Apollo recently learned how to take a bath using clicker training. We did this completely at liberty AND with him standing in a yard full of yummy green grass.
The process we used was similar to what I did when I taught Mouse about baths. Check out the video below to see exactly how we did it! (Or read about the steps I used with Mouse.)
Baths Don’t Have to Be Scary
Many horses are afraid or uncomfortable about getting a bath. They dance around and can’t stand still. However, bathing your horse doesn’t have to be this way! With a bit of clicker training, we can train our horses to love baths.
If we shape the behavior gradually and split the training into tiny chunks, the horse can be comfortable and relaxed the entire time. This means we have to be what Alexandra Kurland calls a “splitter” and not a “lumper.”
Horse Training at Liberty
While training Apollo to take a bath, we worked completely at liberty. Although he sometimes had on a halter or lead rope, he was never tied and I was never holding him or forcing him to stay in one place. He could leave at any point.
Working at liberty is a great way to see if there are holes in your training. If the horse is too distracted, concerned, scared or unmotivated to stay with you at liberty, then you are probably asking for too much to soon. With Apollo, I had to start by reinforcing him for standing still at liberty while I walked around him, before we even introduced the water and the hose.
Apollo has come a long way so far this summer! Just a month ago we were still working on halter training. However, in the past month he has really made quick progress and become much more comfortable around people. (By the way, Apollo is currently available for adoption in Texas for $300. You can read more about him on our horse rescue’s website .)