What are some great ways to get the horse who will not get its feet wet to go through water? Like not even a mud puddle? Any thoughts are greatly appreciated! Otherwise great horse, just this one BIG issue!
make sure you use a good water that they can not jump across and has good footing. Having a good lead is important.
Give them their head. Let them put it down. Big mistake a lot of people make is holding too much. You want to let them check it out for now. Walking and circling the edge is good. Take your time. Some times giving them a minute to just stand is good...and see their buddy in the water. Do not make a big issue. If they go forward toward the water....reward them. Just plan to be there awhile....rushing it is usually when you have issues.
** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **
A big, well built water complex will be easier to succeed with than a puddle - bigger target, and good footing in approach and under the water build confidence.
Try getting his legs wet first with hose.
Absolutely have at least one other confident horse there to give lead.
And speaking of leads, I have totally gone ahead and walked into the water myself on foot, sometimes having the rider keep control but letting horse see me walking through, and sometimes putting horse on a longe line so I can stay attached when they try to leap the whole complex or pond.
Seriously, I just bribed mine from the get go. She is a chow hound. Strategically placed mints in my pocket, step into water, "yes!" to tell her she is doing the right thing (dog training has taught me you need a distinctive marker - yesssss has a distinctive sss that we usually don't direct at horses) and hand over mint.
She's no fool - 5 minutes in and she was nonchalantly leading me into the water so she could get her mint.
I don't use it every day - but will bust out the mints for 'hard' tasks - i.e. first dip in the water at a new venue, the scary gator that moved into the indoor arena (mini tractor type, not live).
All have mints placed on the object to encourage her to investigate & to reward her for her bravery.
as much time as it takes. I have had youngsters that really fuss about something, sometimes water, going in a stall, crossing a ditch, etc. I always try to deal with these issues on ground, not on their back. I keep them facing it, I keep asking, when they try, I let them think....when they don't try, I ask that they do. I try to give them time, but I also expect some progress. Lead horses are great, but they do not always work. Sweet feed can also work, but not for every horse. At the end of the day, they need to respect you to just go and do it. My theory is they don't have to like everything they do, but sometimes they just need to do it anyways.
Set them up for success. If the water is larger, it can make it easier. Make sure the horse will willing walk over a tarp, and jump an obstacle, that they respect you enough to step out of the comfort zone. take you time though, and get progress in small measures if they are really scared...and then repeat...and repeat....and repeat.
I love sweet feed though, if they are food motivated!
If all else fails...get a good lead pony with a western saddle and gently pull, push, side pass the "chicken" in with the pony (no rider to start). Walk along the edge so he doesn't think he has to traverse the whole body of water.
Second the calm lead pony, and good footing is absolutely essential- the last thing you want is for the horse to finally go into the water only to sink into deep mud and scare themselves!
What I finally had to do with my OTTB was back him in after an hour or so working with my trainer trying to get him to walk in forward; we backed him in, and since then he has had no problem going through water- it's his favorite part of the course : )
I pony them from one of my old guys. First I have someone else on one of my other old guys ride back and forth through the creek crossing first. Water shy horse watches. Old guy I am on then walks into the water and starts pawing (he loves this) I have the water shy horse on a looong lead! Other old horse goes in the creek and also starts playing. Water shy horse gets real curious and steps in to see what the fun is all about. Water shy horse starts pawing. Water shy horse isn't water shy any more.
Forget the puddles. Puddles are waaay more scary than a real water complex. Actually, steer away from puddles when you get near them. It will make him/her feel brave and smart that 'ah-ha! I was RIGHT those puddles ARE dangerous.' Then, as above, plan nothing else for the day, take a couple of confirmed water lovers to a real water complex and wander around it a few hundred times chatting with your friends, patting your horse. Even take a Labrador along-having a dog flop around in the water can be a huge help. (My spooker is way more relaxed when I have my dogs on my hack rides) When everyone is cheerful, have one horse slide into the water and walk around and around in there. You can stop and watch or keep wandering around the outside-lots of good boy pat pat. Inch by inch you can make your way closer. Make a huge fuss when 1 toe gets close. ETC....Do NOT look down at the water....
Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.
1. Rent a barge load up the horse. Go out to the middle of the lake. Unload horse (may need a cattle prod). This is known as the immersion method.
2. Drop horse of at Chincoteague. He'll need to cross the water at the annual round up.
3. Buy horse an Olympic size swimming pool and get horse some festive swimming attire. Perhaps some water wings, a snorkel, and some goggles. With all that spiffy gear, horse is going to want to swim!!!
choose your water wisely if you have one that is giving you trouble
make sure you have a lead pony
get off and walk into the water with your horse
your horse knows that there is no reason to walk through a stupid little puddle
if you have this type of horse, just as others have said, make sure you're going through the water for a purpose (like you HAVE to cross a stream--or you HAVE to jump through the water complex)
teach them that the water complexes are safe by only using those complexes that look like they are safe.
i love all the suggestions and this ^ video of the mare going in baby steps. wish there was a like button for the aforementioned scuba method too. i've never thought of backing in, but that's a good suggestion. i generally start with a creek and a lead over, esp while out hacking or whatever. their own paddock stream works well, too. if you have ocean nearby, you can wait for the water to come to you and hang on (i think you can ride on assateague or obx, i know def in cali). if they go in/can get them in, keep them in and hang out there.
otherwise, patience, a pair of waders, a lunge line, a lead pony, a bathing suit, and a neckstrap not in that order make all the difference
And the wise, Jack Daniels drinking, slow-truck-driving, veteran TB handler who took "no shit from no hoss Miss L, y'hear," said: "She aint wrapped too tight."