Monday, June 8, 2015

Water Water Everywhere

So during our last solo trail ride, I found out very quickly that Quest seems to have an extreme dislike for water in any shape or form on the trail. I was nearly unseated a couple times from her creative shoulder dips and dodging to avoid getting her feet wet. This aversion does not bode well for us in our future discipline so it was time for some groundwork.

*Grumbles* Fine...I'll go through it....
Outfitted the mareface with the rope halter and training lead, we set out Friday evening with A and Smokey in tow to go find some "fun" obstacles to work with. Lo and behold less than five minutes into the trek, we came upon a huge puddle on the trail that was perfect for our purposes- it was shallow yet wide enough to make evasions hard but with enough room to work safely.

Quest is inquisitive and curious by nature which made approaching the puddle no problem but when I tried to lead her though, she daintily side stepped her way around it. Alrighty then. Lunge whip in one hand and lead rope in the other, I clucked and sent her forward into the water. She investigated it with no problem but then cut in closer to me to avoid the puddle and zoomed around at a trot. I growled and reminded her to stay out of my space. With each zoom around, her feet landed closer and closer to the puddle as I continued to push her out until finally, one foot landed in the edge of the water. "Good girl!" I praised. I kept sending her forward and around. Two feet splashed into the water. "Very good!"

Then all four feet, straight through the puddle, no cut corners. Good mare! I asked for a whoa to give her a break and rub on the forehead. Then back to work. Then change in direction and repeat on the other side. No problems there. I sent her though the puddle a couple times in both directions just to make sure. NBD. I think the whole thing took less than 10 minutes.

Calm forward walk through the horse-eating puddle
Ending on that good note, we continued on our handwalk and headed towards the river boat launch. We made our way down the large gravel stone slope which opened up into a decently sized beach stretch of river rocks and mud. I was very pleased to see that my initial observations were correct; the water was clear and shallow near the shore which was ideal for introducing Quest to the water. Since I have no idea what her experience with rivers/large bodies of water was in the past, I decided to treat it as something she's never seen before. I let Quest explore the water at her leisure first, letting her sniff and meander.

She was curious yet cautious but pretty soon she realized the river wasn't actually going to eat her. When she got more comfortable and confident, I encouraged her to step closer and sent her into the water. I had changed into my rain boots at this point (very glad I brought them along) and was able to wade in at her side. And then the play began.

She sniffed, then suddenly plunged/submerged almost her entire face underwater lol
Then pawing. I let her do it only for a little bit. Didn't want any rolling!
Smokey and A. And a better view of the river in the background.
We spent most of our time that evening letting the horses hang out by the water. It was a very relaxing end to a work week but it grew late and we had to head back before the barn closed.

The next day we did a nice trail ride in which I got to put Quest's newly discovered puddle crossing skills to the test undersaddle. While she was still not totally thrilled about it, only a couple seconds of convincing was needed to walk through everything I pointed her at. It was a definite improvement from pre-puddle groundwork.

A and I did about 1/3 of the south rail trail and added on the lake loop instead. It was our first time out there since last fall and Quest's first time leading the way. The lake trail is very pretty with great views but there is one section towards the end that can be a little nerve-wracking since it requires taking a narrow trail along a very busy road that exits from local state highway.

Quest jigged a couple steps forward when a dump truck thumped past with a full load but I was quickly able to get her back down to a walk. While she still had her worry moments, it was 100% noted night and day difference in her mental maturity. She used to jig horribly, to the point where I can pick out the exact spots where she used to start and did not stop, until we were more than halfway home. Now it only lasts a couple of steps and she comes right back down to a walk, while leading the trail ride to boot.

All in all, a successful ride around the lake, leading the ride, and crossing puddles. I'm so very happy with the mareface's progress so far. We have made big strides in getting over her mehness about water and just seeing how she has mentally matured is very encouraging. Let's hope the positive momentum continues!


  1. Huzzah! Yes!! Great work...hope she continues to improve. =)

    1. It's slow, but at least steady progress lol I'll take what I can get!

  2. that pic of her with the submerged face is adorable haha

    1. I should upload the video- it was hilarious when it happened! She's definitely not scared of water I'd say, but would rather prefer NOT to cross if she had a say about it lol

  3. I had a friend describe to me the difference betwern Arabs and Quarter Horses. She said a Quarter Horse will come to a puddle, plant, rear, back or buck, refusing to take a step forward. An Arab will convince you that you really didn't want to cross the puddle after all, leaning forward to investigate and then taking a casual step to the side. Almost saying "Nice puddle, let's go this way" while the QH is more direct in telling you "NO."

    I find it an amusing comparison at generally true.

    Good job getting Quest through the water.

    1. Even more interesting because A’s Smokey is a QH so we get to observe his respective reactions to similar obstacles very often and what your friend described sounds about right in their case! I like and appreciate the curious personality since it makes some things easier but on the downside it may take a little longer to convince them that your way is better. I know for a fact I will need to revisit puddles/water crossing with Quest often before she's 100% okay all the time; then again Rome wasn't built in a day!