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Horse Problem - Disrespectful Horse - Horse doesn't show respect for owner









QUESTION: I am hoping you can give me some advice. I have a 7-year-old quarter horse paint and I have had him for 6 months. He is the gelding from the mare I lost years ago. The owners sold me the mare and kept him. They broke him at 2 but let him stand for 5 years in the same pasture. I have had him at the same boarding stable for 6 months now and he still jumps at everything. I think he knows I am leery of him as he pins his ears at me and cow kicks. He doesn't kick out hard, just does it enough to show me he could nail me. When I pick his hoofs, he swishes his tail at me and tries to take his hoof away. I had a trainer round pen him and ride him at a walk, he wasn't too bad. When I round pen him he runs to the middle at me and when I chase him away he kicks at me. He seems to be fine for a man. I am not sure if that is because he was raised by a man. I can't afford to pay a trainer and really can't afford to buy training tapes at this time. I was wondering if you could give me some advice, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for your time.
REPLY: Thanks for writing. Clearly your horse has decided he is higher up on the pecking order from you. He's not acting up with you because you're female. He's acting up because you're not being assertive enough, and in the right way, to show him you are the leader, and he is the follower, so he's feeling right now that he's not only able, but allowed to test the pecking order waters, so to speak.

One of the rules that all horses follow instinctively as herd prey pecking order animals is this: "He who moves the other's feet is higher up on the pecking order, and therefore: the leader." Make sure that your horse hasn't learned to move your feet, and turn it around by always being the one to move his feet. If he invades your space pushily, plant your feet in place, turn and face him, use this sound: "Shhhhhh!" and (if he's haltered) assertively jerk the lead rope downward as you walk into him to move his feet back. This shows him, to start, that you are the leader, he is expected to be the follower. It's probably happening the reverse far more times than you might realize.

Once he's respecting your space, approach him and begin some bonding. Rub on his face, neck, searching for his favorite spots to be rubbed. After he allows this, stick a finger in the corner of his mouth (no teeth there, don't worry) and "feather" his tongue to produce him working his mouth, licking his lips, then remove the finger. This is a secret way to relax a tense horse, so use it as often as needed to get him learning to relax when he is around you.

Then begin to teach him to drop his head. Hold the lead rope with steady pressure downward (no jerking, just constant steady strong pressure) but RELEASE (open your hand) the second he gives even an inch downward, but do not release when his head goes up, just hold the pressure steady. All horses learn from the release of pressure what it is you want, not the pressure itself, so get your release timing split-second accurate when he gives even a tiny bit in the direction of head downward. Continue this pressure/release (releasing at every baby give, never releasing if he tries to tug upward, but only when he gives downward) until his nose is touching the ground. Then pet/bond on him down there on his favorite spots. A lowered head is a relaxed horse; a high head is a tense horse. This exercise and constant expectation will teach him to relax more around you and perceive you as the leader. That's a good start.

Start showing your horse the black and white zones. In the white zone: all is good and calm -- the get along spot where you allow life to be easy for him. The black zone is where he is crossing the line into disrespectful behavior and that's when you apply disciplinary pressure. For example, the next time you approach him at liberty, always have a 12 foot rope in your hand (I just use my NH halter/lead combo for this sometimes) and when he kicks out at you, twirl the end of the lead rope assertively toward him and say "Shhhh" to let him know that is unacceptable behavior and send him away if needed to show: you direct his feet and you will not accept that kind of behavior around you.

If you're round penning him and he comes at you when you've asked him to leave, spin the rope and let it smack the ground hard as it spins. That should send him off easily. Once he digests that you indeed move his feet, not the other way around, and that you are the leader and he is expected to be the follower, he'll settle down and listen better. And make sure your round penning of him is the proper NH way, not just running him around and around mindlessly there. Proper round penning is direct, precise one-to-one communication, you the leader, the horse the follower. Take some time to read my step-by-step round penning tutorial on my site here to make sure you are getting this round penning exercise down correctly:

Also, take some time to read my "What is NH" section on my web site, if you haven't already, because it covers a lot of prey animal psychology that I think will help you there. Here's that section:

But what you really need there now is an overall program/structured plan as soon as you can -- it's important! And I've got some ideas that you can even do yourself without needing a professional trainer to close up those foundation holes and get the quiet, cooperative horse I know you want there.

And here's where I would suggest applying horse whispering/natural horsemanship training techniques in a very clear step by step program, which you can learn more about in my DVD set, the Whispering Way 12-Step Total Training System, and you can order that here: CLICK HERE

After watching the videos, and after learning and applying the methods, you, as the horse's primary teacher will have taught the horse:

  • How to be bonded to you more deeply so that he trusts you to the max and he will be far more willing to do whatever you ask, even when he is in doubt;
  • That you both have a "bonding place" (a "safety zone") to come back to always, from then on, if he's ever upset or afraid, on the ground (or later, in the saddle); we plant a one-rein stop in the foundation of every horse, on the ground first, so that in the saddle, it is automatic. This keeps you safer and the horse more rational, and feeling supported, bonded, connected more deeply emotionally to you.
  • How to relax him when he is tense about something before he is called upon to react negatively.
  • How to have him yield easily, in any direction when asked -- he'll learn how to yield properly to pressure to receive the release of pressure. All horses learn from the release of pressure what it is you want, not from the pressure itself;
  • How to progress bonding to even deeper levels to the point of downright intimacy; makes a horse feel like he never had it so good being with his owner!
  • How to move him from the rear, and him learning to do that rationally, which is so important to teach a horse to do before you ever ride them, and which you'll be using for a lot of other things like trailer loading, going in and out of a gate, into a stall, and so many other places/situations; this also teaches a horse that you are in charge of their feet.
  • How to address effectively any fears (and his reactions to them) that you flush out in his behavior at any given time; my program focuses greatly on finding the fears before they find you and fixing them -- safely on the ground first! Even lay folks can do this. It's all about: safety. This then builds a far more rational, confident, happy horse, because, in essence, you have effectively raised his "fear/anxiety bar." And you will have taught him simultaneously in the process, how to turn to you for nurturance support when/if he is ever afraid or upset.
  • How to do all this first on the ground, then later in the saddle, in that order.
  • How to keep you safe and the horse safe at all times, throughout all of this --- always my biggest training focus.

This video set will help you to lay down an even stronger, more solid and trusting foundation under your horse there that will then serve you well, tremendously, actually, when you do step up into the saddle. By the time you complete the steps, you will have a transformed horse. The final steps are in the saddle and those exercises will more deeply plant into your horse's foundation the one-rein stop/the "safety zone," and more, that will turn him into a far, far more rational, trusting, happier -- and safer -- horse in saddle as well.

And you can do this yourself if you just back up and learn a few things yourself there. This video set will get you there the fastest with your horse, which is why I'm recommending this route. It's designed for anyone on any level, horse or human, to get professional trainer-like results.

And Whispering Way Complete Training Package contains all my videos and training tools that you need to train or retrain your horse yourself the natural horsemanship Whispering Way. You can check out/order the Whispering Way Complete Training Package on my web site here: CLICK HERE

I'm a very strong believer that every horse owner is their horse's primary teacher/trainer whether they realize it or not. Every time you are with your horse, he is learning something. You just want to make sure he's learning what you want him to learn, not what you don't want him to learn! Natural horsemanship training techniques are gentle, effective, and powerful. Works with every horse every time!

But it's real important to back up and break down all teaching steps in a way that you are releasing baby-gives, allowing the horse to feel the release for the right answers incrementally, so that they learn that's really what you want.

Getting a horse properly trained and safe does take a little bit of investment, no matter what direction you turn, but you'll find, I think that this self-help route I'm advising will indeed be your most economical, and in the end most effective, route.

I hope this helps, and let me know if I can be of any further help to you there. Good luck to ya! And thanks again for writing.

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