I recently adopted a horse named Cisco to use for beginner-level riding lessons. Because Cisco used to be a ranch horse, he was rarely fly sprayed, if ever, in his entire life. Because of this, he gets really nervous about me fly spraying him and doesn’t like the hissing sound the spray bottle makes. He is also quite jumpy about mane and tail conditioner, coat shiner, and even the hose when I give him a bath. Once learning how to give Cisco an entire spray down with fly spray while keeping him calm, I figured that there have to be many more people out there whose horse doesn’t like the spray either. I thought to myself that if I have found a way to put fly spray on a scared horse, that I’m sure I could help someone else with a horse struggling with the same fear.
How To Introduce Fly Spray To A Horse Who’s Scared Of It
Hold the spray bottle up to the horse’s face and act like you’re spraying it. Make a hissing or shushing sound with your mouth and pretend to spray the horse down with fly spray even though you’re just pretending. When the horse calms down a bit to your fake spray down, keep making the hissing or shushing noises you made before, but start actually spraying the horse down this time. Gradually reduce the noises you’re making and soon your horse should let you spray them down. Do the same with the other side but do not spray the face! Wipe the spray on their face with your hand rather than jumping into direct spraying.
Breakdown Of The Steps:
1. Show Your Horse The Spray Bottle
The first thing you want to do is to show the horse the spray bottle. This way, the horse can see the thing that they are scared of and see that it really isn’t that scary at all. I like to not only hold the bottle in front of Cisco’s eyes, but I also liek to let him smell it too so he is familiar with the sight and smell of the fly spray bottle I am using on him.
2. Move The Spray Bottle Around Their Face, Neck, & Body
The second thing I do before spraying the horse is to just hold the bottle as if I am about to start spraying the horse down and just move it around them. This way the horse can see the motion I will be going in and relax as they know what to exect from me when I actually start to spray them.
I usually start with the horse’s face and just move the bottle as if I was spraying them and then move down to the horse’s neck, body, belly, and back to their hind quarters.
3. Pretend To Spray Them Down
One of the scariest things about spray bottles to horses is the hissing noise that the spray bottle makes. Because this is kind of scary to the horse, I will pretend that I am spraying the horse by moving my hand over and around the trigger while making the hissing or shushing noise that the spray bottle makes.
This way, the horse thinks that he is getting sprayed down, but he actually isn’t. When my horse, Cisco, first hears my fake spray bottle noise he tends to get a little nervous and try to side step away from me, but after a while he will relax and let me fake spray him down.
4. Begin Spraying Them Down
Even though I started the fake spray down at the horse’s face, I don’t really like to spray the horse directly in the face, especially of they are just getting desensitized and used to the fly spray. This is mainly because going directly inthe face can be kind of scary right away and spraying the face is something I prefer to work up to rather than do right away.
I would continue making the spraying noises with your mouth as you go over them and just do random sprays here and there before building it up to consistent spraying.
Slowly reduce the spraying noises with your mough and start spraying your horse down like you would on any other horse.
If you are using the fly spray, make sure to spray down the horse’s chest, belly, legs, and sheath (if your horse is a male) because these tend to be the most common places for flies to congregate.
5. Repeat On the Other Side Of The Horse
On their sides, horses can only see you with either their right or their left eye. this measn that when you are spraying them down on the left side, they aren’t getting used to it on their right side at all.
Starting the same desensitizing over on the next side is important so the horse can get used to seeing the spraying in both of their eyes.
6. Wipe Spray On Their Face With Your Hand
If it is your horse’s first time being sprayed down with fly spray or any other spray, I recommend not spraying your horse directly in the face. This is becasue goinf right in the horse’s face amy make them even more scared of the spray.
I prefer to gradually work up to spraying them directly in the face. If you need to get the spray on the horse’s face however. I would just spray the spray into your hand or on a cloth and rub it over the areas where it is needed. This way the horse is still getting the spray on their face, but in a much less scary way.
As your horse gets more and more comfortable with the spray being on its body, then I would graduate them to starting to work on spraying the face.