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Yearling colt afraid of spray

Hi Franklin,

I just wanted to know if you could give me some tips for getting my 15 month old baby used to baths. He HATES water on his hind legs and gets upset and dances when the hose is turned on. I've been wetting a sponge and wiping him with that and he dances but it is better. I really need to bathe him, he is filthy and, also, he is being gelded next week and I have to hose the area. The vet said I might just have to put a twitch on so I can clean the area. Is this ok just to help him relax around water? The hosing after his surgery is necessary to help with his healing!

Also, while I have you here, I have been working with him on a longe line with someone else because we don't have a round pen available. He really doesn't get it yet, but he also is growing so fast (he is a very thick hanoverian colt), I am trying to spare his joints. Should I worry about the whole longing thing now, or just teach other things as I am doing until he is two and we can get a round pen?

Thanks, and as always, love your website...

Hi Aimee,

I have gotten many horses used to being sprayed with water or fly spray or whatever. The process is pretty simple but takes sensitivity and patience (and some skill).

Forget about trying to keep your horse on the wash rack for a bit of time until he gets used to the hose and spray. Get a nice long hose. Use a moderate light spray as opposed to a mist or too heavy (hard) a spray. Have enough hose out that you can move with the colt when he does. This is not about restraining him. Hold the horse in your left hand and the hose in your right. Put yourself between the horse and the hose. Spray away (oppopsite direction) from the horse. If the horse backs up, you just go with him. You can back him up yourself once he begins to go back. He will not want to keep going back for long. Keep reassuring him. Pretty soon I want you to begin to lead the horse forward. Keep the spray going in the opposite direction. This will set up so you are leading the horse forward towards the spray gun of the hose (you remain between the hose and the horse). Walk the horse in a moderately small circle all the while towards the spray that is going forward and away from the horse. At some point when you 'feel' the time is right, turn your hand with the hose in it towards the horse's feet briefly and let him feel it on his feet. Turn it away again quickly. All the while keep leading him in a small circle (try not to get all tangled up in the hose). Keep repeating this process and when you feel the time is right, offer a WHOA, keep the spray going and occasionally bring it to the horse's feet. Keep the process happening and sooner or latere the colt should begin to accept the spray. This is hard to explain and describe in an email. You may call me if you like in Colorado for clarification. The process works and is non-abusive and will work rather quickly if done correctly.

As far as the longe line is concerned, take it easy. Make certain the footing is not too hard. He is not too young to learn about the longe line, but not too harshly or fast. It should be introduced by someone very skillful with it. Most people aren't. Please keep that in mind. Good luck and keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

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