Answers to your questions… …straight from the horse’s mouth.
I am training my horse for trail riding, but she’s afraid of water. She avoids even the smallest puddle by either running around it or jumping over it. It is a problem, as there are a few streams along the trail that she must cross, and she refuses to go anywhere near them! Please help!
– High & Dry
Dear High & Dry
Many horses can be very skittish around objects or situations they aren’t accustomed to.
The trick to training a horse is to go slowly and at her own pace. Lead her toward the water, letting her first sniff the water, then progressing to leading her into the water a little at a time. If she resists, don’t fight her, or she may become even more fearful. Coax her by petting and talking to her. Let her stand with just her front legs in the water, letting her sniff or drink it. Later, walk her entirely into the water, and let her stand for a short time. Then you can lead her all the way across. You can reward her with a nice pat on the neck or with her favorite treat.
Once she realizes that the water really isn’t a bottomless pit or doesn’t contain any horse eating crocodiles, you can progress to riding her into the water. Repeat the procedure as above, going slowly and talking to her. Make her walk through, rather than letting her rush through to the other side.
The key is patience when training a horse. As with any other animal, a little TLC will go a long way.