Updated: Jan 4
This is a follow-up to an earlier post on Horse behavior and catching the horse.
I recently had a friend who rescued a horse. The horse was covered in small cuts and scrapes. So she concocted a mix and put it in a spray bottle. She went to spray the horse and he took off tearing the lead rope through her fingers leaving rope burn.
So I thought I would talk about how to get past this type of fear in a horse. The horse lacked confidence in his owner and in the spray bottle, resulting in fear. When horses are afraid, they run. A simple way to address this situation is to put the horse in a confined area like a round pen. Rub the pray bottle on his body to let him know it won't hurt him. Spray it a few times into the air, working your way closer and closer to his legs. Spray it softly and quietly and slowly let it get louder and louder. It might be worth doing this water so you aren't wasting an expensive horse product.
Most people don't realize that it is the sound that concerns the horse, not the surprise of liquid landing on its body This is the complete opposite of a dog. So I sprayed his legs, moved on to his body and as soon as he showed signs of nervousness after 10 or so sprays, I stopped. I turn around and don't look at him. I wait for him to lick his lips, or blow, or chew. These are all signs that he has absorbed what you were doing, and has collected himself. He is now ready for round two. Continue doing this until he is letting you spray his entire body at a loud spray. Move towards his head once he is comfortable, but remember, no horse likes to be sprayed in the face, just like you wouldn't like that. So ALL horses will react to a face shot.
All training should happen like this, in small doses and with lots of breaks and chances for the horse to recoup. This will make him trust you and build his confidence, in addition to the learning of whatever activity it is that you are teaching him. Take your time when building a relationship and working with a horse.