I’ve been neglecting the blog a bit–I attended clickerExpo two weekends ago, which was fabulous, and then ended up with a bad cold last week. (Not enough sleep during clickerExpo–too many late nights chatting with new friends! I promise at least a few clickerExpo related posts in the next week or two, I learned a ton and had a great time.)
The weather has been gorgeous, sunny and high 70s! All of our horses are starting to shed out their winter coats. There is hair everywhere!
Mouse got her first bath over the weekend. Doc also got a bath and Toot and Sebastian both got the mud washed off of their legs.
Training a horse to stand for a bath is a really important skill. It’s important to realize why a horse might find baths scary and then to have a plan for slowly training the horse to be comfortable with the process. If you start with small goals and gradually build up to the final behavior most horses should have no problem learning to stand to get bathed.
Here are a few tips to help get your horse comfortable with standing to being hosed off or bathed. Some horses could benefit from all of these, others might not need so many approximations. However, if you go at the horse’s speed and train it right from the beginning, you’ll have a whole lot fewer problems later on!
- Let the horse watch another horse take a bath. Seeing a horse who is comfortable getting a bath can help a horse learn that the sight and sound of the water is not something to be scared of.
- Give the horse a “bath” first with the hose turned off! This will help get the horse use to the appearance of the hose and it’s movement. Help the horse understand this scary snake isn’t coming to eat her.
- Add a loud “sssshhhh” or “zzzzzzz” sound as you wave the hose around. Water coming out of a hose makes a pretty weird sound.
- Give the horse a sponge bath first. If the horse is comfortable with this, you can fling or squeeze water from a large sponge.
- Spray water in front of the horse, behind the horse, out to the side of the horse, under the horse, and so on, but without touching the horse. This further teaches the horse that the sight and sound of the hose are not scary.
- Turn the water pressure on LOW and let water drip or drizzle onto the horse’s shoulder and back. Gradually increase the intensity of the water and the amount of spray.
Doc also got a bath. He was an absolute filthy ball of mud before his bath. He wasn’t completely clean after his bath, but he was a lot cleaner than when he started. My mom did an excellent job grooming him before his bath. He is shedding like crazy and the ground was covered in a blanket of white horse hair. Doc got to be our demo horse. We let several of the younger horses watch as he stood patiently for a bath.
Doc is an interesting horse. He is what is called a ghost paint. His paint spots are such a light grey that he appears to be white all over–especially in his wooly winter coat. However, in the summer or if he gets wet you can see faint spots under his hair. His skin is dark where the spots are and light everywhere else. I’ll see if I can get some good photos of him this summer–that’s when it’s easiest to see how cool he looks.