Read an Excerpt
What Your Horse Wants You To Know
What Horses' "Bad" Behavior Means, and How to Correct It
By Gincy Bucklin
John Wiley & Sons
Copyright © 2003
All right reserved.
Bathing: Afraid of the Hose
It's a hot day and Denise has been walking her horse, Timmy, for the last 15
minutes of her ride, but he is still hot, sweaty and sticky, although his breathing
is normal. Denise decides this would be a good opportunity to give him a bath,
so she takes off his tack, puts on his halter and lead rope and takes him over to
the hose. She turns the water on, but when she picks up the hose and starts to
spray Timmy, he runs backward away from her. She has to drop the hose to keep
him from getting away, and when she tries to lead him back he wants no part of
it. She ends up sponging him off with a bucket, but it is time consuming and she
doesn't feel as though he is really clean.
WHAT YOUR HORSE WANTS YOU TO KNOW
* That's weird, and cold and scary. Even though it seems like cold water
would feel good on a hot day, cold water on a hot body just feels cold.
That, combined with the experience of having something coming out of
nowhere and hitting his body-the horse doesn't even realize at first
what it is-is prettydisconcerting.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
* First use the friendly game (page 30) to introduce the horse to the hose,
with the water turned off. After he has looked at the hose, felt it on his
body and accepted it, he should see it being dragged and flipped around
as one does when using it. Allow him to move around if he wants to, but
keep doing whatever made him move until he stops, or begins to stop,
then stop your motion as well. This tells him that standing still works
better than running around. After a moment, run the hose across his
body again in a nonaggressive way, smiling, to remind him that the hose
doesn't hurt and your intention is not to hurt, either.
* If at all possible, use warm water at first, rather than cold. Leaving the
hose sitting in the sun will make at least the first few minutes of slowly
running water nice and warm. In any case, when you use the hose the
day should be warm and the horse should not be extremely hot.
* Turn the water on so it is running slowly. Hold the hose away from the
horse at first, so he can see it. When you bring it toward him, keep your
eyes soft and your approach casual. Smile. Let him put his nose up to it
and see what it is, and let the water run over his lips so he licks it and
finds out what it is, but be careful it doesn't get into his nostrils. Next,
using advance and retreat (page 27), let the water run on his front feet
and lower legs first, allowing him to move but praising him when he
stands. Be careful he doesn't step or get tangled in the hose if he moves.
Gradually move up to his chest, back to his hind legs, up the underside
of his neck, across his barrel and over his back and croup.
* Unless he seems to be enjoying his shower, wait until another day to do
the remainder of his head, between his hind legs and under his tail, using
warm water on the latter two if at all possible. When using the hose on
his head, be very careful not to get water in his ears, which, besides
being very uncomfortable, can lead to ear infections.
* Let the horse tell you if he is enjoying his shower. Most horses learn to
love it if given a chance, but if you are pushy and inconsiderate you may
make him fidgety and uncomfortable instead.
WHAT NOT TO DO ABOUT IT
* When you're trying to get the horse to like something, try not to think
you're going to "win" and make the horse accept it.
* Don't be impatient. Even though you know the shower will feel good, it
may take him some time to figure it out.
Tom is getting ready to ride his new horse, Red. He is near the stall getting his
grooming tools organized when Jane comes by, leading her horse, Billy, through
the stable on her way out to ride. As she passes Red's stall door, his head snakes
out over the door with his ears flat back. His mouth is open and he snaps
viciously at her shoulder! Fortunately, Billy sees him coming and jumps to the
side, pulling Jane with him. She is unhurt but upset by the incident. Tom apologizes
and promises to do something about it. He is quite surprised by Red's
behavior, since he had not seen it when he was looking at Red in his previous
True biting, as distinguished from nipping, is intended to hurt! Since horses are
not naturally aggressive in most situations, something pretty serious is going on.
Besides charging at the stall door, other times the horse may bite are when the girth
is being fastened up or tightened, or when he is eating.
WHAT YOUR HORSE WANTS YOU TO KNOW
* I feel extremely threatened! Because he is in new surroundings, the horse
may fear that he will be driven away. He feels he has no friends and no
one to protect him. He has almost surely been treated roughly, so he
expects this treatment wherever he goes.
* I have to show myself as very strong in order to survive. Horses who have
been abused by clumsy or uncaring people sometimes decide the only
way to survive is to be stronger and more aggressive and "do it first."
Excerpted from What Your Horse Wants You To Know
by Gincy Bucklin
Copyright © 2003 by Gincy Bucklin.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.