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Rescue Horse Report: Conquering a Fear of Water

Banjo happy to be on the cross country course!

Banjo was happy to be on the cross course! | Photo courtesy of Cate Lamm

Rescue horse advocate Cate Lamm has taken her Clydesdlae/Thoroughbred cross a long way. But now that they’re trying a cross country course, crossing water presents a challenge.

Here’s Cate with more:

When I got my “Thoro-Clyde” (a cross between a Clydesdale and a Thoroughbred), Banjo, from a horse rescue, he had virtually no training and was terrified of everything. During our first years we worked through many of our fears together. He started learning about eventing and life in general.

Banjo and I began to compete in small, local, combined-training events, which are a combination of dressage and cross-country. It turns out that Banjo was brave on the cross-country course. He loved water, so I was confused when we started having problems at water crossings.

It turns out that the water was a place where my fear and his fear would meet. As long as I was calm and patient, Banjo would enter any water. But if I was pushy and anxious, he wouldn’t even touch it with a hoof.

I’d been experiencing some fear during my competitions, as I mentioned in an earlier blog. When I was feeling stressed, Banjo would become a ball of nerves.

At our first combined-training event, I wanted to remain calm so we could make it through the water obstacle on the cross-country course. If a horse refuses an element three times, he’s eliminated.

The water we’d have to cross for the Beginner Novice division isn’t very big. But I knew this would be our trouble spot.

When it was our turn to hit the cross country course, Banjo was excited and prancing. We came out of the starting gate with gusto, eager to get to the jumps.

We never had the chance to school (practice on) this course before the competition. So this was the first time Banjo had seen the jumps. However, he was amazing. He flew over the jumps without hesitation.

As we approached the water, I did my best to slow him down. He listened, and we slowed to a forward trot.

We rounded the corner. The water was directly in front of us. Banjo took an immediate left—refusing the water!

As long as I was able to get him through on the second or third try, we’d be able to complete the course. If not, we’d be eliminated.

I relaxed and took a deep breath. I turned Banjo toward the water again and patiently waited for him to get a good look at it. He checked for alligators, then went right in and trotted through!

We were off again! We’d conquered our fear and the water. Or had we….

For more information on riding water jumps check out this article and video from Practical Horseman magazine. Video: Introduce Your Horse to Water Jumps.

A-Home-For-Every-HorseIf you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.

This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.
Here’s how it works:
• Begin the search for your next equine partner at AHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.

• Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.

• Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue.

If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323, ext. 100. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.

Categories: Wild or Rescued Horses.

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