Have you always wanted to ride by the ocean – or at least along the side of your local pond or lake? Introduce your horse to water slowly and calmly so he can have time to process the new sounds and sensations. Find a gently sloping beach or shoreline with no sudden drops. Outfit him in a rope halter and 12- to 15-foot training lead, then follow these steps.
Step 1. Lead your horse to the water’s edge, allowing him to take in the sights, sounds, and smells. If he starts to balk, swing the coiled lead line behind you to get his attention, and move him on.
Step 2. When you reach the water, longe your horse in a circle – first away from the water, then gradually closer so that half the longe circle is in the water. He’ll learn that the water is safe and will also be able to get out of it before he has time to worry. Continue to prompt him forward if he slows when entering the water.
Step 3. When your horse will walk and trot through the shallow water without hesitating, tack him up, mount, and attempt the challenge again. Approach in a line parallel to the water, so he’s looking down the shoreline. If he balks, he’ll see that he isn’t trapped by water – he has dry land to move toward.
Step 4. Ride in circles – first entering, then stepping out of the water. Once your horse seems relaxed, praise him, and have him stay in the water longer. Soon you’ll be able to direct him in all directions while entering the depths.
Once your horse is accustomed to shallow water, you’ll be able to move through the depths with ease.