hand on her skin and let the
water run over the back of your hand. It is less cold and "shocking"
this way. Many Arabs, for example, appreciate this method.
I used a similiar approach on my wildone. I first took a handful of water
and rubbed it on my are a few times in front of him. Then i just wet my hand
a stroked his neck with it.
I did this a few times, as the reaction got less and less I added more
water. I worked down the legs to the hoofs.
Then we introduced the hose. I started at the front hoofs with just a
minute trickle coming out and slowly working up.
You have to be plentiful with the c/t and retreat when the pressure seems
to be to much.
It took quite awhile,but we now have unabashed baths.(I think he enjoys
them now.) No lead ropes or halters . He still doesn't like the face washed
(but then what kid does).
I've heard it said that the water dripping off their bodies makes them feel
like they are bleeding. Could be a reason they are not fond of it at first.
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