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Horse Won’t Cross Water or Mud

15 August 2011 No Comment

Horse Won’t Cross Water or Mud
We asked horse training expert Rhett Russell.
More on Rhett.

Question:
I am an intermediate rider mostly doing mountain trails. My 4-year-old paint gelding crosses narrow bridges, goes through brush, navigates over logs and tolerates dirt bikes. However, when he encounters a wet spot with squishy footing he puts on the brakes and will not be led or be ridden over the spot. I have discovered a 1350 lb horse cannot be pulled anywhere he does not want to go. I usually ride alone so cannot get behind him to pressure him along. In a pinch how can I get him to move through a wet and narrow spot without a huge fuss? The lady I got the horse from used spurs while working cattle and said he takes things more seriously when ridden with spurs. I am not really comfortable about using spurs. Should I try them anyway and try to be more forceful or will this just make things worse? Thanks for your advice,

Ted

Answer:
Hi Ted:
You are right to question whether using spurs will get your horse to willingly cross water or mud. This horse is giving you huge clues as to what’s missing in his foundation! What could be more clear – you need to go out and work on crossing water, going through mud, stepping in puddles, etc.
Believe me, horses have been stepping in water and mud for a long time before we ever started riding them. How long would a horse survive in the wild with this type of behavior? I don’t think it would take more than a few minutes!
I would go out and work on just these things. Make a special trip out to the trail with your training tools and work your horse through these things. Approach this just as you would when teaching the horse to jump over a log or step on loose footing. Show the horse the “new” thing and expose him to it.
I also find it helpful to use a well-trained horse to get a young horse through these issues. If you can pony a horse through these things, you get it a lot quicker because of the tendency for horses to follow.
It’s important to remember to reward the horse for doing the appropriate thing. Approach this in steps, break it down into taking one step into mud, then two steps, then standing in the mud. But don’t make this a battle. Take it slow, and reward the horse for doing the right thing and you’ll get through this.
Good Luck and keep me posted on your progess,
Rhett

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