Helping you horse to overcome a fear of fly repellent can be a difficult process, but by following some simple tips and techniques, you should be able to succeed and help your horse enjoy a bug-free life. The ideas behind these techniques can also be applied to a wide variety of other tasks, as the main principle is to teach your horse that it will be rewarded for performing a desired action. This is how horses can learn tricks and be instructed to behave properly, and the same principles apply for fly repellent.
To begin teaching your horse that a bottle of bug spray isn’t a bad thing, approach the animal with the bottle in your hand. Some horses will be inquisitive and try to see what you have, but ideally you want the horse to stay still. The ease of this activity will depend on the breed, sex and temperament of your horse as some will find it simpler than others to stand still. Try beginning your lessons in a stall or small field so that the animal feels at ease. The whole process needs to be about working gradually towards something and giving plenty of rewards, so if your horse stays still while you approach then hand out a reward and try using a clicker at the same time. This way, your horse will begin to associate certain actions with the clicking sound and the reward, making the process easier.
Once the horse is accustomed to the presence of the bottle and doesn’t feel the need to flee or investigate it, start touching the animal’s shoulder directly with the bottle. This sort of contact is important, so repeat this step until the horse stands still and stays calm and then reward it with another click and a treat. Afterwards, touch the horse all around its body with the bottle while walking around it. As the horse stays still, continue to offer regular clicks and rewards. This whole part of the process is about allowing the horse to be comfortable with the sight and presence of the spray bottle.
Next, you can move on to spraying the bottle, but start from quite far away to begin with. Click and reward if the animal stays still and gradually approach it, clicking and rewarding as you regularly spray from shorter and shorter distances. The horse may respond with fear or movement during this stage, so move further away and repeat the process if this happens. Take things slowly and gradually, using small steps to get closer to the animal until you are right alongside it. Only continue if the horse is calm and still. Eventually, spray the horse’s body and continue clicking and rewarding.
Once you get to this stage, the training is almost complete. It might take a long time to help your horse get used to the presence and sensation of the spray bottle, but this training will be effective over time and the results will be worth it. Stay patient and offer plenty of rewards for best results.
Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.