Overcoming the fear of water: from afraid…to mermaid


Malan working with Monyana

For those who read Monyana’s story, you will know that she had a lot of issues that we worked through over the course of her training.

One issue I didn’t go into in those blog posts was the fact that she did not love water at all! She wouldn’t cross even the smallest puddle, let alone go swimming in the sea.

Back in those days, I was less experienced and we thought it would be best to call in Malan Du Toit, a very knowledgeable and experienced horse behaviourist to come and help.

After a very successful session with Malan, she would cross rivers and puddles nicely …but she still didn’t want anything to do with the beach and especially that scary sea!

Diving in…

As soon as we’d get to the beach she would want to leave. Initially we would just ask her to stand on the far side of the beach and then we would take her home. Each time we took her we would ask for a few more steps, getting her closer and closer to the sea. We kept on the edge of that threshold of challenging her but not allowing her worry-cup to run over. After quite a few of rides to the beach, her confidence grew and eventually she would walk right next to the sea.

Patience and perseverance…

And after a little longer she would walk in the sea and today she is even happy to be submerged. Her owner can happily ride in chest-deep, knowing Monyana won’t freak out.

There is nothing exceptional about this story except that it always reminds me how very generous horses are, how willing they are to put their trust in us and how far they will go for those whom they respect and trust.

I have never met a horse yet that could not overcome their obstacles when treated with patience, consistency and clear communication.

It’s amazing what they will do for us if they feel they can trust us. It takes time and skill to earn their trust and it places a huge responsibility on us to maintain that trust and not break it, no matter what.

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