Lakota has lived here for 3 years now this April. Barely handled broodmare or not, now that we are under saddle, it is high time that we learned to be civilized and get a bath, even at the ripe old age of 11.
The only problem, is that Miss Lakota is convinced that the stuff coming out of the end of a hose absolutely MUST be horseflesh eating acid of some kind. She is certain, because she received an email to that effect, and therefore it MUST be true because she had to pass it on to 7 people or risk no carrots for a month.
So, armed with hose, bucket, rose-smelling horse shampoo, brushes, curry, bag of treats ... Oh, and the horse also, we headed down to the roundpen, with its woodchip base, so no mud. No washstall here, we don't even have "proper" stalls.
Day 1: Well, lets just say that our first attempt did NOT go well. We snorted, we danced, we jigged, we jagged. No matter how many clicks & treats, she was NOT going to let that "stuff" touch her body.
So we left on a good note, she was targeting the end of the hose reliabl, so we went back to that after awhile, then went out in the yard for a graze.
I slunk back to the house with my tail between my legs, defeated. I whined to those wordly good friends of mine in the natural horsemanship list, who of course gave me thousands (well, almost) of good ideas and suggestions.
Day 2: Armed now with more ideas (and horse, bucket, soap and sponge), we headed back out to the roundpen. Miss Lakota was more than happy to come out, thanks to our recent revisit of some clicker work on haltering. You see, Miss Lakota tends to revert back to her desire to not be caught from time to time, especially if I am not careful about asking politely.
Anyway, after taking lots of good advice, I decided to abandon the loud, squirty hose for now, and just focus on the feeling of the water on her body. So I loaded up the sponge with water, had her target it, then I started drizzling water on her body, starting at the withers. We quickly progressed to a full body sponge bath! I completely soaked her, shampooed, curried, and rinsed (with the sponge). It took awhile, but that's OK, it was all about the journey this time (and probably for a few subsequent baths as well). Lakota did insist on targeting or sniffing the sponge, EVERY SINGLE TIME before it was allowed to touch her body. She's a proper southern gal, ya know, who insists on politeness and manners.
Of course, I lavished her with compliments, and told her how brave she was, how smart, how quick she learns, and of course how beautiful she is and how good she smells now. And here she is, still wet, but CLEAN! Most likely the cleanest she has been since the day she was foaled.