Over the past couple of months, Mum occasionally has been taking Uptown Girl to the horse wash area. Mum's wash is great, it's like a small yard with a gate so Uptown has been able to go in to the wash, and have a look around. She has generally just gotten used to hanging out there for small amounts of time while Mum does small jobs around the barn so she is still close by and can keep an eye on her.
Every now and then while holding Uptown (never when tied up) Mum has sprayed her front hooves with the hose. As Uptown has gotten more used to the water Mum has slowly sprayed her front legs, then back legs and then taken her to the paddock.
It is important that the process of learning about water is slow and done on the horse's time. Uptown has many baths in her future so we want it to be a calm and happy experience so she learns that bathing is a pleasure and never needs to fuss.
PHOTO: Well look here- Uptown has her first full body bath, she has graduated from baby bath school.
What are some of the key things to remember on bath day?
1. Be thoughtful - choose a warm day. Nobody wants to have a bath when it is cold or windy! Warm weather allows the body to dry quicker also.
2. Expectations - don't have any! If your horse starts to worry or behaves anxiously with the water don't insist on continuing the bath, you need to practice again just wetting the hooves, legs and chest before taking it further. Little by little you will get there. Have patience and keep the experience a happy one.
3. Don't tie your horse - Either hold them or have a friend hold your horse, the last thing you want to do is have your horse get a fright and pull back or slip on the wet ground.
4. Be efficient - wet, wash and rinse quickly so that your horse isn't feeling like the experience is going to continue all day. Over time as they understand we can take a little longer.
5. Don't wash their face - not this time, we want to make the bath experience comfortable to them, washing their face the first time after the body is already wet and feeling a little strange is not the time to teach about having a wet face also.
6. Reward - after a bath, one of the nicest rewards we can give our horse is to hand graze them on some nice green grass or give them a snack in their paddock. This helps them feel good and be settled and takes their mind off playing and rolling around in the dirt right away.
Manolo also introduces a young horse to having its first bath this way and he can often be heard telling his clients that this slow and progressive method is the best way to keep a young horse feeling happy and confident.