How can a horse get to be almost 21-years-old and still be such a big baby about crossing water? It doesn't matter if it's a creek or a mud puddle the reaction is the same. Head up, eyes worried, snort, prance, dance, skitter sideways, and a big "Nope! I'm not going there and I can't EVEN BELIEVE your asking me too."
There has been a lot of rain in the PNW lately. Consequently there are a lot of mud puddles. Some of them look like little lakes scattered around the barn and pastures. It's easy enough to walk around them, but I want to go trail riding, and Boo has a thing about water. He has been known to refuse to go down the trail at all because there is a muddy spot on it. So, with some trepidation ( I know that might be part of the problem), I decided to school Boo over some water when I was out at the barn on Tuesday.
I had the same notion last year and I nearly got myself bucked off for my trouble. This year I decided to work from the ground just so I wouldn't start out my new year broken (again). We had our ride in the arena and on our walk back to the barn I tried to lead Boo through a few small puddles. No such luck...he sidestepped them and in doing so nearly ran over me. I got out in front of him, but I soon decided that wasn't such a good idea either just in case he decided to jump the darn puddle instead of walking through it. I've seen him try to jump much bigger bodies of water, so I knew it was a possiblity. I decided I had to use a bigger puddle. One that would be more difficult to get away from...one that I would have to wade through myself.
I also decided I needed to give myself some rubber boots and a longer leadline so I could get out of his way if (when) he decided to be stupid. I know Boo thought he had convinced me that the mud puddles were dangerous and to be avoided when I led him into the barn. Little did he know that he was about to be schooled through water over and over and over. Once I had changed gear we headed back outside and that is when IT happened. Boo pulled back on me so hard I strained my elbow. I didn't know it yet. Adrenalin was pumping. My man came out to watch the fun and took pity on me. Together we coaxed Boo into the water, me holding the longe line and he the longe whip. We never used the whip for anything but light tapping on his behind, but apparently being double -teamed was enough to convince him to take a tiny step towards the big puddle, then another, then another, until he was finally walking through it to get to the other side where we promptly turned around and headed through again.
I led him through the biggest puddle 5 or 6 times, and then I led him around the barn area heading through every puddle we could find. Finally, I took him inside and groomed him. He didn't seem all that upset about things anymore, and I thought to myself, "I am going to have to do this everytime I come out here as long as there are puddles to wade through. Eventually we will graduate to riding through them. All this time I still did not realize how badly I had injured myself. I knew I'd been yanked, but I didn't think about it much. It was only after I got home and the stiffness started to settle in that I realized I had strained the left elbow. For the past couple of days I have not been able to use my left arm. It's finally starting to get better, but I still have to guard it quite a lot.
So there you have it. It was a lose/lose situation. Boo lost the battle and had to get his feet wet even though he didn't want to, and I lost the use of my left arm right at the busiest part of the holiday season. Headed out again later on today...this time we will be risking my DH's joints and ligaments cuz Boo is gonna walk through water.